Updated: Jul 23, 2020
Proper nutrition is essential for good health and rich life and is an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which gives premedical intervention before diseases. In Singapore, chronic diseases are significant causes of illness and death. The majority of today’s illnesses are chronic and entirely preventable. This article is intended to help you develop healthy eating habits and begin the journey to a healthy lifestyle.
General Eating Habits •Chewing food thoroughly supports spleen qi •Don’t eat meals late at night •Avoid over consumption and excessive fasting •Eat in a calm and relaxed atmosphere and do not rush your meal •Avoid intense interactions at mealtime, including television and reading
Foods That Should Be Avoided
Raw, cold food, and iced beverages
Oily, greasy, and fried foods
Excessive alcohol intake
Excessive meat consumption
Refined sugar and limit overly sweet foods
NUTRITION FOR THE KIDNEY The Kidney is the powerhouse of the body, supplying reserve energy to any organ running low on Qi, and is often called the “Root of Life” as it stores and controls the jing, the essence of our physical body. A good diet protects and supports the kidney and its ability to function properly.
Cooking foods longer at lower temps, like stews and bone broths, can be particularly beneficial for kidney support. Avoid cold foods and drinks and minimize eating raw foods, like salads.
Following Foods to support kidney and preventing from kidney disease:
black sesame seeds, chestnuts, walnuts
lentils, millet, oats, quinoa
oysters, salmon, shrimp, tuna
Sea salt or Real salt (helps with adrenal health but use in moderation) venison
Avoid: coffee, alcohol
sugar, artificial sweeteners
excessive intake of salt, avoid table salt
NUTRITION FOR THE LIVER The liver regulates qi, the vital energy that sustains life, and stores blood, which carries qi around the body and supports the functioning of our organs, limbs and tissues. Nutrition can have a powerful effect on the liver and its ability to function properly.
It is important to avoid stimulants including nicotine and caffeine. Some spicy and pungent food in moderation can be helpful as it can help to facilitate qi movement, as stagnation of qi is quite common with liver imbalances.
To Support the Liver, Incorporate the Following Foods: leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beets, carrots, chives
blueberries, goji berries, grapefruit, strawberries
crab, crayfish, lobster, mussels, oysters, shrimp, squid, trout, whitefish
flax, pine nuts, sesame
cayenne, garlic, onion, vinegar, turmeric
olive oil, cod liver oil, krill oil (increases anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids)
chrysanthemum tea, green tea, lemon or lime water
Avoid: alcohol, coffee, caffeine sugar processed, refined foods spicy, hot foods (in excess) greasy, fatty, oily, fried foods
NUTRITION FOR THE HEART The heart rules the blood and blood vessels, and stores the Shen (spirit). The heart governs blood and circulation. For a normal heartbeat, with a smooth and even rate and rhythm, regulating circulation, heart qi and blood must be abundant. Nourishment of the heart brings along a healthy life.
Calm the Shen by avoiding energetically hot foods, like ginger, garlic, alcohol, and coffee. Damp and phlegm can also adversely impact the heart and Shen. By removing damp forming foods, like dairy and sugar, from the diet it can help aid in proper heart function and a healthy Shen. It is best to cook foods with high heat and short cook time, and with light salt and spice. A simple diet is best: light fasting (18-24 hours) brings clarity and calms the mind.
Beneficial Foods That Help to calm Shen(Spirit):
chia seeds, jujube seeds
brown rice, oats, whole wheat
cow and goat milk, chamomile, dill
celery, cucumber, lettuce, mushrooms
lemons, mulberries, Schisandra berries (Five-flavor berry)
Avoid: spicy, rich foods
refined sugar, artificial sweeteners
highly processed foods
NUTRITION FOR THE SPLEEN AND STOMACH (DIGESTIVE SYSTEM)
The spleen and stomach are the most important organs to support nutritional therapy, as they play pivotal roles in the digestive process. Disharmonies of the spleen and stomach often occur together and can generally be treated at the same time.
Spleen and Stomach
The spleen and stomach is the source of acquired qi and blood, creating energy from food and water. The spleen, along with the stomach, is responsible for the absorption, distribution, transformation, and transportation of the energy. When the spleen is functioning well, a person will exhibit dynamic energy, good appetite, and healthy digestion.
When there is dysfunction in the spleen, chronic fatigue and poor digestion symptoms like abdominal bloating, excess gas, diarrhea or loose stools, nausea, poor appetite, etc., will be present. People with disharmonies in this system must incorporate healthy eating habits into their life if they are to overcome their health concerns.
The spleen generally responds very well to dietary treatments. General foods that benefit the middle burner （digestive system）are mildly sweet foods like poultry, vegetables, and grains, however, overindulgence of sweet can be harmful to the spleen. Cold foods contract and stagnate the middle burner and stop digestion, and are best avoided. Make simple dishes prepared at a moderate temperature and cooking time.
TO SUPPORT THE SPLEEN AND STOMACH, INCORPORATE THE FOLLOWING FOODS:
cabbage, carrots, corn, onions, peas, string beans, sweet potato, yams
apples, dates, figs, grapes, papaya
beef, chicken, duck, eggs, fish (bass, carp, herring, mackerel, sardine), goat, goose, lamb
amaranth seeds, brown rice, sweet rice
coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, vinegar
Foods to avoid that weaken the spleen:
raw foods like salads, and citrus fruits and cold drinks
sugar and refined carbohydrates
NUTRITION FOR THE LUNG
One of the most important functions of the lung is to control respiration and govern qi. Strengthening the lung qi and yin through nutrition can be used to help with multiple aspects of the lung pathology.
1) Moistening the body and preventing dryness.
2) Prevent external pathogenic invasions, like the common cold or allergies.
3) Treating such symptoms as shortness of breath and weak breath.
To aid the lungs it is best to consume easy-to-digest foods that are fresh and lightly cooked, usually with less water and at lower temperatures. This helps increase the nutritional value and assimilation of food.
TO SUPPORT THE LUNG, INCORPORATE THE FOLLOWING FOODs:
cauliflower, leeks, horseradish, onions, radish, watercress
almonds, almond butter, almond milk
chilli, curry, ginger, pepper
raw, cold foods like salads and fruits
dairy oily and fatty foods sugar cold foods and drinks
Nutritional therapy can be an excellent supplemental therapy used in conjunction with other TCM modalities like herbs, acupuncture, tuina and other therapies. It is important to note that no one diet is good for everyone. The information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. It is best to consult a registered TCM practitioner, who is able to accurately diagnose and suggest advice.
By Physician Chen Ying Chu
Yong Kang TCM Clinic