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Nutritional Alchemy: The miracles of food from a Chinese medicine perspective



“You are what you eat” is a common phrase we have all heard in our lifetime.  It is not, however, a phrase we tend to take seriously.  How often do we think about how the food on our plate will quite literally become a part of us?  We tend to overlook the magic that takes place from what begins on our plate to what will eventually become the very cells that form in our body.


Alchemy: a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way. The magic that happens when we eat can be thought of as a miracle of sorts, an alchemical miracle. The nutrition we consume becomes us through a chemical process that can be thought of as both mysterious and impressive!  It can be a means of healing or a means of gradual degradation. Thus, it is of the utmost importance that we pay close attention to what we are placing on our plates, utilizing each meal as a chance to change from the inside out.


The Chinese medical model views food in the same way any form of medicine would be viewed. Practitioners take into account the flavor, temperature and texture of foods when making recommendations to their patients. This is also true for herbal medicine, as they are both one in the same. Many herbs found in Chinese herbal formulas are actually foods. Ginger is the best example, as it is often consumed as part of a meal, but is an even larger part of many Chinese herbal formulas. The plant is warm in nature, spicy flavor, with an almost starchy quality to its texture. It is traditionally used as an accompaniment to sushi, as it helps to aid in digestion by warming the stomach while consuming cold, raw foods. In herbal formulas, it is also used for this purpose, but can also be used to treat nausea and vomiting, stop coughing, release the common cold and even resolve toxicity from food poisoning.


Your body can tell you a lot about the types of foods that may be good or even bad for you. If you are experiencing too much phlegm for example, your body may be telling you to stay away from sweets, as they produce more fluids in the body. If constipation is an issue, some may need more fluid engendering foods such as aloe vera juice. While others may need a more bitter option such as coffee, as bitter helps to drain the body of waste products and toxins.


Eating a healthy diet is not the same for each person. Each body type needs different forms of nutrition to keep a healthy alignment. Ask your acupuncturist which foods are best for you body. Through a detailed assessment and diagnosis, you may be on your way to a healthier you!

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