TCM Made Simple

TCM Basics – Food

Food, the universal sustenance required by all humans is viewed differently in the east. While the western culture tends to group food as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, vitamins, TCM practitioners believe that the food we consume can be broadly grouped into three categories:
• Yin (Cooling) food
• Yang (Warming) food
• Neutral (neither cool or warm) food

These categories describe the way the food makes the body react and the sensations that are generated. Eg: eating warm food generates warmth in the body, whereas cooling food makes the body feel cold.

Whether a person should be consuming yin or yang food, one has to understand the body constitution first. A person’s body constitution affects how you feel and behave, and how your body responds to causes of illnesses.Generally, a person who is more yin, can counter with yang food and vice versa when the individual is ill.

Yin (Cooling) Food

As the name suggest, cooling food nourishes the yin, and is suitable for those suffering from excessive heat and toxins. People who are suffering from excessive heat usually have a reddish complexion, dryness of mouth, are easily annoyed and tend to suffer from insomnia.

Examples of yin (cooling) food:
Fruits: apple, banana, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemon, orange, pear, persimmon, strawberry, watermelon, mango,
Vegetables: alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, bitter gourd, celery, cucumber, eggplant, kelp, green leafy vegetables, mushroom. spinach, swiss chard, lettuce, cauliflower
Grains, legumes and seeds: barley, buckwheat, millet, mung bean, soy bean, tofu, wheat bran, whole wheat
Meat, seafood & dairy: clam, cheese, chicken egg, crab, rabbit, yoghurt
Condiments & beverages: chrysanthemum tea, green tea, peppermint tea, salt, sesame oil, soya sauce, salt

Yang (warming) food

Warming food nourishes the yang and is suitable for people who have a tendency to feel cold and are sensitive to cold temperatures. Characteristics of such individuals have cold limbs, easily tired, bloats easily after eating, and experiences discomfort after eating or drinking cold things.

Examples of yang (warming) food:
Fruits: apricot, cherry, chestnut, coconut meat, guava, raspberry,
Vegetables: chives, leek, mustard greens, onion, pumpkin, squash
Grains, legumes & seeds: caraway seed, chestnut, glutinous rice, pine nut, walnut, pishtascho
Meat, seafood & dairy: butter, chicken, deer, eel, ham, lamb, mussels, prawns, sea cucumber, lobster
Condiments & beverages: basil, black pepper, brown sugar, chilli, cinnamon, clove, coffee, cumin, fennel seed, garlic, ginger, rosesmary, vinegar, wine

Neutral Food

Then there is food that does not have a yin or yang property and is suitable for both body constitutions.

Examples of neutral food:
Fruits: figs, goji, berries, grape, olive, papayam plum, lemon
Vegetables: black fungus, carrot, chinese cabbage, corn, potato, sweet potato, tarom turnip, white fungus
Grains, legumes & seeds: almond, broad beansm kidney beans, peanut, rice bran, rye, sunflower seed, white rice, yellow soybean
Meat, seafood & dairy: abalone, beef, cow’s milk, duck, fish, oyster, pork, scallop
Condiments & beverages: peanut oil, honey, saffron, licorice, rock sugar, sugar

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