-Huang Di Nei Jing
Most trendy diets may not be as sustainable as you think
Vegetarian, raw, carb free, high protein, all the foodie fads are seeking a just alternative to SAD: “the Standard American Diet”. What all modern diets should remember, is that ancient cultures around the world have existed for millennia on a basic staple diet, without the so called ‘diseases of the developed world’.
Take it from a relic of antiquity, the Chinese have been learning about how not to starve, ploughing this same good earth for over sixty centuries. Native scholars passed down books on which plants were useful, for what, and then knowledge slowly grew on the specific benefits of foods.
Combine this with a deep culture, natural philosophy, mysticism, and an organized hierarchy of knowledge, and you get one of the most comprehensive tools for a healthy lifestyle out there.
Traditional Chinese Medicine started in ancient times, as a holistic way of viewing our body’s health in relation to nature. Foods are viewed according to how the act in the body, and are a valuable way to directly promote health, balance and natural equilibrium.
Like the yin and yang forces found in nature, elements of our body’s natural systems are linked together, and in having a basic understanding of their relations, we can learn to intuitively prescribe nourishment to a direct vital organ.
Food combining 101
Everything in moderation.
Eat the right foods at the right times with the right complements to help your body integrate nutrients fully. A few basic rules of thumb are: keep it simple and your digestion will be easier, don’t mix starches, protein, carbs and fats all at once. Support digestive fire by eating only one or two kinds of foods at one sitting.
Otherwise, intestinal flora will have a hard time processing that double bacon cheeseburger!
You only benefit from the food you eat if you can digest and assimilate the nutrients. As we’ll see, this also has a lot to do with diet in general.
Cooling and warming foods
By their very nature, foods break down in the body differently, and can even be described as either yin or yang foods. For starters, cooked foods are more warming — yang — and should be eaten in winter. And raw fresh foods are generally — yin — best for cooling down in summer.
It can also be said that yang flavors are salty, spicy, and pungent, while yin are sweet, bitter and cooling. More dense proteins and fats are yang-ful, while lighter veg and fruits are yin-ful. And of course, overeating any one food will always cause adverse effects. Eating a thick and meaty dish in summer may slow us down, or a light salad in winter may leave us feeling less than satiated.
When we eat simply and healthfully, satiety — that satisfied, full feeling — comes with a balanced diet.
Grains, beans, nuts and seeds
A key to the staple diets of ancients around the world, nutrition packed seeds carry building blocks for growth. Many grains are incomplete in a full range of nutrients, so combinations of a medley are best.
For example, in East Asia, tofu and rice provided the balanced amino acid complex, yet in the high mountains of west Asia where rice wasn’t grown, they used sesame or millet, while Native Americans used a combination of corn, an incomplete protein, with beans for a balanced diet.
In Europe, they relied on bread and milk. In central Asia, pita bread and chickpea hummus.
Read more on all the ancient grains here.
Alongside a balance of the staples above, vegetables should be seen as the most central part of any diet. Vegetables like celery, the broccoli/cabbage family, and all greens are part of a balanced diet.
In regards to the parts of the plant, underground root portions are seen as heavy and filling, while leaf and fruiting veg are light and promote quick nutrition.
Central portions, like stalks of celery and asparagus are some of the most neutral foods.
As a principle, fruits, which in their singular flesh contain all the nutrients necessary to grow the stored seed, are mother nature’s truest form of fast food. Natives even believed fruits growing closer to the sun, was evidence that they contain the highest concentration of vitamins and minerals.
Nutrient dense, fast fruit is great… in moderation.
Fruit is best digested and absorbed by itself, or with other similar fruits.
Eating fruits for dessert or combined with lots of other foods can cause them to ferment in your stomach with all the other foods. Melons and bananas especially benefit us most when taken on their own.
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