Yin Yang Food for Better Health
Chinese dietetics is one of the branches of Traditional Chinese medicine, along with pharmacopoeia, acupuncture and Tui Na massage.
Physical exercises such as Qi Gong or Tai-chi Chuan are part of Chinese culture and are practiced as a complement to medicine.
🇨🇳 Born more than 2000 years ago, Traditional Chinese medicine is based on a vision of the universe where everything contains two inseparable and complementary principles: Yin and Yang.
It is from here that the energy of Qi manifests itself, circulating in the Universe, Yin and Yang define themselves reciprocally and coexist in an interdependent dynamism.
Thus, night belongs to Yin and day belongs to Yang, the lower belongs to Yin while the upper belongs to Yang, slowness belongs to Yin, speed to Yang, etc. In China, this world view also applies to food.
Let's discover in this blog post how to balance Yin and Yang with food.
1) What is Yin Yang Food ?
Chinese dietetics classifies Yin and Yang food according to their 'neutral', 'warm', 'hot', 'fresh' or 'cold' nature. This classification reflects the effect generated by the food in the body.
🌡️ This can be a feeling of warmth or coolness, regardless of the temperature at which it is consumed, or a feeling of excitement (toning up energy) or relaxation (dispersing energy).
The nature of a food can be Yin (cold and cool), Neutral, Yang (warm and hot). Yin foods 'cool' the body.
Example of Yin Type Food
- Almost all green vegetables (artichoke, spinach, cucumber...)
- Root vegetables such as beets, carrots, turnips and tubers - Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes etc are rather fresh.
- 🧀 Milk, yoghurt, low-fat cheeses, eggs, some seafood such as oysters, mussels and all shellfish are also included. Condiments include salt and salty sauces such as soy sauce or nuoc-mâm.
Example of Yang Type Food
Yang foods 'warm' the body and have a toning effect. Several types of meat fall into this category:
- 🥩 Game meat, beef, lamb, chicken, offal, but also shrimp and fat fish.
- Also warm or hot are butter, fresh cream, fatty cheeses as well as most spices and aromatic herbs. Sugar, alcohol, chocolate, coffee and black tea also fall into this category.
Foods of a 'neutral' nature provide balanced, structuring and stabilising energy. They are often characterised by a relatively mild flavour, which is the flavour of nutrition par excellence. It fortifies, strengthens, nourishes.
Most cereals and legumes fall into this category.
👉🏻 To go further, find below a PDF file with a detailed Yin Yang food chart.
2) Yin and Yang Cooking Methods
Each food has its intrinsic nature, but it can be more or less modified depending on the way it is prepared.
Oven cooking, fire preparations such as grilling or smoking are considered as Yang type interventions on foods, i.e. they make them more Yang (more warming or toning).
Poaching, boiling or steaming are so-called "water and fire" preparations are neutral or Yin in nature. They make food very assimilable by our digestive system, requiring little energy expenditure. In addition, they provide a comforting temperature and warm the body 🔥.
Leaving food raw (to eat it in a salad for example) or fermenting it, like milk that turns into yoghurt are Yin preparations, whereas frying is considered Yang.
3) Different Yin Yang Temperaments or Families
According to Chinese medicine, the theory of Yin and Yang also applies to human beings, and each individual has his own.
There are three main families or temperaments :
- Yang (active, unemotional, extroverted)
- Yin-Yang Neutral (active or unemotional, unemotional, peaceful)
- Yin (active, emotional, introverted)
It should be added that belonging to one or the other of these categories is not fixed: it is quite possible to 'change families' over the years.
👉🏻 No matter what your character is, you will love to wear this beautiful Yin Yang Necklace ! Symbol of Taoism, this premium quality steel pendant will guide you towards inner peace and balance.
4) The 5 Flavors in Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese dietetics, special attention is paid to the five flavors. The term 'flavors' (wèi味) covers a much broader dimension than what we in the West are used to and is not just a matter of feeling on the palate.
Acid (suān酸), bitter (kǔ苦), sweet (gān甘), spicy (xīn辛) and salty (xián咸) are the five main flavours.
According to Chinese Yin Yang food, each of these flavors has a tropism on an organ of the human body, a recipient organ into which it will enter and act 🧠.
Taken in moderate quantities, a flavor will act beneficially, nourishing the organ associated with it; conversely, the excess or deficiency of a flavor will have a negative effect on the associated organ.
While flavors act on specific organs and their meridians, they also have specific effects on the metabolism.
🍋 The acidic flavor, found in abundance in citrus fruits, is associated with the liver. It is astringent and tends to retain body fluids, which is why foods with this flavour are often useful to help fight diarrhea or excessive sweating.
☕ The bitter flavour is related to the heart. While it has appetizing properties, it has the particularity of draining excessive heat. It is present in coffee, asparagus or bitter salads such as escarole.
🍉 The sweet flavor, related to the spleen and stomach, is reputed to be particularly nourishing. It is a flavor found in many cereals such as rice, corn or wheat, in legumes (beans, broad beans, split peas...) as well as in fruits and of course in sugar.
🌶️ The pungent flavor is associated with the lung. It is found in a large number of spices such as coriander, chilli pepper, black pepper but also, more surprisingly, in mint or pistachio. This flavor has the characteristic of being "externalizing, that is to say, it brings energy and liquids to the surface of the body, to the skin.
🧂 The salty flavor, present in crab, pork or cooking salt, is related to the kidneys. It is a flavour to be consumed in moderation, otherwise it can have negative effects on the kidneys, bones or heart.
These notions of flavor and nature are still widely used in Yin Yang cooking to characterize food, but they tend to be less and less used in medical practice, such as in Chinese herbal medicine.
5) Yin Yang Balance Diet
☯ Knowing one's own typology and the nature of the foods, it will be a matter of choosing the most suitable ones in order to create a balance in the organism.
The same food will not benefit everyone. Generally speaking, Yang foods rebalance Yin people, while Yin foods rebalance Yang people. The choice of foods and their preparation method will therefore be made according to his typology, his specific needs but also according to the season, an important element to take into account according to Chinese dietetics.
🍽️ According to Traditional Chinese medicine, composing one's plate by considering these different variables allows one to harmonize within oneself the vital Yin and Yang forces of the universe and favourably influence one's well-being.
Chinese dietetics is rich and complex, so to take full advantage of its assets especially when it comes to treating health problems.
It is necessary to call upon a specialist who will know how to determine the dish that suits you and associate two or three Chinese plants to exacerbate the action of the dish.
In the main Chinese cities there are even gastronomic restaurants that offer a consultation with a nutritionist before the meal, who will be able to advise you on the most suitable dishes.
Read next: Yin Yang and acupuncture. Acupuncture is based on the concept of universal and bodily energy. In case of energy deficiency it will be a solution to restore the Yin Yang imbalance.