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Macrobiotic Diet: Is It True That Following a Macrobiotic Diet Can Cure Cancer?

What is macrobiotic diet?

Macrobiotic diets combine the concepts of Buddhist spirituality and certain dietary principles with the goal of balancing spiritual and physical wellness. Macrobiotic diets aim to avoid the "toxins" that come from eating dairy products, meats, and oily foods. A macrobiotic diet consists largely of whole grains, cereals, and cooked vegetables.

Did you know?

Macrobiotic diet was practice long time ago and was found by macrobiotic philosophy and were first described by the Japanese philosopher George Ohsawa, who began teaching his philosophies of health and dieting in the 1930s. In the 1960s, the philosophy of macrobiotics was brought to the US. Interest in the diet increased in the 1980s following a book written by physician Anthony Sattilaro, who believed that a macrobiotic diet helped treat his own prostate cancer.

Patient: Can I practice it? Or is it overly restricted?

Dietitian:  At first this diet was claimed can cure cancer, however no firm scientific evidence to prove that a macrobiotic diet can cure or treat cancer. Since the diet consists largely of whole grains, cereals, and vegetables, those who follow this eating plan may experience some of the health benefits that are associated with eating low-fat, high fiber foods. So it is fine for you to consume whole grains, cereals, and vegetables in your diet but need to have a look in terms of protein sources like poultry or fish.

Because for cancer patient, it is compulsory for them to eat sufficient protein as well to avoid from muscle wasting and rapid weight loss.

Patient: I see, means macrobiotic diet same like vegetarian diet?

Dietitian: Actually not necessarily because early versions of the diet did not include meat, dairy products and oily foods, but newer versions discourage the consumption of heavy meats and may include limited servings of fresh white meat fish. They way they practice are not include all fruits and vegetables such as spinach, beets, zucchini and avocados are the vegetables that was excluded in macrobiotic diet. This diet also recommends consumption of organic source of foods and avoidance of fruits that do not grow locally.

Patient: Is it safe for me (cancer patient) to practice this macrobiotic diet?

Dietitian: Actually there is no evidence can cure cancer or prevent disease. But the diet was designed to help promote health in already healthy people.  Because it is based on grains, vegetables, seaweed, beans, and various soups, a macrobiotic diet requires care and planning, and can be expensive. When undergoing and recovering from cancer treatment, most of the survivors may find macrobiotic dietary.

If not properly planned, macrobiotic diets can lead to poor nutrition. Why? Because this diet exclude certain fruits and vegetables that actually give no harm for them but can actually give nutrients such as mineral and vitamins. For example, avocado that actually high in vitamin C where it is good to boost immune system. Hence, from this diet, to exclude certain fruits that give benefit to cancer patient is actually quite contradict.

For your information, the macrobiotic diet is not recommended for pregnant women or children and may not provide sufficient protein and nutrients for others.

In conclusion, it is recommended for cancer patient to practice balanced diet which consist of all type of vegetables, fruits, protein sources and carbohydrates sources so that you can get adequate energy, minerals and vitamins to fight symptoms and side effects during undergo chemotherapy. Lack of nutrients or imbalance of nutrients in body would lead to severe complications as the immune system is weak. Macrobiotic diet is a healthy style diet because it consist of high fiber foods and low fat foods however still we need to make sure to eat other foods containing protein sources and carbohydrate source. The method of cooking also important for cancer patient. Nutrition therapy might not cure cancer entirely but will help to fight the adverse effect of cancer treatment and make sure that body received nutrients recommended.

Simple tips for cancer patient to eat:

  1. Balanced diet include protein sources like fish, chicken, egg not recommended for processed foods like red meat, and also include carbohydrate sources, vegetables and fruits.
  2. No raw foods but can consume 1 whole fruits that was cleaned thoroughly.
  3. No raw vegetables
  4. Eat well cooked food.
  5. Basic hygiene need to practice. You can have a look another article suggesting tips to practice good basic hygiene.


- Lawrence H. Kushi, Joan E. Cunningham, James R. Hebert, Robert H. Lerman, Elisa V. Bandera, Jane Teas, The Macrobiotic Diet in Cancer, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 131, Issue 11, November 2001, Pages 3056S–3064S,