Chinese Dietetics

Food as medicine – Food is essential nourishment from which, with air, we make the 2 basic building blocks of humans: energy (Qi) and blood. The quality and quantity of food is the quality and quantity of our blood and energy and therefore our quality and quantity of life.

So in saying this, of the 4 pillars of Health (Lifestyle, Nutrition, Exercise and Mind), diet is generally regarded as the most important and urgent because food is understood to be (a) the primary Cause of sickness and (b) the pivotal source of Longevity.

Food therapy (or Shi Liao) includes classification of foods according to the 4 major food groups, the 5 tastes and their natures (hot, cold, neutral, ascending, descending etc). This is applied or cooked according to one’s individual signs and symptoms so as one’s body (blood and energy) can work at optimum health. Isn’t this what we all want?

Ultimate vitality is achieved through optimum nutrition, think of food as fuel, and eat according to your constitution, eat according to the seasons, eat local produce.

It also comes down to how well we chew as to how much nutrition we derive from food. Also essential is not too much fluid to be drunk with meals.

It is of upmost importance that we focus on prevention of disease with our diet and this can be done in many ways, one should employ a practitioner to determine what ones constitution is and what foods to incorporate. The thousands of years of experience in Chinese medicine instills specific guidelines to optimum health. For example, the immune system can only perform its protective functions (resistance to disease) if the nutritive system upon which it derives nourishment is serviced appropriately. Also clear thinking, in turn, depends entirely on suitable nourishment, especially sufficient blood. If the process of assimilation is compromised, it could lead inevitably to a host of related systemic disorders that become chronic. Even constitutional strength needs maintenance!

It is imperative that we focus on good nutrition which gives us our energy after birth. Digestive integrity is a spiritual responsibility, and everyone is under obligation to manage it constructively lest ill-health arises and be used as a scapegoat to excuse and avoid complete participation in life.

Nourishment is a spiritual phenomenon much as it is a biological necessity. Food and drink properties are not difficult to understand if it can be assessed using a reliable and consistent gauge. In ancient times, according to the legendary Yellow Emperor Huang Di, for example, yin (the female principle/water/earth’s laws) and yang (the male principle/fire/heaven’s laws) served as the gauge by which health and happiness could be measured.

The balance of yin and yang must be in order to maintain preventative health. This includes a balance of all 5 flavours and not too much of any one particular food or flavour.

Nourishment of the body and mind is a serious matter. This comes not only in the form of food but also food preparation, cooking styles and practice. At the end of the day, we are what we eat!! (lest the cliche!), and that includes prejudicial eating! Love our food and love our bodies.