In Chinese culture, you might hear that a lot of ailments relate to the body either being too heaty or too cool. For example, having a sore throat? That bag of potato chips must be the cause! The same goes for acne, bad breath, etc. Or, if you’re easily cold, tired, you must have been consuming too much cooling foods, so they say.
The short answer is neither. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses Yin (Cooling), Yang (Heaty), and neutral foods to bring a body back to equilibrium, the optimal state. And for that, you’ve got to know your foods.
Yin (Cooling) Food
Chrysanthemum flowers, seeped into hot water, makes a cooling tea
For those suffering from excessive heat and a build-up of toxins, TCM practitioners encourage consuming more of such food:
Related article: Powerful Immunity-Boosting Foods for Flu-Free Days
Yang (Heaty) Food
Spicy foods are believed to be heaty in nature
But if you seem to catch colds easily, bring a jacket everywhere, or have trouble sleeping, you’re encouraged to tuck into more of these heaty foods instead:
Rock sugar, considered neutral in TCM
Now neutral foods are those that do not have yin or yang properties, and so are perfect for all types of constitutions, such as:
Generally, sweet foods like desserts tend to be heaty and nourishing, bitter foods absorb “heatiness” and “dampness”, sour foods are believed to be astringents, spicy dishes are heaty, and salty foods help retain fluids in the body. TCM practitioners work to strike a balance between yin and yang, so one does not fall sick easily. For example, after a tasty rice dish, you would want to wash down that heatiness with cooling green tea.
"Jujube, or red dates, are often found in Chinese sweet dessert soups, so you would be forgiven for overlooking their medicinal properties. However, these little parcels of sweetness are used in TCM to regulate qi, nourish the blood, calm the mind and boost immunity. They’re especially loved by women who turn to red dates for regulating their hormones.
Like Goji berries, they have a sweet and pleasant flavour, making them the perfect gateway ingredient to herbal teas. Red dates lean towards being ‘heaty’ in nature, so while those who have ‘heaty’ constitutions should use them with discretion, they’re an essential part of traditional Chinese confinement after birth, imparting warming nutrition to new mothers.
Use Jujube in conjunction with Goji berries in the recipe below for a yummy and healthy treat that the whole family will love.
Simmer 4 jujube dates and ½ cup Goji berries in 500ml water for 20-30 minutes. Strain and enjoy.
If you’re using this recipe to regulate your hormones, make sure to drink it before or after that time of the month, but not during."
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