Saturday, 15 May 2010

Food Quantity in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

In the Spiritual Axis (Ling Shu Jing), it is said, “If no food is eaten for half a day, Qi is weakened, if no food is eaten for a whole day, Qi is depleted.” Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes the importance of dietary discipline in a lifestyle and reflects the understanding of the importance of grains, above all other foods, for the maintenance of human wellbeing. The Chinese have for centuries made grains the mainstays of their diet, and all other foods, whether vegetable or animal, are used as mere condiments, to enhance the enjoyment of grain foods.

According to TCM, food quantity per meal is :
Around 50-80% of the meal, for example rice, corn, oat, millet , wheat, barley. Grains supply the body with strength and endurance, and promote emotional stability, mental calm, and balance. Grains are mostly sweet and primarily affect the spleen and stomach organ network. Their thermal nature is warm, neutral, or cool, depending on the type of grain. Grain based diet ensures a good balance between Qi, Yin, and Yang formation.

2.Mostly cooked vegetables
About 30-40% of the meal, for example green leafy vegetables, carrots, potatoes, beans, legumes. Vegetables represent all flavor and all variations of thermal nature. TCM believe vegetable is the ideal complement to grains.

3.Cooked animal
Around 5% of the meal, for example beef, lamb, poultry, pork, fish. Most types of meat are warm to hot in thermal nature and are excellent for supplementing Qi and Yang. Meat intensifies body energy. It is very suitable for quickly replenishing energy deficits. Excess consumption of meat pollutes the body with toxins and promotes phlegm disorder. Fish (sweet water) often has a sweet/salty flavor and a neutral to warm thermal nature. It is easy to digest and strengthens Qi, blood, and Yang, especially the center burner (stomach, spleen) and the kidneys. Seafood is mostly salty and has a cool to cold thermal nature. It affects the liver and kidney network an nourishes Yin.

4.Raw foods, salads, fruit
About 5% of the meal, for example apple, banana, orange, grape. Fruits have a sweet, sour, and sometimes bitter flavor. Their thermal nature is primarily cool to cold; for some fruit, it is neutral and warm. Fruit should be eaten primarily during the warm and hot seasons since it cools heat conditions, replenishes body fluids and moistens dryness. In TCM, fruit is a nutritional complement to grains and supports the formation and preservation of body fluids. During the cold season, highly cooling fruit such as banana, oranges, and lemons should be avoided to prevent developing cold in the body.

TCM recommends the intake of only small amounts of liquid during meals. Excess liquid drowns the stomach’ digestive fire. The major share of the daily intake of liquids should be consumed between meals.

In a day, I have to have this quantity of meals at least twice to keep my body full of energy and health.

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