CARBONDALE CENTER FOR MACROBIOTIC STUDIES


This page is dedicated to letters received and replies sent. We hope you will enjoy it, and will consider submitting your own comments and ideas.

Unless expressly requested in your letter, your identity will be witheld. We reserve the right to edit for brevity and/or clarity. Letters will be chosen for posting based on general interest as space allows.


Jump to these email topics:

  1. Ayurvedic vis-a-vis Macrobiotic?
  2. Macrobiotic Remedy for Bad Skin?
  3. Justin's Family-Life School Project
  4. Wendy's Diet for Babies?
  5. Brian's Questions about Cancer
  6. Paula's Question about "Locally Grown"

Subject: Ayurvedic vis-a-vis Macrobiotic?
-----Original Message-----

-----Original Message-----

From: jennifer

Sent: Thursday, June 03, 2004 12:26 PM

To: support@macrobiotic.org

Subject: an inquiry

 

Hello,

 

I have just spent an hour perusing your site, and am quite impressed with the array of articles and information you have compiled.  I am curious to know what you believe the relationship between Ayurvedic and Macrobiotic nutrition to be.  In particular, I am interested in the inter-relationship of each theory's categories and premises about food interaction.

 

Best,

 

Jennifer

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Hi Jennifer,

 

Thank you for your thought-provoking letter.

 

You are obviously someone who examines different systems carefully before coming to conclusions, an admirable trait if I may say so.

 

I believe Ayurvedic and Macrobiotic systems have much in common, such as Rajasic being translatable as Yang, Tamasic Yin and Sattvic being balanced.

 

It is also interesting that rice and common garden vegetables are considered Sattvic, and that Macrobiotics also considers rice and vegetables as primary constituents of a well-balanced diet.

 

One difference is the inclusion of certain dairy products and fruits to be in the Sattvic category, while Macrobotics considers dairy products and fruits to be more Yin (Tamasic).

 

That said, Macrobiotic philosophy also recognizes that the climate of India, being more Yang (tropical; hot is Yang), a more Yin diet which includes some fruit (Yin) enables people to balance the heat.

 

The major factor that differentiates the Macrobiotic diet from the Ayurvedic program is that Macrobiotics takes into consideration varying climates and seasons, as well as constitional aspects and current condition of each person.  Taking into account these considerations allows one to determine what comprises a balanced diet wherever one lives, and under whatever conditions.  That is, it is based on a flexible understanding of what constitutes balance under varying conditions. 

 

That is why I feel Macrobiotics offers a truly universal system of health and harmony in any situation or condition of health.  Since one's health condition changes over time, Macrobiotics is also able to adjust with these changes, unlike some systems that do not or cannot understand the dynamics of health which change from day to day for everyone.

 

I hope you will feel motivated to study Macrobiotics in depth, especially as regards the philosophy of Yin and Yang as it applies to food selection and preparation, as well as in determining the condition of people and the varying environmental conditions in which they exist.

 

Best regards,

 

Fred Pulver

 

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Subject: Macrobiotic remedy for bad skin?
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Dear Mr. Pulver,

I am writing you for help.

I have been battling acne for the last three months and I have tried just about everything, with the exception of seeing a skin doctor.

I am trying to avoid seeing a dermotologist, because I don't want to be perscribed antibiotics.

I don't know if it's stress related, but I am 34 years old, working out of the house and have two children. I just had a complete blood work done and everything was okay. I am in desperate need of any advice.

I am writing you to see if there were Macrobiotic remedies for bad acne/skin disorder. I would appreciate any advice concerning this matter.

Thank you in advance.

Ann

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Hi Ann,

Acne can be a sign of blood toxicity. Blood toxicity can be related to kidney and/or intestinal tract impairment, since kidneys function to remove liquid metabolic waste while intestines process food and eliminate solid metabolic waste. The balance and purity of the Macrobiotic diet can assist the body to remove metabolic waste and restore balance among the organ systems, glands, etc. This in turn can allow the kidneys and intestinal tract to rebuild their ability to remove metabolic waste more efficiently and thoroughly.

Acne can be related to stress, as you suggested. Stress for people in any age group can lead to glandular imbalances and disfunction, such as are experienced during adolescence as children are growing rapidly. Imbalance in diet can affect the body's glandular balances. Eating a balanced Macrobiotic diet can assist the body to restore glandular balances.

Of course, keeping your skin clean by gently washing your face several times a day and before retiring at night with a non-irritating, gentle and natural cleanser, and not touching your skin unless your hands have been washed thoroughly first is important too, since acne can be aggravated by bacterial infection.

