All posts in Articles

Understanding Diabetes by Edward Esko

According to estimates, diabetes is positioned to become the leading public health epidemic of the 21st century. Worldwide, the incidence of diabetes has increased dramatically. Diabetes is expected to affect 350 million people by 2030, doubling from the 2000 level of 170 million. The greatest increase is expected to occur in the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and the Persian Gulf.

In the United States, the number of people with diabetes jumped from 5.6 million in 1980 to 20.9 million in 2010. Close to 27% of persons over age 65 now have diabetes. One in three Americans are predicted to develop diabetes by mid-century. The cost of treating diabetes in the U.S. will soon approach $200 billion per year. Diabetes threatens to overwhelm health care systems in this country and around the world. Diabetes is a major factor in the ongoing financial crisis caused by skyrocketing health care costs.

Modern medicine remains powerless in the face of this planet-wide surge. In a special 200th anniversary article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM 2012; 367-1332/October 4, 2012) entitled “The Past 200 Years in Diabetes,” Dr. Kenneth Polonsky states: “…The pathway to cure has remained elusive. In fact, if one views diabetes from a public health and overall societal standpoint, little progress has been made toward conquering the disease during the past 200 years, and we are arguably worse off now than we were in 1812.”

Could it be that after billions in research and decades of effort, we are worse off now than we were two centuries years ago? Perhaps it is time to take stock and reassess. Perhaps a fresh approach is called for. Let us now examine diabetes from the macrobiotic perspective, beginning with the role of the pancreas.

The Role of the Pancreas
The pancreas is a flat shaped organ located on the left side of the body below the stomach. In its structure, function, and energy it is complementary to the liver, the large organ located opposite it on the right side. The pancreas, being lower in position and more flat than the liver, is classified as yang. The liver, being larger and more expanded, is comparatively yin. (Yang is the term used to describe smaller or more compact forms; yin is the term used to describe larger, more expanded forms.)

The pancreas is animated primarily by celestial force flowing down toward earth. This more yang force is stronger on the left side of the body. The descending colon is evidence of its influence. The liver, on the other hand, receives stronger upward energy. This more yin force originates with the rotation of the earth and is stronger on the right side of the body. Hence the ascending colon is located on the right. The primary forces of yin and yang create the organs and animate their respective functions.

This classification is essential and relevant to our understanding of the cause of diabetes as well as to the prevention and recovery from this disease.

Looking at the way in which these organs interact to regulate the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood will help illustrate this further. The metabolic sugar cycle is divided into stages:

1. Eating food
2. Digesting, or breaking carbohydrate down into glucose (simple sugar)
3. Glucose entering the blood
4. Pancreas releasing insulin
5. Glucose exiting blood and entering body cells.

The processes of eating, digestion, and the absorption of glucose by the bloodstream represent the yin or expansive phase of the cycle. Chewing and digestion are processes of breakdown and decomposition, in this case, breaking down more complex carbohydrates into simple sugar known as glucose. The release of insulin by the pancreas and the entrance of glucose into the cells are the yang or contractive phases in the cycle. The net result of the yin phase is a rise in blood glucose (sugar), while the result of the yang phase is a decrease in blood glucose. High blood sugar is yin, while low blood sugar is yang.

The pancreas performs a dual function. The acini cells secrete digestive enzymes, similar to saliva. On the whole, pancreatic digestive juice is alkaline and yang. It especially aids in the digestion of fats, which are yin. Scattered throughout the pancreas are about a million cell clusters known as the “islets of Langerhans.” The islets are a compact collection of endocrine cells that secrete the hormones that regulate the conversion of sugar into energy and hence the level of sugar in the blood.

The two primary endocrine cells are known as alpha cells and beta cells. The smaller and denser beta cells secrete the yang hormone insulin, which lowers blood sugar. Alpha cells, which are larger and more expanded, secrete the yin hormone glucagon, which has the effect of raising the level of sugar in the blood. As we saw above, on the whole the pancreas is a yang organ. The pancreas contains far more beta cells than alpha cells. The ratio of beta cells to alpha cells is approximately 85% to 15%, or about seven parts beta to one part alpha.

Insulin and Glucagon
Insulin and glucagon offer a perfect example of complementary balance. When blood sugar becomes elevated, the beta cells secrete insulin. Insulin causes glucose to enter the body’s cells, thus lowering the blood sugar level. It also signals the liver to bind glucose molecules for storage in the form of glycogen. The net result is a decrease in blood glucose.

Conversely, when the glucose level becomes low, the alpha cells secrete glucagon. This yin hormone signals the liver to break stored glycogen (yang) down into free glucose (yin), thus raising blood sugar levels.
Insulin (yang) bonds with receptors on the cell membrane (yin).

The mechanism by which insulin facilitates the entry of glucose into the body’s cells can also be understood in terms of yin and yang. Cells consist of an outer cell membrane (yin) and an inner cell nucleus (yang.) Free glucose circulating in the blood is yin, while insulin, as we saw, is yang. Glucose is naturally repelled by the yin cell membrane; it needs a yang agent to facilitate transfer through the membrane and into the interior of the cell. This is accomplished by insulin. Insulin readily bonds with receptors on the cell membrane and passes through the membrane into the interior. The presence of insulin below the surface membrane changes the quality of the membrane. It now becomes yang and attracts and admits glucose.

What is Diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin or when the body’s cells resist or reject the insulin that is produced. The result is high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, which produces a number of symptoms and side effects, both immediate and long term. In his article Dr. Polonsky describes the disease as follows:

“Over the past two centuries, we have learned that diabetes is a complex, heterogeneous disorder. Type 1 diabetes occurs predominantly in young people and is due to selective autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cell, leading to insulin deficiency. Type 2 diabetes is much more common, and the vast majority of people with this disorder are overweight. The increase in body weight in the general population, a result of high-fat, high-calorie diets and a sedentary lifestyle, is the most important factor associated with the increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Older adults are most likely to have type 2 diabetes, although the age at onset has been falling in recent years. Type 2 diabetes is now common among teenagers and young adults.

“We now know that insulin resistance is essential in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes, and that the disease results from both insulin resistance and impaired beta cell function.”

Both insulin resistance and impaired beta cell function are yin conditions, as are obesity and overweight. A primary cause of these conditions is the intake of strongly yin simple sugars, such as refined sugar, as well as refined carbohydrates like white rice and white flour. The continual intake of these extremes exhausts and depletes the beta cells. The result is either not enough insulin or insulin that is too weak to facilitate the transfer of glucose across the cell membrane. If insulin lacks strong yang power, it will not be able to bond with the cell membrane and enter the interior of the cell. Without insulin as a facilitator, glucose does not enter the cell but remains circulating in the blood, hence the high level of blood glucose characteristic of diabetes. This mechanism explains the onset of type 2 diabetes.

The mechanism of type 1 diabetes is a little different, albeit also extremely yin. T. Colin Campbell, PhD in The China Study, best describes the process:

“This devastating, incurable disease strikes children, creating a painful and difficult experience for young families. What most people don’t know, though, is that there is strong evidence that this disease is linked to diet and, more specifically to dairy products. The ability of cow’s milk protein to initiate type 1 diabetes is well documented.”

As Dr. Campbell explains, in some infants, cow milk proteins are not fully digested and small amino acid chains or protein fragments are absorbed by the small intestine. In the bloodstream the immune system identifies these fragments as antigens, or foreign proteins, and codes antibodies to destroy them. Some of these protein fragments are identical in form to insulin-producing beta cells. Antibodies produced by the immune system thus destroy both the cow proteins and the beta cells, taking away the child’s ability to produce insulin. The result is type 1 diabetes, an incurable lifetime condition.

Once again, we can understand this process in terms of yin and yang. Milk, a product of the yang animal body, is a powerfully yin secretion designed for growth. This is especially true for the milk of large mammals such as a cows. The intake of this strongly yin substance (often together with refined sugar) is largely responsible for the onset of type 1 diabetes.

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs
Carbohydrates come in two types: “simple” or “complex.” Simple carbohydrates contain just one sugar molecule (monosaccharide) or two sugar molecules (disaccharide.) Simple sugars demonstrate strong expansive force. These yin molecules enter the bloodstream very quickly. They cause a rapid spike in blood sugar. In contrast, complex carbohydrates consist of a chain of sugar molecules linked together. Their strong bonding force is yang. The body has to work harder to break down the links in the chain; hence they enter the bloodstream more slowly than simple sugars. The level of sugar in the blood remains more constant and steady. This distinction is crucial in understanding the effect of diet on diabetes.

Examples of simple carbohydrates include table sugar, honey, fruit, fruit juice, jam, and chocolate. They are often labeled “bad” because they are high in calories compared to their nutritional content and because of their effect on blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates are lower in net calories and are sometimes touted as “healthy carbs.” They include foods like whole grains, beans, whole grain bread and pasta, vegetables, especially sweet-tasting ones, and sea vegetables.

Brown vs. White Rice
Brown rice contains beneficial fiber, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals like beta-carotene. Milling and polishing brown rice removes most of its vitamins and minerals. It also strips away most of the fiber in brown rice. The fiber in brown rice and other whole grains slows the absorption of glucose and helps prevent diabetes. That is because the carbohydrate in whole grain fibers is yang and cohesive. The body has to work harder to break the links that bind the carbohydrate chains together.

Although the starch in white rice, white flour, and a baked potato is in the form of complex carbohydrate, the body converts this starch into blood sugar almost as quickly as it processes pure glucose. These foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and are classified as having a high glycemic index. The glycemic index classifies foods on how quickly and how high they raise the level of sugar in the blood in comparison to pure glucose.

As we have seen, a food like brown rice is digested more slowly. It doesn’t cause a rapid spike in blood sugar and is classified as having a low glycemic index. When brown rice is milled and refined by removing its bran and germ, its glycemic index rises. The same is true of whole wheat and other grains. Finely ground grain (yin or expansive) is more rapidly digested than coarsely ground grain (more contractive or yang), and has a higher glycemic index. The type of starch is also a factor in determining a food’s glycemic index. More yin starches, like those in potatoes, are rapidly digested and absorbed. Potatoes have a high glycemic index. More yang starches, like those in brown rice, are processed more slowly and have a low glycemic index.

