According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, patterns of disharmony or disease in the body can be classified into eight principles*, two of which are hot and cold. A cold disease is related to an extreme yin condition of the body. In today’s world we are bombarded with toxins that pollute our food and environment. Negative yin energies invade our bodies constantly and stressful situations cause our qi to become stagnant and deficient, resulting in cold ailments and diseases. When the body is weakened and too cold, it gives rise to more physical pain, decreased mobility, rapid aging, adrenal exhaustion, yeast and fungal infections, tendon and ligament problems, osteoporosis, low thyroid, infertility, chronic fatigue and some forms of cancer.
Chinese doctors use a variety of techniques to restore balance between yin and yang. Acupuncture is used to open blocked meridians and strengthen deficient qi. Herbs, minerals and animal products heal body, mind and emotions. Breathing exercises, taiji and qigong relieve stress and enhance qi flow in the body. A change in diet to include more organic, chemical free and unprocessed warming foods will help strengthen the body and restore internal balance.
In general, warm/hot yang foods** include:
meats, eggs, poultry and fish – dark meat is warmer than white meat; fish tends to be less yang today due to toxins and mercury content
brown rice, millet, buckwheat – other grains, such as corn, quinoa, rye and oats are less yang but acceptable; cooking grains makes them more yang, sprouting and fermenting grains makes them more yin
vegetables – vegetables that grow below ground are more yang; sweet potatoes and yams are less yang because of their high sugar content; potatoes are much more yin because they are a nightshade which is considered more of a fruit
yoghurt, cheese, butter, ghee – are slightly yang; yoghurt and cheese which are fermented or sweetened are more yin; milk is less yang and becomes more yin when pasteurized and homogenized
apricots, yellow plums – these are more neutral in energy, whereas most fruits are yin; the sweeter or juicier the fruit, the more yin it is
Note that the warming and cooling properties of foods can be altered to some extent by the following:
Organic and non organic – Plant food that is chemically fertilized tends to be more cooling.
Raw food – Raw food is more cooling than cooked food.
Cold food – Food that is eaten cold is more cooling.
Sweeteners – Adding sugar or any sweetener to a food makes it more cooling. Salt adds heat because it drys out the food
Warm spices – food, eg legumes (lentils, aduki beans, black beans are neutral or yang, other beans tend to be yin) can be made warmer by adding ginger; cumin, garlic, cinnamon and turmeric are also yang in energy
Colors – Food that is blue, green or purple is more cooling than red, orange and yellow food. A red apple is warmer than a green apple.
Cooking methods – the higher the cooking temperature and time, the more yang the food will be: cooking food for longer on a low heat is more warming than cooking for a short time on a high heat
Cooking device – Energy of cooked food is dependent on the fuel used to cook it. From best quality to worst: wood, coal, gas, electric.
Eating food – Chewing food carefully and thoroughly creates more heat.
*the Eight Principles are exterior/interior, heat/cold, deficiency/excess, yin/yang
** for more information on hot, cold and neutral foods see Paul Pitchford’s book Healing with Whole Foods
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