Following Tom Brady’s epic New England Patriots Super Bowl win over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday numerous articles in the mainstream press reviewed his “bizarre” diet with many refuting or unable to explain his choices based on popular nutritional science. But what some may not be fully aware of is that Brady’s choices closely follow basic macrobiotic dietary principles which modern nutrition increasingly continues to rediscover and validate over time. Here is a list of Brady’s choices and how they correspond to macrobiotics:
1. Organic (Natural) Foods
While “organic” is not a specific food choice but an agriculture method, macrobiotic proponents have, since its beginnings, been advocates of organic and natural methods of cultivation. Most notably among these was Silent Screen legend, Gloria Swanson who, in 1958, lobbied Congress against chemical agriculture before Rachel Carson wrote her seminal book, “Silent Spring”. George Ohsawa, father of modern macrobiotics inspired others in Japan to avoid using chemicals and pesticides and opt for traditional and more natural methods of cultivation. With their Erewhon Natural Food Stores in the 1960s, Michio and Aveline Kushi pioneered the organic and natural foods movement in the US, paving the way for what it is today.
The notion of growing things organically and naturally is simple: to live and be in harmony with our natural environment which also extends to all animal and plant life including the foods that we consume. The further removed our food that agriculture and preparation methods are from the natural world, the more out-of-sync we become and unable to adapt to the ever-changing natural environment. This includes eating seasonally and locally according to geographies and climates.
Chemical and industrial agriculture methods are, perhaps, the largest and most widespread source of environmental destruction in the world today, especially when considering the damaging effects of factory farms which continue as a direct result of our food choices. Choosing organically grown foods and free-range animals products helps prevents this ongoing destruction and is line with macrobiotic principles of being harmony with our environment.
2. 80%-20% Plant to Animal Food Ratio
While everyone, including modern nutritionists, agrees that reducing animal food consumption from today’s standards is healthy and beneficial, where did this 80%-20% ratio come from that Brady uses? Some suggest that it is derived from the economic Pareto Principle where 80% of the results come from 20% of causes.
Macrobiotic principles offer a similar but different ratio based on an entirely different approach than Pareto’s methods through simple observations of nature including that of the human form. That ratio is 7:1 which is the body to head ratio of a human being. It is also observable in ocean waves where the length of a wave is 7 to its maximum height of 1. In macrobiotics this basic 7:1 ratio represents the yin/yang ratio of natural forces that is expressed and observable in all things.
With this 7:1 ratio it is reasoned that in order to remain in harmony with the forces of nature that produce this ratio then macrobiotic theory suggests that the food we ingest and have traditionally subsisted on reflect this ratio such that plants, being yin in nature relative to animal, should be consumed in a general proportion of 7:1 – in order to maintain our human form. This 7:1 ratio in our food extends beyond plant and animal foods and is, theoretically, reflected in our nutrient intake like so:
Thus, according to macrobiotic theory, for the average human, the 7:1 ratio of plant to animal food would be 87.5% to 12.5% which is less animal food intake than Brady’s 80%/20% rule. However, given his strenuous physical lifestyle he can afford to increase his animal food intake to 20% to maintain muscle strength. For those who lead a less physically active life that ratio can ideally be at 12.5% or less.
It should be noted that these ratios are theoretical suggestions only and should not be taken as strict rules or gospel. They can and should be studied and applied with a spirit of exploration and discovery through experiential trial and error to understand what works best for each person and how the universe actually works. Clearly, the 80%/20% rule has been working out for Tom Brady so far, but this will be different for every individual person and will probably change over time even for Tom Brady himself.
More importantly, it should also be noted that any rule, macrobiotic or otherwise, is subject to and superseded by the larger, dominant universal macrobiotic principle that everything changes. Everything changes from moment to moment and this change can only be understood experientially and not theoretically. All rules and theories are derived from what we experience. They are all relative and will eventually become obsolete either in time or in place or both and the only single standing rule that remains constant for all eternity is that everything changes in the universe, which is the foundation of all macrobiotic understanding.
