Chinese dietary therapy, like many topics within Chinese medicine, can be complex - typically due to the terminology, themes and vocabulary used in its description - but also due to its heritage and uniqueness with which it’s applied to people on an individual level.
But when you break it down and grasp some of the key terms, you’ll see that much like the practice of Chinese medicine itself, Chinese dietary therapy can have a practical, but highly profound impact to your health and overall wellness, with results that can be life altering to your digestion and energy.
As part of the Middle Burner by DAO Labs introduction, we’re breaking down some of the broader topics to make the principles of Chinese dietary theory easier to understand.
In working with an acupuncturist, which we encourage everybody to do, you’d quickly learn that Chinese medicine is all about balance - and this extends to Chinese dietary theory as well. With that in mind, there are a handful of common patterns of imbalance that are most frequent in the application of Chinese dietary therapy. These are:
Spleen Vacuity with Damp Encumbrance
This is caused by a diet that is too “damp and cool”, along with working too much or excessive worry (encumbrance means “a burden or impediment”). As noted above, the spleen and stomach are crucial to good health as Chinese dietary theory focuses on good digestion and any imbalance here can cause disease.
Liver Depression with Simultaneous Stomach Heat
This is “Qi stagnation” due to the liver being blocked and not flowing freely. This can be caused by emotional stress or overeating as food stagnation in the stomach can impede the free flow of the spleen which in turn can negatively affect the “liver Qi”.
Kidney Yin Vacuity
In Chinese theory, the aging process is directly related to the weakening and decline of the kidneys. One of the main ways to supplement kidney Yin is to strengthen the spleen through diet.
Dampness impedes the flow of Qi which is inherently warm and this can manifest in a variety of ways. Since dampness mostly has its source in the “middle burner” (again, your stomach and your spleen - we dig deeper below), a commonsense, middle burner; spleen-stomach benefiting diet is important to correct the generation of dampness at its source.
Renowned Chinese Medicine writer Bob Flaws states that “...after more than 30 years of studying, eating and prescribing Chinese foods according to Chinese dietary theory and therapy, I have come to the conclusion that most people do best if they stick to what I have called a basic middle burner, spleen- benefiting diet…”
Your Next Steps: Join the Middle Burner Diet Program
As we’ve learned since childhood in the west, having a balanced diet is key to health, and in theory, the same applies here too - but with a slight twist. For the Middle Burner by DAO Labs, we’re focusing on protecting one’s spleen-stomach combination (essentially the “spleen vacuity with damp encumbrance”) as its application in the west seems to be most widespread, but don’t let this keep you from learning if one of the other common imbalances might be more relevant to you system. In the end, making one’s dietary “imbalances, balanced” can be life altering to health, energy, digestion and in the end, your overall well being.