Here in the U.S. and in most Western countries, we think of food as food and medicine as medicine; rarely linking the two. Many countries understand that food IS medicine. I found a particularly useful article in a Bangkok paper (applause for the internet) that explains food as medicine and want to share it with you.
“Traditional Chinese medicine has been practised for 5,000 years, so it’s no wonder that Chinese people have integrated it into their culture and everyday lives. You see various Chinese herbs being used in Chinese cuisine, of course, and Chinese people are very aware of the need to balance yin and yang.
As far as many Chinese are concerned, traditional medicine derives largely from simple common sense, plus a way of life to which they’ve become accustomed. Those of us who are not of Chinese ancestry, however, might benefit health-wise by incorporating some of their theories about medicine into our daily lives.
Chinese people tend to prefer drinking tea to coffee. I assumed this was merely a cultural thing until scientists found out that tea contains more antioxidants than coffee. So, by drinking tea, the Chinese still get caffeine to boost their energy levels, but they also increase their antioxidant intake at the same time.
If the Chinese suspect that they’re coming down with a cold – if they have symptoms like nasal congestion, clear nasal discharge, headaches, muscular aching – they immediately brew some fresh ginger tea to warm up their bodies and induce perspiration; they believe that this action wards off the organisms that are making them ill. But if they are having flu symptoms (fever and a sore throat), they start drinking chrysanthemum tea or mint tea, which have cooling properties, to relieve the sore throat and make the fever subside more quickly.
The Chinese also believe that different foods have different properties, with each falling into one of five categories: cold, cool, neutral, warm or hot. These categories refer to the effect that a particular foodstuff or beverage has on your body; its temperature at the moment that you consume it is irrelevant. For example, coffee is regarded as hot, so even if you drink an iced coffee, afterwards you will feel more alert and energetic; so the “hot” coffee has elevated your yang energy levels. The Chinese eat more cool and cold foods (like watermelon and bean sprouts) in summer and more warm and hot foods (pumpkin, spices) during the winter months.”
Read the rest of the article here