Where can we find Zen macrobiotic restaurants in Malaysia?

Woods Macrobiotics
AG-8, Block A, Ground floor, Happy Mansion
Jalan 17/13, 46400 Petaling Jaya

Tel: +603-7958 5795
Fax: +603-7958 5795
Email: info@macrobiotics-malaysia.com
Mon to Fri: 9am to 6pm
Sat: 9am to 1pm
Closed on public holiday and Sunday

What is zen macrobiotics?

This is promoted by Mr George Oshawa, a Japanese Macrobiotic Educator in the fifties. It is great lifestyle centering on wholegrains cereals, land and sea vegetables, seeds or nuts, beans, fermented food, non-alcohol beverages, without any animal, meat, seafood, dairy or egg ingredients and exclude the use of pungent vegetables such as garlic, onion, leek or chives.

Why do you think the macrobiotic way of eating is at the core of solving so many disparate problem?

So many social problems are related to health. The economy is a good example. If the incidence of chronic illness continues increasing at the present rate, we are going to be in a situation where medical costs will start to consume the entire GNP. That kind of situation would bankrupt the world economy. The escalation of medical costs is a direct result of the modern decline in personal health, and that, in turn, is caused by what people are eating.
 Destruction of the environment is also related to modern eating habits. The modern food system is a major contributor to the depletion of natural resources, the release of chemicals into the environment, and the disruption of planetary ecology. Take for example, the problem of ozone depletion. The chemicals that destroy ozone are those used in Styrofoam containers for fast foods, as well as in air conditioners, refrigerators, and aerosol spray cans. If we eat macrobiotically, we can get by with much less air conditioning than people use today. People become addicted to air-conditioning because they are eating too much animal fat, which causes the body to retain heat. At the same time, foods such as meat, eggs, dairy food, and chicken require constant refrigeration to prevent toxic spoilage. Whole grains, vegetables, dry beans, sea vegetables, and other natural foods require much less refrigeration, even during the summer.
 When people eat plenty of animal food, they desire iced drinks and foods such as ice cream to balance the excessive heat generated in their bodies, all of which require constant refrigeration. By eating macrobiotically, you are making a direct contribution to the environment. You are also protecting yourself from environmental hazards.

Are there alternative sources of calcium, or is the need for calcium overblown?

No, we need calcium but there are better sources than dairy foods.

Such as?

Such as tofu, beans. kukicha twig tea, bancha tea, seaweeds, whole grains, cereals, seeds, nuts, vegetables, etc.
Another good source, and I know this may sound new to some people, is seaweed (sea vegetables). Vegetables from the sea are super rich in calcium and other minerals. One type of sea vegetable that we use has fourteen times as much calcium as the same amount of milk. It’s called hijiki. It’s quite delicious and very nutritious. All seaweeds are incredibly rich in valuable nutrients.

Are dairy products part of the macrobiotic diet?

Usually not. Dairy products are linked with a variety of health problems, from colic in infants to breast cancer in adults. Dairy foods are a major cause of allergies. The best nutrition for an infant is found in mother’s milk, not cow’s milk. And once that natural pattern of feeding (breast feeding) is established, it doesn’t make sense to introduce cow’s milk once the baby has been weaned. Many people go directly from breast feeding to introducing whole cereals and other vegetable quality foods.
 The China Study came out with an interesting finding that relates to the issue of dairy products. Chinese, historically, have not used dairy products so you would think they would have high rates of osteoporosis and bone thinning because of a lack of calcium in the diet. However, the opposite is actually true. The study revealed that the Chinese have incredibly low rates of osteoporosis compared to the United States where plenty of dairy foods are eaten. So the idea that you need dairy products to prevent osteoporosis is incorrect. Studies in other parts of the world have shown that people who eat a lot of grains, vegetables, beans, and other vegetable quality foods and who consume no dairy products have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. In fact, there are studies showing that the high intake of protein involved in dairy or meat based diets may cause the body to lose calcium and may actually be a cause of osteoporosis.

How do you feel about frozen and canned foods?

Whenever possible, it is better to use fresh foods. There is an intangible quality to food, the so called “aliveness” of food that is difficult to measure scientifically. That intangible quality is actually quite important for health. Obviously something that is freshly picked is going to have more aliveness than something that has been in a can or freezer for several weeks or months.