There are also herbal combinations that can assist the body to restore glandular balance. This approach can also assist your body to clear your skin of acne.

If you are interested in trying an herbal approach along with Macrobiotics, please let me know.

Fred

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To whom it may concern,

My name is Justin. I am 11 years old. I am going to study family life in science soon and I wanted to get ahead so I know everything I am learning. We are going to study sex ed, nutrition and diseases. Can you please send me as much information as possible.

Thank you for all of your help.

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Dear Justin,

I am glad you are studying the connection between nutrition and disease, because it is an important subject, and one that people should study, and know more about.

Scientists try to find medicines to help people after they get sick. We need also to study how people should eat so that they do not get sick so much in the first place. Staying healthy by eating properly is easier and more fun than trying to recover from being sick.

If children learned more about how to eat properly, they would find it is easy to stay healthy. Family life study should include more of this subject.

I once gave cooking classes to children your age. The classes were held during lunch recess. We made whole wheat pizza with carrot sauce and tofu, millet soup with onions, whole wheat bread we kneaded by hand into snails and other shapes. After the class, we ate what we made. It was fun.

The only problem was, when some of the children went home, their parents did not want them trying to make food in the kitchen because the parents thought their children would make a mess, and wouldn't clean up after themselves.

So first you may have to convince your parents you will keep the kitchen clean. Then maybe they will let you try making some food your whole family can share.

While your family and you share the food you made, you can tell them about why you use certain ingredients, like whole wheat flour instead of white flour (because it contains more fiber, which is good for your intestines), or tofu instead of eggs, meat or dairy products (because it is high in protein and low in fat and cholesterol).

The family is where we are born, and where we receive nourishment as we are growing up. The family can also be the place where we learn about diet and health, and apply what we learn. All the books we can read and all the ideas we can remember mean nothing if we do not learn how to make meals for our families that can heal and keep the family healthy.

We could cut the high cost of medical care way down if we all just learned how to make healthful meals, and started preparing these wholesome meals for our families.

The best place to start is by studying what are good foods to eat and what are not such good foods. Mainly, good foods are made of whole grains, like wheat, corn, rice, barley, millet, oats, rye, spelt, teff, quinoa and triticale.

The outside part of grains is called the bran. The bran should be left on the grains, because it protects the grains from becoming spoiled, and provides fiber. It also contains most of the B vitamins and minerals that are in grains.

There are many different ways people can use grains to make very delicious meals: ground up as breakfast cereals, pasta (noodles, etc.), breads, muffins and rolls; rolled or cut (like in oatmeal); in soups (like barley); steamed (like cous-cous); pressure-cooked (like brown rice is prepared) or baked (like pies and cakes).

Our family's daily meals should be built around some kind of whole grain dishes. The main food should be grains, because they are "the staff of life". The old expression "staff of life" means that grains are like a walking stick (staff) that people used to use when they walked from place to place (which they did a lot before there were horses and cars). The walking stick helped people get around without getting too tired. Eating whole grains every day keeps you from getting tired, because the starch they contain gives your body energy to be active and healthy, and the bran (fiber) they contain keeps your intestines healthy.

Parents used to say, "eat your vegetables" to their children. This is still good advice, because vegetables contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that your body uses to build strong bones, teeth and muscles. Now scientists are finding that vegetables contain factors that can keep you from getting cancer. Carrots contain beta carotene, from which the body makes vitamin A.

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale and kohlrabi also contain factors that can also help keep people from getting cancer. The US government now recommends people eat more vegetables and less meat, because meat contains too much fat and cholesterol, and waste products from meat digestion can make people get cancer, too.

Today, companies that make packaged breakfast cereals put sugar or refined sweeteners in almost everything. The US government makes these companies list what is in the food they are selling. All you have to do is read the ingredients to see which cereals contain added sugar, and which do not.

This could make an interesting project in itself, which you could do a report on for your class.

There are only a few companies which do not add sugar to their cereals. If people start buying more of their cereals, and less of the ones that contain added sugar, the other companies will start making healthier foods too. If they don't, they will lose business. Companies only make what people want. It is people like yourself, and millions of other children around the world, who have the power to change what is offered in the supermarkets. All you have to do is, "Be smart, buy smart!"

When children like you start demanding better food, the big companies will have to start making better foods. I hope you can help teach others about the importance of eating healthier foods.

A good book to start with is titled "Basic Macrobiotic Cooking", by Julia Ferre. The ISBN number of this book (that helps you find it in the library system) is: 0-918860-47-4. If you can't find it, let me know, and I can get one for you. It costs $9.95 plus shipping if you decide to buy your own copy.

I hope this letter will help a little. If you want to study Macrobiotics more, see what books are listed under "Macrobiotics" in the library near you, and let me know what you find. I can help you pick which ones are easier to understand, and which ones may contain the kind of information you are looking for.

Good luck with your project!

Fred Pulver

pulver@zcloud.net
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Dear Fred,

Thank you for a very interesting page ... I am really glad I found it.

I have a 6 month old baby boy and I am trying to get some information on a macrobiotic diet for babies. I have managed to get hold of two books ... Macrobiotic Pregnancy and Care of the Newborn, and Macrobiotic Child Care & Family Health - both ny Michio and Aveline Kushi - but neither have enough information relating to young babies.

My son started solids at 4 months ... a bit young, but he had already cut two teeth at 3 months, and had 8 teeth by the time he was 5 months old. I have been feeding him brown rice porridge ... with barley malt for breakfast and mixed with pureed vegetables for lunch and supper. I have been told that he needs to start eating more protein ... what can I give him, and how can I vary his diet more.

I have followed a macrobiotic diet, but found it very difficult to follow that kind of lifestyle at times.

I hope that you could help me, or point me in the direction of someone that can.

Regards ... Wendy

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Dear Wendy,

There is a traditional mixture called "kokkoh", used in Japan for thousands of years, and first suggested by Macrobiotics' founder, George Ohsawa, to supply infant's nutritional needs. It is made by gently roasting in a small amount of sesame oil, then combining in equal parts and grinding to a fine powder, the following organically grown, whole grains and seeds:

1) Short-grain brown rice
2) Sweet brown (mochi) rice
3) Oat groats
4) Sesame Seeds

Combine 1 heaping tablespoon of this kokkoh mixture with 1 - 1/2 cups of water. Stir to prevent lumping, and boil for 10 minutes. Cool to skin temperature before feeding. If you make it thinner by addingmore water, it can be fed from a baby bottle. If you make it thicker, it makes a perfect infant cereal.

The amino acids (proteins) found in the grains are complementary with each other, so they provide full, balanced protein needed for infants. Rice alone is low in certain essential amino acids. These become a limiting factor for the others, even though they are higher. Seeds, beans and seaweeds are higher in the amino acids which are low in grains, so together they boost protein values of each other. That is why grain and bean, grain and seed or grain and seaweed combinations are considered complementary.

It is interesting to note that traditional foods from around the world have always combined foods that provide complementary proteins. Native intuition, evolved through trail and error and the practical needs of daily life over millenia, came up with combinations that Macrobiotics and modern nutritional theory recognize as being based on sound nutritional principles.

The recipe was first featured in "The First Macrobiotic Cookbook", formerly called "Zen Cookery". Let me know if you would like to obtain a copy of this pioneer publication.

You do not really need to vary the diet of infants. They thrive very well on brown rice porridge and pureed vegetables. Occasionaly, a little natural applesauce (made with just organically-grown apples and water) is a welcomed treat, especially in warmer weather.

You mention you had trouble staying on the Macrobiotic diet. This may have been due to trying to stick to a too restricted version of Macrobiotic diet. You might try "widening" your diet to include some fish, eggs, chicken or even a little meat occasionally, for Yang foods, and more raw vegetables (as salads), a little fruit (in season), or even a little dairy or malt/honey-sweetened natural delicasies for Yin balance to the Yang animal flesh-based foods.

Macrobiotics has often been misinterpreted as a strict diet, when it is in truth it is very all-encompassing. Macrobiotics does not condemn any food. It offers a simple way to classify foods by their Yin and Yang aspects. Actually, all foods can be included if one desires them. Sick or weakened people are just advised to eat a simpler, healthy, natural diet based around whole grains, vegetables, beans, seeds, salads, fish, fruit and nuts, in descending order of quantity consumed, at least until health is restored.

"A healthy person can enjoy anything", is a basic tenet of Macrobiotics. However, after experiencing the balanced, healthful qualities obtained from eating brown rice and vegetables as main, daily foods, most people prefer to maintain this pattern. But if they do, they do it by choice, not by necessity. That is "exercising one's freedom".

Also, children started on the simpler regimen of rice and vegetables grow up with less health problems, which can usually be solved simply by discovering what offending food was eaten, ceasing its intake, and returning to a basic miso soup, brown rice and vegetable diet. Miso soup for children should be very mild -- hold back on the miso. It should taste bland to you. A little is OK.

Also, hold off on using too much salt and soy sauce -- infant foods should all taste bland to you. Too much salt can slow a child's growth. Growing children need a little more Yin food to grow and expand than adults do. Just be careful not to go overboard with sweets (infants and children often crave them) -- even barley malt -- because sweets and sweetened foods can make infants lose appreciation for more balanced and nutritious foods. If your child becomes cranky, irritable, peevish and difficult to handle, these are signs your child is becoming too Yin.

