For many decades now, macrobiotics has been contributing to raise awareness and disseminate holistic living practices for the betterment of humanity. During this time macrobiotics has been proposing, implementing and promoting many ideas for developing our way of life. Some areas of macrobiotic involvement include plant based diets; traditional food cultures; balanced nutrition; whole foods; organic foods; natural, regenerative and sustainable farming; traditional and natural food processing; wholesome cooking; healthy lifestyle practices; natural and ecological living; personal and family health care; alternative, preventive and lifestyle medicine; holistic and traditional healing; wellness; Oriental philosophy and practices, environmental remediation and sustainability; solidarity among fellow human beings and greater social harmony; cultural exchange and the development of a peaceful world community. As interest to engage and take a more active role managing our health as well as improving environmental and social concerns continue to grow, many of these ideas and practices are now being shared by many people. Some of the core activities used over the years to transmit macrobiotic views and practices for developing our way of life includes the following:
Providing Education for a Better Life
At the core of macrobiotic activities has been education, including teaching, writing, publishing, opening of macrobiotic schools and education centers, organizing seminars and conferences, and other related activities. This is the main way in which macrobiotic teachings and views have been passed down and experiences, practices, and observations shared.
The main goal of macrobiotic education is to raise awareness, develop ourselves as individuals, make practical improvements in the way we live, and lead more independent, healthier and happier lives. The main theme of study is gaining a better understanding of life and getting to know more about ourselves. Besides modern knowledge, macrobiotics reintroduced in modern society traditional views many of which originate from Oriental thinking including a contemporary energetic interpretation of life that comprises a useful application of Yin and Yang to help create better balance, health and harmony.
Improvement of Dietary Practices and Habits
A common macrobiotic motto is the idea that “we are what we eat” or that we are fundamentally influenced by our food, including the way we select, prepare, and eat it. Macrobiotics was quick to notice that modern food preferences and dietary habits were conducive to nutritional and energetic imbalances and therefore would lead to poor health.
To help amend for this tendency macrobiotics introduced the idea and began promoting a more traditionally oriented way of eating based on a variety of natural quality whole foods primarily from plant sources. Consequently, began to emphasize increasing consumption of whole grains and their products, fresh vegetables, beans, soybean products such as tofu, sea vegetables, seeds, nuts, seasonal fruits and other wholesome plant foods as the foundation for a balanced way of eating leading to sound health.
This is something that in recent years has become recognized and increasingly known. Most chronic diseases and common conditions experienced by a large number of people throughout the world today are known as lifestyle-related diseases and dietary imbalances considered the main risk factor. Lifestyle diseases are defined as diseases associated with the way a person or a group of people lives. They include chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and other conditions such as obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease and many others.
These are the non-communicable diseases or NCDs which are collectively responsible for over 40 million deaths each year, equivalent to over 70 percent of all deaths worldwide. According to the definition of the World Health Organization (WHO), NCDs are preventable diseases through lifestyle modification of the common causes such as unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol use. As a result, nutritional science has reached the consensus that a whole food, plant based diet is the most desirable eating pattern to maintain nutritional balance and help prevent chronic diseases or NCDs.
Promoting Better Quality Foods and Making Them More Easily Available
This is another area which macrobiotics has played an important role and continues to be at the center of many macrobiotic activities. Macrobiotics helped pioneer the natural and organic food movements as a way to improve the quality of our food, produce our food in more sustainable ways, and reduce the amount of chemicals polluting the environment and weakening health through ingestion and exposure.
Another idea introduced by macrobiotics have been consuming foods in a whole, unrefined way while reducing or minimizing those that are refined and highly processed. Overly processing our food depletes it of important nutrients and lack in energetic quality or vitality. Also consuming foods mostly from local sources and seasonally instead of from a globalized food market in which foods are transported from faraway places and often consumed out of season or from different climates.
In order to make high quality foods more easily available at a reasonable cost, macrobiotics have been actively involved in a variety of food related activities including organic, natural and other sustainable ways of farming; natural and traditional food processing; establishing companies and mail order food services that provide natural and organic food; opening natural food stores, restaurants, cafes, and many others.
Developing the Art of Cooking
Cooking is another element closely associated to macrobiotics and plays a vital role. Not only have food proportions and food quality been changing over the years but also the way we cook it. Modern busy lifestyles have led to too much dependence on eating out, take-out foods, or those that are already pre-prepared and ready to eat such as packaged and convenience foods. As a result, the majority of people today cannot really cook well, particularly healthful cooking with fresh, wholesome foods. But no matter how good the quality of the ingredients used, if they are not properly cooked we lose much of their benefits. This area continues to be poorly understood and is usually overlooked by nutritional science as well as by many individuals looking to improve health through dietary means.
Macrobiotics respects, learns and incorporates healthful aspects found within traditional food cultures. When observing traditional healthy societies that are long lived such as in the case of the Japanese or in certain Mediterranean areas, it is not just because of balanced nutrition but a combination of factors integrated as part of the food culture. Including access to a variety of fresh local foods, emphasis on seasonal ingredients, simple processing, attention to food preparation and ways of cooking as well as considering how meals are consumed and shared.
Macrobiotics has greatly contributed to develop of the art of cooking in new and original ways. Macrobiotic cooking teachers, instructors and chefs around the world have played an important role teaching how to cook with a wide variety of wholesome, natural foods in more balanced, healthful ways. Besides cooking classes and demonstrations many macrobiotic cookbooks have been published over the years and now many ideas for healthful cooking continue to be shared also through the internet. This, obviously, is part of an ongoing process and it will become even more important in the years to come as more and more people become interested to take better care of their own health and humanity begins to shift towards a plant based way of eating that relies less on animal food and highly processed foods.
Disseminating Healthful Living Practices
Macrobiotics looks at life in a holistic way and pays attention to practical aspects of our daily life in order to achieve better balance and help us realize innate health from within. And while food and cooking are essential aspects to consider for our wellbeing, so are other aspects of our way of life or lifestyle.
Some examples of practical ideas for leading better lives include engaging in outdoor activities and becoming more physically active to help counter the weakening effects of artificial environments and sedentary lifestyles. Macrobiotics has also been encouraging more natural living since we human beings tend to thrive when we live closer to nature and learn to harmonize well with the natural environment. In addition, we now need to minimize chemical exposure originating from our home and work environment which in recent years have been linked to a wide range of health problems. This also includes becoming more ecologically mindful in order to address pollution and many other environmental problems.
Macrobiotics has been actively involved introducing, teaching and helping disseminate various practices and techniques for developing body and mind including Do-In, self-massage, meridian stretches, breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, visualization, chanting, yoga, judo, aikido, tai -chi, and many others. Many of these have now become very popular and are being practiced daily by people all over the world. Some are also being recommended for wellness, stress management, and for helping prevent and relieve many chronic conditions.