Japan and Macrobiotics
- July 27, 2020
Ancient traditions that inspired a new philosophy of life. Japan, year 1850, because of the national isolation the culture of this country has not yet been contaminated by the West. The population lives rooted in their traditions, life goes on peacefully, without major worries, as long as nature does not rebel against them by depriving them of the harvest or their homes. They represent one of the longest-lived populations and that without having to do anything strange to achieve it, they work in the fields, eat little and above all vegetables, legumes and cereals, respect the rhythms of nature and nature itself, and most importantly, they respect each other.
They eat what they have and try to get the most out of each food, as in the case of soya, from which they obtain numerous derivatives. The dishes are prepared in a simple way and with very little fat, and in this case always of vegetable origin. The cooking times are short so that the food does not lose its properties, its essence. The fact of eating with chopsticks marks a slow rhythm in the ingestion, reason why small amounts of food are taken to the mouth favoring the chewing and the digestion. The presentation is so important that they have even developed a technique to cut vegetables, the Mukimono. This technique was born with religious purposes, the fruits and vegetables were carved giving them forms and the resulting figures were used as offerings. Today it is a common technique used in the hotel and catering industry for decorative purposes in both the East and the West.
All their acts at every moment of the day go back to ancestral rituals and ceremonies, such as the well-known tradition of tea, a social act of enormous importance for them. It is no coincidence that centuries later the different types of Japanese teas such as Kukicha, Matcha and Sencha are available in most organic shops; on the contrary, it is the consequence of a food culture so rich, healthy and varied that it has been preserved and passed on for thousands of years, drawing the attention of the rest of the world until today.
They are mainly found on their tables:
Soya, rice and other cereals and legumes, a wide variety of vegetables, seaweed, which they eat daily and in small doses, some fish and meat for the more fortunate. Roots that dry of plants like the lotus and burdock. Fermented foods, from vegetables (pickles), to soy derivatives such as miso, which in addition to being very healthy is a great source of flavor. Tofu, known as the cheese of the Orientals, which unlike this one is free of cholesterol and saturated fats, as is tempeh. Oil and soy sauce, to give more flavor to the food.
Although they eat almost no meat or other foods rich in saturated fat, their dishes are succulent and varied. And most importantly, although they don’t know milk and dairy products as food, they also don’t know osteoporosis as a disease. There is no doubt that this is due to the large amounts of calcium that they ingest with the algae and other vegetables, as well as alkaline foods that do not demineralise the bones.
It was then that George Ohsawa was born, 40 years later, the founder of that philosophy of life that would later become known in the world as MACROBIÓTICA.
Sick with tuberculosis, he was healed with the natural method of a doctor who advocated curing the diseases only by balancing, in the diet, the ratio between sodium and potassium, or in terms of Macrobiotics, between YIN and YANG.
These are, in a reduced form, its basic principles:
* Eat only when you’re hungry and only as much as you need.
* Eat only when you are hungry and only as much as you need.
* Eat only when you are hungry and only as much as you need.
* Chew well with every bite. As Gandhi said: “you should chew your drinks and drink your food”.
Today, due to the modernization of agriculture and the year-round availability of any previously processed product, our food has become more and more removed from traditional and natural cuisine. And, due to the persuasive power that advertising for food of all kinds has over the population, particularly children, our daily caloric intake has increased considerably.
We are talking about basic foods for humans since ancient times such as whole grains, legumes, organic and seasonal fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, mushrooms, seaweed, berries, roots and various natural condiments…
Nature itself tells us indirectly what is best for our species. Why do we have a long intestine more like that of herbivores and not short like that of carnivores? A shorter intestine is necessary so that the toxic substances present in meat do not remain inside for too long, the human being is equipped with a long intestine more appropriate for the digestion of dietary fibre. On the other hand, why do our teeth, unlike those of carnivorous animals, consist mostly of molars and premolars, made to grind food such as cereals, legumes, seeds, nuts, etc., and only 4 canines, useful for cutting meat? To the above we could add more “coincidences”, such as the relationship between the intake of animal proteins and the acidification of the blood or showing the nutritional differences between breast milk and cow’s milk, but this is the subject of another article.
If we want to live longer and healthier, feel and look younger, have more energy, lose weight, lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer, keep our bones strong, forget about constipation and diarrhea, avoid Alzheimer’s disease, etc., this and much more can be learned by looking at the tradition of these populations as well as that of our ancestors. And, nowadays, looking at a diet or, better said, a philosophy of life that approves of a healthy and natural life, such as Macrobiotics.
Of course, food alone cannot guarantee a complete maintenance of an individual’s state of health; Orientals indeed claim that health is like a chair with 3 legs and these legs are: Food- Exercise- Happiness (or Relaxation). If one of these legs breaks, the chair falls down. If one of these 3 pillars fails, the delicate balance of our organism is altered causing a whole series of side effects in chain until reaching the disease.
Eat well, move and be active, smile and avoid stress. This is, after all, what our body needs to function well and stay healthy. And Macrobiotics is an excellent ally to achieve this.