Sanae Suzuki heals from ovarian cancer with a macrobiotic diet
Sanae Suzuki was diagnosed with cancer in 1993 following a very stressful period in her life. She had recently divorced her husband, lost her father to liver cancer, and then her mother’s health started failing too. She was already suffering emotionally, but then she began feeling exhausted all of the time and experiencing a low grade fever which led her to seek medical attention.
The doctors said that the ovarian cancer was very aggressive and that she needed to have her left ovary removed right away followed by chemotherapy. Sanae didn’t have medical insurance at the time and wasn’t sure what she was going to do. She even contemplated going back to Japan to have the surgery and further treatments there to avoid the costs.
She says that she had first heard about the healing benefits of a macrobiotics diet several years earlier from the owner of a Japanese natural food store that she would frequent, and this person volunteered to teach her how to do the diet as part of her healing plan. Sanae began reading the book The Cancer Prevention Diet, Revised and Updated Edition: The Macrobiotic Approach to Preventing and Relieving Cancer and then scheduled a meeting with Cecil Levin, a renowned macrobiotics counselor. Prior to the meeting with Cecil she was asked to make a detailed diary of all of the foods that she had been eating so that she could thoroughly examine how her diet might have played a role in the development of her illness.
Sanae was very weak when she began taking the macrobiotic classes. She says this about the experience, “I used to lay down while the instructor was teaching the class because I was so weak. But I took notes . . . and then I would show my boyfriend Eric what to do.” Once on the diet she reports that she began to have detoxing symptoms which included flu like symptoms, fever, and toxic discharge which lasted for several weeks. She said that it took an entire year before she began improve. She says, “slowly, but gradually, I started getting better . . .with no other treatments beside eating macrobiotic food.”
Suzuki confesses that giving up sweets was her biggest challenge. She would often ask Eric to bring home desserts from the restaurant where he was working, so he started experimenting and soon became an expert at making sugarless and non-dairy desserts for her. “I couldn’t kick sugar,” Suzuki admits. “so Eric learned to make macrobiotic desserts and this really saved my life. He’ll say that he had no choice, but of course he had a choice. He’s a wonderful person. Then my healing got even better.”
One year later Sanae was in complete remission. She then went to study with Michio Kushi, a world leader of Macrobiotic education and completed all four levels at the Kushi Institute in Becket, MA and began teaching her own classes.
The couple says that macrobiotics was more of a lifestyle adjustment than just a diet and they continue to live their lives as chemical-free as possible. This is true with the food they eat, to the clothes that they choose to wear and the products that they use in their everyday lives. They also believe in eating with the seasons, such as incorporating stews in the winter and eating fresh sprouts, greens, wheat and barley in the spring.
Together, they own and run the restaurant ‘Seed’ which is located in Venice Beach, CA. The restaurant offers wholesome, vegan, organic, and minimally produced food that is locally grown and without animal products, dairy, eggs, or refined sugars. Sanae continues to teach community classes as well at her home studio and she is the author of several books for those looking for more information on switching to a macrobiotics diet.
Sanae shares some details of her experience of using macrobiotics to heal
Macrobiotic Dietary Principles
In 2002, the Kushi Institute, the world’s leading macrobiotic educational center, located in Becket, Massachusetts, presented five cases of healing cancer to the Cancer Advisory Panel for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAPCAM) at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. A panel of 15 physicians and scientists reviewed all the evidence presented and unanimously recommended that the Kushi Institute receive government funding for a clinical study on macrobiotics as a treatment for those diagnosed with breast or melanoma skin cancers.
George Yu, a clinical professor of urology at George Washington University Medical Center, and the person who presented the cases on behalf of the Kushi Institute, offers one explanation of why macrobiotics might help. He says that the diet’s reliance on fermented foods like miso have good bacteria, which produce many enzymes. He explains. “Those enzymes may have some way of keeping the body in balance, breaking food down, preventing inflammation, and decreasing toxic accumulation.” The simplicity of the diet also improves the elimination process, which contributes to its detoxing effect. Yu says approximately one-third of people who adopt a macrobiotic way of life recover from their illness after three to six months on the diet. “Why it doesn’t work for the other two-thirds, I don’t know,” he admits.
