Chinese Medicines approach to food & the Immune System

Updated: Mar 21

Chinese medicine views food from an energetic perspective.

Sometimes we can forget that one of the most natural ways to boost our immune system is through the food we eat. In Chinese medicine, Qi is the vital life energy in all living things. Ying Qi is the energy we get from nutrition. Good nutrition is essential for a healthy immune system. From a Chinese medicine perspective eating foods that are grown locally and correspond with the seasons is still the most natural and healthiest way to intake food. Chinese medicine focuses on the energetic properties of food and categorizes them by the actions they have on our body. When we help a system physically, we also help it energetically. By eating the right type of foods we are helping to keep the natural dynamic flow of Qi (energy) in balance.

In Chinese medicine each individual can benefit from eating certain types of food depending on their particular constitution and the balance of their yin and yang energies. To understand your constitution from a TCM perspective it is recommended to to see a TCM practitioner for a consultation. There are however some common assertions which can benefit everyone. At this time of year, moving from winter to spring, it is advised to eat lots of 'warming foods'. These type of foods include lots of root vegetables like carrots, onions, ginger, turnip and garlic. The body uses an enormous amount of energy during digestion. Food that is easy to digest, like soup or a warming broth are easily digested in the gut and aid the immune system by freeing up energy so it can tackle any viruses or bacteria that comes its way. Soups are full of nutrients and provide immune-boosting amino acids and minerals.

Ginger and Garlic are two excellent healing food types. Ginger is excellent for sore throats and garlic is a natural powerful compound against all viral activity. Some excellent natural immune boosting herbs to add to your cooking include oregano, fennel, rosemary, lemon balm, basil and pepper.

Warm water is always recommended in TCM. Warm drinks should replace cold ones. It is advised to drink water at room temperature or above. Warm water aids digestion, helps to raise the temperature of your body and helps to fight off toxins. When you are fighting infection your body’s fluid needs increase. Drinking a little extra water can fuel regeneration of immune-fighting lymphatic cells to help get your body feeling stronger.

Two other essential elements that benefit the immune system are sunlight and sleep. During sleep the body undergoes an extensive cell repair and renewal process. Plenty of good quality sleep will ensure our immune system is robust. Sunlight is natures natural healer. Go outside when possible and adsorb as much vitamen D as you can, your body mind and spirit will all benefit .

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