Dietotherapy / Chinese Food Therapy

Using foods and herbs for sickness prevention and treatment


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When Chinese started farming and agriculture over 4000 years ago, they began to understand that each plant has its own special effects on human body. By continuously using foods on people and testing them by trial-and-error, Chinese were able to identify the nature, characteristics and functional effects of each food. This is also the approach used in studying natural medicinal herbs.    

With the long history of application, each food and herb that is in use today has detailed documentation on its nature, characteristic, therapeutic effects, contradictions and instruction for proper application.

application.jpgThe Application

Chinese medicine emphasizes on early detection and treatment for health problems. Food has always been used by ordinary people as the first line of defense for prevention or to ward off diseases. It is because using food as medicine is the most convenient, practical and cost effective approach to treat illness. It is only when food alone cannot help that people will need to turn to TCM doctors for help.

TCM doctors treat illness by firstly using strong and extreme herbs to reverse imbalances and to disperse symptoms. When the problem is under control, the doctor will then stop using these herbs and turn to milder and tonic herbs and foods to continue the treatment. This is the phase of using nutritional approach to supplement any deficiencies, to repair, rebuild and to rejuvenate what was damaged. This phase will continue for weeks until the body has fully recovered. Afterwards, eating tonic foods at regular intervals is necessary for maintenance.

guideline.jpgThe Guideline used in food therapy:  

1. Applying the Yin and Yang Theory 

The same as our body, each sickness, each food or each herb has its unique nature of yin or yang or neutral. To choose the right therapeutic food, knowing your body constitution and the nature of the illness is the first step.  

When sick, the nature of sickness will dominate the body. In general, if the patient feels better under warmer surroundings and prefers warmer foods than cold, he/she must be suffering from yin sickness. If the patient is having a fever and prefers cooler environment and cold drinks, he/she is suffering from yang type sickness. Foods of opposite nature should be used to help the patient to recover.

During sickness, our body needs all if not extra energy to fight the sickness. A healthy spleen and stomach can facilitate easy digestion, absorption and transportation of nutrients. It is necessary to avoid cold foods, raw foods, hard to digest foods, greasy and deep-fried foods to lessen the burden on the digestive system. Warm and easy to digest foods such as soup or rice porridge should be eaten instead.

2.  Choose food according to its Taste and Action  

The taste of food has direct impact on our vital organs. Each taste has to be consumed in moderation in order to benefit the corresponding organ. When it is consumed excessively, it can damage the organ and create imbalance.

Tastes

Sweet

Sour

Bitter

Salty

Pungent

Act on organs

Spleen & Stomach

Liver & Gall bladder

Heart & Small intestine

Kidney & Bladder

Lung & Large intestine

The action of food is like the movement of energy created by food. Proper energy flow around the body is important in keeping blood, fluid and waste moving and circulating normally and in the right direction. If rebellious energies are not corrected quickly, it can deplete nutrients and weaken the body.

Actions

Outward

Inward

Upward

Downward

Effects

Move energy from the centre to the surface

Move energy back to the centre

Move energy upward

Mover energy downward

Applications

Induce sweating during fever to release heat and to expel toxins

For profuse perspiration, night sweat, premature ejaculation and frequent urination

Controls diarrhoea, prolapsed anus or uterus and falling stomach

Controls vomiting, food-rejection, constipation and energy obstruction

 

3.  Choose food according to season 

Choose food to counter the extreme effects of climate can help to prevent sickness.

In spring, it is important to eat foods to prevent wind damage. Foods such as oats, pine nuts, shrimp, ginger, fennel, basil and anise can help to eliminate internal wind and cold. Foods such as chrysanthemum, goji-berry, sprout, dandelion and animal liver are all beneficial to our liver.

Spicy hot and deep-fried foods should be restricted in summer because they can increase internal heat causing stagnation and drying vital fluids. Cooling foods such as watermelon, citrus fruits, turnips or daikon, mung beans, summer squash, zucchini, cucumber and bitter melon are more suitable.  

In late summer, foods such as broad beans and little red beans which are diuretic in nature can help the body to release excessive dampness. Cooling yin foods will help, while overly hot yang foods should be avoided. Ice cold foods and drinks are cold in temperature, but not cold in nature. They should be avoided because they can damage the spleen and stomach causing indigestion and sluggishness which can slow down the immune system and metabolic functions. 

