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 Chinese Medicine the organs in the body correspond to the different elements, and these all connect with the various seasons in nature. The Air Element (also known as Metal in Traditional Chinese Medicine) relates to the season of Autumn and the Lungs and Large Intestine Organs and the functions of protection and purification.
Autumn is the time when we begin to turn our energy inwards. We turn our focus away from the external world and begin to focus on our internal process. Autumn signals the time to begin this self-reflection and inward journey. In doing this, we need to build up our resources to sustain and nurture us through the autumn months and into winter.
Autumn is the time to let go. I love the image of the leaves falling effortlessly off the trees. No holding on, just gently releasing themselves from the branch and spiraling slowly home to rest in the earth.
As our energy starts to move inwards and downwards in Autumn, we need to release unwanted energy and emotions and protect ourselves from unwanted outside influences.
The skin is our main organ of protection and purification. It is governed by the Air(Metal) element and influenced by the work done by the Lung and Large Intestine.
Pungent foods have protective and cleansing qualities and specifically affect the Lung and Large Intestine. They help to disperse the stuck energy and mucous, that can build up in these organs.
Pungent foods include chillies, onion, turnip, ginger, cabbage, radish, daikon radish and white peppercorns. The white pungent foods are particularly useful as this colour especially affects the air element.
Other protective foods include all dark green and orange vegetables such as carrot, pumpkin, broccoli, parsley, wheat grass, and watercress. These veges, because of their high beta-carotene content, protect the surface (skin) and mucous membranes of the body. They also protect the Lung and Large Intestine from cancer.
To help cleanse the Lungs and Large Intestine eat plenty of fibre rich foods such as the vegetables mentioned above, fruit, plus whole grains such as oats, millet and rice.