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Understanding the Link Between Cold Foods, Digestion, and Your Energy Levels

In Chinese Medicine, the concept of 'cold' or 'hot' foods goes beyond temperature. It refers to the energy and the effect that certain foods have on the body. Foods that are considered 'cold' in Chinese Medicine have a cooling affect on the body, while foods that are considered "hot" have a warming effect.

In Chinese Medicine it is believed that cold slows down everything in the body, including your Qi (energy).


Regularly ingesting excessive amounts of 'cold' foods such as salads & smoothies injures your digestion and has a profound knock on effect on the healthy functioning of all the organs in the body.


It is also believed that having a strong digestion (also referred to as your Earth Element) is one of the main pillars underpinning good health.


In Chinese Medicine your Stomach & Spleen are in charge of digestion.


The digestive system in Chinese Medicine is seen as a warm and active environment that functions like a cauldron, breaking down food into smaller, more easily digestible components. The Stomach is considered the primary 'cooking pot' where food is processed and transformed, while the Spleen is responsible for transporting and distributing nutrients into usable energy for the body to use.


Maintaining a strong 'digestive fire' is required to be able to break down food into nutrients & become an adequate source of Qi & Blood. This is because the body requires extra energy to warm up and break down cold foods, which can divert resources away from other important bodily functions. It needs to work harder to process these cold or raw foods.


Our digestion loves warm, cooked foods that the body can easily digest such as steamed or cooked veggies, stews, soups, slow cooked meats etc, especially during the cooler seasons. Warming spices like ginger and cinnamon can help boost the digestive fire. When the digestive fire is strong and balanced, the Spleen & Stomach can efficiently digest food.


Eating cold or raw foods can damage the Spleen. It can lead to a variety of digestive symptoms, including bloating, lack of appetite, gas, constipation and loose stools. It can also lead to low energy levels, poor nutrient absorption, and weakened immunity. Other symptoms may include foggy mind, overthinking, anxiety or a body that feels heavy.


Some examples of cold or raw foods in Chinese Medicine include raw vegetables, cold salads, iced drinks, smoothies and ice cream. While these foods may be refreshing and satisfying on a hot day, excessive consumption (especially in cooler weather) can be detrimental to our digestive health and overall energy levels.


Tips for improving digestive function & overall energy levels through food


  • Pay attention to the season and climate when choosing foods. In colder months, consuming warm foods helps to nourish the digestive system and promote better energy flow. Opt for soups, stews, cooked grains, lots of root vegetables and steamed vegetables to support your digestion and boost energy levels.

  • Incorporate Ginger: Ginger is highly regarded in Chinese medicine for its warming properties and its ability to promote digestion. Add fresh ginger to your meals or drink ginger tea to stimulate the digestive system and enhance energy.

  • Incorporate Warm Spices: Include warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper in your meals. These spices not only enhance the flavour of your dishes but also help to invigorate digestion and improve energy circulation.

  • Moderation is Key: While it's important to limit cold foods, it's not necessary to eliminate them entirely. Moderation is key in Chinese medicine, so enjoy cold foods occasionally but be mindful of their potential impact on digestion and energy.

  • Consult a Chinese Medicine Practitioner: For personalised guidance on improving your digestive function and energy levels through food, consider consulting a qualified Chinese Medicine practitioner. They can provide tailored recommendations based on your individual constitution and health needs within an Acupuncture session. Bookings available in Melbourne or Virtual online.


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