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