Health Practices You Shouldn’t Believe: Vegetarianism and Macrobiotics

Health and Diet

On TV and in magazines, new health methods are born and disappear every day.
The contents range from the obviously dubious to those that have the stamp of approval of active doctors.
If you see a doctor recommending it, you may be tempted to try it.

However, no matter how expert the opinion may be, it should not be casually believed.
The only way to move in the right direction is to steadily check each piece of data based on scientifically reliable research results.

Therefore, we will focus on health practices that are often recommended by professional doctors on TV and in magazines, and which are “actually baseless” or “dangerous” to the body.
In the previous article, I introduced the carbohydrate-restricted diet.
Health tips you shouldn't believe in: carbohydrate restricted diet
In this article, I will introduce the results of a study on vegetarianism and macrobiotics.

A diet used by celebrities

Since ancient times, there have been several health practices that focus on vegetables, but two of the most popular are probably “vegetarianism” and “macrobiotics.

“Vegetarianism, as we all know, is a diet of vegetables without meat.
There are various types of vegetarians, such as lacto-ovo vegetarians, who can eat eggs and milk, and vegans, who eat only vegetables.

The other, “macrobiotics,” is a health method that was born in Japan after World War II and spread throughout the world.
The staple foods are brown rice and minor grains, with plenty of vegetables and seaweeds, and a complete abstinence from meat, dairy products, and processed foods, which is similar to a “vegan” diet.

It is said that world-famous singers and actors are also enthusiasts, and many people around the world practice macrobiotics.
It sounds like a healthy diet, but what does it really mean?

To what extent is vegetarianism good for you?

The first premise is that a diet rich in vegetables is definitely good for you.
This has been proven by many studies, and no expert would argue with this fact.
Bertoia ML(2015)Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years

However, when it comes to whether we should completely abstain from meat, there is still no complete consensus in the world of science.
This is because there is no solid evidence that living only on vegetables is good for your health.

For example, take a look at a recent study conducted by the University of Florence, Italy in 2016.
Dinu M(2016) Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes
This is a compilation of 96 data points from previous studies on the question “Can you be healthy as a vegetarian? This is a compilation of 96 selected data from previous studies on the question “Can vegetarians be healthy?
The content is quite reliable.
To extract only the conclusions, vegetarianism had the following advantages over the common diet.

  • 25% less risk of heart disease.
  • Reduces the risk of developing cancer by 8
  • They also tend to weigh less.
  • Good cholesterol levels.

If you look at this data alone, it is truly an overwhelming victory for vegetarians.
You might even think that cutting out meat is the shortcut to good health.

However, things are not that simple.
This is because the above data only shows the fact that “many vegetarians are healthy”, not that “becoming a vegetarian will make you healthy”.
The hypothesis that must be considered here is that “many vegetarians are health conscious. This is a hypothesis.
Just imagine for a moment that there are few vegetarians who smoke, and in many cases, they are more concerned about their bodies than normal people.
On the other hand, there is an image that many meat lovers also like to drink and smoke, isn't there?
In other words, a simple study of the health of vegetarians is not enough to determine whether they can really be healthy by cutting out meat.

Skipping meat won't make you healthier.

This is where research involving only “men and women who are health conscious by nature” can be helpful.
Key TJ(1996)Dietary habits and mortality in 11,000 vegetarians and health conscious people
This data was published by Oxford University in the UK. First, they recruited about 11,000 health-conscious men and women through health magazines and health stores.
They then asked everyone if they were vegetarians. and followed them for 17 years. Interestingly, the overall mortality rate was the same for vegetarians and meat lovers, and the incidence of disease was almost the same.

There have been several other similar studies done, and the results are all the same.
M. Thorogood, et al. (1994)Risk of death from cancer and ischaemic heart disease in meat and non-meat eaters.
Living only on fruits and vegetables did not replace the incidence of cancer or heart disease compared to meat eaters.

In short, skipping meat did not make me healthier, and in the end, the most important thing was to be health conscious on a daily basis.
It's an anticlimactic and obvious conclusion.

Macrobiotics cause nutritional deficiencies.

So what about macrobiotics?
Vegetarianism doesn't seem to have any noticeable health benefits, but if you follow a diet as thorough as macrobiotics, it might have some positive effects.

But, in fact, there are some disappointing results about macrobiotics.
For example, according to a study conducted by a German university in 1990, children raised on macrobiotics tended to have an increased incidence of osteomalacia due to vitamin deficiency.
Dagnelie PC, et al. (1990)High prevalence of rickets in infants on macrobiotic diets.

Furthermore, a large-scale study conducted in the Netherlands in 1996 reported that people who had been macrobiotic for a long time tended to have less protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, etc., and less vitality overall.
Van Dusseldorp M(1996)Catch-up growth in children fed a macrobiotic diet in early childhood.

It's only natural when you think about it.
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that can be obtained almost exclusively from meat, and calcium in vegetables has been shown to be poorly absorbed in the body.
Other important nutrients such as protein and omega-3 fatty acids can only be consumed efficiently if you eat meat and dairy products.

In other words, in order to live a healthy life with macrobiotics, you need to have enough knowledge to be able to properly supplement the nutrients you tend to lack.
Adequate meat and fish are essential for a healthy and hassle-free life.

Of course, since there are many personal beliefs involved in vegetarianism and macrobiotics (such as animal rights), I cannot say never to do it.
However, please keep in mind that there is a risk of nutritional deficiency.

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