3. No white sugar. No white flour. No MSG.
Central to macrobiotic dietary principles is the consumption of WHOLE foods, as opposed to partial and highly processed foods. The macrobiotic rationale is that plants and animals, in their most natural state, have found a harmonious existence with the natural forces of their environment. In this way and as food, they are most complete in value in their whole, natural state. Thus in macrobiotics, it is preferred to consume an entire carrot including the skin and the leafy green portion. It is preferred to eat whole brown rice instead of white rice. It is preferred to eat the whole fish instead of only part of it, and so on. By eating only part and by further refining and processing foods to a state far removed from its natural state then by eating them we risk lacking the essential and balancing nutrients that made us originally whole human beings.
If you compare complex carbohydrates and sugar to materials we use to burn and create heat and energy then the difference between eating whole grains versus white sugar is a similar to the difference between burning firewood and using gasoline. The difference between whole grains and refined grains, like white rice and white flour, is the difference between burning firewood and paper. With gasoline the fire is explosive and burns rapidly. With paper, the fire burns also quickly relative to wood. Similarly, in the body, sugar burns explosively and rapidly giving a person a quick high burst of energy only to soon come crashing down. Whereas a body nourished on whole grains will burn slowly, like a piece of firewood and will give off continuous energy and heat for a steadier and longer period of time.
In this way, eating refined sugar and grains consistently everyday, giving us rapid highs and lows, eventually taxes the body and leads to blood sugar problems, hypoglycemia, obesity, depression and diabetes. This also applies to other refined products and chemicals like MSG, alcoholic beverages, food supplements, medications and recreational drugs. Over-consumption of all of these extreme foods can create drastic imbalances in the body. Conversely, these highly refined products can also be used to address other types of extreme situations as well which is why they can be effective as temporary medicines. But for everyday consumption and to ensure steady, long-lasting energy that a professional athlete like Tom Brady requires, then there is nothing better than eating whole grains as a regular staple and source for carbohydrates.
(To be continued….)
(The following is from the “Order Of The Universe” periodical, Volume 1, No. 5 of October, 1967 based on lectures by Michio Kushi.)
A Cosmological Perspective
Who has grasped the deep significance of our times? Is there meaning and order within the chaos of modern history? It seems as if the world itself were on a pivot, moving towards a direction that all can feel but few seem capable of seeing clearly. Many great thinkers have struggled to express the uniqueness of our age, but most of their efforts have turned into diagnosis. People do not need to be told that something is wrong; they remain unsatisfied and expectant. Those who search for a positive direction flounder because they have lost a unified understanding, a cosmological viewpoint, with the result that their efforts must become analytical and partial.
Modern civilization is indeed hell itself, an example of the dangers of excess on a planetary scale. Excess, whether of quantity or quality, is the cause of all disease; whatever we take in must be discharged, and if our normal functions of elimination, urination, and sweating are not sufficient we must find other ways: anger or violence, for instance, or by blinking. A healthy person will not blink more than three times per minute; his vision will be clear, like a baby’s. Today’s men blink constantly; they are blinded by their desires and fears.
Indeed, desire is the father of our modern world, and fear is its mother. Those whose health is complete and whose judgment is elevated lack these crippling diseases and this world makes very little sense to them. One whose sight is clear and unblinking will see this civilization simply as another form of bowel movement, a transformed manner of discharging.
History is not hard to understand; all that is necessary is a knowledge of the eating habits of the people we wish to study and the application of the Unique Principle. Today we have transportation systems that can take any sort of food anywhere, anytime; chemicalized, processed food, far removed from its natural state; instant dinners, multitudes of delicacies such ice cream and soft drinks, and a growing dependence on drugs and medicine. The result cannot help but be chaos — scattered thinking, schizophrenia on a world-wide scale, cancer, heart disease, broken families. The industrial revolution seemed to be a very great blessing when in fact it has succeeded in destroying the health and judgment of the world.
