On the basis of what has been illustrated so far, an approach, however basic, to Chinese dietetics seems essential to us, as the knowledge of its principles, combined with foods of “short supply chain” and linked to seasonal rhythms are an important combination for the maintenance and / or recovery of health.
“Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food” said Hippocrates, (Island of Cos 460 BC – Larissa 377 BC) the great Greek physician who first, in the West, introduced the innovative concept according to which the disease and health of a person depend on human choices, more than by superior divine responses.
And it is in the “Classic Book of Medicine of the Yellow Emperor – Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen” (II century BC), that in Chinese culture we find the first citations and references on the need to seek, for the maintenance of psycho-physical health, a diet adequate to the needs of the moment.In Taoist philosophy the world is a continuous becoming, whose driving force derives from the dynamics of Yin / Yang, For the Chinese tradition the Yin includes what is on the “shady side of the hill”, while the Yang what is on its “sunny side”.
Everything and every natural phenomenon are composed, universally and without exception, of Yin/Yang, two inseparable and opposite aspects.
Of course our body does not escape this possibility, for this reason a classification in Yin / Yang terms has also been applied to medicine in its various aspects: physiology, pathology, energetic interpretation of body balances and imbalances, treatment.
In Chinese energy philosophy the body is always too Yang (Fire), except in cases where a fast or illness does not make it too Yin.
Another very important aspect in Traditional Chinese Medicine is Qi. All Chinese medicine is based on the concept of energy. In Chinese thought, the whole universe is nothing but Qi. There is nothing that is not or manifests Qi. It is at the origin of the visible world and at the basis of all natural phenomena: reality, with its variety of forms and manifestations, is an expression of the many different ways in which Qi is condensed into visible matter. Zhang Jingyue expresses this concept in a very concise way: “If Qi is concentrated, form appears.”Man himself is, in his essence, Qi and for this reason Nanjing declares: “Qi is the root of human beings”. Chinese Dietetics
Traditional Chinese Medicine has always held dietetics in very high regard: indeed it can rightly be said that the two disciplines were practically born together and evolved together over the millennia.
In observing foods and their action, the ancient Chinese paused to analyze their impact on the balance of Yin and Yang and on the movements of Qi.
They noticed that some foods had warming properties, that is, capable of generating, once ingested, a sensation characterized by the development of heat. In the same way they found that others had an opposite, refreshing effect. In this way, four fundamental natures of foods were distinguished, capable of interfering and interacting with the balance of Yin and Yang of the organism: the warm, warm, cool, cold nature. In this distinction a subdivision by gradients is recognizable, with the division of warming and refreshing foods into two different intensities of action.
Some foods, however, considered incapable of determining a warming or cooling reaction, were therefore defined as neutral. The methods of cooking and preserving food greatly influence the original nature of the food by partly changing its properties: cooking with exposure to open fire or preservation by drying subtract Yin from the food and enhance its Yang, providing it with a greater heating power; foods stored in the refrigerator or frozen instead increase their refreshing power, while boiling a food in water humidifies it enriching it with Yin. Steaming does not alter the nature of the food.
Observing the reaction that foods elicited in the movements of Qi, five flavors were also identified, in accordance with the doctrine of the five elements.
Each of them has a specific effect on Qi and a particular relationship with one of the five classical organs: in moderate quality it nourishes it, in excessive quantities it harms it.
The combined action of nature and flavor conditions the energetic impact of various foods on the body.
To these three criteria if they can not add two more: the color and tropism of the meridian.
Depending on the color, red foods that revitalize, yellow foods that stabilize and balance, green foods that detoxify and purify, black foods that tighten and tone Jing (essence) and finally white foods that purify.
According to the tropism of the meridian, each food has a meridian of main impact.
It is therefore unthinkable for an operator who uses Chinese medicine not to take advantage of the possibility of positively conditioning the individual’s energy picture by providing specific and personalized food advice: the right food corresponds to a beneficial, constant and continuous stimulus over time, capable of revolutionizing the state of health.
If what we eat (including drugs) becomes part of us, it is logical to think that, in the medium to long term by implementing precise food choices, we can profoundly modify our body. From this intuition comes the awareness of the therapeutic power of the diet, understood as a programmed diet regimen.
Even in the practical use of dietetics, Chinese Medicine follows the principle of harmony between man and the cosmos.The choice of foods to be of benefit must follow the seasons, also because, studying the nature and flavors of food, we discover that each season offers us the right combinations of qualities necessary to face its climate and to prepare the energies of our body for the season to come.
In the same way that a harmonious diet keeps us in balance, an appropriate choice of foods can correct an energy imbalance.
It is therefore not a predefined diet, as it adapts to the particular conditions of each person, based on physical constitution, age, time of year, the country in which he lives, the type of work he does, the type of pathology he presents, etc …
In today’s China, the importance given to proper nutrition has seen the emergence of restaurants specialized in the preparation of “healing dishes”, made on medical prescription, in consideration of the general condition of the patient.
By continuing, or learning to eat well, you can, therefore, heal both the body and the psyche, keeping the body healthy.
Ancient texts, thousands of years later, speak, therefore, an extremely modern language.
Muccioli M., The basics of Chinese medicine. Philosophical foundations, physiology, etiopathology, Pendragon editions
Muramoto N. B., The doctor of himself. Practical manual of oriental medicine, Feltrinelli