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The Healing Power of Food
By Peter Games, L. Ac.

Boise Acupuncture & Chinese Nutritional Therapy - Fruits & VegetablesChinese nutrition has long been considered a very important branch of Chinese medicine. In fact, 1500 years ago dietary therapy was considered the first treatment method administered by practitioners of Chinese medicine. It was believed that a true doctor tried to empower patients to take care of themselves so that they could get healthy and stay healthy. Patients were educated about dietary and lifestyle changes (including exercise and meditation) to improve their specific condition. This enabled patients to take responsibility for their own health. Only if these dietary and lifestyle changes were not helpful in returning the patient to a state of health were other more invasive types of treatments administered, including medical massage, acupuncture, and Chinese herbs. It was and still is considered preferable for a patient to heal with minimal involvement from a physician.

Acupuncture & Oriental Nutrition in Boise Idaho - SalmonChinese nutrition is fundamentally quite different than the nutritional system we are accustomed to in the United States. The Chinese nutritional system does not identify foods that are considered “good” or “bad” for the general population. Rather, it is a system that allows one to intelligently understand the characteristics, or energetics, of any food one might want to eat. With this knowledge, we can determine which foods are most appropriate for a given person at a given time. Therefore, foods that are considered suitable for a certain patient are dependent upon several factors, including the patient’s condition, the patient’s age, the time of year, the patient’s activity level, and the patient’s constitution. Healthy dietary recommendations vary for different individuals and for different seasons. Chinese dietary guidelines are custom-tailored for an individual patient rather than offered to an entire population en masse.

All foods are described, classified, and organized based upon several characteristics, the most important of which is the energetic temperature. The main energetic temperatures used to describe foods are cold, cool, neutral, warm, and hot. It is important to understand that the energetic temperature and physical temperature of a food are not the same. The energetic temperature is the temperature that the food produces in the body. For example, foods with a cold energetic temperature include cucumbers, watermelon, and seaweed, whereas apples have a cool energetic temperature. Yams, rice, and turnips are all examples of foods with a neutral energetic temperature, while energetically warm foods include winter squashes, walnuts, carrots, and beef. Lastly, examples of foods with a hot energetic temperature include shellfish, ginger, and spicy greens (such as mustard greens or arugula).

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