Dr (TCM) Attilio D'Alberto Accupuncture Book Chinese Herbal Medicine Acupoints Doll
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Chinese dietary therapy

On this page

  1. About
  2. Five flavours
  3. Foods to eat
  4. Foods to avoid
  5. Dieting and body building
  6. Climate
  7. Asian nutrition
  8. Alcohol

1. About

Chinese dietary therapy or food therapy has a long history in East Asia. It's been used for several thousands of years and is probably the oldest form of therapy in the world.

The Chinese have for centuries added certain foods, which are used in Chinese herbal medicine, into their cooking to improve their health. Food is healthcare. Medicine isn't healthcare, its sick care. Chinese herbal medicine and the materia medica originated from Chinese nutritional therapy. Asians understand the nature of foods and the properties of foods. They believe that a happy stomach leads to a healthy body because if the stomach is happy it will produce abundant amounts of energy and blood for the body's needs.

2. The five flavours

Each internal organ within our body are paired, for example the spleen is paired with the stomach. Each of these internal organ systems has an associated flavour, which include:

  • Sour flavour enters the Liver and Gallbladder,
  • Bitter flavour enters the Heart and Small Intestine,
  • Sweet flavour enters the Spleen and Stomach,
  • Pungent flavour enters the Lung and Large Intestine,
  • Salty flavour enters the Kidney and Bladder.

3. Foods to eat

Eating foods with a certain flavour can help and aid that particular organ system, for example bitter foods can help the heart and small intestine.

4. Foods to avoid

The Chinese dietary principles are to eat more warm foods and less cold foods. Asians avoid foods that damage the stomach, such as ice, ice cream, salads and other cold, raw foods. The stomach likes to be warm like a compost heap to help digestion. A compost heap in winter doesn't decompose and so the stomach doesn't work as well when it's cold. The stomach likes warm or hot food. For this reason, there is a Chinese saying that "You should chew your fluids and swallow your foods", meaning your fluids are at the same temperature as the body before they hit the stomach and your food has been chewed so much that the stomach needs to do less work processing it. A happy spleen and stomach is a happy body!

Most people eat with their eyes and their mouths rather than their stomachs. Any food that takes too long to digest is bad for the stomach, i.e. gluten. Research has shown that people sensitive to gluten are more likely to be deficient in iron. This is due to a weakened spleen not producing enough blood in traditional Chinese medicine. For good health and fertility you should eat with both your mouth and your stomach. That way, the food you eat will be the best for your body and won’t weaken it. It’s no surprise that Asian cuisine has evolved to be both good for the mouth and the stomach. Learning what food is easy for your stomach to digest is a learning process and will take time, but the rewards are huge.

You should only eat when you’re actually hungry. Sounds obvious I know, but a lot of people eat with their mind and not with their stomach. We live in a modern world where people seldom feel actual hunger. We often eat before we feel hunger, which stresses our digestive system, causing it to weaken, which affects fertility.

5. Foods for dieting and body building

Women following a very low calorie diet can suffer from a lack of biotin (part of vitamin B group), whilst men who are body builders should avoid high consumption of raw egg whites as they contain a protein called avidin, which binds to biotin in the gut preventing it’s absorption. Cooked egg whites are ok. Low levels of biotin can cause deficiencies that are associated with a lack of yin and blood in traditional Chinese medicine.

6. Eating right for your climate

Eating foods that are good for the climate you live in is not something people often think about and yet it's very important for good health. People eat what their mouths like rather than what their body likes.

Eating certain foods or removing food groups can have a big impact on your health. For example, if you live in a damp climate, then eat fewer foods that cause dampness like dairy. If you live in a hot climate, then don't eat spicy foods, instead eat cooling foods. If you live in a cold environment, eat food foods and avoid cold foods such as salads.

If you would like to learn more about eating the right foods for the climate you live in, read my article about it.

7. Asian nutrition

Asian nutrition is more than just cooking delicious foods; it's also a diet therapy. Chinese food therapy (TCM dietary therapy) is a form of nutrition therapy. In Asia, people eat foods to heal themselves and stay healthy by utilising their energetic properties. Only when that doesn't work do they see an oriental medicine doctor.

I give all my patients dietary and lifestyle advice when they first meet me. By optimising your diet, the effects of acupuncture are quicker and longer lasting.

To learn more about Asian nutrition, you can read an article I wrote about it.

8. Alcohol

Alcohol is a hot topic when it comes to how much it's good for your body and how much is bad for your health.

Based upon traditional Chinese medicine, it's ideal to have 2 gasses (regular size) of red wine a week. This quantity helps the blood (as its the colour of red wine), reduce stress and regulate hormones. More than this will put stress upon the body and damage health.