The link between diet and health is undeniable. But which diet is the best? Because the health-conscious are advocates of various dietary options, it’s getting more and more difficult to determine which diet plan is the best when it comes to maintaining our health.
As the health-conscious seek a more organic approach to naturally improve their health, some are turning to Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine vs. the Western View on Nutrition
Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM has been around for many centuries. For practitioners of TCM, the link between diet and health is substantial, but their perspective is entirely different from what we’re accustomed to with Western tradition.
When it comes to nutrition, the Western view focuses heavily on the chemical composition of foods. And based on their chemical composition, foods are then categorized in terms of their nutritional value or the chemical effect that they have within our bodies.
What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Practitioners of TCM have an entirely different perspective on food. Rather than focusing on the chemical composition of foods, their belief is that all foods carry their own energy. This energy is broken down into two forces: Yin or Yang. In TCM, the key to optimal health lies in achieving an equilibrium between these two forces within the body.
How do you achieve equilibrium? Through eating a balanced diet of both Yin and Yang foods, which are also known as ‘cooling’ and ‘warming’ foods.
What Are Yin and Yang Foods?
Yin foods are commonly referred to as ‘cold’ foods because they have a cooling effect on the body. And Yang foods are known as ‘hot’ foods, bringing heat or warmth to the body. That said, it’s important to note that ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ foods is not a direct reference to the temperature of a food, but rather the type of energy these foods tend to bring into our bodies.
However, for practitioners of TCM, how you choose to prepare your food will also affect this energy. For example, tomatoes are commonly considered as a ‘cooling’ food. But there’s a substantial difference in just eating tomatoes raw, compared to eating tomatoes that are slightly cooked! By cooking tomatoes, you increase its Yang energy.
For TCM practitioners, food has the ability to either heal or to nourish the body. Because, food has the power to restore a Yin or Yang imbalance, as well as strengthen the ‘qi.’ The qi is essentially the ‘life force’ or ‘vital energy’ that flows within the body.
While there’s no Western equivalent to the qi, the concept of the qi can be likened to function of the immune system. The qi plays a vital role in maintaining our health, by promoting harmony within the body and ensuring that all systems are running efficiently.
Yin or Yang Deficiency
According to TCM, a person who suffers from an imbalance between the two forces of Yin and Yang will see this reflected in their health. An imbalance of the two forces is commonly referred to as either a Yin or Yang deficiency, and a deficiency will manifest through various symptoms affecting one’s well-being, which causes them to be in poor health or to feel unwell.
In the presence of a deficiency, eating more foods from the opposing force will help restore the balance. For instance, a person with a Yin deficiency will benefit from eating more Yang foods.
Simply put, an unbalanced diet of Yin and Yang foods will fundamentally disrupt the harmony within the body, which is necessary for the body’s systems to run efficiently. Practitioners of TCM hold a strong belief that eating an unbalanced diet of either ‘cold’ or ‘hot’ foods will make you more susceptible to health complications.
Hot and Cold Foods
What Are Yin Foods?
Yin foods are also known as ‘cold’ foods, which have a cooling effect on the body.
Here’s a list of Yin foods:
- Cold beverages
- Soy products, such as soybean sprouts and tofu
- Certain types of fruit, such as watermelon, grapefruit, seaweed
- Vegetables, for example cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, watercress, tomatoes
What Are Yang Foods?
Yang foods are commonly referred to as ‘hot’ foods, which are believed to bring heat or warmth to the body.Here’s a list of Yang foods:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Spices, such as ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon
- Foods that are high in sodium, calories, protein, or fat
A Balanced Diet Is the Key to Living a Longer, Healthier Life!
It’s clear that the Western view on nutrition is entirely different from the perspective held by practitioners of TCM. That said, the link between diet and health remains. Despite the differences in both perspectives, there’s consistency in the fact that the key to living a healthier lifestyle lies in paying more attention to the foods that we choose to eat!Regardless of which approach you choose to take on your path to healthy living, it’s absolutely essential to recognize that there are certain habits that you can incorporate into your lifestyle to achieve better health. For instance, eliminating the foods that are known to negatively impact our health (acidic foods, processed foods, etc.) entirely from your diet, making the effort to drink more water throughout the day, and putting more thought into what you’re eating by creating a well-balanced diet plan!