Because of these factors, brown rice is being touted as a possible solution to the diabetes epidemic, especially in China and other rapidly developing countries. A January 2012 article from the Harvard School of Public Health entitled, “Can Brown Rice Slow the Spread of Type 2 Diabetes?” states:

“The worldwide spike in type 2 diabetes in recent decades has paralleled a shift in diets away from staple foods rich in whole grains to highly refined carbohydrates, such as white rice and refined flours. Now a group of researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) aims to stem the tide by changing the color of the world’s rice bowl from white to more-nutritious brown.”

The announcement of a collaborative initiative to prevent the global diabetes epidemic by improving the quality of carbohydrate consumed follows an earlier study published on June 14, 2010 on the website of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. In the study, HSPH researchers found that eating five or more servings of white rice per week was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, while a diet that includes two or more servings of brown rice was associated with a lower risk. The investigators estimated that the risk of type 2 diabetes could be lowered by 16% by replacing 50 grams of white rice (1/3rd of a typical daily serving) with the same amount of brown rice. Interestingly, replacing the same amount of white rice with whole wheat or barley was associated with a 36% lower risk.

“From a public health point of view, whole grains, rather than refined carbohydrates, such as white rice should be recommended as the primary source of carbohydrates for the U.S. population,” said senior researcher Frank Hu. “These findings could have even greater implications for Asian and other populations in which rice is a staple food.”

The Potential of Macrobiotics
Macrobiotic educators have for decades advocated an approach similar to the approach advocated by the Harvard School of Public Health. The macrobiotic diet may offer the most effective approach to the prevention of diabetes. Macrobiotics advocates avoiding milk and dairy products associated with type 1 diabetes. Human breast-milk is preferred for infants. Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup are not recommended. Macrobiotics recommends avoiding or reducing foods such as potatoes, white flour, white rice, and others with a high glycemic index. Instead, foods rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber like whole grains, beans, fresh vegetables, and sea vegetables are the foundation of the macrobiotic diet. These foods are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Moreover, the macrobiotic diet may prove an effective tool in the management of diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, successful management and recovery have been noted in persons adopting a macrobiotic way of eating. Persons with type 2 diabetes have experienced a marked reduction in the need for medication; some after only one or two weeks after beginning the diet. Some patients have eliminated the need for medication entirely while noting marked improvements in overall health. At the very least, macrobiotics is acknowledged as an effective tool in weight loss and weight management. Patients with type 1 diabetes have noted reductions in the need for insulin and a lessening of complications after adopting a plant-based macrobiotic way of eating. Macrobiotics can help these patients better manage their condition.

With the mounting evidence linking diet with the cause, prevention, management, and potential recovery from diabetes, the time has come for clinical trials of the macrobiotic approach. Macrobiotics could very well offer a solution to this 21st century epidemic.

The article is from Rice Field Essays by Edward Esko, Amberwaves Press, 2014.


María José Colás Martínez Testimonial

IMG-20150407-WA0008Macrobiotic Leadership Program: Level I-IV Student Testimonial

María José Colás Martínez, April to July 2015

I first heard about Macrobiotics through my aunt. My aunt started to go to a Macrobiotic doctor in Spain. He studied macrobiotics with George Ohsawa (founder of Macrobiotics) and western medicine. He helped my aunt to stay in shape and have a successful pregnancy. She maintained her weight and had a lovely child.

In University, I studied chemical engineering. I started working in this field but always remembered the natural path that my aunt introduced me to. I worked for a cosmetics company, petrochemical company and also trading import and export from China and Spain. My job gave me the opportunity to live in China for two years. While in China, I became sick and couldn’t breathe very well. I went to see a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor. This experience gave me great insight to more of what natural healing can do. After one week I was feeling perfectly fine.

Later on back in Spain, I was walking to my office one day and I felt that this was not theIMAG0260 right job for me and realized I needed to change my life. I wasn’t happy and knew I should be. I always wanted to do something related with the natural health field, so I decided to open an organic shop. My shop, Purusha, has been running for almost a year now. While working with my customers I realized I had a lack of knowledge around food and nutrition. I made an appointment with the doctor that had treated my aunt a long time ago. I wanted to learn for myself more about his Macrobiotic education. In the short time of meeting with him, he amazed and inspired me. He made me think that this is what I want to do with my life. Right away I started doing a bit of research and I found out the Kushi Institute (KI) in Becket, MA is where to get first hand information on macrobiotics. I set my goal to go study at the KI. My plan is to help people to live a better and more complete life through diet and lifestyle by following Macrobiotic principles. Amazing! Here I am studying at the KI and will complete the Macrobiotic Leadership Program, Levels I through III, and two weeks of the Level IV program. I hope to become the best counselor, chef and teacher that I can possibly be when I get back to Valencia, Spain.




Tribute to Shizuko Yamamoto

By Patricio Garcia de Paredes


I met Shizuko Yamamoto in the late 1970s in Spain. She had come to Barcelona to teach macrobiotics and shiatsu. My mother, Luisa Baranda, was one of the persons who organized her trip and she stayed at my house. In those days in Spain we still had not much contact with oriental culture and with people from Asia. So for her to stay in my house was both exiting and intriguing. Although I was just a kid at the time, her presence made a strong impression on me that I can still remember to this day. She was kind and considerate, yet strong and sharp. And in my view she embodied many of the qualities that I had created in my mind about what a person of wisdom and deep understanding of life from the far-east would be like. At the same time Shizuko was a very practical person and her unique down-to-earth style of teaching was very well received. She influenced many people’s lives and now in Spain and throughout Europe shiatsu has become very popular thanks to her pioneering work.

