Macrobiotics is based on millennial principles that were practiced in most civilizations, both eastern and western. The expression was initially used by the German doctor Christoph Hufeland in the 1750s, who claimed that disease was frequently a way of finding a healthier lifestyle. His book “Macrobiotic: the art of prolonging life”, was published in 1796. Its contemporary base rests on Shoku-Yo, which literally means “Healthy Eating”, and was developed in the late 19th century by a Japanese army doctor, Sagen Ishizuka. Sagen healed himself, from an untreatable kidney disease, not using modern medicine but by adopting a diet based on whole grains and vegetables, according to eastern food tradition. Ishizuka’s most important books are “The Chemical Theory for Longevity” (1896), and “Diet for Health” (1898).
Later, a fellow countryman, George Ohsawa (1893-1966) healed himself from tuberculosis, a deadly disease at the time, by following Shoku-Yo. Ohsawa’s mother had died of tuberculosis when he was still a child, and he later confessed to his friends that one of his biggest dreams was to invent a healing method for all diseases, so that no child had to lose their mother. Throughout his life he wrote more than three hundred books and pamphlets. From his writings we understand that Oshawa saw life as something precious and that he encourages everyone to take responsibility for their life and body.
Ohsawa didn’t just follow Ishizuka’s teachings. By having a great taste for knowledge and personal development, he studied in depth both western science and eastern philosophy. He synthesized the essence of eastern thinking through the seven principles of the universe and Yin and Yange twelve theorems. Towards the end of his life, in the late 1950’s, he named his system as Zen Macrobiotics, and later simply Macrobiotics. This way, from a healing diet became a path of personal growth and conscious development.
After WWII, Ohsawa started what he called at the time “the eternal journey” around the world with the purpose to share Macrobiotics. He travelled through India and Africa, but focused more in Europe, in countries such as France, and in the USA. Oshawa also encouraged his closest disciples to do the same and continue with his work. For example, Michio and Aveline Kushi radicated in Boston, Shizuko Yamamoto in New York, Herman and Cornelia Aihara in California. and Tomio Kikuchi in Brazil. Others moved to France ate the end of the millennia, and Macrobiotics was spread around the world.
In the 1980’s, Michio Kushi (1926-2014) who after George Ohsawa’s death became a world-renowned leader, developed, in the United States, a diet of easier understanding and more adapted to modern life (Macrobiotic Standard Diet), the diet that is followed by most of the modern macrobiotics. Nowadays, the concept of Macrobiotics is still very connected to healthy eating, mainly “plant-based”, that is considered the foundation of spiritual development.
Essence and Achiviements
One of Macrobiotics achievements was to make popular different Japanese and Chinese arts in the West. Alongside macrobiotics arose subjects such as Shiatsu, Do In, 9 Star Ki Astrology, Meditation, Chanting, I Ching e a Face Reading, and many others. However, maybe one of its greatest achievements was, being the pioneer of healthy eating, the greatest promoter of organic farming, and the force behind the development of the natural product industry.