The child’s pediatrician alluded to the fact that sometimes the growth hormones in animal foods can cause children to go into puberty early. Have you ever heard of this?

Yes. There was a well known case in Puerto Rico about fifiteen years back. In a little village, children five, six, and seven years old started to go into full puberty. Little girls started to develop breasts and boys failed to develop male characteristics. Investigators traced the problem to a local chicken processor who was using several times the legal amount of synthetic estrogen in the chicken that people in the village were eating. Growth hormones may play a role in the increasing incidence of breast cancer, including among men. Incidentally, the issue of synthetic hormones in the modern food supply is well covered in John Robbins’ book, Diet for a New America.

Do you feel that is why more and more people are reaching out to programs like yours for dietary and lifestyle guidance, in order to prevent getting sick?

Yes. The focus of the modern health care system is not really health, it’s sickness. People go to doctors when they get sick or have an emergency. But the point is, how do you prevent those things from happening? That’s where macrobiotic education comes in.
 Many doctors tell me they wish people would take more responsibility for their health and do the right things as far as eating the right foods and exercising. There is enough evidence showing that chronic illnesses are lifestyle related. They are not just freak accidents or things that happen for no reason. They are events that we create through our behavior, our diet, and our way of life. If we create those problems, then we have the power to prevent them from happening or to solve them if they do happen. A good example is heart disease. It’s very clear that if we eat plenty of saturated fat and cholesterol, our cholesterol level is going to go up, our blood fat level is going to go up, and the deposition of fats in the arteries and blood vessels is going to continue. If we don’t eat those foods, and eat a vegetable quality diet, including plenty of whole grains and fresh vegetables, those things won’t happen and we can prevent that problem from occurring. It’s very simple.

How does that affect your health?

There is plenty of evidence linking pesticides in the food supply to cancer, to behavioral disorders in children, to all kinds of health problems. As you go up the food chain, from plant to animal foods, pesticides concentrate to a much higher degree. They concentrate especially in animal fat. If you are eating meat, eggs, and plenty of dairy food everyday, then you are getting, in addition to a lot of cholesterol and saturated fat, a pretty hefty dose of pesticide and other toxic residues. If you eat grains and other vegetable quality foods, even if they are not organic, the concentration of residues is far less. Toxic chemicals don’t bind with plant tissues in the way they do with the sticky fats animal foods.

When you say organic vegetables, do you mean vegetables grown without pesticides?

Yes, chemical free.

I don’t have time to go to a natural foods store. Where else can I find healthy natural foods?

Many local supermarkets are now selling organic vegetables, tofu, whole grain breads and pastas, and other natural foods. Woods Macrobiotics ships macrobiotic staples to your door. When you buy certified organic vegetables, not only do you benefit your health, you support your local organic farmers and the local ecology.

I do a lot of running, a lot of jogging, and have a busy work schedule. Is it possible to maintain a high level of energy without supplementing my diet with meat?

The idea that you need meat for vitality is a myth, a total myth. Some of the top marathon and tri-athelon athletes in the world today are not eating meat. They are eating complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are now considered to be the best foods for stamina, endurance, and energy. As far as maintaining an active schedule, the additional stamina and energy that you get from eating well makes that much easier. With a little guidance and imagination, including cooking classes, you can adapt a healthy diet to a modern, fast paced lifestyle.

I probably eat meat five times a week, usually with dinner, or if I go out to lunch. To what degree does that hurt my health?

Try to look at it this way. Think about how a hundred years ago, when people ate meat, how it was eaten. It was often cooked in a big pot with a lot of vegetables, like a stew. And the portion of meat was often quite small. Plus, they were eating high fiber brown bread and other whole grain products along with it, together with side dishes of fresh farm and garden vegetables. Nowadays, if you go to a restaurant and order meat, practically all that comes out is a huge slab, maybe with a small salad with egg mayonnaise, and some French fries. That’s a big problem. So if you are going to keep eating meat, that’s your choice, but at least try to reduce the amount and balance it with some healthy foods.

What do doctors and nutritionists think about macrobiotics?