In autumn, dryness dominates and can easily injure the lungs, causing heavy coughing, blood in the sputum, dry nose and throat and pains in the chest. Insufficient body fluid is harmful. We should eat more nourishing yin food to promote body fluid and to soothe the lungs. Foods that can promote vital fluids are soy, spinach, asparagus, barley, seaweed, snow-ear mushroom, apple, tangerine, pine nut, peanuts, pear, honey, sugar cane, oyster, and pork.

In winter, if coldness enters the body through the skin, it produces symptoms of fever, cold, headaches and body pain. If coldness reaches the meridians, it produces muscle cramps and pains in the bones and joints. If coldness enters as far as the internal organs, cold excess causes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pains, coldness in limbs and causes chronic illness which are most difficult to treat. To prevent coldness attacks, plenty of warming yang foods and slightly fatty foods should be included in the diet. And in extreme coldness, a few warming yang herbs should be eaten regularly to keep the internal systems warm to protect the body. Examples of warming foods are ginger, cinnamon, chestnuts, fennel, dill, parsnip, kale, onion, leek, chives, garlic, chicken, beef and lamb. Examples of warming herbs are astragalus, dangshen and red ginseng.

 

4.  Choose food according to age and lifestyle needs  

Eating according to age, lifestyle and physical needs can prevent over-eating or under-eating which can cause extra stress to the body.

Young children, who are very active and are growing fast need more protein and carbohydrates. Teenagers need to eat more often and food with balanced nutrition to support their active lifestyle and healthy development towards adulthood. Older people with weakened digestive system and are physically less active should eat less and eat easy-to-digest foods. Athletes or people in physically demanding jobs should eat more carbohydrates and nutritious foods to provide energy. For people who use their brain a lot, they should eat more protein-rich foods to nourish their brain.

5.  Using the like to treat the like

TCM therapeutic recipes usually use a combination of foods and superior herbs as the main ingredients to increase the potency and effectiveness of foods. The application of using animal's organ (organotherapy) to treat human is most common. The nutritional benefits of animal’s parts to human have also been recognized by modern science. Many drugs today are using animal’s parts as the key ingredients. For examples, pig and cow pancreas are used to make insulin to treat diabetes, and desiccated thyroid is a thyroid hormone replacement drug prepared from the thyroid gland from pigs.

Pig has the closest genes to human and is commonly used in TCM medicinal recipes. Other animal parts such as chicken feet are used to promote leg and joint health, fish heads are used to promote brain power and heal headache, and ox tails are used to promote back and spinal bone health, duck or pig kidneys are used to promote kidney health, etc.

 

Chinese Food Therapy is people’s medicine so people are using all the real ingredients to make home remedies to achieve health benefits. It is a much more cost-effective approach than readymade drug and people have complete control over the quality and quantity of key ingredients used.  

 

“Spring is warm, eat wheat to cool it;
Summer is hot, eat beans to cold it;
Autumn is dry, eat sesame (seeds) to lubricate it;
Winter is cold, eat corn to warm it."

- Neijing, The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine

 

 

 


Know Your Constitution

If you are always hot and have warm hands and feet even in winter, always energetic and almost restless, underweight by at least 20 pounds, and have a high sex drive, you belong to the hot type.

If you prefer summer to winter, are normally not tired, fairly active and enjoy sex more than food, you are the warm type.

If you are always cold, with cold hands and feet even in summer, overweight by at least 20 pounds, normally tired, easy going and quite patient and have a low sex drive, you are the cold type.

If you prefer winter to summer, just slightly overweight, normally lazy and fairly relaxed, and enjoy food more than sex, you belong to the cool type.

If you have a combination of cool and warm symptoms, you are the neutral type.

Phosphatidylserine

brain-image

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid fatty acid that plays a key role in cell cycle signaling, specifically in relationship to cell death. It is necessary for building cell membranes—especially in neurons—and forming acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter that plays an integral role in short-term memory.

Food sources of phosphatidylserine are found in organ meats such as the liver and brain, with smaller amounts found in dairy products and some vegetables, such as soy and cabbage.

Conditions Supported by Phosphatidylserine

  • ADHD
  • Brain health
  • Stress

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