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Read the Comments to this from Macrobiotic Teachers.


Photo: Michio Kushi with
his late wife, Aveline


For those of you who don't know who the Kushi's are, (Michio & Aveline), they wrote books on Japanese macrobiotics back in the 60's and have been at the forefront of the macrobiotic movement. Aveline died after nine years of cervical cancer at the young age of only 78.

Japanese women have a very long lifespan generally. She got radiation and possibly other medical treatments. Michio now has colon cancer at 81. These two are not good inspirations for health and longevity, yet they held themselves up as role models for a diet and lifestyle in harmony with the universe.

This must be addressed and dealt with openly, and not swept under the rug. This gives ammunition to people (like the ketogenic crowd) who don't like whole grains.

It is no secret Michio smoked cigarettes and drank coffee for decades. We don't know what, if any, bad habits Aveline had because Japanese people are generally secretive and keep their affairs close to the chest. Chances are Avenline had her own bad habits she didn't reveal.

We will never know if they were under heavy stress or had an unhappy marriage. Divorce is considered "bad form" in Japan, and it is far better to stay together in an unhappy marriage than get divorced. We will never know what really went on, or didn't go on, in the Kushi household. Aveline is gone, and Michio isn't talking. (also see Q&A cancer prevention diet)

Traditional Japanese macrobiotics is too limited, uncreative, boring, and just not enough fun! This is based almost completely on Japanese diet and culture, and just doesn't translate well to the western world. In fact it doesn't even translate well in Asia. (Also read What's Wrong with Japanese Macrobiotics)

This is why I wrote Zen Macrobiotics for Americans (free to downlaod). Despite the title, this book is for everyone in the world no matter what race they are or country they live in. Japanese macrobiotics primarily only includes Japanese foods and seasonings.

Whole grains are overemphasized as the ideal regimen (diet #7) is 100% grains. This is prima facie irrational. Few fresh green and yellow vegetables are eaten, and even salad is "pressed"! Too much salt is used. Seasonings are limited to soy sauce, ginger, and miso for the most part. Bancha tea is full of caffeine.

The traditional macrobiotic authors actually warn against taking proven food supplements such as CoQ10, lipoic acid, beta-sitosterol, phosphatidyl serine, glucosamine, beta glucan,and others. (They are correct in that supplements can never compensate for a poor diet.) Supplements are very powerful when you eat well, and science proves this. Diet alone is not enough for ideal health and longevity!

These authors also warn against taking natural hormone supplements. This is really proof they walk in darkness. As we age, our "good" endogenous hormones like DHEA, testosterone, melatonin, pregnenolone, growth hormone, T3, T4, and progesterone fall and cause us to age faster and lose quality of life.

Testing and replacing these with bioidentical natural hormones is a pillar of life extension and better health.
For some reason these traditionalists do not fast. Why? Fasting is the most powerful healing method known on earth. All the great enlightened men fasted, and almost all religions used to include fasting as a basic part of worship.

Weekly fasting for 24 hours means you fast 52 times a year. Adding a two day monthly fast is even more powerful. A yearly four day fast will really do miracles for you. Week long fasts are beyond words.
Really vigorous exercise is minimized in macrobiotics.

Have you ever met a proponent of Japanese macrobiotics who seriously lifted weights for example?
Natural health is about diet, proven supplements, natural hormones, weekly fasting, no Rx drugs or medical treatments, regular exercise, and limiting or stopping any bad habits. Yes, diet is the most important factor, but is not enough by itself.

People can prevent and cure "incurable" illnesses with macrobiotic diet and lifestyle. If you're going to pontificate about natural health you have to practice what you preach.

I am very thankful to the Ohsawas, Kushis and other traditionalists who brought macrobiotics to america decades ago.


Roger Mason
- RESEARCH CHEMIST has been in the natural health industry for over 30 years and is the President of Young Again Products in Wilmington, North Carolina. Roger does extensive research into life extension and controlling cancer and other “incurable” illnesses with natural foods, supplements and hormones. He has developed cutting edge natural supplements and products and counsels men who heal their prostate without drugs, surgery or radiation and he author of Zen Macrobiotics for Americans.


 

 

 

Comments & Responses

This is in response to the recent article "The Kushis Have Cancer"

Some corrections:

The first book that Michio Kushi wrote was published in 1977 and was "The Book Of Macrobiotics." Books on macrobiotics published in the 1960s in the US were written by Georges Ohsawa and include "You are All Sanpaku", "Zen Macrobiotics", "Guidebook For Living" among others. After 1977 Michio and Aveline and their students wrote many other books on a wide variety of topics. In addition, Michio and Aveline started the East West Journal in 1971 that helped to launch the alternative health movement and made persons such as Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins and many others famous.

The fact that the Kushi's have had cancer has never been "swept under the rug" and has been spoken openly by Michio and myself at seminars held by the Kushi Institute. You can read an account of Michio talking about his own health challenges here: http://www.phiya.com/b2/phiyablog.php?p=55 . Upon Aveline's passing I personally spoke every week for three years at the Kushi Institute's renowned week-long "Way Health Program" talking openly and honestly to all newcomers. Addressing her passing resulting in my formulating the "Four Areas Of Concern for A Successful Macrobiotic Practice" These areas of concern for success have remained consistent among those who fail and succeed in addressing health issues with macrobiotics.

There is a fallacy in presenting the "Kushi" approach as rigid with, for example, no raw salad or as using too much salt. Such an opinion demonstrates a superficial understanding of macrobiotics as taught by the Kushis. I can only imagine that Roger only wishes to put down one approach to promote his own. It is a common self-serving practice. He is not the first one to do it, nor do I expect him to be the last one to do it.

His statement: "Traditional Japanese macrobiotics is too limited, uncreative, boring, and just not enough fun! This is based almost completely on Japanese diet and culture, and just doesn't translate well to the western world. In fact it doesn't even translate well in Asia." shows a limited knowledge of Japanese foods and the present Japanese macrobiotic movement and it fails to explain why there is such a boom in Japanese restaurants around the world.

Regarding supplements: humanity did not regularly use supplements until the 20th century when dietary patterns changed from whole natural foods to include more refined grains and other highly processed foods that were stripped of their original nutrients. A goal of the macrobiotic approach is to recover the traditional dietary patterns that humanity subsisted on for millions of years and had only recently changed in the past 100 years.

But for those facing serious illnesses, supplements and even conventional medical treatments are not ruled out to improve their health with macrobiotics with the ultimate goal of being able to live free of any type of drug, treatment and supplement much like animals in the wild do and indegenous populations used to.

Really vigorous exercise for already healthy people is more a personal choice that revolves around food choices than it is a requirement for good health. The more one eats, the more exercise he/she will need. The less someone eats then he/she will not need as much physical activity to eliminate the excess. It really depends on what one wishes to do with their life. There are no "shoulds" in the Kushi's macrobiotic teaching, there are only guidelines which are to be modified by each person and in accordance with their own situation and desire.

I suggest Roger read more of Michio's books as well as attend his lectures and those by his students when ever he can in order gain a full understanding of macrobiotics.

Phiya Kushi

 

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Roger seems to embody all that is NOT macrobiotic, and I'm referring to macrobiotic principles. His voice and writing seems devoid of gratitude with very questionable worship for all that is scientific and anything that will give him more public credibility, from which, in the end, seems more about finance, that is, making it, rather than really helping others and not being controversial just for controversy's sake.

And, many of us have been saying (and writing) the same thing for years that Roger is acting like a self-appointed sole and passionate messenger about; that macrobiotics needs revolutionizing and revamping for Americans. However, many of us still make some effort to keep our gratitude in check.

If you really look at Michio's teachings, he always emphasized the universality of macrobiotics, from culture to culture, so to hear someone, indeed, someone who claims to have an inside track on macrobiotics (who else would write a book on MB for Americans?) say that macrobiotics is an "Asian diet," comes off as a low blow and superficial in judgment.

Verne Varona

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I wanted to respond immediately to Roger's article about Japanese macrobiotics as it raises many interesting points for discussion. I have questioned the following of a Japanese diet myself, particularly as I believe many of us may adapt better to a macrobiotic diet that is related more closely to our cultural background.

For myself, that background is half Yugoslav and half English. The Yugoslav side interested
me most as I did not experience traditional cooking growing up. I bought Mina Dobic's book looking for clues, and also started doing some research on the internet.

What is interesting to me, is that many European cultures had a diet that incorporates whole grains, vegetables, fruits (including some 'forbidden' ones), yogurt, fish if coastal, and very small amounts of meat. Many European cultures also incorporated fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.

For me, what was lacking in an otherwise wonderful philosophy/diet is the inclusion of marvellous things like fresh herbs, yogurt etc... For me the diet part of macrobiotics simply means eating fresh local food in season, and according to the traditions we have inherited.

I am a long term vegetarian, so the meat/fish part I just exclude. I do however, include a lot more nuts than Japanese macrobiotics recommends because almonds, walnuts etc.. grow beautifully where I live (the New England region of New South Wales, Australia). I can honestly say that both of my kids are absolutely thriving and we get many comments on their beautiful skin and hair, and their
health in general.

