Another approach to balance – Whole Grains

As you saw in my article on Yin and Yang, the most neutral foods are whole grains. So it should be no surprise that Macrobiotics recommends that our diet consists of at least 50% grains! The diagram below is a typical recommendation of a Macrobiotic diet.


Teachers of Macrobiotics will tell you that grains are a neutral food (neither Yin nor Yang), and so will not swing the internal balance of your body. They say that maintaining a neutral balance will leave your body in a state that disease is unlikely to affect, and that people will only catch a cold at times that they have lost their body’s balance.

By “coincidence”, most dietary recommendations published by health organisations also promote the benefit of consuming a high proportion of grains. The Healthy Living Pyramid encourages us to eat plant foods the most: “vegetables, fruits, nuts, dried peas, beans and lentils, breads and cereals (preferably wholegrain)”.


So, what is a whole grain? Whole grains are cereal grains that contain cereal germ, endosperm, and bran, in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm. When choosing processed products like bread, it is important to find products which use ‘wholemeal’ or ‘whole grain’ flour (flour which maintains the original proportion of germ, endosperm and bran).

The above recommendations reflect the growing body of knowledge supporting the health effects of whole grains. Whole grains are low in fat and a good source of protein, fibre, vitamins (some B-group and vitamin E), minerals and antioxidants.

One study has found those consuming the most whole grains (three serves a day) had a 23% reduction in mortality compared to those consuming an average of 0.1 serves a day. More knowledge is becoming available showing that eating whole grains help with diabetes (through normalising insulin metabolism), cardiovascular disease (by altering fat metabolism) and cancer (possibly through insulin effects and by the effects of other complex biological molecules found in the whole grain).

On a simpler note, if you tried putting brown or white rice into a bowl of water, only the whole grain will sprout. In other words, the refined product has been stripped of its life force. White rice has the commercial advantage of longer storage life and easier preparation. But as is normally the case, ease of production doesn’t always match up with our best health outcome. Another thing to be aware of is choosing organically grown whole grains as chemicals tend to accumulate in the skin of plants.

Let’s enjoy our whole grains! They have a lot to give us.