Your Probiotic Tour: Macrobiotics

A macrobiotic diet can help balance your digestive system. Here’s how.

As awareness around gut health and probiotics continues to increase, so too does the awareness around other health-conscious eating plans designed to return our body to a more natural state. If you’ve wandered around a vegan restaurant or organic grocery store (or Wanderlust Festival, for that matter), you’ve likely heard the term “macrobiotics.” Macrobiotics is more of a rubric for a diet than it is a certain type of food, and was designed to reflect the yin and yang elements found in Zen Buddhism.

What does that really mean? The major principles are to eat local and seasonally-grown foods, consume in moderation, and avoid animal products. Unlike other diets, the macrobiotics plan emphasizes a mental outlook on food in addition to the physical. It’s not just about what you eat; it’s how you eat it. Chewing, for instance, should be done in a thoughtful, slow manor. Eating is akin to meditation.

Of course, there are specific foods unique to a macrobiotics diet. According to WebMD, about 40 to 60 percent of a macrobiotic diet should be organically grown whole grains, like oats, millet, barley, brown rice, and corn. Vegetables are another important part of the diet, and make up 20 to 30 percent. The last five to 10 percent is reserved for various bean products, such as tempeh, miso, and tofu, and sea vegetables (these, of course, contain the probiotics that are essential for good gut health). Local fruit, fresh seafood, nuts, and pickles are consumed in moderation.

What Can a Biotic Diet Do?

Macrobiotic chef Marisa Marinelli noticed rapid improvements after incorporating a macrobiotic diet into her life. “Eventually things started happening—good things,” she reports. “Within 10 days, my symptoms just stopped. And after one month of really committing, my energy in the morning increased.”

This isn’t to say that macrobiotics are a cure-all, or that they rid a person of any disease. Each person’s body is different, and if you are suffering from a serious illness or disease, it is imperative to speak with a doctor. Yet stories like Marisa’s are not uncommon, and remind us that it is important to play an active role in your own health story. They also remind us that diets can be just as flavorful as they are healthy. Some of Marisa’s favorite dishes include root vegetable ginger soup and white codfish with onions and bok choy. Bowls, such as this Everyday Buddha Bowl and this Turmeric Tahini Grain Bowl are delicious and healthy ways to the necessary grains, and greens on a macrobiotic diet.

Where to Eat It

Marisa isn’t the only one to bring macrobiotics into a professional kitchen. Several restaurants, such as New York favorites Bliss Cafe and Souen, have built menus that stemmed from macrobiotic inspiration. Souen has even gone as far as to combine Macrobiotic food with iconic Japanese cuisine classics, such as tempeh sushi and pad thai.

“One of our most famous dishes is the macro plate,” says Luke, one of Souen’s employees. He refers to the mouthwatering amalgamation of steamed vegetables, greens, the restaurant’s bean of the day, seaweed, and a homemade tahini dill dressing. I asked Luke the secret behind Souen’s success, as well as macrobiotic menus in general.

“There’s a high demand for whole foods that are organic and not processed and we provide that,” Luke says. “There are a lot of different healthy ways to eat, but the philosophy behind macrobiotics makes a lot of sense from a historical and biological standpoint. It’s about eating foods based on the season, and eating a different food every season. It’s been the way humans have been eating for thousands of years.”

Eating for your gut—trusting your gut—is indeed the main rubric for how humans have fed themselves since the beginning of time. A macrobiotic diet is one way to get closer to that; probiotic supplements are another. Heal yourself today!