09 Yin-Yang Power: The Balance
All phenomena has Yin-and-Yang components.
Why does the “Yin-Yang Balance” Produce Stunning Health Effects in Diet?
Our lifestyle actually causes some intractable diseases, such as obesity and metabolic syndromes and more seriously, cancer. The tendency of civilization to create such modern diseases seems to be getting more and more serious.
There are two kinds of foods in nature. One is “Yin-food (mostly botanical food containing an abundance of potassium)”. The other is “Yang-food (mostly an animal type of food containing an abundance of sodium)”. A diet cannot be set with one single kind of food; it needs to have foods from both sides. This neutral application and a balanced dietary form are the basic ideas of a macrobiotic dietary regimen approach.
《Strong Yang Foods》
The order of Yang foods listed is “from strongest to weakest”: salt, eggs, beef/pork, cheese, chicken, fish, shellfish.
《Strong Neutral Foods》
The list is ordered “from strongest to weakest”: All kinds of grains (such as brown rice that is unrefined and unprocessed), beans, root/stem vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, yellow and green coloured vegetables, seaweed, natural salt, vegetable oil, tea, seeds, fruits and nuts, fruits grown in temperate zones, natural sweeteners such as brown sugar, rice syrup and maple syrup.
《Strong Yin Foods》
The Yin foods are listed “from strongest to weakest”: white rice, refined wheat flour, frozen food, canned food, tropical fruits and vegetables, dairy products such as milk, cream, yogurt, and ice cream, refined cooking oil, spices, strong flavoured beverages (coffee and red tea), refined sweeteners such as honey and sugar, alcohol, foods containing chemical additives, preservatives and artificial colours, foods exposed to pesticides in the growing process, and drugs/medicines.
Regarding theories, people with Yin constitutions, like me with a thin shape, need to consume Yang-food. Conversely, for people with a bit of fat, people usually called the “water type”, need to consume Yin-food. Do not consume excessive meat because it is prone to cause putridness inside the intestines or too much of the fruits that make your body cold. Also, do not eat too much food that used pesticides in the growing process, processed foods containing chemical additives or sweets. This is because all of these foods are prone to causing wastes and contaminating the human body and blood; the reason people are susceptible to various diseases. There are most dangerous lifestyles – on one side, people are overeating or have no control over their eating, and on the other side, they are taking digestive enzyme pills – This is self-deception. If you can, continue to consume nutrition from “the group of Strong Neutral Foods = Macrobiotic meals” to which I have introduced you before, and I believe that the benefits will not just keep you far from cancer, it is also beneficial for ladies who are on a diet or mothers who are breastfeeding.
“The Kitchen is a family’s pharmacy” ── Yin-Yang Power is the Equilibrium Force that Can Help People Solve All Kinds of Problems
When choosing ingredients, how to choose a balanced proportion and ratio in order to exert botanical herb power? For modern diseases caused by lifestyle and habits, which even hospitals are unable to cure, why is dietary therapy effective on them?
For this question I asked my diet instructor, Yamamura Shinichiro. His explanation was simple and easy to understand. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce him to you here.
“It is because our bodies are “formed by the food that we eat everyday”. The saying, “Shen Tu Bu Er” (Chinese 身土不二) refers to how the body and the earth (environment and food) should be united as a whole. Thus, try to choose locally grown vegetables and use the appropriate local cooking methods. Let us stay interconnected with the local climate and culture to develop a healthy body….Each kind of vegetable has specific pharmaceutical properties. There are three types of traditional Chinese herbal medicines: “top medicine” (Chinese上药), “herbal medicine” (Chinese 中药) and “base medicine” (Chinese 下药). Some herbs have a special efficacy but are toxic. Although it is processed, it is still toxic; it should not be taken in the long-term. These kinds of drugs are called “base medicines”. There are general herbs such as wormwood; they have a moderate efficacy. People can use them to make tea or use them in dishes coordinating with the different seasons. These kinds of herbs are “herbal medicines”. As for “top medicine”, it refers not just to the efficacy but that it causes no harm to the body when you eat a lot. Ancient people all understood that this diet is the best medicine by dietary principles….When people apply this dietary therapy daily to adjust their constitutions, they do not need to take special pills/drugs and they can be healthy and have longevity. The kitchen is a family’s pharmacy; therefore ladies, master the destiny of the whole family and they are very important”.
