THE theory of yin and yang has dominated Chinese life since remote eras. It is used to explain many natural phenomena such as day and night, male and female. It has become the fundamental and unique part of traditional Chinese medicine.
A healthy person maintains the yin and yang in a balanced way. Once the harmony is broken due to deficiency or excess of yin-yang, it will be reflected with syndromes of cold or heat in nature. Predominance of yang gives rise to heat, predominance of yin gives rise to cold.
Traditional Chinese medicine doctors ask people to take drugs to adjust the yin and yang to a moderate condition. Even in one's daily diet, various foods are also of properties of warmness or coolness and they play a role in regulating the yin-yang.
Such properties have no relation with whether the food is cooked or not, but is their nature. Foods are classified by four properties - cold, hot, warm and cool. Simply said, food is either hot or cold.
Cold and cool food can eliminate heat inside and improve the yin; they are regarded as having the effect of slowing blood flow. Warm and hot food can warm up one's body and get rid of the coldness inside. But too many hot foods will cause symptoms of "shanghuo", meaning heat rising inside.
Choosing your food
One should choose foods with the property opposite to his physical condition. In general, people have two types of physical condition: either the yin dominates or the yang does.
Those dominated by yin or who are in a cold condition have symptoms like paleness, delayed periods, and fear of cold weather. They should take more food with the opposite properties, which are hot or warm to improve their yin. They would do better not to take too much cold food, which may aggravate the hot syndromes.
People in hot conditions are recommended to take some cool and cold foods.
The menu should change with the season, which can keep one away from seasonal diseases.
In hot summer, some cool and cold food materials can be applied to get rid of the heat in one's body; warm and hot food can be used in winter days to build up resistance to the cold weather.
One's physical condition changes with the environment or other factors. Even in summer, people may feel cool in an air-conditioned room, so they would do better to take some warm food. If one has inadequate sleep or is over-tired, cool foods are helpful to ease the symptoms. Cold and cool food are helpful to treat high fever, thirst, dry stools and hand-sweating.
Geographical factors should also be taken into account. In south China, the weather is hot, rainy and wet, so cool foods are good for the health. Warm foods are better for people living in the cold and dry north.
Food of various properties
Warm and hot food: shrimps, candies, chocolates, wine, brown sugar, ginger, onion, garlic, longan, almonds, walnuts, cherries and Chinese dates. Fried food and some animal meat including mutton, beef and chicken.
Cool and cold food: various beans, crystal sugar, watermelon, oranges, celery, pears, lotus, bananas, winter melon, radish, duck, sugar-cane, kiwi fruit, eggplant, crab and bamboo root.