The earliest recorded use of the term macrobiotics is found in the writing of Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine. In his essay "Airs, Waters, and Places," Hippocrates introduced the word to describe people who were healthy and long-lived. Herodotus, Aristotle, Galen, and other classical writers used the term macrobiotics to describe a lifestyle, including a simple balanced diet, that promoted health and longevity.
According to Macrobiotic proponents, the Macrobiotic methodology was utilized by many of the long-lived traditional cultures, such as the Incas, and the Chinese in the Han Dynasty. George Ohsawa drew from Asian and Japanese folk medicine to create his version of this philosophy of health.
George Ohsawa brought his teaching to Europe from Japan. Ohsawa was a Japanese philosopher, who was inspired to formalize macrobiotics by the teachings of Kaibara Ekiken, Andou Shōeki, Mizuno Namboku, and Sagen Ishizuka and his disciples Nishibata Manabu and Shojiro Goto.
Ohsawa took his macrobiotic teachings to North America in the late 1950s. Macrobiotic education was spread in the United States by his students Herman Aihara, Cornelia Aihara, Michael Abehsera, Michio Kushi and Aveline Kushi, and in turn by their students. Michio Kushi has been the most prominent of these teachers.
Ohsawa coined the term for a natural way of living, macrobiotics, in the late 1950s. Macrobiotics, from the ancient Greek language, means the way of longevity. This term has been used by many authors in describing longevity teachings from the Far East.
"Whole foods, such as brown rice, are central to a macrobiotic diet, and many of the first customers and owners of the alternative food stores were students of macrobiotics. In the 20th century, influential teachers emerged, such as the Kushis (who emigrated to the United States from Japan after World War II), who distilled the wide-ranging ideas and interpreted them for modern, urban, and industrialized life."[