Using Macrobiotics for Cancer

The use of the Macrobiotic approach by Counsellors in healing cancer

In a first-ever conducted study using a Macrobiotic approach to cancer researchers at Tulane University discovered that a 1 – year survival rate amongst patients with pancreatic cancer was significantly higher amongst those who modified their diet using the Macrobiotic approach versus those that did not modify their diet at all. For prostate cancer patients, they found that those who ate a Macrobiotic diet survived 177 months versus 91 months amongst people who did not make changes in their diet at all. (Source: James P. Carter et al., ‘Hypothesis: Dietary Management May Improve Survival from Nutritionally Linked Cancers Based on Analysis of representative cases,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 12:209-226, 1993).


Mina Dobic who is a 20-year cancer survivor using Macrobiotics and the author of ‘My Beautiful Life: How I conquered Cancer naturally’ is a practising Counsellor, Chef and teacher in California. Her clients include Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Guy Ritchie, Madonna, Alicia Silverstone and Steven Seagal and this is what they say about her: Dr Benjamin Spock renowned Pediatrician and Author says that Mina Dobic has inspired many who are sick and have needed help. Her advice has helped him through his illnesses as well. Madonna attributes the health of her family and herself to Mina and her advice. In fact, Michio Kushi himself (the one who introduced a Macrobiotic approach in America) has said that Mina is committed to the liberation of humanity and one peaceful world-she has helped many from sickness to health and happiness.


Christina Pirello who runs many cookeries shows on American television and is a strong proponent of this approach, healed from the last stages of leukaemia and then established her cooking school in 1988. Today 27 years later, she is an example and inspiration on what the healing power of foods can do and how food choices have an impact on our overall state of wee-being.


Macrobiotics has been known to be a cancer diet in-fact that was it was christened in the early 70s in the US. Using food as medicine has been the cornerstone of the macrobiotic approach. I was drawn to the diet because my father had prostate cancer stage IV and I used this diet to help him stay healthy during his living years.

Cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment: How to keep the body in acid-alkaline balance

We have heard acid-alkaline balance many times over in the health industry, and we know how it forms the basis of good health and stronger immunity. From a Macrobiotic perspective, George Ohsawa recognized and MichoKushi pioneers behind the Macrobiotic approach realized this a long time ago. As did Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine. In many ways, Macrobiotics is the Modern-day Ayurveda. George Ohsawa did come to India and study the Charak Samhita the Ayurvedic texts to marry the two disciplines.

Tips for limiting acidic foods

In a vegan approach, the starting point is eliminating wrong foods that are acid-forming like – sugar, dairy, jaggery (over-use), dairy, refined flour, processed/refined foods, refined oils, meats, poultry, eggs, junk, oily foods, cured meats and street foods.


What happens when you are overdoing the wrong kinds of acid-forming, it does not serve the body to balance itself. Over acidic foods of the wrong nature, as stated above depletes minerals, as that’s what the body uses to redress the balance. This will lead to issues of bone weakness, aggravate arthritic conditions also cause leaky gut and affect the gut microbiome (causing loss of a good ecosystem). A general acidic condition is also thought to increase the risk of cancer, and headaches, and overall reduce your resistance to infection. There is constant dumping of toxins in the blood, and the blood gets viscous.

Diet plan for a good alkaline-acid balance

It is easier for the body to balance foods that are closer to neutral and are from nature, than de-natured foods. See the balance chart below. Your diet must include alkaline foods, but also some acid-forming foods of the right kind; it is advised adequate sources of both should be included. So here is what must be included –

  1. Whole grains like brown rice and millets (acid-forming foods of the right nature).
  2. Lentil and legumes.
  3. Vegetables, with an emphasis on dark leafy greens.
  4. Fruits.
  5. Nuts and seeds.
  6. Good fats (avocados, walnuts, flaxseeds, olive oil, sunflower seeds, sesame oil).
  7. Fermented foods.

Start by having roughly equal amounts of whole grains and vegetables and then use the good quality balancing food act e.g., if you eat fish (more acid-forming, but good) then include leafy greens (more alkaline) eating the fish with lemons or chopped almonds will make for balance and absorption of it better. Using millets and a daily bowl of soup with a variety of vegetables always helps you stay more alkaline.

Celery Beans (pulses, dals) Olives, eggplant, Sweets made with
Herbal Teas beetroot, sprouts, bananas, millet, coconut (fresh) sugar, honey,
Watermelon asparagus, cauliflower, cucumbers, honey (raw) chocolates, refined
Lemons green tea, radish, dates, onions, sesame, spices artificial sweeteners,
Mangoes kiwi, peaches, ginger, lettuce sprouted grains meat, chicken, eggs,
Papaya potatoes, corn, mushrooms, tangerines, okra, hydrogenated oils,
Grapes veggie juices, apples, apricots, radishes, miso, mayonnaise, fried
Watercress avocados, fruit juices (fresh) buckwheat (kuttu), (packaged foods),
Red Chilly green tea, lettuce, pears, cherries, leeks, okra shortening, deep-fried
  peppers, pineapple, potatoes (bhindi), tomatoes, packaged foods, baked
  (with skin), radish, pumpkin sea salt, oranges, packaged foods, cakes,
  (bhopla), mushrooms, corn, pickles (home-made), cookies (packaged),
  strawberries, turnips, herbs, sesame seeds, tofu, especially products with
  garlic spy milk, spices, yeast which includes
Eggs, kidney beans, Honey, bran, cheese, dry White bread, cakes, oils (except olive)
pumpkin seeds, butter, coconut, goats milk, pasta cookies (packaged), soy milk, or highly processed
barley, butter, beef, (whole grain), grains (unrefined) alcohol, soft drinks, soy products (not tofu),
spinach mustard, popcorn, prunes, artificial sweeteners, excessive fruit/fruit juices,
  brown rice, tea, wheat, fish, beef, pork, fish, citrus fruits, soft drinks,
  eggs, nuts (except almonds), sugar, dairy, molasses, spritzers, beer, wine,
  maple syrup, fructose, popcorn, table salt, Indian chai, alcohol, overeating,
  ketchup, potatoes (peeled), coffee, whole wheat late-night eating, not
  prunes, tea, wheat bread, white foods, coffee, fruit chewing, skipping breakfast,
  or brown basmati rice juices (packaged), Snacking, cooking on high-
    yogurt (packaged), heat
    maida, peanuts. Indian  
    pickles, white rice,  
    table salt, vinegars  
    Indian tea, walnuts, any  
    whole wheat foods,  
    sweeteners, processed foods  