There are many different opinions, just as there are many opinions about what type of approach to take for a certain illness. There is no unified consensus yet. Some doctors are eating macrobiotically. Others are eating semi macrobiotically or going toward it. Some feel that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that macrobiotics can help in the recovery from illness, while others recommend macrobiotics to their patients. So there is no unified approach yet. But we hope that a consensus will emerge. Because nutrition is an area of medicine that has been neglected for many years, and is only now getting the attention it deserves. The principles of macrobiotics derive from a philosophy of life, but interestingly enough, they dovetail with the latest findings in modern nutrition, like those of the China Study. So a convergence is taking place between macrobiotics and the leading edge of science and nutrition. Macrobiotics, in a way, anticipated the preventive guidelines of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and other public health organizations. More than fifty years ago, George Ohsawa, Michio Kushi, Herman Aihara, and other macrobiotic educators were already saying that the modern diet was a primary factor in cancer and heart disease, and that a low fat diet based around whole grains, beans, and fresh local vegetables would help prevent these illnesses.
 If you eat meat only five times a week, how does that affect your health?
 Well certainly it is better than ten times a week. And that is better than fifteen times. So it is a question of relativity.

Can a macrobiotic diet be of benefit to someone with an established illness?

Yes. I have worked with many people with established illnesses who were able to experience remission or recovery as a result of adopting macrobiotics. A good example of the way that macrobiotics can change an established health problem is the speed with which high cholesterols drop to within normal after a short time on the diet.

What does it do for our health?

It increases our risk of heart disease. It’s well known that foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, meaning most animal foods, will increase your risk of developing a heart attack or stroke. That’s well known. In fact there was a study not too long ago. They took people off of those foods, put them on a macrobiotic diet, and were able not only to lower their cholesterols, but also actually reverse severe deposits of arteriosclerosis. It was a breakthrough study because it showed that heart disease could be reversed without drugs or surgery, but with diet and lifestyle alone.

If you live in the United States, what would the macrobiotic principles for diet be?

Practically speaking, your main food would be complex carbohydrates, especially whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat, barley, oats, millet, and other high fiber grain products. Secondary foods would be vegetables, things that you grow in your garden, things that grow in your area. The third category of food would be vegetable protein sources like tofu, tempeh, soy foods, whole beans, and seeds and nuts. But your intake of animal food would be much less than what most people are eating at present. You see, animal food is now the main food in the world diet, although people are moving away from it. That dietary pattern very simply doesn’t work for our personal health or for the health of the planet.

What are those principles?

The first principle is to eat along the lines of traditional dietary practice, what people did for thousands of years. If you look back, even in biblical times, whole grains and vegetables were considered the staff of life. We say respect that; it worked, it went on for thousands of years. Agriculture was self-sustaining, people continued.

The second principle is to change or modify your diet according to your climate. So as I said earlier, if you move up north to the polar regions, it’s very ecological to eat a diet based on animal food. Whereas if you live in India, then it is ecological not to eat much animal food and to use grains and other plant foods as your main foods. We need to be flexible and adapt our eating according to where we live.

What is the difference between a vegetarian diet and a macrobiotic diet?

Macrobiotics is not against the use of animal food, depending on the circumstances. Macrobiotics is not a rigid diet. It’s more like a set of principles that we can use to modify our diet based on our personal needs.

Am I correct in saying that the macrobiotic diet has some roots in Japanese diet?

It incorporates elements of traditional Japanese diet. It’s not a Japanese diet, but incorporates traditional dietary practices from a variety of cultures. For example, your grandmother probably ate whole wheat bread, sauerkraut, and cabbage from her garden, and ate much less animal food than we do today. Native Americans ate corn, beans, and squash, all of which are part of the macrobiotic diet. If we go back a couple of generations, people were more or less eating along the lines of macrobiotics. There were only about five or six chemicals in the food supply before World War II. Now there are several thousand. At the turn of the century, everyone was pretty much eating organic food. And if you look at their health patterns back then, you will see that heart disease was a very rare condition. Cancer struck one out of twenty seven people at the turn of the century. Now it strikes one out of three. These changes correlate to the shift away from a more traditionally based diet to the modern, high fat, highly processed diet.

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