The four main principles of the longevity macrobiotic dietary regimen approach :
These four main principles form the explanation of why “diet is the best medicine”. It is not limited to patients. Whenever you want to change your constitution, you can try to follow and implement these four main principles. It is sure that the extent of physical improvement will be beyond your imagination.
1. Yin-Yang balance: Europe and America have cold climates; there are less grains and vegetable and are more Yang-foods such as meat (that can make the body warm and contains more sodium). If we follow the eating habits of Europeans or Americans then we will have troubles because Japan has four distinct seasons and belongs to the temperate zone. The most suitable food for us is balanced Yin-Yang macrobiotic meals that are the best neutral diet.
2. Shen Tu Bu Er (Chinese 身土不二): Old people said, “The secret of life is to pick seasonal food that is locally produced.”
3. Whole Food Theory (Chinese一物全体食): To consider each kind of food as a whole, people need to “finish eating a whole piece of food”. For example, when eating a fish that is smaller than palm size, finish eating the whole piece of fish, including the fish head. In fact, the shells of oysters and abalones can be made into crude drugs.
4. Natural food: Avoid foods that have used pesticides in the growing process, or foods with additives or preservatives as ingredients.
A longevity macrobiotic dietary regimen approach is similar to TCM. When viewing the human body as an organic whole to diagnose disease, the body with its complex interrelations and interactions between organs, is separated into “Yin-and-Yang = Exterior-interior and inside-outside”. For example, skin is “Exterior=Yin”. Stomach and the intestines, lung and bronchus are “Interior=Yang”. For organs that can directly contact/touch air and food, they are “Outside=Yin”. For complex diseases such as cancer, TCM doctors have to examine and diagnose at different levels based on “exterior-interior and inside-outside”. Crude drugs also need to coordinate with the particular prescriptions employed. TCM doctors are different from Western doctors, who use simple guidelines of prescription to examine and diagnose, and to write prescriptions. Therefore, I would recommend an experienced TCM doctor for examination, diagnosis and prescription when in need.
Patients do not need to think of the Yin-Yang power of TCM as too complicated. I believe that it is a good idea to have a little bit of knowledge of the Yin-Yang balance from TCM’s powerful principles. It is helpful for patients to see a doctor and get a prescription. My idea is that it can increase a patient’s sense of trust towards treatment; improve a patient’s involvement during treatment. This is significant for affect and the effectiveness on the whole body physically and psychologically.
All phenomena has Yin-and-Yang components. Avoid extreme Yin-and-Yang polarization. Everything will be smooth and perfect when it is in “Yin-Yang balance”, which means when it is neutral. All phenomena are accessible and satisfactory. The way Asians solve difficult problems presents the practical side of the equilibrium force, which is actually the erudition of TCM. It is also the foundation of the longevity macrobiotic dietary regimen approach. The concept is that all phenomena, whether they are in nature, political activity, the economy, health and other daily errands, as long as they are balanced well, can run smoothly. For example, white radish roots have a Yang property, but its leaves are Yin. When you eat both, you can achieve a healthy balance. When you understand the Yin-Yang power of TCM, it can help you to unravel the complex dilemmas of life. It is fascinating and can bring you energy that you never expected ── You only need to think this way, and unsolvable puzzles will be unveiled. By understanding the interests of Yin-and-Yang, you will feel that the treatment of TCM is actually so close and so interconnected to you.
As I said, “The kitchen is a family’s pharmacy”, this is the a maxim that Western medicine cannot think of.
Chairman of SlowHealth Research Association
Chief Editor of Life Guide Book
Professor Emeritus of Changchun University of Chinese Medicine, China
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