Traditional Chinese Medicine and its origins go back over 5000 years and has consisted of the beliefs in good nutrition, health and lifestyle choices in order to maintain a balance of Qi energy within the body. These beliefs are all derived from Ancient Chinese Taoist ideologies that there is an essential life force living in all objects and in every aspect of life.
Within these ideas a balanced diet not only consist of what herbs you eat but also through maintaining a balance of warm and cool energy in the body. The cold and dark energy is represented by the Yin and the warmth and light is represented by the Yang; these energies work together to create balance and harmony within the body. The idea of Yin and Yang is infamous within Chinese Culture and are arguably the most important opposing parts of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The food we ingest is representative of these energies and give our bodies the power to work, heal and regain lost balance. Within Traditional Chinese Medicine, food is divided into four groups:
There is a strong belief within TCM that eating a variety of foods with different tastes and colours is extremely good for you and will balance your body. In order to restore balance to your body you must eat a variety of foods and record the effects they have on your body in terms of energy and temperature. Once you have determined what it is your body needs you must continue to eat this until balance is restored.
Food is classified by five specific tastes within TCM; salty, sweet, sour, bitter and pungent and each of these will have a different effect on your internal organs.
- Salty tasting foods will affect your kidney and bladder
- Sweet tasting foods will affect the stomach and spleen
- Sour tasting foods will affect the liver and gall bladder
- Bitter tasting foods will affect the heart and small intestine
- Pungent tasting foods will affect the lungs and large intestine
All of these organs work to maintain harmony in the body and to support each other so that none of them become too weak. This is why it is important within TCM to eat a wide variety of foods so that your organs have the right nutrients to maintain your overall well-being.