What is a macrobiotic diet? Everything you need to know about this

What is a macrobiotic diet? Everything you need to know about this

The macrobiotic diet is a stringent eating plan that claims to lower toxicity levels. It entails consuming whole grains and vegetables while avoiding foods heavy in saturated fat, salt, sugar, and artificial chemicals.

Despite the fact that the diet is promoted as a supplemental therapy for certain malignancies, there is no scientific proof to support its anticancer claims. According to preliminary study, it may help manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and reduce inflammation.

Despite the absence of scientific evidence, the diet is packed with nutrient-dense foods, thus it may be good for some people if followed correctly. It can be difficult to stick to, as with any restrictive diet, and can lead to nutritional deficits or disordered eating.

Read on to learn more about the diet, including how it works, what foods it includes, the risks and advantages, and more.

What is a macrobiotic diet?

The macrobiotic diet was created by Japanese philosopher George Ohsawa in the 1920s. It’s a low-fat, high-fiber, complex-carbohydrate diet that emphasises whole grains and veggies.

The diet promotes the consumption of raw, organic, and locally farmed foods. It discourages the consumption of foods that are heavy in fat, processed, salty, or sweet.

Ohsawa’s macrobiotic philosophy includes the following:

  • limiting your intake of dietary additives
  • avoiding pesticide and electromagnetic radiation exposure
  • daily physical exercise
  • avoidance of the use of dietary supplements
  • making food using glass, wood, enamel, or steel utensils and pans
List of macrobiotic foods:

The macrobiotic diet includes the following foods:

Whole grains. Approximately 50% of the diet involves whole grains, such as:

  • brown rice
  • oats
  • barley
  • wheat
  • millet

Vegetables and seaweed. About 25–33% of the diet consists of vegetables, such as:

  • brocolli
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • kale
  • radishes

Pulses. This category makes up 5–10% of the diet and includes foods such as:

  • lentils
  • azuki beans
  • chickpeas
  • tofu
  • tempeh

Miscellaneous foods. Approximately 5–20% of the diet may include:

  • fruit
  • white fish
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • miso soup
On a macrobiotic diet, there are certain foods to avoid:

The diet forbids the consumption of processed foods as well as animal products. Foods to stay away from include:

  • meat
  • dairy products
  • eggs
  • refined sugar
  • animal fats
  • artificial sweeteners or chemical additives
  • genetically modified foods
The benefits of a macrobiotic diet

People who eat low-fat, low-animal-product diets, such as the macrobiotic diet, may have lower cholesterol levels. This may assist to lower the risk of heart disease and other illnesses.

People can, however, obtain these benefits by eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet. To lower disease risk, they do not need to follow more restrictive eating patterns like the macrobiotic diet.

The effects of the macrobiotic diet on cancer and diabetes have been studied in certain research.


Many aspects of the macrobiotic diet have been associated to lower inflammation when compared to a regular American diet, according to a 2015 study. This may lower the risk of cancer. It has not, however, been proven.

According to the National Cancer Institute, anecdotal reports are the sole proof that the macrobiotic diet may be a successful alternative cancer therapy. It should not be used as a stand-alone treatment for cancer.

The NCI says it can’t draw any judgments about how successful the diet is as a supplemental therapy due to a lack of data.

Diabetes type 2

The findings revealed that Mediterranean, vegetarian, and low-calorie diets could aid in the management of type 2 diabetes. Short- and medium-term clinical investigations, on the other hand, showed that the macrobiotic diet resulted in better blood sugar control.

Among the benefits were:

  • cholesterol reduction
  • blood sugar levels have improved
  • enhanced insulin sensitivity, which aids in the absorption of blood sugar by cells
  • Blood pressure has dropped.
  • body weight reduction

It’s worth noting that the study only found significant improvements during short and medium time intervals. It is unknown whether it is useful in the long-term management of type 2 diabetes, according to researchers.

Risks of a macrobiotic diet

A macrobiotic diet does not allow for the use of animal products, which might lead to nutritional deficits. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the eating plan could lead to a low consumption of:

  • protein
  • calcium
  • iron
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin B12

People who are interested in following the diet should see a qualified dietician to avoid deficits.

Furthermore, Cancer Research UK (CRUK) points out that many of the foods in the diet are low in calories. A person who eats this way may lose weight over time, which may not be in line with their health goals.

People may find it challenging to eat meals with family and friends while keeping to their eating plan because the diet is tough to follow and socially restricting.


Macrobiotic diets, such as whole grains and vegetables, are high in fibre and complex carbohydrate.

Although anecdotal reports suggest that it may reduce cancer research, there is no evidence proving this. The macrobiotic diet may produce nutritional deficits because it is a stringent eating regimen.

If someone wants to stick to the diet, they should speak with a trained dietician.

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