Our modern conceptions of disease do not go deep enough. The diseases that are treated are nothing but symptoms of a much deeper malaise that has made true men almost non-existent. Today’s men are egocentric; they think that, somehow, they are the center of the universe. This appears in scientific as well as personal modes of thought. Having found that the earth is not the center of the solar system, and that the solar system itself is a fairly small insignificant speck on the periphery of one galaxy, scientists continue to believe that life can only sustained on planets that are fairly similar to earth. This, and every other trend of our scientific civilization, is dualistic and sensory. We tend to appreciate only the things we can see and touch.
Beyond this, our lack of memory is appalling; we easily forget our infinite origin and our lives. There are few of us who respect our parents as we should. All of these traits can easily be traced back to poor eating habits. Heavy dependence on animal products, for instance, produces materialistic, sensory thinking, while sugar is a prime destroyer of memory. Since we tend to eat partially, instead of taking our food in the complete, whole fashion that nature makes it our vision becomes limited and we tend to become ungrateful; since we have not received all that we need, we must continue to take when we should begin to give. This is a deep sickness, because our debts are limitless; when we are given something we must return it ten thousand times, as nature does. Most develop a mentality that thinks power is justice. In spite of the constant flux of life, they become rigid and resistant to change, and without a knowledge of transmutation they must become unhappy and die.
The way of life that we are teaching is not new. It was known to Jesus and Buddha, and it was expressed especially well by Lao Tzu. all of these men, who lived within a few centuries of each other were actually reviving a way of life that had been lost centuries earlier; this wonderful knowledge has been recovered and then allowed to decay many times. Each time it is discovered the interpretation changes, but the basic principles remain the same. Fou-Hi gave it the expression that we employ today, that of Yin and Yang. This way — the manner developed in the I-Ching — is capable of unlimited applications, and its simplicity is such that children can master it.
Once this profound, practical knowledge of the way the universe works was known by an entire world civilization; the Renaissance of human understanding that took place two thousand years ago has suffered many misinterpretations and has plunged millions into slavery. If we can perfect our presentation of this principle, we can establish, once again, a world of peace and harmony, and if we avoid the mistakes that were made before, we can lay the foundation for the millennium — a civilization that can last for thousands of years.
Many cosmic influences are converging today that can help to make this possible — if man will seize the opportunity that they represent. The dreams of great men before us are returning; the Sermon on the Mount, Buddha’s teachings, and countless vibrations from other worlds and cultures, are inundating our planet. Since we are in the hemisphere that face towards the outside of the galaxy, towards infinity, we have an excellent chance of receiving these vibrations and transmitting them into our own dreams of peace and justice.
When we think and dream, we produce vibrations in the atmosphere that become short waves, spirals, pre-atomic particles. They do not dies, but enter invisible worlds that constantly intersecting with the dense world that occupies most of our attention. These particles are not solid, compacted things; they are not the ultimate, indivisible things that today’s scientists believe them to be. There is nothing final in the universe. The particles themselves are spirals, and are composed mainly of space. Matter is nothing more that a sensory image. If we were to remove the space from all the atoms that compose the world, it would crush into the size of a pinhead. Matter is equal to non-matter; all of the things we sea are ghosts, we are eating space.
Modern science has reached this level of understanding. Scientists see that matter appears and disappears according to our psychological condition, that space is empty, that everything is nothingness. Many of them despairing and turn to cynicism, pessimism, existentialism, and atheism — or suicide — when they discover this. The result of years of study and research seems to be a blank wall, complete instability.
But this is where Oriental thought began several thousand years ago. It developed from this point to include a philosophy and a science capable of cosmic understanding and unlimited happiness for those who apply themselves to it. The only hope for modern man is to abandon everything that he has done so far, embrace this principle, and devote himself to it wholeheartedly. This is difficult for many because the successes of science seem to be so overwhelming. Without exception, the dazzling products of modern science are used without regard for peace and justice, because their originators lacked a knowledge of life’s structure. We continue to lack this today. Otherwise, we would not marvel at medicine that does not bring health, at power that cannot establish peace. Once we adjust our thinking to a cosmological angle, we cannot accept the path that Western Civilization is taking, nor can we believe that the benefits that are offered us will contribute to our happiness.
There is no difference between physical and spiritual development, between science and philosophy. The prevalent notions of “spiritual advancement” today are completely false and misleading. Many think that drugs help one’s spiritual understanding; the truth is that they actually harm it. Good physical condition, hardships, and daily activity are the prerequisites for spiritual understanding, which is based on the simple, clear judgment possessed by everyone. When we depend on drugs and doctrines, we lose our liberty and freedom; we become slaves, selling our body and mentality into schizophrenia, arrogance, and selfishness. We must exercise the genuine judgment given us by our parents, Nature, and the universe. This is the only key. Drugs are a thousand times more Yin than sugar; they are sure to cause our youth to degenerate to a degree we can hardly imagine. Who will be left to take care of the world in twenty years? Very few will have the necessary mental and physical health. Drugs should be immediately suspect to those with good judgment. How could they be good for spiritual health when they can’t be taken by children or people? Proper eating is the only way to true health, and this way is open to everyone, regardless of his age or condition.
There is nothing we can depend on, except our own judgment; this is the beginning of true philosophy. To realize the mutability of life, and to develop beyond this point, is true spiritual development. The result is a profound perception of illusion, an understanding of the manner in which it flows and changes. This is the highest expression of God, and this is the origin of Yin and Yang. The understanding of the Laws of Change, the discovery of patterns behind the seemingly flux of life, is the treasure of thousands of years of suffering and wisdom.
The old renaissance of Yin-Yang has passed away. We have the opportunity to revive it and to develop it in new unimaginable ways. Already we have learned how to transmute elements at low temperatures and low pressures–a discovery that could revolutionize the world’s economy. We remember the words of Jesus: “If you have faith, nothing shall be impossible to you.” Nothing is impossible for the one who applies the Laws of Change. If these laws were universally practiced at the table, the entire world would be transformed. Although all religions have stressed the importance of proper eating, none of them knew how to apply their understanding to food in a practical manner. Some simply felt that one’s tastes would change as one developed; others relied on the discipline and tradition, such as the Essene societies and the Zen monasteries. Over the centuries the proper way of eating was lost, because there was never any scientific understanding of its importance, and today it has been completely forgotten — although ritual observances and token fasts remain…
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(Michio Kushi was a political science major who sought to create a world of lasting peace, happiness and freedom. Early on in his studies he realized that world peace depends on people with sound body and mind. He, therefore, devoted the rest of his life to improving the health and consciousness of people through changes in diet and lifestyle known as Macrobiotics, never losing sight of his dream of creating One Peaceful World. The following is an excerpt from a 1967 lecture by Michio Kushi as published in the “Order Of The Universe”, Volume 1, No. 6, November 1967)
Our present form of government is based on the will of the masses. Since most people are governed by sensory and sentimental judgment, our society has become weak, unable to provide for the deepest needs of man. It answers for the superficial levels of desire but judgment must go farther than this if it is to build a lasting culture. Originally, its purposes was noble. The founders of our nation wanted to escape dictatorship, to find freedom. Their solution has brought the opposite result — as must always be the case with understanding that does not transcend the lower, relative worlds and achieve supreme judgment. Life is ever like this. If you try to protect yourself, you will decline and die in misery. This is the Order of the Universe. Gain fame and you will carry a heavy burden which will rob you of your freedom. This paradoxical movement is the key to life and those who do not understand it will always be disappointed to find that their actions will bring them the opposite of what they had intended.
