Dietary Therapy

Food is probably the most important healing tool we’ve got. Westerners have some of the worst eating habits on the planet. The truth of the matter is that for a great many health problems, an improved diet is often all that’s needed to restore balance.

What is Dietary therapy?

Dietary therapy, which is a modality of  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is a practice in the belief of healing through the use of natural foods instead of medications. Dietary  therapy has been passed down from generations to generations in China. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, also known as the Huangdi Neijing, which was written around 300 BC, was most important in forming the basis of  dietary therapy. It classified food by four food groups, five tastes and by their natures and characteristics.

Basic Rules of Chinese Dietary Therapy

In the view of Chinese medicine, the stomach works very hard to turn everything you eat into a warm stew. Introducing foods which will bring extra burden to the stomach can lead to impede and even impair digestion.

Therefore, we can arrived at some basic rules of Chinese dietary therapy listed below:

Cooked is better than raw. Maybe raw foods have more nutrients than cooked foods, but since they’re harder to break down in your stomach, you’re not getting as much out of them. Lightly cooked is the way.

Avoid cold food and drink. Since the stomach needs to make warm soup, cold food and drinks aren’t good for your digestion either. Try to have food and drink be at least room temperature before you eat or drink.

More vegetables, less sugar and dairy. Excessive sugar and dairy in our food will lead to sticky sludge accumulated in the body.

Other rules: choose fresh foods over frozen or canned, eat organic food and locally grown food, eat with the seasons, Sit down while eating and eat slowly.

Keep Balance of “Heat” and “Cold” While Eating

Chinese medical experts believe that imbalance of natural heat and cold in a body can cause disease or be more conducive towards sickness, and that certain foods have a heat inducing quality while others have a cold effect on the body.

The  internal heat and cold balance is not directly related to being physically hot or cold. For example, if one had a cold, or had the first sign of cold, he would not want to eat any cold foods such as a lemon, pear or cucumber. If one had a hot disease, such as inflammation, then he would not want to eat hot foods such as garlic, onions, or mutton.

To avoid diseases caused by the imbalance of heat and cold in the body, one should not eat too many heat or cold foods. For example, eating too many heat foods like chili peppers could cause a rash, or the eating of too many cold foods such as pear could cause one to develop stomach pain or diarrhea.

Chinese dietary therapy is also an integral part of any complete treatment plan. For example, a person who has a wind cold condition with excessive clear mucus might be told to consume hot soup made from chicken and ginger. These food are warming, expel cold, and sedate excess yin. With such a lunch, one can imagine that the person’s herb formula would be much more effective. On the other hand, if the same patient decided to have salad for lunch with a cold glass of milk, the cold and damp nature of this meal would make the wind cold condition much worse. Any herbal therapy administered at this point would be much less effective, since the therapy first needs to overcome the negative effect of the food before dealing with the acute ailment. For this reason, a patient is always advised about which foods could exacerbate the imbalance and which will help restore balance.

This belief in foods having inherent heat and cold  properties is prevalent throughout China. In general, grains are considered to bring stability to the body. It is particularly popular among those people who enjoy slow-cooked soups. One of the most commonly known is a rice soup called “zhou”. This is a traditional breakfast for Asian people all over the world. This rice soup recipes vary infinitely, depending upon the desired health benefits as well as taste. Leafy greens have an affinity for the upper body, while root vegetables give strength to the middle and lower body. Meats possess the full range of temperatures, and they are a simple source of blood. Finally, dairy products are a good source of fats, but they should be eaten in moderation. Overconsumption can result in excess dampness, gas or mucus.

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