Among the most inspiring aspects about Shizuko was her own life story. She was a living example of how we can transform difficulties into possibilities and change suffering into happiness. Following World War II in Japan food was scarce and malnutrition widespread. To remedy the situation, the Allied occupation forces introduced milk and meat along with modern nutritional ideas about the importance of animal protein and calcium to develop strong, healthy bodies. It was believed at the time that the small size of the Japanese people was due to the nutritional inadequacy of the traditional Japanese diet, particularly lack of meat, milk and dairy products. Parents were encouraged to feed their children as much meat and milk as possible so that they would grow more big and strong. So while growing up Shizuko became an avid meat eater and she was even awarded as The Best Grown Child in her elementary school. However, that way of eating weakened her health and at the age of 21 she was diagnosed with leukemia. She also had vision and eye problems and went through 10 operations to correct her eyesight. She spent 3 years in and out of hospitals. After the hospital trauma, she stayed at home, almost hiding out from social activities for more than eight years. At one point she became determined to change her life and regain her health, so she began to look for alternatives.

While living with her parents in Tokyo, Shizuko was introduced to shiatsu (Japanese style of finger-pressure massage). There was an older woman, a shiatsu practitioner, who came to her home to give her parents shiatsu treatments. Originally she was not attracted to shiatsu and rejected the idea of other oriental healing arts. In those days in Japan people were educated to follow the western ways and shiatsu was looked upon as something backwards and unscientific. As a result many of the traditional cultural and healing arts were banned and just a few licensed practitioners were permitted to treat with shiatsu and only when they practiced within private homes. However, besides her eye problems, she also experienced pain on her neck and stiff shoulders, so she decided to receive shiatsu. And because it felt good and relived her pain, she began to study and practice various oriental ways of developing health and achieving well-being.

The first step began by reading a book on yoga and attending yoga classes which triggered other changes in her way of life. She also learned about macrobiotics and began to make dietary changes by centering her way of eating on brown rice, local vegetables, beans and bean products, sea vegetables and other plant foods and stopped eating meat and sugar. Every day she exercised a lot, went for walks and began to meditate. She would open the windows, let fresh air in and practice breathing exercises. Practically her whole life went through a whole transformation and within one month she already began feeling much better.

As time passed and her health recovered she felt drawn to begin helping other people. This sympathetic feeling towards helping others has been the foundation and driving force of what eventually would become her dream and life work. She first began to teach yoga and other corrective exercises at a training center. As she worked with people she realized that although the problems differed and the symptoms appeared to be different, they all shared the same origin. For example everyone followed unbalanced ways of eating and did not know how to move or breathe correctly. So everyone would get better by improving dietary habits and correcting breathing and movement exercises. This proved to her that if you make dietary changes and lifestyle adjustments you can get good results to strengthen and possibly recover health. For those students that would need extra help, she would she would give them shiatsu. She also started to try new techniques and began to use not just her hands and fingers to apply pressure but also her feet which later developed and evolved into a new style of barefoot shiatsu. In addition she also found out that yoga was very useful combined with shiatsu.

While helping people, she continued to study and integrate other natural and traditional healing and self-development arts including seitai (a system of guided self-corrective exercises), reiki (a form of palm healing), acupuncture, and aikido, many of which had been driven underground. Through her own experience and by integrating many different techniques and approaches, eventually she began to develop her own, original way of helping people. This included a well-balanced macrobiotic way of eating coupled with corrective exercises and shiatsu, which were to become the three main pillars of her unique approach to help individuals regain better health and alleviate their suffering. She then went on to develop a holistic beauty school where people could learn about macrobiotics, cooking, yoga and other corrective exercises, receive shiatsu and develop natural physical and mental beauty from within.

George and Lima Ohsawa

George and Lima Ohsawa

During those years, Shizuko had been studying macrobiotics with George and Lima Ohsawa, the founders and main proponents of modern macrobiotics. In 1965, after returning from a trip around the world, George Ohsawa called Shizuko and suggested to her to go to the United States to help spread macrobiotics in the west. At the beginning she hesitated because she had just started her holistic beauty school. But George continued to encourage her and after some consideration, she decided to take the challenge. She began to work on her visa with the help of Michio Kushi who was her sponsor in the United States and selling all her clothes and everything she owned to raise money. While Shizuko was making preparations of what would be an epic journey, in a curious twist of fate both her mother and her mentor George Ohsawa passed away. At Ohsawa’s funeral his friend Morihei Ueshiba, the creator of aikido as its known today, encouraged her in her journey to the West.


