In Chinese medicine, food therapy and diet are the first treatments given to people who are trying to stay well, remain in balance, or who are suffering from illness. There are many ways in which we eat that can either keep us well or can make us sick.
In Chinese thought, we must keep the digestion healthy or we easily become ill. Food intake is very important to healthy digestion and assimilation of food. In Chinese medicine, our understanding is that the Spleen and Stomach are the organs of digestion and assimilation, the Stomach brings food energy into the body and the Spleen distributes it. Therefore, anything that disrupts the function of the Spleen/Stomach or the digestion is injurious to the body’s energy as a whole.
Some concepts of Chinese medicine that are most important for digestion and Spleen/Stomach function are:
- Eating at regular times.
- Eating cooked foods — this is due to the fact that it takes much more energy of the body to warm the Stomach to digest foods. Cold and raw foods are injurious to the Spleen and Stomach energy according to the traditional concepts, and should be eaten sparingly.
- Eating foods that are in season and grown as close to home as possible. There is more Qi available from these foods, as they are fresher and have more food energy.
- Herbs can be added to foods to increase their vitality and for certain conditions.
A basic food used for healing in Chinese medicine is rice along with other grains. Congee or porridge is a very therapeutic food and is often used traditionally during chronic weakness diseases and during convalescence from illnesses. There are many varieties suitable for different conditions but it is usually made from rice. Your Chinese medicine practitioner can give you recipes that are specific for your situation.
New theories of glycemic values can be incorporated into dietary therapies and treatment in conjunctions with Chinese medicine.