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While the term "macrobiotic" is first known from the writings of Hippocrates and further defined by German physician Christoph Hufeland, the term is now associated mainly with Japanese educator George Ohsawa and his followers, particularly Michio Kushi.
Mr. Ohsawa, who claimed a diet of brown rice, miso soup and seaweed cured him of serious childhood illness, brought his macrobiotics plan to the U.S. around 1958. While it also includes elements of Oriental philosophy and lifestyle, the diet part has received the most attention.
Michio Kushi expanded on Ohsawa's works and intensely promoted macrobiotics in the U.S., founding Erewhon Natural Foods, the East West Journal, the East West Foundation, the Kushi Foundation, and the Kushi Institute. Together with his wife Aveline, Kushi wrote over 70 books on the macrobiotic lifestyle.
Since the more extreme forms of the diet have been abandoned, macrobiotics is no longer as controversial as it once was, but medical practitioners still recommend strongly against the diet's use by pregnant women and young children.
Today the main controversy is over claims that a macrobiotic diet cures cancer and AIDS. While several cases have been documented of people who recovered from cancer while on a macrobiotic diet it is unknown if this represents anything beyond normal remission rates or rates encountered with cleaning up the diet in a less restricted way. It must be noted that a least some of the people macrobiotics supposedly cured were also undergoing conventional therapies. It must also be noted that Michio Kushi's wife, Aveline, died of cervical cancer. Information regarding macrobiotics and AIDS is much more scant.
The objective of the macrobiotic diet is to balance the centrifugal and centripetal forces, yin and yang. In the Chinese system all foods are rated as to how yin or yang they are. Macrobiotics holds that achieving balance is easier with foods that are nearly yin/yang neutral, most notably brown rice.
The original macrobiotic diet Ohsawa brought to the U.S. defined 10 stages, numbered -3 to 7. Stage 7, which consisted only of brown rice and water, proved quite dangerous and current practice approximates Ohsawa's stages 2 and 3. Stages above 4 are no longer recommended by macrobiotic councilors but the theories on which they were based have not been abandoned.
Care must still be taken to assure adequate intake of vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and iron. all of which are relatively scarce in a macrobiotic diet. Vitamin B12 will be absent almost entirely if the diet form includes no animal products at all (vegan).
Here is the general diet plan. Foods not specifically listed here can be presumed forbidden.
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