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The Role of Nutrition in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) stresses the importance of proper food and nutrition for overall wellness, as well as the treatment of disease and disorders. TCM relies on herbal remedies, acupuncture, and Qigong exercise for the treatment of illnesses, but recognizes that what we put into our bodies is just as important when it comes to your health.

If you are considering using TCM to treat or prevent disease, then is it vital that you pay attention to the food you eat and how you eat it. It’s important that you eat slowly, stick to a regular meal schedule, and that you are calm and relaxed when you eat.

TCM practitioners believe that each food has both an energetic property and a thermal property. Foods that are typically eaten when cold are called yin foods. Yang foods are foods that are eaten hot. The five essential flavors of foods also play a role in how foods and nutrition affect health in TCM. These five flavors are:

  • Sour
  • Bitter
  • Sweet
  • Salty
  • Pungent

Your digestive system is believed to be made up of or powered by a digestive fire within. The stomach and spleen ripen food and use this digestive fire to transform food into Qi – your life force. Maintaining healthy and free flowing Qi is vital to your health and wellness.

The temperature and type of food you eat can either help or hinder your Qi. Cold foods are believed to weaken the digestive fire and slow your digestion. This can lead to all sorts of health problems such as infertility. Warmed or steamed foods such as soups and stir fried foods are good for a weakened digestive system.  The right foods eaten the right way can strengthen your body, slow aging, ease illness and help you maintain optimal health.

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