Scientists have known for years that the most troublesome health problems plaguing Westerners -- heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer of the breast, colon and prostate -- are far less common in China. For every 5 American women who die of heart trouble, only one Chinese woman suffers the same fate. The disease kill 17 times more middle-aged men in United States than in China. And China has the lowest rate of breast cancer in the world.
The difference is not just a matter of having the right genes. Studies tracking Chinese born in the Unite States, whose diet has changed to American style, find they wind up with about the same health risks Americans face. In recent years, scientists have found that some classic Chinese food and spices are loaded with chemicals that fight disease. The following are some examples of latest findings:
Tea Tea compounds called polyphenols may ward off cancer and heart diseases. In Beijing study, precancerous mouth sores shrank in patients treated with tea. Meanwhile, a Netherlands survey found that drinking one to two cups of black tea daily nearly halved the odds of developing severe atherosclecosis.
Soy This is a popular food in Chinese cuisine like Tofu, soy sauce, soy milk etc. Experts suspect generous servings of soy may partly explain why breast- and prostate-cancer rates are so low in Asia. The focus is on isoflavones, plant estrogens with antioxidant and other tumour-blocking powers. Isoflavones also seem to bolster bone density and may ease menopausal symptoms.
Shiitake Mushrooms A shiitake ingredient called lentinan, which appears to boost up the body's production of immune cell, is aboundant in Chinese mushrooms. Japanese doctors have reported that some stomach-and colorectal-cancer patients survived longer when they took purified lentinan with chemotherapy. Eritadenine, also from shiitakes, may lower cholesterol.
Ginger In Chinese medicine, ginger is usually used for lessening nausea and vomiting. The recent studies indicated that gingerol, a major ingredient in ginger, soothed inflammation and alleviated fever in animals. In one South Korean study, rubbing gingerol on shaved mice protected them from developing skin cancer.
Garlic Garlic juice kills various microorganisms and may protect the heart by lowering cholesterol and easing blood pressure. There is growing evidence it may nip cancer in the bud thanks to pungent sulphur compounds. One Chinese study found that the stomach-cancer death rate was lowest in northern provinces, where garlic is eaten regularly.
Cabbage In China, cooked cabbage is a remedy for stomachaches; cabbage soup with honey, a cure for coughs and sore throats. Honey-sweetened bokchoy broth is given for ulcers. The cabbage family is loaded with tumour-fighting compounds. Sulforaphane cranks up the production of enzymes that help rid the body of carcinogens. Indole-3 carbinol appears to slow the abnormal growth of breast cells, a stage in the initiation of cancer.
Food therapy is one of the most important parts of the Chinese Medicine. The Chinese believe there are two vital forces in our body, Yin and Yang. When these are in a state of balance, we are healthy and when they are out of balance, disease will occur. Since foods also can be classified as yin and yang, or neutral, depending on the energy they impart to the body, they therefore can be used for preventing or treating many diseases. For example, if you suffering from "Yin diseases" like anemia, Yang foods may relieve such problems, on the other hand, if you suffering from "yang infections" like sore throats, measles, you had better to eat Yin foods; Intake of right food in right time can keep or restore the body's Yin and Yang in a balanced situation. To preventing diseases, the Yang season, like summer, should eat more Yin foods, and winter more Yang foods on the other hand.
As we know, the right mixed food is vital to good health, and sometimes can even heal a very difficult health problem. Yin foods, with cooling nature, are said to have a calming effect, whereas yang foods, with hot and warming nature, are used to exhilarate people from weak to strong, dull to bright and cold to warm. Neutral foods, such as rice and other whole grains, provide balance. Here are some examples of Yin, Yang and neutral foods.
Yin Foods: Bean curd and sprouts, the cabbage family, carrots and celery, cucumber, duck, some fish and some fruits like banana, watermelon, melons, American ginseng, most greens, honey, milk, pears, pork, potatoes, seaweed and soybean products, white turnips, water and watercress, winter squash, most white foods.
Yang Foods: Bamboo, beef, broiled meats, catfish, chicken and chicken soup, eggs and eggplant, garlic and ginger, Korean ginseng, glutinous rice, some fruits like Lychee, longan, green peppers, hot and spicy foods, leeks and onions, liquor, mushrooms, peanuts, persimmons, pig's knuckles and pork liver, red foods (beans, peppers, tomatoes, etc.) sesame oil, shellfish, sour foods, tangerines, vinegar and wine.
Neutral foods: Wheat, Rice, fruits like orange, grape, grapefruit and apple.
The cooking methods can be classified as Yin and Yang as well, for example, steamed or boiled ways, or food eaten in raw belong to Yin, and fatty and fried foods belongs to Yang. Therefore, if you want your foods less Yin or Yang, you can cook it in an opposite way. For example, many Chinese seniors love to eat watercress for their constipation, but they don't like its "cool nature" because it makes them feel uncomfortable (e.g. stomachache, gas, cold hands and feet or dizziness) after eating it, so they fried the watercress with fresh ginger, eating in this way, they don't worry about its "cool nature" any more.
Some herbs without bitter taste have been used for food therapy to increase the therapeutic effects of foods.
The following table includes some food therapy menus for some common diseases. Because the suggested menu is for the mild ailments, if you can not find benefits after taking it, you should find a Chinese Doctor to check your Yin/Yang situation.
Health Problems Suggested menu
|Health Problems||Suggested menu|
|* The word inside the bracket is the Chinese pronunciation for that herb or food. This herb or food can be found in the Chinese herbal stores or groceries|