In conclusion, your diet if balanced changes blood condition and cellular condition (if it needs changing and renewing); this, in turn, impacts immunity. It takes 4 months to create good blood condition i.e., good acid-alkaline balance and 2 years to change your cellular health. So you can do it!

How does Macrobiotics help all ailments?

The first focus of the Macrobiotic approach is to change blood condition, thereby impacting cellular condition (read acid-alkaline balance section in this blog). Any breakdown of the human body, starts right here i.e., with our cellular structure. The second focus is on strengthening the digestive system, like in Ayurvedic traditions ‘the seat of everything is in the stomach.’ So, the use of digestive enzymes to strengthen the flora and fauna of the gut is a major contribution to the Macrobiotic way of life. A third focus is on regularizing blood sugar levels, as major insulin surges are something the body cannot handle. The fourth final focus is to reduce inflammation in the body, which is the major cause of any disease: arthritis/rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease: constipation, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s), allergies, fibromyalgia, balancing hormones (thyroid & cortisol), preventing/resolving adrenal fatigue, controlling fat, belly fat and unhealthy ageing. Therefore, ‘yes’ the diet helps with any ailment.

Special foods to include in a cancer approach –

  1. Brown rice – there is no other healing food than a robust whole grain and brown rice should be the mother of all your whole grains. Brown rice has all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (about 70 anti-cancer, anti-ageing) that are required by the human body to maintain optimal health. Rich in CoQ10 it facilitates the transformation of fats and sugars into energy, which makes it great to combat cancer. It also has alpha-lipoic acid, which helps with liver rejuvenation. Rice bran, when fermented boosts all internal organs, especially the thymus, adrenals and thyroid.
  2. Broccoli – comes from the brassica family also referred to as cruciferous vegetables. It contains glucoraphanin (antioxidant) and indole-3-carbinol, which have been known to reduce the risk of many cancers. Best eaten raw or lightly steamed as the phytochemicals are heat-sensitive.
  3. Berries – Especially, berries that are black like raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and the Indian Jamun. Which have been known to stop what we call cellular suicide (apoptosis) it’s used to describe the balance between cell death and cell renewal; berries help this process by eliminating cells that are no longer wanted or functioning.
  4. Soursop Fruit- I got introduced to this fruit very early in my cancer-fighting career. It is being cultivated in parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerela. It is rich in vitamin B and C, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. It has been known to prevent infections, control inflammation and also help the digestive system. Rich in a chemotherapeutic compound called acetogenins; and research points to the fact that these substances are capable of destroying cancer tumours.
  5. Shiitake Mushroom – When my father had cancer, we gave him a blend of rice brand shiitake mushrooms, as a supplement. Why I so believe in the wonder of the mushroom are many: Lentinan, a polysaccharide extracted from shiitake, may help to extend the lives of cancer patients. I used it in conjunction with chemotherapy for my father. Lentinan is not known to kill cancer cells, but to enhance immunity, thereby increasing the chances of the T and B cells fighting cancer cells.

Just remember, you must look after your entire diet, this means focusing on all food groups as well.

Supplement and questions for cancer

Despite taking the conventional route, you can help the body fight back in various other ways; here are a few. The goal has to be to aid detoxification through the various pathways and restore the body’s natural defence mechanisms, including boosting the immune system. If this is done, the body will start coping differently with the generation of new cancer cells, and that’s what the aim of a remission program should be.

  1. Question your diet – Your diet has various triggers, i.e., foods that will keep acidic blood conditions in which cancer cells thrive; e.g., dairy happens to be one of them. Also add foods that will help you fight cancer, keeping your blood condition towards being in acid-alkaline balance. You can do this by working with a health practitioner (like myself) who works with cancer.
  2. Use Adaptogens – these encompass a wide variety of different natural medicines from all over the world that are safe and have a balancing effect on one of the main axis of the brain (HPA – hypothalamic-pituitary-endocrine-axis). You need this axis working well for immunity functions and to boost the endocrine system (hormones) e.g., basil (tulsi) is an adaptogen. However, again you need someone like a good Ayurvedic practitioner who knows how to use these for your cancer.
  3. Using superfoods that help produce more the T and B cells to help the body fight the cancer cells.
  4. Use antioxidant therapy – you need someone who has the knowledge, not just of the basic antioxidants; but someone who knows which antioxidant impacts cancer cells specifically (there are many). Antioxidants turn off the cancer expression gene and create energy.
  5. Use estrogen clearing agents in foods—in the case of breast cancer, and strengthen the microbiome to facilitate the process of clearing toxins
  6. Questioning emotions – Cancer is a discharge of also huge unresolved emotions, and people have to work these out of their system. This means they need to talk to someone like a psychotherapist and ‘let go’ of any grudges and resentments they may be harbouring.
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