I hope this helps. Please write if you have any more questions or comments.

With best regards,

Fred
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Fred,

I am interested in macrobiotics and would appreciate a brief introduction in layman's terms about macrobiotics and if it has any affect on people with cancer.

Thank you so much for your time,

Brian


Brian,

Thank you for your interest in Macrobiotics, and the opportunity to put in simple terms what is Macrobiotics, and how it can help people with cancer. Others have expressed concern about these questions, so I will do my best. Please let me know if it helps you understand Macrobiotics any better.

You could not be starting with a better attitude in your search, describing yourself as "interested and ignorant". George Ohsawa, the founder of Macrobiotics, started a Macrobiotic school in Tokyo he called "Maison Ignoramus", which is French for "House of the Ignorant". He said we have little chance of learning anything new in our lives until we realize our ignorance. For this reason, you have excellent credentials to become an extremely wise person, if you can always keep this precious attitude foremost in your life.

Macrobiotics to me is, first of all, a way of life. A way of life means it is more than just a diet; it affects everything I think, feel and do in my life. It affects my hopes, goals and dreams. It is so basic to my entire life now that I can truly say it is the cornerstone upon which I have rebuilt my life. It the same way a hailstone is built up around a speck of dust, Macrobiotics formed the speck around which the rest of life began layering itself. I think many people, myself included, have built their lives around worthless, false and vain things. I was not satisfied with the goals and dreams that I had grown up with. They seemed so shallow and superficial. I wanted to find something upon which I could build a life that was real and true.

I stumbled upon a little book about Macrobiotics many years ago. It said people should, and can, be happy. It said we should not be sick all the time, but should be able to enjoy our lives from morning to night, throughout our lives. This sounded true to me. The message resounded in the depths of my heart, and came back up feeling "right on". I continued reading, eager to find out what the author of the book decided was the way to realize such an ideal life.

I was amazed to find out the author advocated eating brown rice to realize a wonderful, fulfilling life. It sounded too simplistic. However, I have a tendency to believe people until my experience proves them mistaken -- at least mistaken when applied to my life situation. So I got some short-grain organic brown rice, sea salt and spring water, and boiled them until a soft rice gruel was obtained. I chewed this rice thoroughly as instructed in the book, while trying to imagine what strange magic brown rice could possibly contain that would make it "A key that unlocks the Kingdom of Health and Happiness", as Ohsawa described.

Well, to make a long story shorter, I sensed a balanced quality that I had been looking for, but totally overlooked. If eating brown rice could make one feel balanced, then this was indeed quite an amazing thing, for balance, after all is the key to all things. I had a sudden flash of insight: I had been looking in all the wrong places, thinking the key to mental and physical harmony might be found through Yoga, Martial Arts, Meditation, etc. These things helped, but they were not as basic as what I had been eating every day without thinking how food might be affecting me mentally and spiritually, as well as physically.

Well, here I am 30 years later, having had no major diseases, feeling fine, thanks to Macrobiotics. I also pray a lot, and believe in the power of prayer, but I have no doubt that diet is important too. One must attend to the physical as well as the spiritual, plus the social, mental, emotional and sensual aspects of being, to live a well-rounded, balanced and whole life. No one aspect should dominate others.

I think we get sick when our lives are not in balance, in one way or another. Many things in our lives are beyond our control, so there may not be much we can do about them. Or else they are too difficult, too expensive, or there is some other reason why we cannot incorporate them into our lives, and realize a beneficial change in ourselves or our life situation.

But Macrobiotics is something anyone and everyone can do: they simply need to find out how to create simple, whole-grain based meals, how to cook vegetables and make miso soup, and start eating these foods. The rest takes care of itself.

Doubtless you will make a lot of mistakes (as I have, and everyone else has, many times). Mistakes are a way we learn. Doubtless you will question the validity of Macrobiotics more than once. I did too. But once you have experienced what the amazing little grains of rice, wheat and other grains can do to your sense of well-being, I do not think you will forget it. Whole grains have an integrity (wholeness) that impart this quality to us when we eat them. They start us back on the path toward our own personal integrity and wholeness once again.

Macrobiotics is a journey of a lifetime. It is not limited to eating whole grains and vegetables. It is a sense of balance and proportion that eating whole grains and vegetables gives -- a reawakening of our innate ability to discern truth, to realize what is really fundamental in life, to make the right decisions about what is healthful for our bodies, minds and spirits, and what is not. In short, Macrobiotics is a means to recover our freedom: the freedom to direct our lives ourselves -- to restore our own good judgment so that we can make decisions which will be life-supportive, rather than life-destructive.