Morihei Ueshiba

Arriving in America in 1966, Shizuko went to work initially as a private macrobiotic cook and guide to Hollywood movie star Gloria Swanson and her husband-to-be William Duffy. Swanson was the first actress to utilize her fame to campaign against crop spraying back in the 1920s. Both Swanson and Duffy were very influential promoting dietary changes in a more natural, healthy macrobiotic orientation. Duffy wrote Sugar Blues and Lady Sings the Blues, two controversial books that contributed to raise awareness about the harmfulness of sugar. Later she worked in a macrobiotic restaurant. While working at the restaurant some employees would complain about stiff neck and shoulders and she would work on them for a few minutes. Eventually by word of the mouth she began to make a living from giving shiatsu.

 eu a aprender com Shizuko Yamamoto 1986 Kiental Sui--at_shizuko_6_329Little by little Shizuko was invited to give talks on Eastern traditional healing methods and demonstrate techniques. She also met with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who came to learn for years to learn about macrobiotics and also to receive treatments. Yoko and John introduced Shizuko to many influential people in New York, including John Cage, the dancer Merce Cunningham, actors Irma Paule and Mary Steenburg, Ted Danson and many senators. With a little help from her friends and clients along with some donations, she was able to establish the Macrobiotic Center of New York on a shoestring and was the president from 1970 to 1990. She would work seven days a week teaching, counseling and sometimes treating ten people a day. Since many Americans had large bodies with stiff muscles due to eating more meat and animal food, she began to use more her feet and elbows in addition to her hands. She would also teach at Michio and Aveline Kushi’s house in Boston and later at the Kushi Institute to many students.


(L to R) Shizuko Yamamoto, Aveline Kushi, Michio Kushi, William Duffy and Cecile Levin

Shizuko Yamamoto gave seminars and workshops throughout the United States, Europe, Cuba, and her native Japan. Her influential work has inspired countless individuals around the world. And she has personally counseled, treated and guided thousands of individuals towards better health and happiness, including many celebrities and influential people such as Dr. Benjamin Spock. She is recognized as one of the pioneer shiatsu teachers in the West and leading shiatsu practitioners in the world. She was the creator of Barefoot Shiatsu and Macrobiotic Shiatsu styles. To further world-wide communication in the natural healing field, she initiated the International Macrobiotic Shiatsu Society. She has authored several books including Barefoot Shiatsu, The Shiatsu Handbook, 20-Minute Shiatsu, and Whole Health Shiatsu. Her books have been translated into seven languages. In Shizuko’s words she concludes simply by saying that: “The essence of shiatsu is love, which is infinitely available.”








She was also an accomplished macrobiotic cooking instructor and has lectured and written widely on the importance of a natural, balanced way of eating for personal as well as for family health. Commenting on macrobiotics, she mentioned that “As long as you are determined to change your life, the practice of macrobiotics itself is easy and fun.”

Shizuko Yamamoto taught that to fundamentally change for the better we must learn from nature and develop a way of life in harmony with nature. She often would say that “We are one with nature,” based on the oriental concept of “shin-do-fuji.” Throughout her life she promoted organic foods and sustainable farming. She also realized through her own experience that in order to create a better world we need to begin by changing ourselves from within. By improving our health and looking at life in a positive way. This then would influence our family and reverberate in society. Now shiatsu and macrobiotics continues to grow and is sought after by many people around the world. Shizuko continued to teach, guide people and spread her message until late in her eighties even after losing most of her vision. She will be remembered by many as an outstanding teacher and a compassionate person who tirelessly dedicated her life toward helping other fellow human beings. May her life work be a source of inspiration to us all and her dream continue to influence humanity for many generations to come.


 0089Patricio Garcia de Paredes

Patricio was introduced to macrobiotics at the age of five by his mother, Luisa Baranda, in his native Spain. After completing studies at the Kushi Institute, he began to give cooking classes and teach in Southeast Asia, South America, and Spain. In 1998 he moved to Japan and was executive chef at Kushi Garden and Chaya Macrobiotic Restaurant. Besides developing macrobiotic restaurants, he also maintained educational activities including giving cooking classes, presenting lectures, and publishing macrobiotic cookbooks. Presently he is the Education Director at the Kushi Institute of Japan. He currently resides in Japan with his wife, four daughters and one son.




Yesenia Saad’s Fibromyalgia Recovery

photoI was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2011. I was struggling, feeling very fatigued. I had insomnia for many months and then became depressed. My body was sore 24/7 and I usually woke up tired, experiencing a lot of headaches and anxiety during the night.  Many people told me to start working out, but I already had a very active lifestyle. I went through 4 different anti-depressant treatments. I also took Xanax and Lyrica for the pain, but it didn’t help me. Experiencing Fibromyalgia caused me to stay in bed for about 4 to 6 months. This affected all of my relationships. At one point, I felt that cancer would be better than Fibromyalgia.
Two years after being on this medicine, I talked with one of my best friends, Salvatore Luccherino. At the time he had a Macrobiotic B&B in Portugal and currently is selling organic tempeh ( Salvatore started talking to me about how the Macrobiotic diet could help with Fibromyalgia. I felt so inspired after talking with him that I booked a ticket to Portugal to learn from him in person. I stayed with Salvatore for 2 weeks while he cooked for me and showed me how to start eating a Macrobiotic diet.
While I was in Portugal, I had a macrobiotic consultation with Francisco Varatojo who owns a Macrobiotic center in Portugal, ( Francisco saw that my consumption of animal products was very high and recommended that I adjust my diet. After only 2 weeks of eating a macrobiotic diet, my body started to react in a positive way. My energy returned. I finally started smiling again and felt like I was my healthy self again. I was happy, living without pain and sleeping perfectly. After 4 months, I stopped taking all of my medicine for Fibromyalgia . It has now been 2 ½ years since practicing Macrobiotics and after seeing all of the positive changes in my body, I decided to open a wellness center. I now help people and plan to continue to spread the incredible benefits of Macrobiotics.

