As the world battles the Coronavirus pandemic, staying healthy is our top priority. Macrobiotic diet gives a boost to immunity with a larger-than-life approach to living and eating
Even as the pandemic keeps affecting normal life, restrictions on the movement of individuals and commerce across the country are being eased. However, despite the easing of restrictions, the fear of infection is ever-present. And as people have started going out, for work as well as leisure, one of the most important things that one should focus on to stay safe is to stay healthy and boost immunity. While there are a number of ways to boost immunity, the primary focus has to be on the diet, that forms the building blocks of our biological systems; a Macrobiotic diet is the easiest and most effective to follow to ensure a healthy immune system.
To give more insights on how a Macrobiotic diet works and how one can implement it in daily life, Shonali Sabherwal, Macrobiotic Nutritionist, chef, instructor and author had some valuable insights to share. “Macrobiotic is a larger-than-life approach to living and eating. Macro means ‘large’ and bios means ‘life’,” Sabherwal says.
Macrobiotic diet impacts two very important components that affect immunity, she says. “The gut (your immune barrier) and the blood condition help build immunity. It focuses on cleansing the gut, restoring the inner ecosystem, preventing and halting dysbiosis i.e., gut microbiota (bacteria) breakdown; via introducing foods which are high in fibre and fermented foods,” she further explains.
A macrobiotic diet has a lasting effect on the body and the immune system. “A Macrobiotic diet changes your blood condition with the food you eat in four months and changes cellular condition in two years. A couple of things set it apart from being just a diet and putting it on the mantle of an ‘approach for life’. The foods are included in a way to maintain the balance between yin and yang forces. Therefore, it extends to a calmer mind and disposition, very close to the sattvic concept of foods in Ayurveda,” Shonali says.
While it is seen to have multiple benefits, there is a downside to shifting to a Macrobiotic diet as well. “There have been views that the diet can be deficient in B12 as this is obtained from animal foods, and Macrobiotics is primarily plant-based with animal protein being advocated only if a constitution needs it. Experienced practitioners will take care of this once you are on the program and help you incorporate foods that will give you abundant B12,” she says.
While food plays a major role in a healthy being, it has to be complemented with exercise as well. “As with any other diet, a Macrobiotic lifestyle is augmented by adding movement, so exercise and other practices are added keeping in mind the ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ aspects of your life,” Sabherwal adds.
She further mentions that a Macrobiotic diet is broadly recommended for everyone. “It is a lifestyle that is always seeking to keep you in balance, impact the body, mind and spirit. It encompasses lifestyle practices and foods that take us back to simpler eating, eating local/seasonal foods, avoiding refined, processed foods, modern-day genetically modified foods, minimise animal foods, dairy and sugar in all forms. This includes alcohol in minimal consumption. Dairy is replaced with brown rice milk, or milk made from nuts and seeds (e.g., almond milk, pumpkin seed milk and cashew milk) and yogurt, buttermilk can be made from these. It focuses on vegetables (of which leafy greens and in India spirulina is emphasised), whole grains, beans/legumes, good quality fermented foods and in a tropical climate like India fruits; foods are cooked in cold pressed oils and sea salt.
“As an approach, it also takes into consideration the balance between acid and alkaline forming foods, those foods which are low on the glycemic index, and sodium and potassium balance within the body. It brings into play the use of foods to boost one’s moods as well, supplying one with an abundance of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, all coming out of natural normal foods”.
A macrobiotic diet is also recommended for cancer patients as it changes blood condition and cellular condition. “Cancer is a disease of cell mutation, and this is precisely why only a Macrobiotic diet which is also called a cancer-curing diet makes the claim of putting cancer patients into remission,” adds Sabherwal.
“While Macrobiotics does advocate giving up or minimising dairy, sugar, refined flours, alcohol and animal foods, it does not advocate complete abstinence. What it beautifully does is make you walk a path and see which turn you’d like to take. If you get completely healthy, what would you choose to keep and get rid of, once you know and apply the principles,” she says.
To conclude, there is no compromise on some of the essential nutrients that the body needs when one switches to a macrobiotic diet and recommends everyone to try it.
Dr Reshma is an advocate of wellness, prevention and holistic health. Instagram handle: dr.reshmakhattarbhagat