Chinese nutritional therapy in Austin categorizes food based on its energetic qualities instead of its components. Certain foods may be considered warm and nourishing while others are deemed eliminating and cooling; some foods can help build energy or qi in the body while some possess yin or yang or blood tonifying qualities. So, according to Western medicine, while a yogurt and apple breakfast will always possess the same nutritional value regardless of who eats it, traditional Chinese medicine sees it as helpful for people overcoming deficient yin conditions but damaging to people suffering from dampness or deficient yang.
In this regard, based on your condition, food can either impair or aid your everyday effort to recuperate from disease or help maintain health. Chinese nutritional therapy is more than the consumption of highly nourishing food; it is also eating healthy food that is appropriate for one’s unique body types.
The Five Flavors in Chinese Nutritional Therapy
In traditional Chinese medicine, all foods have their own distinct qualities based on the five flavors or tastes: salty, pungent, sweet, bitter, and sour and the four natures: hot, warm, cool, and cool.
The flavor of food (salty, pungent, sweet, bitter, and sour) may be utilized to foretell its effects on the body. Also, the nature of food (hot, warm, cool, and cool) can have a direct impact on the body. The manner in which food is prepared may make it more proper to the constitution of a person:
This flavor group includes among others soy sauce and kelp. Both tend to hold fluids in the body and are cooling in nature. They have a purgative effect, can soften hardness, and have a downward movement. Energetically, salty foods affect the will (zhi) and the Kidney and too much of it injures the blood.
Pungent or Spicy Foods
These types of foods include cayenne pepper and onion. They have a warming effect, promote the circulation of blood and the flow of qi, and in terms of direction, move upwards and outwards to the body surface. They can also help eliminate mucus from the lungs. Energetically, spicy taste affects the po (animal soul) and goes to the Lungs; too much of it injures the qi.
Sweet foods can be warm and nourishing or neutral and nourishing. Sweet foods include starchy vegetables, dairy products, nits, legumes, and meat; apples, rice, potatoes, honey, sugar, and fruits are foods that are sweet plus cooling. Energetically, the foods that are sweet have a tonifying effect and affect the mind (yi) and Spleen; too much of it injures the muscles.
They include dandelion leaf and rhubarb. Bitter foods dry dampness, drain heat, and moves qi downward. Certain bitter foods have a purgative quality and can induce bowel movements. Energetically, the bitter taste affects the spirit or Shen and Heart; too much of it injures the bones.
They include olives and grapefruit which are cooling, generate yin fluids, and have an astringent effect. They can promote digestion in small amounts. Energetically, the sour taste affects the hun or spirit soul and the Liver; too much of it injures the nerves.
Yin symbolizes the energy that tends to have cooling and moistening effects on the body. When your yin becomes weak or becomes depleted, your body will start to manifest indications of “heating up”. This is not real heat but instead a suggest lack of cooling and moistening abilities that are needed to preserve healthy balance.
Foods that can help tonify Yin include:
1. Dairy: Duck egg, cow’s milk, chicken, and cheese, chicken egg, cow’s milk, duck egg
2. Meat: Rabbit, kidney pork, pork, goose, duck, and beef
3. Fish: Most kinds of fish as well as octopus, oyster, cuttlefish, crab, freshwater clam, and sardine
4. Seeds and Nuts: Walnut, black sesame seed, sesame seed, and coconut milk
5. Bean Products: tofu (soy)
6. Beans: black beans, adzuki, kidney, black soya, , mung, and lima
7. Fruit: Apricot, apple, banana, avocado, lime, lemon, mulberry, mango, persimmon, pear, watermelon, pomegranate, and pineapple
8. Vegetables: Artichoke, alfalfa sprout, kelp, asparagus, pea, mung bean sprout, seaweed, potato, sweet potato, tomato, string bean, zucchini, yam, and water chestnut
9. Grains: Millet and barley
10. Condiments and oils and: Malt and honey
11. Spice/Herb: Nettle and marjoram
12. Supplements: American ginseng
Samples of regular western foods that can help fortify yin, include:
1. Miso soup with seaweed and tofu
2. Apple and pork dishes
3. Baked Potato with sesame seeds and soy sauce and stuffed with tofu.
4. Tacos topped with a small amount of cheese and made with Kidney beans
5. Egg salad and sesame seeds with asparagus
6. Cheese omelet
7. Fish foods with coconut milk
8. Fruit salad or Fruit smoothies with banana and honey
Foods That Should Not Be Eaten
Stimulating foods should be avoided as they only tend further exhaust yin: Sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and pungent hot spices.
It’s important to note that if large amounts of yin tonifying foods are consumed, they can promote stagnation and block the spleen. Hence, you may want to frequently eat only small amounts of these foods rather than eating large helpings of them irregularly.
