I read a number of years ago that Academy Award Winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow followed a macrobiotic diet.
At the time, this news snippet aroused my curiosity as my own family followed a macrobiotic diet for a brief period of time when I was in middle school and it was the worst way of eating I have ever experienced.
I absolutely despised the macrobiotic diet because I never felt satisfied or well after eating a meal prepared this way. I am very glad my parents quickly decided that it wasn’t so fantastic after all and stopped making meals this way!
Now, Ms. Paltrow has disclosed that she is suffering from osteopenia, a thinning of the bones.
This condition was brought about by vitamin D blood levels so low, that Ms. Paltrow’s doctors said the level was “… the lowest thing they had ever seen ….”
Ms. Paltrow was prescribed high dose vitamin D drops and told to spend more time in the sun (without sunscreen, of course) to reverse the condition.
This is clearly excellent advice as those of us who know that frequent, brief, nonburning doses of midday sun on the skin is a very healthy thing to do, does not cause skin cancer, and is a great way to quickly raise vitamin D blood levels!
Let’s examine for a moment how Ms. Paltrow got such alarmingly low vitamin D blood levels in the first place.
A macrobiotic diet is based on grains, primarily brown rice. Here is the breakdown:
- Whole cereal grains, especially brown rice: 40—60%
- Vegetables: 25—30%
- Beans and legumes: 5—10%
- Miso soup: 5%
- Sea vegetables: 5%
- Traditionally or naturally processed foods: 5—10%
In addition to these basic recommendations, food, especially the grains, must be very thoroughly chewed by macrobiotic diet followers. Seafood, fruit, natural sweeteners and seeds/nuts may be enjoyed 2-3 times per week, if desired (but not required).
Dangerous Dietary Deficiency from a Macrobiotic Diet
At first glance, a macrobiotic diet may seem an excellent way to eat as it is whole, unprocessed and eschews junk food, sodas and other industrialized foods that are responsible for so many modern ills, particularly in children.
However, following a macrobiotic diet can only bring ill health over the long term as it is focused primarily on grains and contains little animal fats which are the only foods that contain any vitamin D and other fat soluble vitamins that are absolutely essential to health.
And no, kelp and mushrooms grown in the sun don’t contain the type of Vitamin D our bodies can use either, so don’t fall for that dietary myth.
Having experienced the lack of well being, lethargy, dark moods and hypoglycemia produced by a macrobiotic diet firsthand as a child, I knew that Ms. Paltrow was going to suffer serious health challenges as a result of this dangerous manner of eating. Her first clue should have been the birth weight of her first child (a girl) who was born at a whopping 9 lbs 11 oz. It is known that girls born this large are at higher risk for breast cancer before age 50. A diet heavy in grains, even if whole and unprocessed, will frequently result in huge babies predisposed for childhood obesity and other associated problems.
Her second clue should have been the postpartum depression she experienced after the birth of her second child, Moses, in 2006. Postpartum depression and low vitamin D levels have been strongly linked.
With this more recent news of severe vitamin D deficiency and osteopenia at such a young age, hopefully Ms. Paltrow will abandon the disastrous macrobiotic diet and reclaim her health by consuming animal foods high in Vitamin D on a more frequent basis and reduce her grain consumption to a moderate level as practiced by healthy, traditional societies.
Any diet that produces such severe nutritional deficiency such as what Ms. Paltrow has experienced is clearly the wrong way to go and an unwise approach to eating.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist