We have all heard of the Chinese Theory of the 2 opposing forces, Yin and Yang. In Chinese Medicine, we use yin and yang to understand the body’s state of health and specifically, where imbalances exist so that Chinese Medicine practitioners can rectify this via using herbal medicine and acupuncture. The truth is yin and yang is in everything and everywhere; day is yang, night is yin, warm is yang, cool in yin, the sun is yang, the earth is yin and so on.
Food also has yin or yang energy based on its properties; yin is cool and expanding, while yang is warm and contracting. We must consume a nice balance of yin and yang food in order to keep the body in optimal health, which will ultimately enhance our complexion.
So which foods are Yin?
Foods that are yin are usually nutritious foods that are high in anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals. It is also beneficial to eat foods that help manufacture blood, as blood is yin and the two work hand in hand.
YIN FOODS INCLUDE
Nutrient Rich Foods
i.e.: Fruits/ Vegetables, Protein (Tofu, Fish, Soy Milk, Soy Products)
Barley, Millet, String Beans, Asparagus, Dark – Coloured Beans
Seaweed, Fish Eggs, Dairy Products
Keep Well Hydrated
Minimum 2 Litres of Water a Day (Preferably Warm), May Need To Exceed Quantity If Involved In Physical Activity Which Promotes Sweating
Stimulants – Coffee, Spicy – Rich Foods
BLOOD FORMING FOODS INCLUDE
Stock/Soups Made from Bones (Provide Bone Marrow And Calcium From The Bones)
Small Tip: Add A Small Amount of Vinegar to Assist With The Release Of Marrow And Calcium From The Bones
Stewed Casseroles (Slow Cooking)
Egg Yolk, Legumes, Grains, Green Leafy Vegetable, Beetroots, Red Wine (Best Consumed During Food – Assists in Promoting Circulatory Actions Of Wine)
Post Menstrual Soup – Boil Whole Chicken, Add Vegetables & Herbs – Slow Cooking Preferred
Ie: Carrots, Mushrooms, Shallots, Sweet Potatoes
Ie : Yam, Lyceum Berries, Longan Fruit, Fresh Ginger
Now, foods that are more yang are warmer. Here are some yang foods you can choose to incorporate into your cooking:
Slow Cooking Foods
Garlic, Onions, Chicken, Lamb, Trout, Salmon, Lobster, Prawns, Mussels
Walnuts, Chestnuts, Pistachio Nuts
Add Ginger, Shallots, Cinnamon to Food
Can Also Cook Fruit – makes fruit more yang
Eating Excess Spicy Foods – In Moderation
Cold Food, Ice Cold Drinks, Coffee – And Other Caffeine Type Beverages
As blood and yin are coupled together so is yang and qi. So here are foods that are great to be combined to improve digestive health:
Varied Fresh Food
Eat While Relaxed – Avoid Eating When in A Hurry (Affects Digestion)
In The Beginning of Your Day Have Warm Water with A Squeeze of Lemon
Lightly Cooked Meals
Try and Have A Mixture Of Sweet, Bitter, Pungent Flavours In Cooking
Sweet Flavours – Root Vegetables, Grains (Not In Excess)
Bitter Flavours – Rocket, Watercress (Assists In Digestion)
Pungent Flavours – Onions, Coriander, Chives (Assists In Digestion & Moves Qi)
Basically, a good combination of yin and yang foods will help your body work harmoniously. I always tell patients to only eat food they enjoy and to avoid anything you may have an intolerance or reaction to. Foods is medicine, but food most importantly should be enjoyed and eaten with a happy heart.