The Paleo Diet ~ a term coined after the first edition of The Paleo Diet, written by Loren Cordain, PhD, was published ~ is a diet based on what our Hunter-Gatherer paleolithic ancestors would have eaten prior to the Agricultural Revolution. According to Cordain, and others, human health began to decline with the advent of agriculture, and the consumption of whole grains and beans.
As mentioned here, whole grains and beans contain lectins, and phytic acids which humans may not yet be evolutionarily adapted to eating. They can inhibit the absorption of certain minerals, leading to nutritional deficiencies.
According to the authors of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Paleo,
"In their raw form, grains and legumes are toxic, and people figured that out very earl on. Even when they're cooked, seeds and grains contain gluten and anti nutrients, like certain lectins, phytic acid, and enzyme inhibitors, which are detrimental to our health. Anti nutrients interfere with the absorption of nutrients, and gluten can cause intestinal damage and immune problems. There's research that links lectins and gluten with autoimmune disorders, immune responses to foods, neurological disorders, skin problems, and major intestinal disease. There are hundreds of symptoms and illnesses that may have their roots in grain and legume intolerance."
Macrobiotic diets typically center around meals of whole grains and vegetables, however it is the principles of macrobiotics and Chinese medicine that we apply when coaching how to choose the best foods for each individual based on their unique needs.
A macrobiotic diet is not a vegan diet, nor does it have to be a grain-based diet if whole grains and beans are not the best staple food choices.
The ancestral diet for those of European descent, including many other cultures included fish or animal flesh foods, fruits, roots, fungi, nuts, greens, vegetables, sea vegetables and various underground tubers.
How people craft their paleo diet can be quite varied. Some focus heavily on animal proteins and/or fats, while others consume ample fresh fruits and vegetables.
The macrobiotic principles can help demystify among the many varied approaches to best customize your particular dietary choices. You can choose more yin or yang foods and cooking techniques to best restore balance based on your constitution, current condition, and energetic needs.
Macrobiotic diets differ from paleo diets in many ways, primarily in the most widely accepted principal or staple foods. However, I would argue that the principal foods of any person's diet need to be those which best support that person's health.
Just because most people identify whole grains as the principal foods doesn't mean everyone needs to include whole grains as their primary staples. If they don't support your health, then in my view, they aren't 'macrobiotic.'
By the same token, there are many who tolerate some whole grain consumption, as seen in the Nordic diet, which includes rye bread and oatmeal as two of their primary staple foods.
Understanding the difference between whole versus refined grains, and the effects of different preparation techniques is key. Refined grains are whole grains that have been milled ~ stripping away the germ and the bran, the parts of the grain, or seed, with the bulk of the nutrients ~ to increase shelf stability. Refined grains are among the list of those foods best avoided.
Traditional preparation methods can improve your ability to get the full nutrition of the whole grain. For example, according to the blog post, Top Ten Reasons to Eat Sourdough Bread, found on Cookus-Interuptus, traditionally fermented sourdough breads contain higher amounts of lactobacillus, the healthy form of bacteria that resides in the gut. Higher amounts of lactobacillus leads to greater production of lactic acid. This diminishes the effect of phytic acids, and therefore increases the availability of key minerals in the grain, including magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin K.
Soaked and sprouted grains have also been tested to have higher nutrient availability compared to grains cooked without soaking or sprouting.
The term macrobiotic translates to mean 'great' or 'long' life. Having a set of principles for determining which foods to eat can help you to better tune in and trust your true nature.
We believe the concept that the paleo diet puts forth arguing that human health will better thrive when primarily consuming the foods of our more distant ancestors. However, the macrobiotic approach provides the ideal guidance system for choosing how to customize your diet to best suit your personal needs.
While a paleo diet may have differences than a typical macrobiotic diet, there is also much they have in common, including the following:
Eating foods ~ especially the more perishable fruits and vegetables ~ as locally produced as possible will better support your immune system as well. These foods will develop traits that help them thrive in your same climate, which you can assimilate from eating these foods.
When you eat a healthy diet ~ an ancestral, or paleo diet ~ by applying macrobiotic principles, you can experience any or all of the following, and more: