Skip to content

Michio Kushi’s Insights into Macrobiotic “Nutrition” (1967)

January 11, 2017


(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:


Age Weight Height Calories
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:



No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: