You are what you eat as they say. To get the best energy out of your foods in traditional Chinese medicine some principles come into play. They are related to the five elements – water, wood, fire, earth and metal.
With each element there are characteristic flavors, odors, colors that are indicative of that element. Foods and nutrition are recommended according to your diagnosis as it relates to your organ systems. These are not exactly the same as in Western medicine but actually add another dimension to the organ properties.
Foods are prescribed to help nourish the organ that is showing deficiencies or excesses. Some foods should be added and others minimized or eliminated. This is not a diet, per se, just guidelines to help your body come back into and maintain better balance.
Correspondences with our tastes or flavors are:
Water – Kidney / Bladder – salty – think of the ocean
Wood – Liver / Gall Bladder – sour – lemon water is great to help liver energy flow and to detox
Fire – Heart / Sm Intestine – bitter – corn and beets are bitter even though we think of them as sweet or sugary
Earth – Stomach / Spleen – sweet – figs, oranges, pumpkin
Metal – Lung / Lg Intestine – pungent – almonds and celery
Some foods are warming and moving, others cooling and contracting. If you had a cold you might want to back off on the fruits for a few days as they are generally cooling and we want to be warming to move the cold out.
We also consider the season and what will best nourish the organ system that is dominant then in addition to treating the disease. Shopping local has been a common practice in this medicine as that was all they had thousands of years ago. You are what you eat and where you live. What occurs around you is reflected by what is happening inside and vice versa.
A number of the blogs have recipes in them. They have been sorted under the tab “Recipe pages” for ease in finding or you can just look them up under categories.
And of course Keep Moving. Move it or lose it is cliche but true. When qi and / or blood are stuck or constrained you have pain, weakness, general yuckiness.
Tai qi, qi gong, yoga, any active exercise works well. But it doesn’t have to be marathon training either. The oldest living people on earth don’t work that hard but they keep moving with mild cardiac exercise – yard work, walking, particularly up and down hills. They don’t usually rely on cars and public transportation. They move their body themselves. And they are growing their own food and buying local for what they don’t grow.