The food in China is not made to satisfy only the appetite, but also to promote health and treat diseases. Each region of this vast Asian country has its cuisine. However, the diet of traditional Chinese food, despite its regional specificities, uses ingredients such as sesame oil and mollusks, which are associated with therapeutic values and the ability to promote health. In addition to these functions, traditional Chinese foods can also be characterized by their ingredients and processing methods.
Both food and traditional Chinese medicine are practices based on a holistic view of health and its interrelationship with the phenomena of nature. It is based on the Taoist concept that preaches the existence of an energetic structure beyond the physical body. According to this principle, there is a dynamic between two antagonistic and complementary forces, yin and yang. The interaction between them gives rise to the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.
Because it is approximately 5,000 years old, the roots of the Chinese diet blend the philosophical and religious views of China and eventually become closely linked to the medicinal properties of food.
For a typical Chinese cook, the food should, in addition to feeding the body, nourish the spirit. That is due to the integration of the Taoist philosophical conception of harmony and dynamic balance between Yin and yang, as one of the central north in the elaboration of the plates, where yin governs characteristics of humidity, weight, coldness, tenderness, darkness, etc. Which is hot, light and dry, crisp, clear, etc.
Also in the preparation form, there is the presence of these two concepts defining the types of cut, cooking time, colors, aromas, special seasoning for each food, texture, and consistency. That is one of the reasons why it is common in Chinese dishes to mix sweet and spicy, bittersweet tastes, to harmonize and complement the elements that make up the dishes.
The Chinese diet is characterized by being one of the most diversified and complex knowns. With a territory of 9,536,499 km², China has several ethnic groups, and each ethnic group has its gastronomic characteristics. Different foods, spices and preparation ways are a kaleidoscope of flavors that characterize the Chinese diet.
There are about 20 different regional cuisines, where eight are the great gastronomic exponents of China. Such food pillars are, in fact, eight varieties of the same tradition. These have been differentiating themselves over the centuries and have thus consolidated the dietetic identity of their region. They are the kitchens: Shandong, Guandong, Sichuan, Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, and Anhui.
According to traditional Chinese medicine
The diet according to traditional Chinese medicine will adapt the patient’s diet to his physical constitution, climate and the current state of health.
What is a diet according to traditional Chinese medicine?
Chinese dietetics, together with acupuncture, herbal medicine and massage form part of the fundamental therapeutic pillars of traditional Chinese medicine.
With acupuncture and massage we mobilize and regulate energy; With herbal medicine and diet we preserve and nourish the essence. If nutrition is adequate, energy will be abundant, organs will be well nourished, and “Shen” will flourish (our nervous system and our emotions will be in harmony). Food is therefore essential to achieve balance, harmony and consequently integral health.
Traditional Chinese medicine classifies foods according to:
According to the intrinsic energy or nature of the food
Hot and spicy foods: tone, warm, ascend, move.
Neutral foods: stabilize, harmonize, center.
Fresh and cold foods: refresh, sedate, string, moisturize.
According to its flavor. Each flavor has a different energy characteristic
Acid foods: Astringents, they contract energy inward. They act on the liver and gallbladder (wood element).
Bitter foods: they favor drainage and evacuation, they descend and dry. They act on the heart and the small intestine (fire element).
Salty foods: in the moderate amount they soften, lubricate. They act on the kidneys and the bladder (water element).
Sweet foods: lift energy and grease. They act on the hatred, pancreas, and stomach (earth element).
According to its color
Red foods: revitalize.
Yellow foods: stabilize, balance.
Green foods: detoxify, purge.
Black foods: astringent, tonic “Jing” (essence)
White foods: purify.
According to the tropism of the meridian
Each food has a prime impact meridian.
Example: the pear in the apex of the lung, the spinach in the liver, the pumpkin in the spleen, the chestnuts in the heart, the azuki in the kidneys.
According to the movement of the energy, they induce, etc.
Taking into account all these criteria and according to the diagnosis of the person are determined the most convenient foods to correct the existing imbalances.
Advantages of diet according to traditional Chinese medicine
It is not a fixed diet because it adapts to the particular conditions of each person: physical constitution, age, time of year, the country in which one lives, type of work that does, type of pathology that presents, etc.
It does not take into account the quantitative aspect (amount of food) but the qualitative aspect (energetic quality of the food).
It is based on the fundamental principles of traditional Chinese medicine that takes into account the human being as a whole.
Disadvantages of diet according to traditional Chinese medicine
To apply these types of diets, you need prior knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine or else the advice of a professional.
A diet according to traditional Chinese medicine, in fact, helps always to be aware of how we feel (hot or cold, tired or excited, thirsty or excessive sweating, etc.) and from here modifies the diet just with a few touches to recover the balance.