I attended the Healthy Weight Loss Program in March 2014 to get introduced to the Kushi Institute. I have come back to take the Macrobiotic Leadership Program, Level 1. I will be graduating next Friday from the program and will return to finish Level 2, 3 and 4 to further develop my skills. My goal and dream is to open up a healing center in Miami, Florida.

I believe everything happens for a reason, I wasn’t expecting to be ill, but I know from my recovery experience that I can help others with Fibromyalgia and other conditions from all that I’ve learned.

Please feel to contact me directly to learn more about my story at

Attended the Following Kushi Institute Programs:
Healthy Weight Loss 3/30/2014
Macrobiotic Leadership Program, Level 1 3/29 – 4/25, 2015


Gwen Burton’s Harvest Romance…

Macrobiotic Leadership Program

Spotlight: Gwen Burton, Current Level 3 Student

Gwen Burton is a champion of home-cooking, healthy food, and eco-friendly living. As the creator and publisher of Brown Rice Magazine, she has worked to make macrobiotic and plant-based cuisine appealing, relevant, and fun for the modern urban dweller. Gwen embodies and lives the values that she shares with her readers: synchronicity with the natural world, practicing devotion and concentration at every opportunity, and finding humor and beauty in all aspects of life. She draws on her five years of macrobiotic practice, as well as her education from the Kushi Institute and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in order to help clients feel their best, realize their dreams, and maximize their potential to see them through. Gwen tutors individuals to hone their healthy home cooking, coaches clients to achieve wellness and peace in all aspects of life, performs private chef services, and regularly offers group workshops on fermentation throughout NYC.

Click here to check out Gwen Burton’s Harvest Romance Yoga Pose Tutorial and begin harvesting some love in your life!




Interview with K.I. Faculty Edward Esko

EdEskoBrown Rice Magazine Interview with K.I. Senior Faculty Edward Esko
By Gwen Burton

Brown Rice: When I think about the way that healthy eating has been adopted in our culture over the past few decades, I am struck by how macrobiotics seems to have been such a major player. I can see how it might be encouraging that healthy food options are proliferating and easily accessible, but also frustrating because people seem to believe they don’t have time to cook for themselves and many of these healthy food options employ the “fast food” model. What has it been like to participate in and witness the change in eating in the US over the decades? What is your opinion on where we are today?

EE: Many of the things macrobiotic teachers advocated in the 1960s and 1970s have now become mainstream. Let’s look at several core principles, starting with the concept of “fresh, local, and organic.” I first heard the idea of eating locally in Michio Kushi’s early lectures. Fresh, local, and seasonal foods were touted as the way to achieve sustainability, both in terms of personal health and our relationship to the environment. We went out of our way to support local organic growers and suppliers. We gave classes and published books such as “The Changing Seasons Macrobiotic Cookbook” that explained how to cook with the seasons.

Now, four star restaurants in Manhattan feature fresh, local, and organic produce. Seasonal cooking and shopping at farmer’s markets has become fashionable. Macrobiotics was way ahead of the curve on that.

Let’s take another core principle, the superiority of plant-based diets. When I first read George Ohsawa’s comment that the human body is perfectly equipped to process plant foods directly, without hiring middlemen such as cows or pigs, it made perfect sense. Also that a whole-grain- and vegetable-based diet has many advantages over an animal-based diet. A light bulb also went off when Ohsawa stated that cow’s milk was perfect food, for baby cows! I had been a big milk-drinker up to that time but hearing such common sense was a revelation. As with the other core macrobiotic principles, the notion that plant-based diets are superior has gained traction with leading-edge thinkers in nutrition and public health, including T. Colin Campbell, Neal Barnard, M.D., Dean Ornish, M.D., and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Another core principle that has become obvious today is the idea that whole foods are superior to refined and process foods. The term “whole foods” was actually invented by Michio’s inner circle in Cambridge around 1965. Now it has become part of the culture. Several years ago, the Harvard School of Public Health announced it would start promoting brown rice in place of white rice to stem the rise of diabetes in China. Brown rice is a whole food, white rice is a highly processed food.

Brown Rice: To what extent did the idea of “non-credo” shape the early macrobiotic movement, and do you think that this notion has been forgotten or passed over in the current era of health coaching and commercialized regimens? What is the role of non-credo in developing judgment?

EE: “Non-credo,” or “do not believe,” has always been at the center of macrobiotic philosophy. It always will. The only way to real self-knowledge is through your own practice and discovery. Macrobiotics is about freedom, pure and simple, not following someone else’s ideas.

Brown Rice: I’m curious about the tendencies of the long-term macrobiotic practitioner. Is it natural, in your experience, to want to self-experiment after having achieved a certain degree of mastery in the kitchen and with one’s own condition? It occurs to me that this tendency could either be a way of continuing one’s education in a way that could benefit others in the future, or might possibly be a manifestation of arrogance.

EE: The bottom line is that there is nothing other than self-experiment. It’s the nature of reality and not at all arrogance.

Brown Rice: What are your opinions on veganism? Macrobiotic diets include a small amount of white meat fish and some other seafood, but currently, attaining good-quality seafood is almost impossible. Now that I am vegan, I wonder about the ethical implications of causing the suffering and death of other beings, and I wonder why this might be acceptable according to macrobiotic philosophy, which otherwise seems concerned with facilitating peace on the entire planet through diet.

