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

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Acupuncture Boise - Nutrition & Wellness: SaladThe method of preparation can alter the energetic temperature of food to some extent, but it will not change the fundamental energetic temperature. So, energetically cold foods which are cooked are still considered cold foods, although to a lesser extent than if uncooked. Since the fundamental energetic temperature of food cannot be changed, food combining is an important way to mitigate any undesirable energetic temperature. For example, the temperature of cold foods can be moderated by combining with hotter foods such as ginger or garlic.

Another important food classification is flavor. The flavors are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent (or spicy), and neutral and all foods are described by one or more of these flavors. The various flavors generate different responses in the human body, and as such are recommended or discouraged for certain individuals with certain conditions. Food is also described by the effect it has upon the energy of the body, by its clinical usefulness in treating certain diseases, and by situations in which it may be forbidden for certain individuals.

Not only is food described and perceived differently in China, but so is the entire process of digesting food. From a Chinese medicine viewpoint digestion is considered analogous to a fire. Similar to the way that we place a log on a fire to release energy in the form of heat, we add food to our digestive system and it is converted into energy which allows us to perform day-to-day activities. Eating energetically warm foods fuels the digestive fire and helps to promote healthy digestion, similar to adding dry kindling or seasoned wood to a fire. Eating excessively cold foods can adversely affect digestion, similar to adding a wet log to a fire. Yet if a fire is strong enough and hot enough, even a wet log will burn well, and an individual with a very strong digestive fire can eat cool or cold foods without any adverse effects. Problems arise when an individual with a weak digestive fire eats excessively cold foods, similar to placing a wet log on a weak fire, or when an individual eats predominantly cold foods and does not support the digestive fire with appropriate amounts of warming foods as well. In these situations, the digestive fire can be extinguished, leading to inefficient and problematic digestion, including bloating, discomfort or loose stools. When this happens, dietary therapy can be extremely helpful in aiding and supporting digestion, or stoking the digestive fire.

The Chinese medicine approach has always been to focus on the individual and not dictate a “one size fits all” strategy. So, dietary recommendations are offered based upon a patient’s individual situation. But as almost everyone knows, making dietary changes isChinese Nutritional Therapy & Acupuncture in Boise - Rice far easier said than done. In addition to recognizing that each individual is different and must be treated differently, it is also important to see that modification of diet is a very personal (and often difficult) step for many people to take. We eat or avoid foods for countless reasons, ranging from social to emotional to religious beliefs, whether we are aware of it or not. Decisions about what foods to eat are not always based upon sound principles of nutrition and it is unfair to expect this to change instantaneously. For this reason, it is important to be patient and understanding with oneself when implementing any dietary modifications. That patience, coupled with persistence, can allow us to eventually succeed in making healthier choices in our lives.

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