Macrobiotics is much more than just a diet; it is also a way of living your life in balance. Exercise along with rest; socializing along with solitude; adopting sensible sleep habits and keeping a tidy home are all considered aspects of leading a macrobiotic life. Most people associate macrobiotics with the nutritional regimen that was developed by Japanese writer-philosopher George Ohsawa in the early 20th century. This diet was later popularized in America by Michio Kushi in the sixties and seventies. Macrobiotics has an emphasis on eating whole grains, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and beans, along with restricting your intake of meat, dairy products, refined sugars, and processed foods. Macrobiotics aims to provide the body with essential nutrients while limiting the accumulation of toxins within the body. The diet is based on the Eastern concepts of yin and yang, which are the two contrasting universal energies believed to be present in all things, including food. By consuming foods with the least pronounced yin and yang qualities (like whole grains and vegetables), one can supposedly achieve a more balanced condition and initiate a healing process. It’s thought that the standard American diet, with its emphasis on red meat (overly yang) and sugary foods (overly yin), can throw the body out of balance and lead to disease.
Approximately 40 – 60% of the diet. Traditionally grains are the base of various cultures throughout the world.
- From brown rice to oats to millet and spelt, there are many different varieties of grains available.
- Grains are soaked overnight to neutralize enzyme inhibitors and to increase the absorption of nutrients when consumed.
- How to soak grains, nuts and seeds.
- how to soak brown rice and other recipes
Approximately 20 – 30% of diet
- A variety of leafy vegetables, root and sea vegetables are an important supplement to every meal because they are rich in calcium, beta carotene and many other vital nutrients. Some include: bok choy, carrot tops, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, daikon greens, dandelion greens, kale, leeks, mustard greens, parsley, spring onions, turnip greens, watercress, acorn squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, buttercup squash, butternut squash, cabbage, cauliflower, hokkaido pumpkin, onion, pumpkin, red cabbage, and turnips.
- Okay to eat these occasionally: celery, chives, cucumber, endive, green beans, green peas, iceberg lettuce, Jerusalem artichokes, romaine lettuce, snap beans snow peas, and sprouts.
- Eat plenty of roots vegetables: burdock, carrots, daikon, dandelion roots, lotus root, parsnip, radish.
- sea vegetables are also a mainstay of this diet are a great source of iodine and minerals.
- There are also certain vegetables that should be avoided or used sparingly, they include members of the nightshade variety: potato, tomatoes, peppers of all kinds except for black pepper.
Approximately 5 – 10% of diet
- Although all organically grown dried beans are featured prominently in macrobiotic recipes, author Michio Kushi recommends you eat the small beans such as lentils, chickpeas, black soybeans and azuki beans more frequently than navy beans, lima beans or other large varieties, which contain more oil and fat.
- beans are washed and then soaked for 8 hours or overnight in filtered water to make them more digestible.
- organic tofu, tempeh and natto are eaten daily.
- Soups are the most flexible dish, and may be made with vegetables, grains, or beans, and use a variety of seasonings.
- Miso is a common base for these soups because it is rich in nutrients and enzymes. Miso is stirred in at the end of cooking so that the enzymes remain intact.
- Asian seasonings, sea salt, rice malt and the sea vegetable kombu are used to add flavor to foods.
- Garnishes may include Asian pickles, freshly grated ginger root or horseradish, fresh scallions or onions.
Foods to avoid:
- Refined sugars, white flour and white rice should be avoided when following a macrobiotic diet.
- This means no cookies, muffins, chips, popcorn, or bread products.
- Dairy and meat products also should be avoided when following a macrobiotic meal plan.
- Fish is allowed for occasional use.
- The food has not been genetically altered and is organically grown when possible
- Beverages are non-stimulating (non-caffeinated)
- Water should be spring or filtered for drinking and cooking
- Video demonstrations of various cooking methods that are used for the macrobiotic diet
- Website of the Kushi Institute for more information on their hands-on healing program
More testimonials using this diet:
Macrobiotic Book List