It was the tenth stage of George Ohsawa's 1960s macrobiotics diet, but as a result of consuming only brown rice and water participants of this Buddhist-influenced eating regimen were found by the American Medical Association's Council of Food and Nutrition to have suffered severe health repercussions including scurvy, anemia, emaciation, malnutrition, starvation, renal failure, and even death.
It's a shame for Ohsawa because the Japanese prophet, philosopher, and lecturer firmly and sincerely believed that adherence to macrobiotic foods could lead to a long life free from illness, and that this way of eating could even help prevent cancer. For a time in the mid-1960s and early 70s Ohsawa's macrobiotic diet plan curried great favor with the American public seeking an alternative way of life, but in reality macrobiotic recipes have been found to be sorely lacking in certain areas when it comes to health.
Originally introduced to the western world by 18th century German physician Christoph Hufeland, macrobiotics (meaning "Large Life") was a term first recorded by Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, around 400 BC, as a means of prolonging and perfecting life through Chinese 'ying and yang' principles of opposing - yet complementary aspects - to all things in the world.
Macrobiotic diets consist of the following food groups as part of the overall plan - 50% whole grains, 25% seasonal vegetables (cooked or raw), 10% protein foods (fish, legumes/beans), 5% sea vegetables, 5% soups, and 5% fruit, nuts, or seeds. The elimination of dairy products, meats, and fatty foods from the diet are designed to prevent toxic effects on the body.
And it is this elimination of toxicity that is thought to be the main reason why a macrobiotic diet can help prevent many types of cancer, as well as increase longevity of a cancer patient's life, although doctors are quick to stress that it is by no means a cure for cancer or that the macrobiotic diet is a full-proof preventing cancer diet. Studies have shown that a diet high in whole grains, vegetables, and low in saturated fat, red meat, and preserved meat products will assist in improving health - but this would also be the case for numerous other life-threatening illnesses and diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
When all is said and done - any diet that reduces the levels of toxicity in the blood and body tissue will help prevent serious health issues. Period.
But like many diets that are based on a restricted food intake, macrobiotic dieting has been discovered to be seriously deficient when it comes to supplying vital vitamins and minerals and other nutritional components that the body needs for optimum health and efficiency. Protein, iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D have all been found to be lacking in the strict macrobiotic diet which is generally thought to be down to the exclusion of healthy foods such as eggs, avocados, and other dairy products.
As Dr. Katherine Tallmadge, of the American Dietetic Association has pointed out, a common side effect of cancer patients adopting an anti-cancer diet (such as the macrobiotic diet) is unintentional weight loss brought on by the deficiency of nutrients. But because the strict macrobiotic diet plans often discourage the intake of vitamin and mineral supplements, embarking on such a plan could be potentially do more harm than good.
It's all about getting the balance right - which is why anyone looking for a well-balanced program of healthy eating and doable exercise should look to expert nutritionists such as those at www.changingshape.com, a team of online fitness professionals who specialize in personalized dietary programs, matched with on-going one-to-one support.