Diet plays a very important role in our health! Food is essentially our most important medicine. There is a phrase in the Chinese texts that says that before taking any medicine one should first make sure that their diet is sound. A healthy diet lends itself to a healthy body and an unhealthy diet lends itself to an unhealthy body. This seems like common sense but is not as much of a focus in the education of our doctors. In medical school only a small fraction of the hours is given towards nutrition.
There are some general rules of thumb to follow:
- Eat as close to the earth as possible, meaning fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, lentils and meat that’s not tainted by hormones or antibiotics.
- Refrain from processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, too much salt, GMO’s, produce ladened with pesticides or chemical fertilizers. A really good rule of thumb is If you have trouble reading the ingredients on a label they probably aren’t so good for you. Too much junk in our diet taxes our digestive system and compromises the system as a whole leading to the breakdown of the body or inhibiting the healing process.
There are some other guidelines to follow according to Chinese Medicine:
- Be mindful not to eat lots of cold foods such as raw vegetables or too much ice cream or cold beverages. This is because the body has to heat everything back up to body temperature and this depletes our energy and digestion fire.
- Much of the food should be soft and lightly cooked so that it’s already warmed and easy to digest. This is especially more important during the colder months as the body is already trying to keep itself warm. At the same time don’t go to the extreme of over cooking because that leaches out the nutrients from the food. During the summer it’s ok to be eating more raw vegetables or cool drinks as the climate is warmer.
- Another practice that aides in the harmony of foods effect on the body is to eat foods indigenous to the local area and to eat foods grown at particular times of the year. We have supermarkets with foods from all around the world. To be eating lots of oranges for instance in a colder winter climate might not support the body in maintaining itself as well. Foods grown locally at certain times of the year help the body to adapt to the presenting climate and helps the body’s immunity against pathogens in that climate. Foods grown higher up on trees are generally better to be eaten during the warmer months. Foods grown closer to the ground or under the ground are generally better foods to be eating during the colder months.
Mindfulness in these areas can aid our body in getting the most out of the food we eat.