Traditional Chinese Dietary Medicine 中药食疗
In traditional Chinese medicine is so important to help individuals find healthy foods that suit their bodies rather than propose a dietary guideline that ignores individual constitutional differences.
Chinese medicine classifies food according to its energetic effects and recommends eat seasonal food in order to be allied with the properties and functions of nature.
All foods in traditional Chinese medicine are assigned according to:
5 flavours: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty.
4 natures: cool, cold warm and hot.
The flavour of food can be used to predict its effects on the body and the nature of food also has a direct effect on the body. At the same time, Chinese medicine emphasises guidelines on how food should be prepared and eaten if it is to be utilised in the most efficient way. In this context a (cooked) potato salad is viewed as more warming than a (raw) green salad but not as warming as a hot baked potato, although the basic qualities of the potato will remain unchanged (that of a sweet flavour with qi and blood notifying properties).
That food affects individuals differently is usually obvious to people, for example, a person with an underlying yang deficiency will find it unpleasant to drink a glass of iced water quickly, while their friend with an excess internal heat condition will crave drinks straight from the fridge or water cooler. A person prone to phlegm disharmonies may immediately notice phlegm forming in the back of their throat following an ice cream, while others notice no such effects. Or a person with a yang deficiency will enjoy a warm curry, while those with a yin deficiency finds that hot spicy foods can trigger feelings hot flushes.
It is therefore important a person’s underlying constitution, including the strength of their digestive system, determines what foods are most suitable.