In traditional Chinese medicine the concept of diet has a totally different meaning from the Western one. In Chinese dietetics, in fact, there is a careful choice of foods depending on their properties, actions and energies on the whole organism. Let’s find out more.
Foods have healing and medicinal properties and the entire choice of nutrition acts on the psycho-physical part of the individual and his constitution to strengthen the weaknesses and keep the vital energy of the subject in good condition. The diet must also be balanced in relation to the energy of Yin and Yang foods.
Let’s take an example to better understand: too much Yang energy, that is, hot foods in nature and temperature, or too energetic, consume Yin. But even excessively Yin foods, cold or raw in nature, will make digestion and transformations made by the body’s Yang difficult.
Therefore, balance even in food is very important and nutrition can be curative. Chinese dietetics is one of the pillars of traditional Chinese medicine, along with pharmacology, acupuncture, massage and psychophysical techniques (Qi Gong and Taiji Quan).
Food according to traditional Chinese medicine
The intake of a food, plant or medicinal substance causes an energetic change in the body. Food therefore has a fundamental and essential energy component that benefits the person who takes it.
In traditional Chinese medicine everything cares, from the plant to the food, according to the YIN and Yang energies that regulate everything. We will therefore find warming and refreshing foods, sweet and salty, acidic, bitter and salty that combined in the best way will have the purpose of nourishing and bringing energy to the physical and spiritual body.
Each food therefore provides the energy IQ, very important for the human being because it keeps the vital energy of the subject healthy.
The diet must therefore be varied, seasonal, simple and natural. This means that the nature of the food taken will give pure medicinal energy with a warming, intiepident, refreshing, cooling effect depending on the constitution of the subject, or his predispositions to imbalances (diseases).
All foods can increase IQ (energy), purify the blood and support the liver, spleen and heart, or all the organs suitable for digestion, which is considered essential for maintaining the state of health.
Yin and Yang Foods
The flavors, from the most Yin to the most Yang are: spicy, sour, sweet, salty and bitter.
Foods plus YIN (acid):
- medicines, drugs and chemicals;
- chemical food (industrial drinks, dyes, preservatives, canned goods);
- sugar and sugary drinks and foods;
- coffee and tea;
- tropical fruits (mango, banana, pineapple, etc.);
- milk and yogurt;
- vegetable oils;
- fruits of warm climates (mandarins, oranges, lemons, etc.);
- solanaceae (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes);
- fruits of temperate climates (watermelons, peaches, raspberries, blueberries, etc.);
- fresh cheeses without salt and aged cheeses;
- vegetables such as salad, spinach, turnip greens;
- vegetables such as cabbage, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli;
- roots (carrots, onions, turnips, radishes, daikon, burdock),
- corn, oats, barley, wheat, whole grain riso (the most balanced food), garlic and buckwheat;
- molluscs and fish,
- white meat, red meat and cold cuts;
- miso, soy sauce and salt.
Foods plus YANG (alkaline)
Foods can be made more yang by increasing cooking time or the use of other factors such as heat.
Let’s see the sources of heat (from the most yang to the most yin): wood, coal, methane gas, plate and electric oven, microwave (the latter to be avoided, as it is not healthy).
You can also attribute a more or less yin or yang characteristic to the food itself according to the type of cooking with which it is prepared: crudo, gnawing – salted, decotting, steaming, cottura in water, cottura in a pan with a little oil, nishime (vegetables cook in layers with the addition of a little water, tamari, slowly in pot with lid), nitukè (yanghizza vegetables in oil). Salt is added and the lid is closed until cooked (pressure cottura), tempura (immersion frying), al oven.
The yin/yang effect of cooking is also a function of:
- Salt (miso, shoyu, tamari, umeboshi)
- + fire = drier effect
- – fire = more relaxing effect
- + salt = more strengthening effect
- – salt = more moisturizing effect
- + time = more warming effect
- – time = more refreshing effect
- + pressure = greater contraction
- – pressure = more dispersed energy
When to eat in accordance with Chinese dietetics
According to traditional Chinese medicine it is important to eat during the day. At night, however, when the energy of the environment that surrounds us falls and consequently also that of our body falls, digestion will be more difficult.
The quantity, quality and energy variety of food are fundamental: in the same meal should be present, in fact, all the flavors and colors.
What to eat and what to eliminate according to Chinese dietetics
The foods to be eliminated are certainly all refined foods and all kinds of sausages and meat, cow’s milk and dairy products in general.
The foods to be preferred are all whole grains (brown rice, millet, spelt, buckwheat), all vegetables and fruit in minimal quantities as they are very fermentative and too sugary.
Excellent will be the choice of all legumes that will act as vegetable proteins and of course soy also in the form of tofu and tempeh. Algae are also important and all seeds (sesame, pumpkin, flax).
Drink fresh and natural water, bancha tea and kukicha, the famous green tea, powerful antioxidant; favor seasonings with extra virgin olive oil, sesame seed oil, sunflower oil and flaxseed oil, humeboshi acidulate, rice vinegar, gomasio with or without algae, soy sauce and tamari and, last but not least, all spices.
Cooking and cutting food are also very important to take the greatest energy from each food, but for this reason specific courses must be followed.
The most important rule is certainly to eat with the soul in peace, without bad thoughts or quarrels, remembering that the intake of food is not only physical but also energetic. A disturbed mood will cause stasis of Qi, blood and even food, affecting appetite, digestion and assimilation of foods. No anger, resentment or negative thoughts while eating!