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Heaty and Cooling Foods

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When a westerner hears the term “heaty” he/she would probably ask what it is. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this is a common concept associated with balancing ‘yin’ and ‘yang’. Most people, especially Chinese people in Asian countries like China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, are familiar with this notion of heat (yang) (as opposed to cooling or yin) as it is a Chinese form of expressing certain symptoms or Sensations often associated with emotional or physical responses, such as:

o feelings of irritability;

o effervescence;

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o fever;

o constipation;

o flushed face or cheeks;

o Dark yellow urine;

o sore throat;

o nosebleeds;

o outbreak of pimples and acne;

o skin rashes;

o mouth ulcers;

o indigestion.

Excessive “cold” energy in the body, on the other hand, makes us feel weak, lethargic, tired, and restless.

The constitution of every human being is influenced by innate factors as well as the acquired lifestyle (e.g. diet, stress level, amount of exercise and sleep, living environment) and varies from person to person. In other words, different foods act on the human body in different ways and affect our state of health. The body’s metabolism, organ function, and organ structure combine to determine our susceptibility to these heating and cooling effects of food.

Examples of cooling and warming foods:

Cool (Yin) foods:

Bamboo Shoot, Banana, Bitter Gourd, Clam, Crab, Grapefruit, Lettuce, Persimmon, Salt, Seaweed, Star Fruit, Sugarcane, Water Chestnut, Watermelon, Lotus Root, Cucumber, Barley, Tofu, Egg White, Marjoram, Oyster, Pear, Peppermint, Radish, Strawberry , tangerine and yogurt, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, corn, tomato, pineapple, turmeric.

Neutral (balanced yin and yang) foods:

Corn, Abalone, Apricot, Beef, Beetroot, Black Mushroom, Carp, Carrot, Celery, Chicken Egg Yolk, Squid, Duck, Fig, Honey, Kidney Beans, Lotus Fruit and Seeds, Milk, Olives, Oysters, Papaya, Pork, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radish leaf, red bean, plum, sunflower seed, sweet rice, sweet potato, white mushroom, yellow soybean, Brussels sprouts, snow peas, sweet potato, taro, dates, figs, raspberries, raisins, sage, rosemary, thyme, brown rice, apple.

Hot (Yang) Foods:

Pepper, Cinnamon Bark, Ginger, Soybean Oil, Red and Green Pepper, Chicken, Apricot Kernels, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Chestnut, Chives, Cinnamon Sprig, Clove, Coconut, Coffee, Coriander (Chinese Parsley), Date, Dill Seed, Eel, Garlic, Grapefruit Peel, Spring Onion, Guava, Ham, Mustard Greens, Leek, Longan, Mutton, Nutmeg, Peach, Raspberry, Rosemary, Shrimp, Spearmint, Sweet Basil, Tobacco, Vinegar, Walnut, Jackfruit, Durian, Leek, Shallot, Spring Onion, Apricot, Blackberry, black currant, mangoes, peaches, cherry, tangerine, grape.

It also plays a role in how a meal is prepared. For example, beef is considered neutral, but if you’ve fried or grilled it, it’s considered spicy. In addition, there are some interesting general guidelines for determining whether a given food is hot or cold:

Spicy/Yang foods:

o grow under the hot sun;

o are sweet;

o have a lot of fat;

o high in sodium;

o are hard, dry or sharp.

Cold/Yin foods:

o grow in little sunshine;

o are salty;

o are lean;

o rich in potassium;

o soft and wet;

The heating and cooling effect of food refers to its ability to create sensations – either hot or cold in our body. They do not refer to the condition of the food, but to its effect on our body. For example, tea is a cooling food. This means that it creates cold energy in our body. To aim for a balanced diet, we can classify foods as predominantly yin or yang. So if you eat mostly yin foods, your body can only produce cold energy, in contrast, eating mostly yang foods produces hotter energy. When a person suffers from cold rheumatism, it would be helpful to eat foods with warm or hot energy. When a person suffers from acne breakouts due to eating fried foods, it is beneficial to consume cooling foods to counteract heat and relieve symptoms.

The concept of heat does not make sense or is relevant in the Western medical paradigm. However, it is believed that there are some parallels with the acid (heat) and base (cooling) balance, or with protons and positive charges (heat) and cooling (electrons and negative charges). medicine is developing. Conventional physicians in the West have long since begun to integrate and learn alternative treatments or medications and incorporate them into their practice. Today they believe that these new medical approaches are beneficial and effective in many ways.


Thanks to Ruth Tan

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