As a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, I’m still waiting to meet an amazingly healthy raw foodie whose diet can restore digestive health. And before you get all cranky pants with me, please hear me out. Now, I don’t doubt some people go better with more raw. But, there’s always a flip side—and it goes to show that in many instances we fail to listen to what our bodies really want and need.
To restore digestive health, raw is great—but so is cooked! Just look at this research from Health Impact News, both types are important.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective
Allow me to explain to you—from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective—how the digestive system works. Imagine if you will a pot of soup, sitting on a fire. In TCM, both the spleen and stomach are the organs responsible for digestion; they transform and transport to the body the essential elements of the food and drink we consume. The nutrients they draw from food are sent out around the body to do good, and the waste product are removed and discarded.
So going back to our pot again. To help you best understand how to restore digestive health, the stomach is the ‘pot’ and the spleen is the ‘fire.’ Therefore you may like to understand that digestion is a process that requires warm energy. Then lets add another layer to this—you may know that all foods have properties in how they behave energetically in the body. Those which are warming (think meat proteins, some legumes, chili, and alike) are invigorating, and those that are cold (like melons and berries) can slow down such processes.
For those who have a cold constitution, (you know these people, they’d sit on the radiator and would bear burn marks if they had to) adding more cold to the pot can be disastrous and equally those who are hot, adding more heat isn’t necessarily ideal either (it can lead to all kinds of issues like period pain or headaches). In TCM, according to Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, it’s vital to pay attention to the signs your body gives. So you can quickly start to see, that what works for your cousin’s uncle’s baby sitter, won’t necessarily work for you. And just because Miranda Kerr thrives on juice, doesn’t necessarily mean you do too. To restore digestive health, you need to focus on your needs.
Now I’m mad for a good green juice (5/5 health experts say “yes” according to Time)—but what you might not realize is that not only do I take notice of what works best for my body, I also factor in the seasons too. That means that warm foods are awesome in winter when it’s cold, and you can generally tolerate more raw foods during the summer. Adding nutrient packed juices into my diet is seasonal. What’s more, raw foods can be very heavy and over consumption can be linked to weight gain because once again, it puts the ‘fire’ out. Renegade Health looks at some of the reasons why raw food can make you gain weight, it’s about the right balance.
From a Western sense, look at it like this. Our bodies digest food at 37 degrees. So when we consume raw and uncooked foods, not only does it have to go to work to digest, but it first has to get the temperature of the food up to 37 before it can effectively deal with it. For some people this is no problem. But for those with a sluggish metabolism this can be disastrous.
So you see to restore digestive health: we love raw, and we love cooked!
It is all about working out just what works for you and why. Once you know why, you can set about making the necessary changes to have your body thriving.
Written by Dr. Nat Kringoudis TCM.