The Chinese believe that a happy stomach leads to a healthy body, because if the stomach is happy it will produce abundant amounts of energy and blood for the body’s needs.
The stomach needs to be balanced at the right temperature for optimal digestion. For this reason, there is an old Chinese saying that ‘You should chew your fluids and swallow your foods’, which means that by chewing your fluids they become the same temperature as your body before they hit the stomach, to avoid damage from the cold; and if you swallow your food then it has been chewed enough so that the stomach can spend less energy processing it.
A happy stomach is a happy body!
History of food therapy
For centuries the Chinese have added certain foods to their cooking to improve their health. Food is healthcare. Medicine isn’t healthcare – its sick care.
How does Chinese food therapy work?
The Chinese avoid cold foods that can damage the stomach, such as ice, ice cream, salads, smoothies and other raw foods. This is why you never see salad on a menu in a Chinese restaurant. These foods are cold and uncooked, which makes the stomach work harder to process them, thereby weakening it.
The opposite is also true: if the stomach becomes too hot it will spit stomach juices upwards like an erupting volcano causing heartburn (acid reflux). In such cases, the stomach needs to be cooled down by eating fewer hot, spicy, greasy foods and eating cooling foods such as mint and yoghurt. Foods can be grouped into different natures: ‘hot’, ‘cold’, ‘damp’ or ‘tonics’.
Plants that take longer to grow, such as carrots, parsnips and cabbage, are more warming than those that grow quickly, such as lettuce, squash, radish and cucumber, which are cooling. Tonics are foods that increase energy (qi) to promote general health and well-being.
Damp foods include dairy, cheese, cream, gluten and rich foods which make the digestive system work harder. If a person has an imbalance, they can remedy this by eating the opposite food, for example cold (yin) foods for too much heat (yang) or hot (yang) foods for too much cold (yin).
The health benefits of Chinese food therapy
If a person has damp or is weak, tonic foods should be eaten. The aim of a good diet is to balance your yin and yang and boost your energy and blood levels. When they are all balanced and your energy levels are better, your body will be in a better position for optimal health.
The Chinese believe in eating like-for-like foods for their health problem. For example, eggs to improve egg quality (hen eggs, duck eggs, caviar, etc.) as well as red wine and beetroot juice to improve blood because it looks like blood.