Nutrition and dietary therapy is an essential aspect of Chinese medicine. The Chinese have known for thousands of years the direct correlation between what we eat and our health.
Even before the development of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, foods were used by traditional peoples to heal diseases and build immunity.
The Chinese medicine model of nutritional therapy, or using foods as medicine, is sophisticated and there are many factors that contribute to determining what to eat when trying to heal from certain diseases or imbalances.
What are the energies, flavors and other properties of food?
Chinese medicine classifies food according to its energetic effects rather than according to its component parts. Certain foods are viewed as warming and nourishing while others are seen as cooling and eliminating; some foods are useful for building qi while others have blood, yang or yin building proprieties.
The energies of foods refer to their capacity to generate sensations - either hot or cold - in the human body. The five kinds of energy are cold, hot, warm, cool and neutral, and this refers not to the state of the food but its effect on our bodies.
The Chinese also think flavor is very important because it helps to send nutrition via the meridians to the corresponding organs. The five flavors of food include pungent (acrid), sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. If we eat a balanced meal with many tastes, we feel satisfied and don't binge.
Therefore, food in this context either assists or hinders our daily efforts to maintain health or recover from illness, depending on our constitution. It is not just a matter of eating nourishing healthy food but of eating nourishing healthy food that is right for individual body types.
If you want to know more about Chinese dietary therapy, please feel free to contact Young.