The Chinese Diet

Chinese cuisine is famous for its food flavours to 1000 and the countless fine dining banquets. There is no doubt that China has indeed developed a thorough knowledge of food. But it is not only food: the Chinese diet is primarily designed to maintain health from the basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). "Medicine and food are from the same source," says a Chinese proverb. This diet is also one of the five practices of TCM, the four others being acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Tui Na massage and energy exercises (Qi Gong and Tai Chi). It is therefore used to treat, although a less powerful than the pharmacopoeia or acupuncture, for example.

According to the theories of Chinese diet, all foods have properties leading to action on the body and may affect the disease. These theories are based primarily on principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, as Qi, Yin and Yang, etc.

In the West, individuals are considered to have roughly comparable needs and food there is analysed based on their nutrient content, vitamins, fats, proteins, etc. The Chinese diet in contrast considers that each person is a distinctive "field" and it will not be sensitive to the same food. In addition, foods are classified primarily based on qualitative criteria rather than chemical or biological. These criteria are nonetheless coded accurately.

The key:

• The vitality of the food. It depends on its freshness, the cultivation methods and livestock, type of cooking and integrity (minimally processed by refining, grinding, irradiation, etc.). If the vitality of a food is high, then it is more beneficial.

• The nature of the food. It is, among other things, the thermal effect and physiological effect the food produces in the body, regardless of the temperature at the time of absorption. This feature appears as a continuum: cold, cool, neutral, warm, hot.

We can say that warm and hot food have the effect of increasing the metabolic activity and strengthen Yang energy. Foods that are fresh or cold have the property of "cool heat" to slow the reactions of the body and support the Yin energy.

Although they have other properties, the type of food that does not have the neutral thermal effect should make up a significant portion of the meal. They nourish and strengthen the body without destabilising it.

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