We have heard of the Hippocrates quote, “let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Like Hippocrates, Traditional Chinese Medicine views food as a source of healing. Similar to the familiar concepts of nutrients, calories and vitamins in foods, in Chinese Medicine, each food has its own healing essence and can be used therapeutically. How so?
Everybody has their own individual constitution. Some people feel warmer than others, some may perspire more than others and some have cold hands and feet while others burn up in their extremities.
In Chinese Medicine, all foods have a thermal property – a warming or cooling effect. Based on one’s own internal constitution, if you tend to feel more hot, then foods which have a cooling property can rebalance your internal environment and restore your body’s balance. And vice versa, people who tend to feel colder are encouraged to eat more warming foods which can decrease their internal coldness.
The following chart is an example of foods and their thermal properties.
|Meat & Seafood||Fish
|Spices & Herbs||Mint
Raw foods are coldest in nature but you may warm it up by lightly stir-frying or cooking them. You can also balance out the thermal nature of foods by combining it with other foods from the other categories and adding some warming spices.
If you’re interested in finding out about your own body’s constitution and get advice on which category of foods would be best for you, book in to speak to one of our TCM practitioners.
You may have also heard your Chinese Medicine practitioner tell you to avoid any cold drinks and beverages, and even a salad. Doesn’t heat destroy the nutrient content? Chinese Medicine believes that the Stomach and Spleen’s are warm in nature. That is, by consuming cold temperature foods and beverages it hampers the Qi and natural functions of the Spleen and Stomach which could lead to digestive and GI issues and even weight gain. A light steaming or light stir fry of foods will be enough to keep your Stomach and Spleen happy and aid in the breaking down of food and bring forth healing. Just like how your gut health is very important, in Chinese Medicine your Spleen and Stomach’s health is just as important.