EE: Eating grains and vegetables means they have to die so that you live. The question is which types of foods make that sacrifice willingly and which resist. It seems to me animals are quite resistant to being killed and eaten as food for humans. Grains and vegetables seem quite willing to become human food. Similarly, billions of microscopic bacteria sacrifice themselves every time you enjoy miso soup, natto, or sauerkraut.

The Chinese character for peace, “Wa,” is made up of images for “cereal grain” and “mouth.” They apparently understood that eating grains and vegetables led to a peaceful mentality.

Brown Rice: There is an exciting project to grow rice in the Berkshires. Have these efforts been successful? I recently heard a rumor that at one point in time, macrobiotic founder George Ohsawa only ate rice immediately after it had been harvested. What does fresh rice taste like? Do you notice a big difference in taste and energy?

EE: Fresh harvest rice is for ceremonial purposes only, not for daily consumption. I’m sure Ohsawa enjoyed it on special occasions. We had the pleasure to enjoy freshly harvested rice from South River Miso on special occasions as well, such as Kushi Institute graduation ceremonies, my 60th birthday celebration, and others.

Check for updates on rice growing in New England. Also look at for rice growing and local production of miso in Western Mass.

Brown Rice: What is your diet like now? What kinds of foods are you attracted to after decades of macrobiotic practice?

EE: Onigiri (nori rice balls), soba (buckwheat noodles) in broth, natto (fermented soybean) rolls and melt-in-your-mouth salmon sashimi at Bizen, the Japanese macrobiotic restaurant in Great Barrington, Mass., vegan hummus sandwiches at Guido’s in Pittsfield, where I live, and water-sauteed green vegetables with brown rice vinegar or lemon.

Brown Rice: The Kushi Institute operates in MA. Are there any opportunities for NYC residents to learn more about the diet and the practice?

EE: My lectures in NYC offer an opportunity to experience Kushi Macrobiotic Education. Also, we would like to offer more extensive programs, such as Kushi Instititute (KI) Level One Certificate Programs in NYC beginning in the fall of 2014. Also, the Berkshires, where the KI is located, are not far from NYC. Just drive north up the lovely Taconic Parkway or the NY Throughway. We have a very special Summer Conference coming up in August that should be of interest to New Yorkers. Michio Kushi and more than twenty leading macrobiotic teachers will be presenting. The Conference will include vegan macrobiotic meals plus cultural events including the Norman Rockwell Museum, the Tanglewood Music Festival, the South River Miso rice field, and others. Go to for ongoing updates.

The above interview was conducted by Gwen Burton and published in Brown Rice Magazine. Contact


In Honor of Michio Kushi

michio banner

Michio Kushi Tribute HI RES

Dear Friends,

We would like to honor Michio Kushi, macrobiotic educator, natural food pioneer and founder of Kushi Institute.  Michio passed away peacefully on December 28, surrounded by his loving wife Midori and sons Norio, Haruo, Phiya, and Hisao. He was 88 years old.  On behalf of the students, staff, and faculty of the Kushi Institute, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Kushi family.

Michio was actively involved in K.I. planning and development until just prior to his passing. His vision for the institute was to teach, guide, and inspire individuals towards greater personal freedom, health, and happiness.  The Kushi Institute plans to assure his teachings and mission will continue. 

Click for a more complete list of Michio Kushi’s achievements

As a result of the hard work and dedication of the K.I. staff, the support of our students and participants, and the generosity of our donors, the Institute ended 2014 on a very positive note. We have been successful in reaching the Institute’s goal of establishing the first Annual Fund and have raised sufficient funds contributing to general operating expenses. The work of K.I. counselors and teachers helped contribute to numerous success stories for individuals and families in their quest for better health and well being. 

The Institute’s core programs, the Macrobiotic Leadership Training Program and the Way to Health Program were well attended in 2014. The annual Kushi Institute Summer Conference, held for the first time in Becket MA, was a resounding success, and continues to bring in excitement as we plan for the upcoming 2015 event, July 26 thru August 9.  The K.I. also launched several exciting new programs designed to help those with specific conditions, including The Macrobiotic Approach to PsoriasisControlling Crohn’s and Colitis thru Diet, and The Natural Approach to Breast Cancer. We are now planning to introduce a variety of new workshops and seminars in 2015 to continue in this work. 

The K.I. also has ambitious plans for 2015 and beyond. In our last message, we introduced the Macrobiotic Breast Cancer Study. The Kushi Institute is now in discussion with medical researchers at Tufts University and Johns Hopkins University Medical School to begin the first ever randomized clinical trial on the effects of the macrobiotic diet on advanced cancer of the breast. Our hope is that the Macrobiotic Breast Cancer Study will revolutionize the treatment of this disease, so that a natural plant-based diet becomes a standard part of breast cancer treatment and recovery. The Institute has submitted a detailed proposal for a comprehensive macrobiotic care program for study participants. The K.I. hopes to complete the planning phase and move toward implementation this year. Please check for ongoing developments.

To further Michio’s lifetime work of training a new generation of macrobiotic teachers, counselors, and chefs, the K.I. is planning to introduce the Macrobiotic Internship Program in 2015. Qualified participants will have the opportunity to assist K.I. counselors and teachers in personal counseling sessions, lectures, and cooking classes. More details will be announced on this program shortly.