People who have cancer, or any other illness, have brought it upon themselves, by making the wrong choices of diet and lifestyle, over many years. They may not want to face this fact; denial is a big obstacle to self-realization. We must become aware of our life-destructive patterns, and begin to change, if we are to realize a healthy and happy life. There are many programs and methods being offered today that may or may not work for each individual, since each individual differs in the ability to benefit from different kinds of therapy, treatment or guidance.

Macrobiotics may or may not work for everyone. Part of the problem why Macrobiotics doesn't work for some people is because it may not be understood or practiced properly. Some people may not be able to incorporate it into their lifestyles, or may not be able to stick to it long enough for it to make a lasting impression, or it may not reach some deep, vital part of their awareness where it connects missing pieces in their lives, like it did in my life.

Or they may try it, then reject it, only to come back to it later on. If Macrobiotics is based on a true foundation, then it will become a way of life, in some form or another, for more and more people, as time goes by, and more people discover that other ways lack something that Macrobiotics provides. You do not necessarily need to throw out everything you have built your life around to start Macrobiotics, but as it seems appropriate, changes can be made, gradually.

So, to summarize, if you want to start Macrobiotics, I would get some good books (I can recommend some) on Macrobiotics for beginners, that tell you how to get started -- what foods to buy, what utensils you will need, some basic recipes, etc.

I would study them and re-read them. This should not be a chore, but something you find fascinating. I do not think someone is ready for Macrobiotics if learning about it feels like a chore. However, there are many people who clutch at it out of fear they will lose their lives if they do not. This may not be a healthy attitude; however, it also may be all they can come up with at the time. Fear is not the best reason for doing anything, but it may be better than nothing. Eventually, it is hoped fear will give way to renewed hope and expectation, joy of living and gratitude.

These feelings cannot be faked; they can only come from a body, mind and spirit feeling the energy of healing flowing back into the diseased or harmed areas of their body, mind and spirit. I hope you will be able to feel these wonderful feelings, and those you help on their way will be able to experience these things too. They are miracles, and Macrobiotics gives everyone the opportunity to experience the blessed joy we experience as we re-integrate our fractured and imbalanced lives.

I hope this general overview will help you. Please write again if you have any more comments or questions.

Fred Pulver
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-----Original Message-----

From: Paula

Sent: Saturday, February 14, 1998 3:35 PM

To: pulver@zcloud.net

Subject: Help ! ! !

I don't expect you to remember me, with all the gazillions of people who love your website, but we had some correspondence last year. I'm the woman who is writing a book about a Christian's approach to macrobiotics. I'm asking for advice from some of the more experienced people in the macrobiotic community because I'm trying to help a woman in my church who is suffering from hypertension. She is Burmese (her husband is a political prisoner there, but she and her children were able to get out). My specific question is this: how do you define "locally grown" food for someone who has migrated from another climate zone? Do you use the foods from the climate zone they came from, or the one they migrated to, or reconcile the two in some way? I wish I could just put this dear Burmese lady in my car and take her to see Donna Wilson, but she couldn't afford it, so I'm trying to help her as best I can with my limited knowledge.

Thanks very much in advance.

Paula

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Hi Paula,

I remember you very well. Good to hear from you again. God will bless you for the work you are doing with the Burmese woman. I’d be glad to help.

Regarding your question: "How do you define 'locally grown' food for someone who has migrated from another climate zone? Do you use the foods from the climate zone they came from, or the one they migrated to, or reconcile the two in some way?”

“Locally grown” can be extended to mean “grown in the same latitude or environmental conditions”. However, if she is used to, and feels most comfortable with, foods she grew up with, you might try to help her get those foods by shopping with her in an Oriental market, if you have one nearby. Macrobiotics is very flexible and can accommodate many different ethnic styles. At the same time, you may be able to suggest the value of “natural” quality foods, and slip in some macrobiotic specialties. I think, especially since she is full-grown, that you must take into account her habits, which have taken a lifetime to establish. They usually cannot change overnight, and it could possibly make her ill to try. If you can get her to eat brown rice instead of white rice, and stop using sugar, you will be achieving a small miracle. Life is best characterized by, and measured by, the small miracles, isn’t it? Please let me know how it goes…

Regards,

Fred

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Write to me at: pulver@zcloud.net

Fred Pulver is a Macrobiotic teacher, consultant and free-lance writer who lives in Carbondale, Colorado. His knowledge of macrobiotics comes from lifelong study and application.


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