If we master this Order, we can become free in the paradoxical, relative world. The greater the momentary joy, the greater the depression that must follow. Unless we understand this we can not know where real freedom is. People who never learn this always become more and more unhappy, accusing others for their misfortune, and they always lie. Their lies are the cause of their misery.
Lying is the common, universal form of sickness. We lie because we want profit, advantage, protection from fear, comfort. The living principle of modern society is nothing more than this — “how to tell lies.” Modern education is supposed to give us health and happiness, but no one has these things. Religions are supposed to open the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven, but its ministers don’t even know what it is. All are the opposite of what they appear to be. Those who claim they can give the truth cannot. Our food stores are lined with beautiful foods, promised to be the cleanest, most nutritious, ever available to man — most of which will, sooner or later, rob us of our health. In our society an honest man is regarded as a fool, while the clever one who sells out is rewarded. And while this is going on we are told that our country is the happiest, smartest, strongest, wisest that ever lived. A quick look at divorce rates and the percentage of people that live in mental institutions is enough to convince us otherwise…
– Michio Kushi, 1967
(To read more go here: http://kushipublishing.com/?p=433 )
(The following is an excerpt from the “Order Of The Universe” magazine, Volume 1, No. 6, based on Michio Kushi’s lectures from November 1967)
Calorie and Ki (Electro-magnetic force)
According to the modern theory, energy for human activity depends upon calories contained in our daily food which are supplied, mainly, by various forms of sugar and starch. In this commonly accepted way of thinking, there is an increasing tendency to believe that increased consumption of calorie sources contribute positively to more energetic activity. As a result, as the generations pass, the recommended caloric consumption for an individual increases. At the present time, the prescribed amount of calories in the United States is as follows:
|Men||25||154 lbs||69 in.||3200|
|65||154 lbs||69 in.||2550|
|Women||25||128 lbs||64 in.||2300|
|65||128 lbs||64 in.||1800|
|(All with moderate physical activity.)|
However, energy for human activity does not depend exclusively upon the amount of calories taken in. As we experience daily, our human life has two aspects – – physical and mental. It is undeniable that our physical activity owes much to the calories that we consume and burn within our body; but our daily experiences show us that our mental activity often decreases with more caloric consumption, and that often we think much more clearly when we decrease our intake of food. Jesus, Buddha, and many others, have realized great spiritual attainment after a period of fasting. It is a fact that, among many kinds of mental experiences, the most fundamental functions – – that of the intuitive judgment – – does not require any calories to be consumed.
These antagonistic factors of human activity – – our physical and mental functions – – should be well coordinated. We should find the means to balance them, in each individual, without emphasizing or preferring one to another. In order to solve this problem, we would like to offer the Oriental concept of Ki (or Chi), which, throughout the ages, has been considered the most important faculty for the exercise of both physical and mental development. We wish to try to translate this word “Ki”, which represents invisible force working throughout the universe, including all being, our body included within it, into expression of electro-magnetic force for the time being.
This invisible, and therefore, immeasurable, force, is working in all of our human activities and in all of the changing phenomena of our universe. We take this force into us as we need it, just as we take our daily food. We can characterize it as a Yin factor, while food is Yang in comparison, due to its visible and measurable nature.
Because these two are antagonistic and complementary, we must find the proper quantity of food, as well as the proper quality, in order to draw this electro-magnetic force and let it flow at maximum efficiency. Because quantity affects quality, this force can be more or less effectively absorbed and allowed to operate in our body.
Energy for human activity= food (matter, visible, Yang) + electromagnetic force (Ki, non-matter, invisible, Yin)
We believe that the present theory of nutrition and calories would become much more comprehensive and perfect when they come to include the invisible aspects of our human life, that is, mental and spiritual operations. When this has come to pass, we shall understand why most ancient religious and philosophical teachings had principles of nutrition which we similar to the one we have outlined — quite different from the present day theories — in order to achieve the highest capacity of man, to develop his mental and physical functions as a whole.
– Michio Kushi, November 1967
An Ancient Philosopher on Arrogance
Yang Chu had a friend by the name of Chi Liang. One day Chi Liang fell ill, and after seven days he became very serious. His sons wept by his bedside, and asked for three doctors. One’s name was called, Chiao, the second was called, Yu, and the third was called, Lu. And the physician Chiao said to Chi Lang:
“You do not live properly. Your sickness comes from hunger and overeating and sexual indulgence. Your spirit is distracted. This is not due to heaven or to evil spirits. Although the case is serious it can be cured.” Chi Lang said, “He is a common doctor,” and sent him away.
The doctor Yu said, “You are suffering from a weak constitution and you were not properly nursed at infancy. It’s not a mater of days, but years. It cannot be cured.” Chi Lang said, “He is a good doctor. Feed him.”
The doctor Lu said, “Your sickness comes neither from heaven, nor from men, nor from evil spirits. There was one who controlled it, when you were first conceived in your mother’s womb, and there was one who knew about it. What;s the use of medicine?” Chi Lang said, “He is a divine doctor,” and sent him away with costly presents.
And Chi Lang soon got well by himself.
– Lieh Tzu
To read more from this issue of the “Order Of The Universe” magazine go here:
The following is an excerpt from a 1967 lecture by Michio Kushi as published in the “Order Of The Universe” magazine, Volume 1, No. 5, October, 1967.
What is the shortest distance between two points? The usual answer is automatic, immediate; a straight line. A little over half a century ago this answer began to be questioned, for it was realized that a straight line can exist only on a plane surface. What, it was argued, if space were curved? Many forms of geometry were devised, many conflicting theories arose, and the problem continues even today. What do you think?
Listen to our answer. We say that the Universe is constructed like a spiral. We do not live on a plane or a curved surface but in many complex dimensions. Each point is the center of a spiral which returns to infinity; each spiral, each point, is within infinity.
Once we understand this then the answer becomes simple. When two people try to understand each other, they do not take the quickest route, which we can express as a straight line drawn between the centers of two spirals. Understanding must go beyond this – – away from the most relative things, which we find at the center, and return to the common origin of both spirals, which is infinity. Judging a person by his education, clothes, thought, will not make for understanding; if we pick a mate by looks alone we are bound to be disappointed.
By remembering the spiralic construction of every individual, however, we will not be deceived by appearances. Everyone returns to infinity, is infinity; they are grain, vibrations, their origin is clearly indicated by the spiralic pattern of hair that marks each of us as a child of the Kingdom of Heaven.
For A to understand B he must return to infinity and come in on B’s spiral. Without this there is no understanding; with this journey, however, it is possible for us to know each other, because our origin is the same. In infinity we are one. With this judgment, which the highest in the universe, we can see another person as a totality, beyond relative understanding, and with this vision we can become free and happy.
The shortest distance between two points is infinity.
– Michio Kushi, October 1967, from “Order Of The Universe” magazine, Volume 1, No. 5.
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You Are Infinity…
So many people think that body and spirit are separate; this is complete schizophrenia. The relative life is manifested as a small spiral in the ocean of spirit; at the most dense, inmost point within the spiral a visible form appears, our body, and it disappears into invisibility – – that is spirit. Body and spirit are the same thing. as you know, many people ignore the health of the body – – that means they are ignoring the spirit also. And many people, who are ignoring the spirit, and thinking only of visible property, visible happiness – – they, too, are schizophrenic. We have to see both as one continuity. You can call this bodily spiral as the small “i” and you can call this invisible infinity the large “i” – – the small “i” is our body and the large “I” is our food, our field of activity, thinking, feeling, imagination and all spiritual activities.
– Michio Kushi
Read more here…
The following is an excerpt from “Order Of The Universe” magazine based on Michio’s lectures from 1967 (A link follows where you can read the full magazine):