I would love other practitioners to respond with how they have adapted their diet to their own culture - I think this could be very enriching for all of us to hear. I was intrigued by the comment that bancha has loads of caffeine. and would love to see the scientific evidence to support this.

I have never experienced the effects of too much caffeine (headache, jitteriness etc )no matter how much bancha I consume. I thought it was a shame that Roger felt the need to suggest Aveline Kushi may have had bad habits or marriage troubles which led to her cancer. Life is a challenging adventure and few of us can honestly say that we don't from time to time do things to help us cope that may not be
for our highest good (Michio's coffee and cigarettes for example).

On the other hand, I certainly would have been greatful for more openness from the Kushi's about their health troubles simply because I am sure we could all learn from their experiences. But let's remember to respond with compassion, not judgement.

Finally, it is worth noting that the longest living people in the world today are those living a traditional lifestyle in Okinawa. There are many, many factors influencing their longevity, but one of those factors is most certainly dietary practices which strongly mirror those recommended by the Kushis. I also read about a French woman who lived to be 113. A peaceful village life, and cycling well past the age of 100 are
mentioned as factors influencing her longevity. But, she also consumed red wine daily, as well as dairy products among other things. Food for thought.

I would be really happy to hear others comment.

Madeleine Lawrence (Armidale, Australia)


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Just a quick reply to Roger Mason's article:

For someone who has penned a book on macrobiotics, and forgive me for saying so, you do not seem to have much of a grasp of the subject. That fact becomes blatantly apparent to anyone reading your article who has navigated this path for any length of time.

I would normally not take someone to task for presenting themselves as an authority on macrobiotics when it is apparent that is not the case. However, this case is different in that you invoke the Kushi family name and comment on their misfortune as if you are speaking on behalf of macrobiotics in general.

If you really understood macrobiotics and had studied with Michio you would realize that the only life, and more importantly, the only death you have to worry about is your own. Michio was nothing but a messenger and bearer of gifts from a long forgotten world. What is important at the end of the day is how we make use of those gifts and ancient wisdom to empower us on our journey through Infinity.

For most of us it was never about the idolization or deification of Michio or Ohsawa. We each have our cross to bear and that holds true for our teachers and mentors. What unites us as macrobiotic practitioners is our common humanity and attempt to unconceal the underlying order and elegance of the universe so that we can live a life of possibility and, dare I say, magic.

As Michio used to remind us over and over again we have come from Infinity, we live within Infinity and we shall return to Infinity. There are no exceptions.

Greg Johnson

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I read Roger Mason's posting. I've also read many of his booklets. Time and time again Mr. Mason exposes his lack of knowledge of modern macrobiotics. I don't know where he gets his information about macrobiotics but it is at least 40 years out of date.

And his writings are filled with biased statements about the Japanese such as "Japanese people are generally secretive and keep their affairs close to their chest." And he still thinks of macrobiotics as "Japanese macrobiotics." What is he talking about? He needs to fast forward, get out of his Japanese-bashing rut, and learn about macrobiotics as it is being taught today.

He says that macrobiotics aspires to a 100% whole grain diet and doesn't include green or yellow vegetables. Really? For someone who fashions himself a scientific-minded person, he needs to do better when it comes to the facts.

He states that no one in macrobiotics fasts and no one does vigorous exercise. Huh? This man
must be a hermit in a cave who hasn't been to a macrobiotic gathering, class or spoken to a macrobiotic teacher of the last two decades. Go to the French Meadows Summer Camp in California and see if there is not vigorous exercise?

Yes, Aveline and Michio Kushi both developed cancer. Was this a shock to the macrobiotic world? Yes, of course. Why did this happen? Who among us will ever know for sure? We can have our opinions. Whose will be the right one? And does it matter?

In my opinion, Michio and Aveline did more good for more people and the natural foods movement through their years of dedication to their work than they did harm by getting cancer. Am I saying that we should not question why they got cancer?

No. It's normal to wonder about it. Everyone is free to explore this if they wish. But, in my opinion, the macrobiotic principles are not bound to any particular teacher and his or her personal life and personal practice of macrobiotics. What someone does with the macrobiotic principles, even if a popular teacher, is their own personal choice. Who am I to judge them?

In my opinion, Roger Mason would really benefit in updating his understanding of modern macrobiotics as
taught in America by American teachers for Americans. I still find it odd that he would title his publication,
Zen Macrobiotics for Americans, and then go ranting about how macrobiotics is too Japanese.

What could be more foreign and Japanese-sounding to Americans than the word "Zen?" I can appreciate his wanting to explore macrobiotics and ask questions of it, but the first step, it seems to me, is knowing what you are talking about before you can intelligently question and critique it. The macrobiotics he describes is something I don't recognize as being taught by the majority of macrobiotic teachers today.

I invite Roger Mason to any of my courses in order to learn about macrobiotics as it is currently practiced. In turn, I would hope to learn something from him about what he teaches in regards to supplements. He seems to know a lot about them.


David Briscoe

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In response to "Why the Kushis Have Cancer," I would advise all people interested in the healthiest ways of eating to read these two books: "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell, the largest study of diet and health ever done on a human population, plus a review of nutrition studies done since the late 60s. The New York Times calls this study "the Grand Prix of Epidemiology."

The other book is "Healthy at 100, the Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples" by John Robbins. Of the four cultures studied—and they are all similar in their eating, exercise and living habits—the Okinawans of Japan have the longest disability-free lives planet-wide. On page 57, you'll see the chart on "How the traditional diets of these long-lived cultures are remarkably similar." On page 90, there's an excellent chart "Comparing the Diets of Americans and Okinawan Elders." You see there that the Okinawans eat 34% vegetables, 32% grains, 12% traditional soyfoods, 11% fish, 6% fruit, 3% meat/poultry/eggs, and 2% dairy products.

I'm so glad the Kushis were my teachers and that they just happen to be Japanese. They taught us why and how to base our diet on grains and vegetables, and what traditional soyfoods are, and I'm forever grateful. Suggesting that clients in counseling and cooking classes read these books adds a reality-based quality to what we teach.

Meredith McCarty

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I have just read Roger’s article on Michio and Aveline. I do not often feel compelled to write a response, but I surely do this time around. First I marvel at how many times Roger makes a reference to how little he knows about the personal lives of Michio and Aveline and yet he sets himself up as their judge as not being good examples of the macrobiotic way of living.

His lack of knowledge of their intimate lives and health leaves me wondering what his ultimate agenda might be here. Does discrediting Michio and Aveline and their way of life make him feel more secure in his own choices? Does it give him permission to alter his practice of natural living to suit him? Please understand that there is no need of this. If anyone has studied with Michio on any level, you know that he has always taught us to think for ourselves, to judge what works for us, that we have free choice and must adapt the way we live and eat to our own needs.

Michio and Aveline, for all the years that I knew them had a vision for humanity that can not be called into question. He never set himself up as a god or saviour of mankind. He is a philosopher who has the idea that we can change the course of life and disease with food.

If we hold him in a god-like position, that is our choice…and if we do that, then of course, we will be disappointed when he shows himself to be human and to have flaws and habits that may not be best for him…or anyone. To suggest that he has swept his illness under the rug is preposterous. He has spoken openly many times, as did Aveline. And to insult her as a human woman with suggestions that her bad habits and bad marriage led to her death is beneath human dignity…and certainly beneath the lifestyle we say that we live.

Macrobiotics is simply a natural way of living, creating the most balanced space you can in your environment. It is a beautiful way to live that can help us to heal, not only from disease, but as humans. It is also not just a Japanese way of eating or preparing food. All world cultures ate seasonal, whole, unprocessed foods at one time and all we need to do is embrace our own ancestry and we will find our way, macrobiotically-speaking.

It just so happens that Michio and Aveline (and Ohsawa) were Japanese and with that culture comes a way of thinking that is very different from the West. So it is up to us to find our own voices and speak our own truths…however we perceive them from the teachers who came before us. The wisdom of the East has value that can not be disputed and many of us have learned to adapt and alter theories so that they are more comfortable for Westerners. If we find the practice of macrobiotics to be boring, we need to look at the way we practice it.

Personally, I do not agree with all that I have learned within my macrobiotic lifestyle. I studied, experienced and moved my practice to a place where it works for me and that is what I teach my students to do as well. I believe in rigorous exercise (not to rid us of excess, but to make and keep us strong and vital). I believe that our modern food supply has been seriously compromised and that most people require supplementation as a result. I also think that with aging, we may need to supplement as our ability to assimilate nutrients slows.

I also love and respect Michio. I have learned so much from him. I use that knowledge day after day. I have never found him to be secretive, arrogant or judgemental of my choices. He has always been a great supporter of every risk, adventure, new way of doing things and experiment that I have tried. With all that I have learned from him, the most important lesson was that he was just like us, with frailties and flaws. He was my teacher and I respect him, but I have never placed him in a position of power over my life.

Perhaps that is why I am never disappointed when he shows himself to be all too human…just like us. Rather than judge Aveline’s life and Michio’s path, we should learn from the wisdom he so generously shared. I, for one, would not be doing what I am doing so successfully without the understanding he guided me toward.

Let’s stop sniping at each other and work together to help humanity find its way to health and peace, in whatever small way we can.

Christina Pirello

 
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