We ask for your support in helping us continue Michio’s vision of health, peace, and sustainability through the macrobiotic way of life. You can support the K.I. by attending a program, recommending the K.I. to friends and family, purchasing high-quality foods and supplies from the Kushi Store, or making a tax-deductible donation the Kushi Institute Annual Fund. We’d like to thank those who have already contributed. It is with much appreciation and gratitude that we will continue the legacy and further the dream of one peaceful world.

On behalf of the staff, faculty, and students of the Kushi Institute, we wish you a healthy and happy New Year.

Alex Jack
Edward Esko 

Let us honor his wonderful life. We invite you to share below.


The Holiday Hangover Helper

The Holiday Hangover Helper

The Winter holiday season brings potential hangover weather with it. To avoid the pitfalls of lethargy, depression, and nausea after those gatherings with family and loved ones, try a few macrobiotic tips!

1. Get out of the house and get some fresh air!

2. Exercise twenty-one minutes daily to alleviate the depression and raise the oxygen levels depleted by a lack of sleep and too much booze.

3. Bring on the carbohydrates!  One half a sourdough whole wheat bagel with tofu cream cheese and chives can lift the blood sugar that has usually tanked from too much ethanol.

4. Have miso soup and a few seaweed nori rolls to help the liver flush out a toxic molecule that gets created when the alcohol is broken down.

5. For dinner, eat a bowl of pasta with lentils, a touch of roasted garlic, chopped parsley, olive oil, and salt and pepper.  This will give the body the fuel it needs to push out all the toxic byproducts of alcohol metabolism.

6. To quell the nausea, eat 1/4 teaspoon of umeboshi paste.

7. Besides kukicha tea, the beverage of choice for people in usual good health under these circumstances would be green or black tea because they contain good-guy polyphenols, which enhance a quick recovery.  By adding (preferably organic) fresh ginger – peeled, sliced, pounded, chopped, and put into the tea to be eaten after its been drunk – you will only increase the benefits.


Article courtesy of Elizabeth G. Karaman


Korean Student’s Journey To Macrobiotics

Korean Student’s Journey To Macrobiotics

Meet Jiyoon Kim
Graduate of our Macrobiotic Leadership Program, Levels 1,2, and 3

I discovered macrobiotics 2 years ago. Before I found macrobiotics, I quit my very stressful job. I had been struggling with poor blood circulation, hypoglycemia, and had gained over 10 lbs. I began to feel I could no longer control my condition. These changes in my health were causing me concern because my fathers’ mother had passed away from diabetes. Also, my mother’s father and mother passed away very early from liver cancer and kidney disease respectively. Furthermore, my uncle and aunt are struggling with diabetes presently.

With above concerns, I deeply wanted a new healthy lifestyle for my family and myself. I began doing a lot of Internet research specifically related to cooking, food, and their connection with our health. During my search I was intrigued by a new term I came across, “macrobiotics”. I found the teachings to be rational even though I was not a vegan. I felt that macrobiotic philosophy was very well-founded, and the concepts and principles resonated with me greatly. Searching for further information, Kushi Institute was listed as the first resource for macrobiotic. This is where I would be spending three months of my life bringing myself back to harmony, and opening new experiences.

When I registered for Kushi Institute’s Macrobiotic Leadership program, I expected that I would only be learning about macrobiotic cooking. I was very pleasantly surprised. The learning was much more comprehensive. It included philosophy (the principles of yin and yang), history, shiatsu, and visual diagnosis. Since arriving at the Kushi Institute back in September, I feel so much lighter. My first week here, I lost almost 9 lbs! Moreover, I felt changes happening in my body, and experienced a lot of discharging from all of the bad foods I had been eating. I sense my health has improved immensely.

During the last couple of months I have been learning to balance my diet. I used to be addicted to sweet things. I craved a lot of sugar. After I read some books and learned about macrobiotics, I tried to keep away from sugar. I have successfully replaced standard sweeteners with acceptable macrobiotic substitutes, and I do not miss them! Immersing myself at the Kushi Institute, I acquired a deeper understanding of all the diverse macrobiotic concepts, and felt passionately that this could benefit the entire world. I would love to take part in spreading this wisdom all over the world.

In Korea, macrobiotic instructors are few and far between, and their focus is primarily on cooking. When I took macrobiotic cooking classes in Korea, I felt as though it was not enough. I felt I needed to learn the whole concept. I believe that Kushi Institute provided this missing gap. When I took a quick visit to South Korea 2 weeks ago, my mother was so happy! She looked at me and said, “You look much brighter and healthier.” This confirmed what I have been feeling, and further fueled my determination and practice. Her comments made me realize I am on the right path.

Before coming to Kushi Institute, I was planning to further pursue nutrition, food, and health. Now I want to make a bridge connecting these interests and macrobiotics. I am confident that it could benefit young and old alike to be more aware of their diet and lifestyle choices. For my next step, I’ve made the decision to attend graduate school for Public Health and Nutrition. After, making this decision, I experienced a wonderful feeling of satisfaction. I think this moment is the biggest turning point in my life.



Subscribe to our mailing list

Email Address:* Powered by Robly™