TCM and Diet Nutrition

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Riental medicine places high value on diet and nutrition. However, rather than the popular "you are what you eat" dogma, Oriental medical theory asserts that balanced dietary practices are just one piece of a healthy lifestyle.

The Chinese diet of balance is very different than that in the West. In cooperation with a Chinese medicine practitioner and nutritionist, individuals can tailor their diets to incorporate a variety of tastes, foods and herbs that will best serve their health needs. The Chinese diet system is about expanding food options in order to encompass all types of diet and nutrition sources.

Oriental medicine nutrition includes five tastes - spicy, sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Particular tastes tend to have particular properties. For example, bitter foods and herbs tend to be drying and Cold in nature, which makes them ideal for treating Damp Heat conditions. The bland flavor property is considered in addition to the basic five, and tends to aid areas unreachable by other flavors. Foods and herbs can have more than one taste or can incorporate all five.

The principles of yin and yang also apply to foods. Meats tend to be yang in energy, while vegetables are yin. As a very general nutrition guide, one can achieve balance by eating yang foods during winter (the most yin time of year) and yin foods in the summer (the most yang time of year). Sometimes it is appropriate to have a diet that is in tune with the season, and each individual requires different properties and energies in their diet.

A diet rich in grains and legumes and poor in fats and refined sugars frees qi so it can move through your system. This flow can cause negative emotions until it has a chance to become established. To help the body purify itself, eat Liver-cleansing foods such as beets, carrots and burdock. It is also wise to work in conjunction with other aspects of healing, such as acupuncture and herbs.

When choosing dietary therapy, people with chronic sinusitis, general fatigue or digestive problems should change their diet immediately. For others, the transition should be more gradual in order to ease into a new nutrient system to avoid shocking the body with sudden change.

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