In Oriental Medicine, the nature and quality of food including its flavour, taste and heat/cold nature, determines its healing potential and its ability to balance or unbalance the body, through affecting the Blood, Qi and other body fluids. There are many 'diets, and the aim of this perspective on food and nutrition, is not to give you another 'diet' to follow rigidly, but rather, to give you some simple guidelines from a combined western and oriental perspective. These will give you a way to gently nurture and support your body from the inside.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Wood element relates to the Liver and Gall Bladder organs and the season of Spring. It is the time when the energy moves upwards like a new plant or tree. The energy is active and dynamic, seeking to expand and express itself.
The Liver and Gall Bladder organs which are the organs responsible for maintaining the smooth flow of Chi and Blood and keeping the body free of toxins. In Spring, think Green. Green, light, young foods that promote cleansing and cooling, and encourage movement and activity. Also sweet and pungent flavours which have an expansive, rising quality are good in spring.
Spring is the most appropriate time to do a cleanse or fast. The Liver tends to be the most congested of all the organs, suffering from the effects of too much fat, chemicals, intoxicants and refined foods. When the energy in the Liver is congested or blocked, the energy flow throughout the body is affected, causing numerous emotional and physical problems.
Anger related emotions such as frustration, resentment, aggression and repressed emotions resulting in depression, can be symptoms of a Liver energy imbalance. Physical symptoms include problems with the eyes, headache, heat signs, acne, eczema, tendon and muscle spasms and problems with the production and flow of menstrual blood. To stimulate the flow of energy in the Liver, eat raw and lightly cooked foods, fresh fruit and vegetables and sprouted grains, seeds and beans.
Pungent foods are stimulating, such as onions, tumeric, basil, bay leaf, cardamon, marjoram, cummin, fennel, dill, ginger, black pepper, rosemary and mint.
Other foods that are good for the Liver but not so pungent are beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. To harmonise the flow of energy in the Liver, add some sweet grains, legumes and vegetables such as carrots and sweet potato, and use a little honey, rice syrup, stevia or molasses.
When the Liver becomes swollen and sluggish because too much food has been eaten or other excesses imposed on it, Bitter and Sour foods help to remove the stagnant energy and improve the flow of Chi and Blood.
Sour foods include vinegar (mix with honey for best effects), lemons and limes. Bitter foods include asparagus, alfalfa, citrus peel, romaine lettuce and rocket. To detoxify and cool the Liver, include mung beans and sprouts, celery, seaweeds, lettuce, cucumber, tofu, millet, chlorophyll rich foods, mushrooms and radish.
Michelle Locke is the creator and founder of Wu Tao Dance, a unique health dance system that increases vitality, fitness and energy. She has written 2 books, 'Dancing the Elements' and 'Dancing into Wisdom with Wu Tao' produced numerous courses including ones on Food Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Wu Tao Dance, and DVD's and Cd's for Wu Tao. To find out how you can become healthy and happy through dance visit http://wutaodance.com