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Explain Cooling Foods in Chinese Medicine Perspective

Oct 10,2023 | YILING

This article explains the cooling foods Chinese medicine perspective and how it can be balanced. 



We are used to evaluating food based on its nutritional value which includes the amount of protein, fat, and calories it contains. However, according to Chinese medicine, food is evaluated based on its energy characteristics and how it affects the body. Food is classified as warm, cooling, drying, or moist. Disease and imbalance can manifest in a variety of ways, one of which is the imbalance of heat and cold in the body.


For instance, In the theory of Chinese medicine, due to the effect of the weather as well as several warm dietary sources such as BBQ meals, and greater intake of sugar, alcohol, and spicy foods, we are more prone to indications of Heat during the warm summer months.


Balancing these energy characteristics is critical for health, as it aids in the prevention of illness and disease. This article explains these concepts based on the cooling foods Chinese medicine perspective and related theory. 


What are Cool Foods? 

While we usually think of heat as a bodily experience, it also refers to a group of interior states that can be balanced by opposite foods also called cool foods. Excess heat in our body is frequently associated with canker sores, nosebleeds, red eyes, constipation, high blood pressure, anxiety, and even sleeplessness. This is where cool foods balance the effects of warm foods and are essential for balance in one’s body. They help to eliminate heat and toxins, chill and relax the blood, and nourish our “yin”. The cool foods are appropriate for those with a hot body constitution. 


The opposite of cool foods, hot foods have the effect of increasing "yang", organ energy (qi), warming, boosting circulation, and dispelling cold. These hot foods are appropriate for those who are yang deficient. Cold hands, feet, and body, diarrhea, stomach cramps or discomfort after eating or drinking cold foods, bloating after eating, lack of energy, aching joints, edema, and fluid retention are common symptoms when one has such deficiencies in the body.


How to Keep Balance? 

The idea of balance is central to cooling foods in Chinese medicine concepts, and one of the most effective methods to balance our health is to listen to our body and change what we consume accordingly. Food as medicine is a significant notion that underpins practically all Eastern treatments. If you're feeling under the weather, experiment with changing your food to see how it affects you. 


Some people may get stomach pain after eating or drinking anything cold. It is best for us to consume some warm foods at this time. Onions, garlic, and chili peppers are all foods that help to warm the body in general. Spring onions, chives, and leeks (all members of the Allium family, like onion and garlic) are all considered “hot” foods.


But meanwhile, many times in modern times we consume too much warm food. To keep the balance in one’s body, we recommend reducing your intake of spicy meals and drinks, pungent spices like chili and dried ginger, red meat, and fatty foods. Remove all chemical food additives, caffeine, and alcohol from your diet. Increase your intake of salads, raw foods, green smoothies, bitter veggies, and herbs to move your body to the “cooler” side as most people nowadays have eating habits inclined towards “warm” foods. Fast and detoxify regularly to minimize excess heat.


It is also recommended to eat more fresh fruits like bananas, watermelons, and strawberries, which are classic examples of healthy fruits. Uncooked foods, lettuce, and kale are examples of leafy veggies that one should not avoid in their daily eating habits. Also, bitter plants such as mustard, chicory, and dandelion leaves are included in cool foods. 



From the cooling foods in Chinese medicine perspective in this article can be concluded that cooling foods, including sweet fruits, leafy vegetables, and cold beverages, alleviate digestive discomfort in general. It's important to customize these dietary choices based on individual preferences and sensitivities, and consulting a healthcare professional for persistent stomach issues is advisable to rule out underlying medical conditions.