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The hazards of macrobiotics.

The Hazards of Macrobiotics

Passions flare when the subject of macrobiotics is discussed. Its advocates endorse the diet to be in full harmony with nature and human needs. Herman Aihara and Michio Kushi brought it to the United States and expanded macrobiotic thought to include ideas on world government and peace, meditation, and diagnosis of health problems. Among its proponents are practitioners who believe that cancer can be cured by a strict macrobiotic diet. The American Medical Association considers it "a major health problem."

In my opinion, the diet is unbalanced in supplying the body with important nutrients. Although brown rice is an ideal food, many teachers of macrobiotics eventually narrow the regimen down to where brown rice is the principal ingredient.

Since the emphasis is upon grains (50%) and only 5% of raw vegetables, the supply of vitamin C and vitamin A are practically nonexistent. The use of seaweed and sea vegetables introduces considerable sodium into the diet, hardly practical for maintaining healthful blood pressure levels.

Most people think of macrobiotics as a vegetarian diet. By definition, including fish in the regimen violates vegetarian principles.

Also in short supply are vitamins D, [B.sub.2], along with zinc, calcium, and iron.

* Richard A. Kunin, M.D., writes in Meganutrition (McGraw Hill): "My own observations confirm that extremely dangerous undernutrition can accompany a prolonged and overzealous adherence to the macrobiotic diet."

* Paavo Airola, Ph.D., wrote in Dr. Airola's Diet and Cookbook: "The macrobiotic diet ... with emphasis on rice and soy products, (is) heavily salted, cooked, and fried ... "

* The textbook Food, Nutrition and Diet Therapy, by Kraus and Mahan (Saunders) describes the macrobiotic diet: "The dietary pattern progresses through ten steps ranging from the lowest level diet, which includes 30 percent animal products, 30 percent vegetables, 15 percent salad, 10 percent soups ... to the highest levels that contains 100% cereals. Several deaths and vitamin deficiencies have been reported among individuals who attempted to reach the highest and most extreme levels of the diet."

* Jane Brody, syndicated writer and author of Jane Brody's Nutrition Book, wrote: "The macrobiotic diet excludes nearly everything but grains ... is extremely unbalanced and hazardous for everyone, especially for someone who is still growing."

* Dr. Jean Mayer, a leading authority, in his book for Consumer's Union, A Diet for Living, wrote: "The most harmful package of notions is expressed by rigid adherence to the macrobiotic diet ... "

There are certainly some aspects of the macrobiotic diet that can contribute to a well-balanced nutritional regimen. The extremes that are characteristics of many dietary dogmas are the pitfalls that must be avoided.
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Title Annotation:macrobiotic diet and vitamin deficiency
Author:Richards, Valerie
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Sep 22, 1990
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