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The Energetics of Food in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), food not only has a nutritional value, but also an energetic value.

The energetic value relates to the capacity to generate sensations - either hot or cold- in the human body. The five kinds of energy are cold, hot, warm, cool, and neutral, and this refers not to the state of the food but its effect on our bodies. Continually consuming one type of food creates an imbalance in the body, and in time will have an effect on our immune system.

One of the tenets of TCM is to keep our bodies "neutral." Foods that are warm and hot bring heat to our bodies - beef, coffee, ginger, hot chilies, and fried foods - while cold and cooling foods cool down our bodies - salad, cheese, green tea, pawpaw, mango. Neutral foods are suitable for both warming and cooling conditions these are vegetable oil, rice, pork, and most types of fish.

Some of the symptoms associated with a person with excess heat in their body are feeling hot, excessive sweating, anger, and constipation. A person with an excess of cold in their bodies can appear pale, have poor circulation with cold hands and feet, and complain of fatigue.

It's important to be aware of our body's reaction to the different energies of the food we consume and the effect it will have on our health. Consuming the same food over a long period of time can have an effect on our health, so it's important that we eat a varied diet to maintain a healthy immune system.

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