Yang symbolizes the energy that tends to activate and warm bodily functions. A depletion of yang may cause your body to stagnate and manifest signs of cold and under activity. Foods that can build yang include:
1. Meat: Lamb and beef kidneys, venison, lamb, and chicken
2. Fish: Lobster, anchovy, trout, mussel, shrimp, and prawn
3. Nuts: chestnuts, , walnuts, and pistachio nuts
4. Fruit: Raspberry, peach, cherry, , strawberry, logan, and lychee
5. Vegetables: leek, watercress, mustard greens, turnip, onion, sweet potato, radish, squash, and scallion
6. Grains: wheat germ, sweet (glutinous) rice, and quinoa
7. Spice/Herb: basil, white pepper, black pepper, thyme, turmeric, caper, star anise, cayenne, spearmint, chive seed, savory, cinnamon bark, sage, clove, rosemary, dill seed, peppermint, fennel seed, nutmeg, fennugreek seed, horseradish, ginger, and garlic
8. Supplements: malt sugar, brown sugar, and Korean ginseng
9. Beverages: Jasmin tea, chai tea
Samples of regular western foods that can help tonify yang
1. Potato and seek with black pepper
2. A teaspoon of Brown sugar and nutmeg with rice porridge and cinnamon
3. Rosemary with roasted vegetables
4. Roast chicken with thyme and sage
5. When cooking you can also add any of the many spices mentioned to these foods.
Foods That Should Not Be Eaten if You Have Deficient Yang:
Cold foods and liquids can increase the draining of yang in your body. By cold liquids and cold foods, we mean foods not only taken straight from the fridge but also of raw foods, since they need extra energy to be digested compared to foods that are pre-cooked. This can mean eating steamed veggies rather green salads or for breakfast choosing oatmeal over granola.
When cooking, use a warming method that will preserve yang and boost the energy of the body. Hence, foods that are roasted slow, stews, or soups, can be preferred dishes for individuals with a severe yang deficiency. Too much use of hot seasonings can result in sweating and may even have a drying and cooling effect on the body.
Buildup of Damp Phlegm
Dampness in the body may indicate a condition that reflects the humid environment the person is living in currently. Dampness can occur due to the digestive system’s inability to transport food and fluids. It may also indicate that the body has been overwhelmed by external damp (eating foods that produce damp, damp living conditions, or damp weather). It can also be caused by an illness, or from abuse of certain antibiotics and other drug that creates dampness.
Phlegm is a condensed manifestation of dampness. When a person has been diagnosed having a buildup of Damp Phlegm in his body, it is important that he avoids eating fried, fatty, sugary, processed, cold, or raw foods in order to nourish his Spleen.
Foods that can clear internal dampness include:
1. Fish: Anchovy, mackerel, tuna, eel
2. Fruit: Umeboshi plum, lemon, papaya, lemon
3. Beans: Kidney, lentils, aduki
4. Veggies: scallion, pumpkin, mustard leaf, onion, kohlrabi, white fungus, daikon, parsley, turnip, radish, corn, caper, button mushroom, alfalfa sprout
5. Grains: Rye, basmati rice, barley, corn
6. Spice/Herb: aniseed, white pepper, garlic, parsley, horseradish, nettle, marjoram
Foods That Can Clear Damp With Heat Include:
1. Beans: Kidney
2. Fruit: Umeboshi plum, cranberry, blueberry
3. Vegetables: Chinese cabbage, celery, asparagus
4. Spices & Herbs: Tamarind
Foods That Can Help Remove Phlegm:
1. Seeds and Nuts: walnuts, almonds
2. Vegetables: Radish, plantain, onion, mustard leaf, daikon, watercress, button mushroom, shiitake mushroom, olive
3. Beverages: Soy milk, black tea
4. Spice/Herb: White or black pepper, thyme, mustard seed, marjoram, horseradish, garlic, cardamom caraway
Foods Which Can Help Clear Phlegm plus Heat:
1. Fruit: tangerine peel, persimmon, pear, lemon peel, grapefruit, apple peel
2. Veggies: Water chestnut, seaweed, radish
3. Beverages: Pear or grapefruit juice, peppermint tea, elderflower tea
4. Spice/Herb: licorice
Foods that That Can Help Clear Phlegm plus Cold:
1. Vegetables: Scallion, onion, mustard leaf
2. Spice/Herb: rosemary, onion, savory
3. Beverages: jasmin tea
In TCM, the notion of blood has a close similarity to the western notion in which blood has both a nourishing and moistening quality. But with regards to the theory of deficient blood or blood deficiency, importance is laid on the qi of the body. In TCM, Blood is considered as a visible manifestation of qi, and this qi pays a vital role in helping circulate the blood wherever it is needed. Treatment of Blood Deficiency is also aimed at strengthening the ability of your digestive system to absorb the nutrients required for the production of blood from your food successfully.
Food That Can Help Build Blood includes:
1. Dairy: Egg, chicken
2. Meat: Liver of sheep, pork and beef, all red meat particularly the bone marrow
3. Fish: Tuna, sardine, oyster, octopus, mussel
4. Grains: Bran, wheat, sweet rice, oats, corn, barley
5. Beans: Aduki, kidney, black soy
6. Beverages: Soy milk
7. Spice/Herb: Parsley, nettle
8. Supplements: Pollen, dang gue, algae
Samples of regular western foods that can help build Blood:
1. Spinach salad, mushroom lasagna, and kidney bean and with a spinach salad
2. Snacks of dried almonds and apricots
3. Calamari with mussel chowder
4. Scrambled eggs with parsley
5. Salads with dark leafy greens