Ancient Chinese medicine practitioners discovered long ago that most foods have either cooling, warming, or neutral characteristics.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and in the philosophies of nutritionists like Paul Pritchford, food IS medicine. As our community becomes more aware of ‘alternative’ medicine (Eastern medicine is a 2000+ year old tradition versus Western medicine which is about 200 years old), we start hearing terms like yin and yang, heat and damp, cooling and warming, being used to describe the state of our health, as well as the foods we eat.
When we look at food as medicine, each food has its own characteristics. Specific foods are used to balance the body’s yin and yang and to treat disease.
The ancient Chinese medicine practitioners discovered that most foods have one of the following: cooling, warming, or neutral characteristics. When you eat cooling foods, they are adding cooling effects to your body and eating warm foods will add warming effects to your body. Of course, we’re not talking about physical temperature, but a quality of chi, or life force. These things are best discussed with your acupuncturist, as the topic is extremely vast. When you hear about things like nourishing blood or treating organs, know that TCM is addressing more than just the physical matter.
In general, however, it can be expected that during the hot dry months of summer, our bodies will tend towards being over-warm. Our skin dries out; we must guard against dehydration and heat exhaustion, especially while being active outdoors.
How can a layperson tell if they’ve got too much heat? Common symptoms include: the body feeling hot, perspiration, thirst, constipation, pungent gas and stools, burning of the anus area after bowl movement, anxiety, red eyes, red face, emotional, head aches, vivid dreams, ulcers in the mouth or tongue, cold sores around the mouth, red tongue with a thick yellow coating on the tongue, rapid pulse, heart burn and dark or yellow urine.
To balance this out, we may want to eat with the season: cooling foods like those listed below can help with clearing heat and toxins, bringing cooling and calming forces to balance your chi. If you want some guidance in creating an appropriate nutrition program for your body, talk with our nutritionists!