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About Asian Nutrition Therapy

In most medical philosophies, diet takes paramount importance in maintaining health. It is something that affects us every day to the point that our constitution is pretty much determined by what we regularly eat.

Traditional Asian diets, which are based on the same foundations as acupuncture and herbal medicine, seek to strengthen the Spleen organ, which roughly corresponds to the Western conception of the digestive system. They emphasize rice and a wide variety of vegetables as primary dishes with meats being relegated to side dishes.

Following the same approach as acupuncture and herbal medicine, Chinese diet therapy seeks to harmonize the body using the five-element nature of foods.

Much like Western approaches to nutrition, TCM diet therapy seeks to limit foods that have a negative influence on the body, while adding those that have a beneficial effect. Unlike the Western approach, TCM does not concern itself with the individual mineral, vitamin, and other chemical components of foods, but rather the properties of each type of food itself. Foods might be classified by their heating or cooling effects, tastes, their functions, and which organs they influence. For example, beef is warm and nourishes blood. Tofu is cold and drains heat. Rice is warming and benefits the digestive system. During the course of acupuncture and herbal treatment for a particular disharmony, many TCM doctors will further recommend which foods to eat and which ones to avoid.

Here is a list of food suggestions based on seasons and disharmonies.

Are the FDA nutritional values important for health?
Yes! Since in ancient times, the Chinese had no conception of vitamins, minerals, and other chemical components of food, they play no role in traditional diet therapy. However, the two can be easily combined.

Can one reconcile vegetarian diets with Chinese diets?
Yes. While the Chinese diet assumes that humans are opportunivores (eat what is available), it can be modified for vegetarian diets. Indeed, with large Buddhist populations in Asia, many people are vegetarians, and one can find numerous vegetarian restaurants with meat substitutes made from Tofu. However, the resources are not yet the same in the United States, so it may be a little harder.

Is this therapy the same as the often-touted Asian diet?
Many Asian traditions are rooted in the Chinese medical science. However, since they are custom, most people in Asia would not equate what they eat with the science behind the food. Generally speaking, Asian diets, which emphasize rice, vegetables, and small portions of meat can help optimize the Spleen (digestive) system.

Can nutritional therapy help me lose weight?
Yes; Chinese nutritional therapy works by optimizing the Spleen (digestive) system. However, like with other diets, it requires will power on your part.