Balance your energy by eating in harmony with the Yin Yang of the season and this will have a massive effect on your health.
The ancient theory of Yin and Yang, tells us that your Qi, known as the essence of life flows through the body and that half of certain organs and meridians are considered Yin, while the other half are Yang. When Yin and Yang are balanced there is optimum health and vitality however when they are out of balance, disharmony caused he body to experience illness, sometimes vague symptoms, that allow you into work (but only just!) but you also may experience more serious disharmony or disease. We believe that nutritional or dietary choices play a hug part in achieving optimum health.
Each new season is a time of growth, rebirth and new beginnings, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) says that eating in accordance with the season will help you gain massive reap health benefits.
Lets look at how TCM advises us to eat according to the seasons.
Traditional Chinese Medicine says that Spring is a time of renewal, growth and rebirth. The organs most influenced during this season are the Liver and the Gallbladder, meaning that you should eat a diet that supports these two organs during springtime.
The rational here, is that when the Liver functions effortlessly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly, which lend itself to optimum health. The liver also is responsible for detoxification within the body, so incorporating foods that support this process is ideal.
Nutritional Advice for Spring (Liver and Gallbladder):
- Leafy green vegetables like kale and chard
- Bitter greens like dandelion, endives and parsley
- Milk thistle tea for its cleansing properties
- Sour foods like lemon, lime and grapefruit supports the liver’s naturally sour flavour
- Radishes as they help to move Qi around the body
- Sprouts like alfalfa, mung bean and sunflower make delicious, nutritious additions to every meal
Traditional Chinese Medicine says that the summer, where we experience most heat during the year is the season of upmost Yang, and this can quickly lead to imbalances if not treated sensibly. Because of the hot, drying weather, the best foods for summer are cooling, sweet, hydrating and neutral.
Nutritional Advice for Summer (Heart and Small Intestine):
- Neutral foods can help to counterbalance the heat, so things like rice, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and salmon can make healthy choices during summer
- Hydrating foods like cucumber, strawberries, lettuce, celery, and pears really help to temper excess yang in the body and are especially good in dry heat
- Sweet foods like sweet corn, carrots, sweet potatoes and cooked grains
- Light broths and soups to keep portions smaller than during other seasons
- Cooling foods like coconut, apples, tomatoes and chilli are great in hot, humid environments
Traditional Chinese Medicine says that Autumn is a season of distinct transition from the hot Yang summer to Yin influenced winter. Warming, pungent foods are the best picks and methods like slow-cooking or braising make for delicious meals that will support your emotional and physical health and focus on the Lungs and Large Intestine which are associated with Autumn.
Nutritional Advice for Autumn (Lungs and Large Intestine):
- Seasonal fruits and vegetables like pears, figs, pumpkin, apples and brussel sprouts
- Onions, peppers and cabbage are great to incorporate during autumn or prepare and preserve for oncoming winter
- Ginger, leeks, cinnamon, coriander, turnips, mushrooms, garlic and radishes will all help to nourish the lungs
- Quinoa, rice and oats are the perfect grains for this transitional season
Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes that winter is associated with increased levels of Yin where rain, cold, snow and ice energy influence the Kidneys and Urinary Bladder. The TCM Kidneys are the root of our deepest constitution, when damaged can be very difficult to bring back into harmony.
So foods that have a warming nature, cooked foods are advised to nourish your Kidneys in Winter.
Nutritional Advice for Winter (Kidneys and Urinary Bladder):
- Spices, spices, spices! Warming ones like cardamom, cinnamon and ginger will help to stimulate digestion
- Black beans and lentils reinforce kidney energy
- Ginger tea will nourish body and soul
- Potatoes, pumpkin, Brussel sprouts, beets, parsnips and turnips are great for roasting or including in slow-cooked soups and stews
- Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and other collard greens
Have a look at these suggestions and remember to eat according to the seasons, according to local produce and don’t forget to always smile and enjoy the food that nature provides.
James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.
This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.