Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Tishrei 5765 - October 13, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Home and Family

The Macrobiotic Diet
by Dr. Reuven Bruner, Ph.D.

What do you think of the macrobiotic diet? Does it fight cancer?

A. Since the 1960s, it has often been promoted as a way to treat cancer. There is no evidence for this. No diet or combination of foods is known to cure cancer. In fact, a macrobiotic diet could be harmful to cancer patients if it leads to malnutrition and weight loss.

The macrobiotic (meaning large, or long, life) diet seems to be making a comeback lately, thanks in part to a few celebrities who are following it. It can be healthful, though there's no reason to think it is superior to other vegetarian diets. The diet does focus on good foods, but rules out many other healthful ones. It consists chiefly of whole grains (40- 60 percent) plus selected vegetables, beans, seaweed, and occasionally fish, fruit and nuts, with an emphasis on local and seasonal produce.

Among excluded foods are not only meats, eggs, and dairy products, but also fruit juice, chocolate, tropical fruits, all canned and frozen foods, regular tea, coffee, refined sugars, hot spices, and honey. You're supposed to limit or avoid tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and spinach.

The diet is actually part of a larger lifestyle devised by the Japanese philosopher George Ohsawa, emphasizing exercise, minimal processing of foods, and eating only when hungry and in a relaxed manner. There are some odd rules too, like chewing each mouthful at least 50 times and avoiding electric cooking devices, aluminum cookware, and ice in beverages.

The diet is very low in fat and high in fiber. Taken to its extreme however, it can be low in Vitamin C, D, and B12, as well as calcium, zinc, and iron. It takes careful planning to avoid nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin supplements are not permitted.

2004 Dr. Reuven Bruner. All Rights Reserved.

Contact him at: POB 1903, Jerusalem, 91314, Israel; Tel: (02) 652-7684; Mobile: 052 2865-821; Fax: (02) 652-7227; Email:


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