The Pros and Cons of Macrobiotic Diet
If you are looking for a diet with proper health benefits while avoiding nutritional deficiencies, a macrobiotic diet is just for you. Macrobiotic eating such as removing sugar and processed food from the diet will always be good for your health. This diet may need a little patience and adjustment owing to the excessive restrictions but the end benefits of a macrobiotic diet make it all worth it!
What is a Macrobiotic Diet?
The practice of macrobiotics is a way of living and eating that is meant to maximize and improve your lifestyle. This includes a wide range of healthy behaviours such as increased lifespan, prevention and rapid healing of diseases, and promotion of spiritual well-being. A macrobiotic diet could consist of a variety of dietary items, most of which are based on whole grains, brown rice, vegetables, etc. Foods to steer clear from during practising a macrobiotic diet include red meat, eggs, dairy products, refined grains, processed or canned foods, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
This diet is roughly divided into 40-60 per cent of food consisting of whole grains, 20-30 per cent fruits and vegetables, and around 10-20 per cent bean and bean products, such as tofu and miso. To compensate for the lack of protein in their diet, you may be allowed to eat a small portion of chicken or fish once or twice a week. Vegetables such as celery, lettuce, cucumbers, and other fresh raw greens are encouraged but consumption of potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes is strictly prohibited. While seeds and nuts can be consumed occasionally in small amounts, it is best to avoid cashews due to their high cholesterol content.
Aside from macrobiotic eating, there are numerous additional ways to reap the benefits of a macrobiotic diet. These additional lifestyle recommendations include:
- Eating only when hungry and drinking only when thirsty
- Avoiding microwave ovens to warm up or cook food
- Purifying water before drinking it or cooking with it
- Using natural mineral containers, such as wood, glass, and china to cook or store food in
- Chewing food thoroughly before swallowing
People follow this diet variably. Some may adopt a portion of the diet while others adhere fully to the food preparation, cooking, and eating restrictions of the macrobiotic diet.
Should You Switch to Macrobiotic Diet?
Macrobiotics is more of a lifestyle and less of a diet. This is because the perquisites of a macrobiotic diet are more centred on maintaining a balanced lifestyle and less around weight loss. Macrobiotic eating helps women reduce the risks of developing breast cancers and may also benefit post-menopausal women due to the consumption of whole grains. Let us look at the pros and cons of a macrobiotic diet so it is easier for you to decide whether you want to pursue this lifestyle.
Pros of Macrobiotic Diet
- Post-menopause Made Easy for Women
Post-menopause in women can often be very difficult to come to terms with. It brings threatens numerous disease risks and increases weight. Making use of a macrobiotic diet allows you to keep your weight in check and moderately reduces the level of circulating estrogens in your body. Avoiding caffeinated drinks and alcohol helps with reducing hot flashes during menopause. The phytoestrogens supplied by wholegrain foods in your macrobiotic diet help maintain insulin sensitivity after menopause.
- Development of a Stronger Mind and Body
Potentially low blood pressure is one of the benefits of a macrobiotic diet. This not only reduces the risks of developing heart disease but also those of pre-diabetes and type II diabetes by maintaining a normal blood sugar level. To maintain a healthy spiritual connection with your mind and body, you must eat food that makes your body feel good. This feeling good comes from adopting the macrobiotic diet and lifestyle. The abundant amounts of fibre, iron, and vitamins from all the fruits nourish your body, which in turn makes you feel good physically and hence, mentally.
- Anti-inflammatory Diet
Since this diet comprises mostly of anti-inflammatory foods – vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, it enriches and nourishes the body. The benefits of consuming an anti-inflammatory diet include healing your gut, slowing the signs of ageing, and losing weight. A diet that comprises about 250 to 400 grams of fruits in a day also improves cardiovascular health. According to American Institute for Cancer Research, the abundant consumption of fruits and vegetables in macrobiotic diets could potentially lead to a 20% decrease in the risk of developing cancers. While this lifestyle reduces the risks of cancers, there is little to no scientific research to confirm that the benefits of a macrobiotic diet involve healing cancer.
- Adopting the Pattern of Intuitive Eating
One of the important things macrobiotic eating teaches you is about eating intuitively. This means one learns to eat only when they are hungry and drink a healthy beverage or water only when they are thirsty. It is best to stop eating once you are full, in order to avoid overeating. Consuming small portions of food in multiple sittings satisfies the hunger, stabilizes blood sugar level, and provides nutrients to the body throughout the day. Intuitive eating also promotes an efficient metabolism compared to that of when large meals are consumed after prolonged periods.
- Weight loss
If you stick to all the restrictions of the macrobiotic diet, you are very likely to lose a significant amount of weight. These restrictions include the preparation of food, the way you eat them, and avoiding what is even slightly unhealthy or high in fats and carbs. The total withdrawal of processed foods and their replacement with vegetables prevents increased body cholesterol levels or unusual weight gain.
Cons of Macrobiotic Diet
While the macrobiotic diet does have plenty of benefits, it is not everybody’s cup of tea. Some people find it to be lacking in important nutrients while others are not comfortable with the restrictions that come along.
- Restrictive Lifestyle
For some people the healthier, more holistic long-term lifestyle takes a lot of getting used to. It is not easy to get out of your regular comfortable routine and adopt a lifestyle with as many restrictions as found in macrobiotic eating. Compromising on spicy food or caffeine if you are a food enthusiast makes following the macrobiotic diet even more troubling.
- Lack of Certain Nutrients
With omission or low intake of animal fat, fruit, and dairy products, the macrobiotic diet may provide fewer amounts of protein, iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B-12. People find it imperative to take extra dietary supplements along their foods to maintain a balanced mineral and vitamin intake. Dehydration and stress regarding following the strict diet plan are also some concerns raised by people.
- Limited growth and development
For those who are already weak, such as aged women with low body calcium levels, or underweight, especially children, the side effects of macrobiotic eating overrule the benefits. A strict regime tends to prevent the recovery of the elderly from chronic illnesses, while for children, receiving fewer amounts of protein limits their growth and development. We recommend referring to a doctor before pregnant or lactating women begin optimizing their lifestyle according to the macrobiotic diet.
While one should never use a macrobiotic diet as a replacement for traditional medical treatments, it does provide many health benefits, which potentially lower the risks of developing chronic illnesses. If you are open to taking extra dietary supplements, such as those of iron, B12, and calcium, macrobiotics may just be the right lifestyle for you.