In Chinese Medicine food is seen not only as an energy source or something to be enjoyed but also as a medicine. It is better to eat for tomorrow health than eat for instant satisfaction. This belief of eating food as medicine has stood the test of time. But in recent years, it is not something Western doctors talk about much. This idea is not about dieting or a quick fix, but is a lifestyle that you live day to day. You can implement small changes, adding or omitting foods according to the your personal constitution.
Like all things in life, foods have vibration, thermal energies and directional properties and it is in this way we combine foods to help balance the whole. It isn't as complex as it sounds but traditionally was implemented in many cultures....... take tomato pasta sauce for example. Tomatoes are cold in nature while onions and garlic are warming in nature, so they support the balance of the meal not only in flavour but in a health nourishing way.
Another important topic in TCM dietetics is the strength and functionality of the Spleen and Stomach.
The Spleen-Stomach is an important axis in the body. It is viewed as the centre, where the other organs pivot around them. Disease with in the Spleen or Stomach can ultimately lead to dysfunction of the whole system. The Spleen and Stomach are one part of the mechanism that is responsible for the production of Qi or energy and Blood for the body. Energy is produced from the rottening and ripening of our food, or the transformation of food into nutrients. This transformation and transportation function of the Spleen-Stomach provided nutrients for muscles and energy metabolism in a western medicine understanding. Water and fluid metabolism and absorption also depend on the transportation function of Spleen-Stomach, with impaired fluid metabolism, or dampness as we call in in Chinese medicine, being a precursor for many diseases within the body. When then Spleen-Stomach is diseased it may manifest as a multi-system and multi-organ functional impairment, but mainly exhibits as digestive tract disturbance.
Poor food choices are the most common reason for a poor function Spleen and Stomach.Other causes can be irregular eating, eating on the run or in front of the Tv/work and emotions such as worry or rumination all affect the Spleen and Stomach.
You can nourish your digestive system by choosing foods that support this system. The Spleen and Stomach resonate with the flavour of sweet (naturally sweet, not processed carbohydrates and empty sugars), so its important to keep a balance of these in the body. Think of foods such as oats, sweet potato or pumpkin. How we cook our food is also important. The body’s ability to absorb nutrients is best done with lightly cooked foods, such a steaming or stir-frying and in soups or stews. This way the body can fully absorb what nutrients are available without having to work too hard. Eating with the seasons also influences our ability to digest foods. So eating light, fresh food in summer is optimal, while eating cooked, warm foods in winter is more nourishing and supportive.
Dietary advice is very diverse in Chinese Medicine and this above information is a basic concept that everyone can follow.
For more in-deapth information into your personal constitution and food choices, book a consultation with Rebecca.