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Nutrition in Chinese Medicine: different cooking methods?

Preparing and cooking your food will make the nutrients easier to assimilate. The heat will help to break down the structures of the food, making them easier to digest and lowering the work of the digestive system.


The heat will also help to avoid contamination by killing most bacteria, viruses, fungus, and parasites. Cooking will also help to maintain a proper internal balance by respecting the temperature of the stomach, and therefore, protecting his functions of assimilation and transformation.

Chef Making Flambe
Food Cooking in Steaming Pots

If you put cold water in your coffee, your coffee gets cooler. Same goes for the stomach: if you consume cold food or drinks, the temperature of the stomach will lower down, and that will have a direct impact on his ability to work properly and to digest.


For the stomach to work at 100% of his abilities, he needs to stay warm. And if one eats cold, the body will need to spend energy to warm up the stomach again.


Always bloated, tired and falling asleep after lunch?

------> Did you just eat a sandwich? ......

Raw food should only be used in very warm periods (hot summer), and should be reserved for people with a strong stomach or who have internal heat signs. For everyone else, Chinese medicine believes that raw and cold food or drinks, fruits, and tropical fruits, should be used in moderation because these foods are energetically too cool and cold for the digestive tract.

Here is a presentation about the different cooking methods and their advantages:

Good to know:

In a general way, cooking with fire is more Yang: dries, hardens and shrinks the food.

Food gets harder to digest, and should be avoided by people that are very Yang by nature.

Cooking with water is more Yin: moisten, expands and softens the food.

Food gets very easy to digest and this is good for all kinds of constitution.


is the act of preparing food with dry heat (oven). It helps to supply Yang energy and to balance the cooling effect of cold food (vegetables or raw foods).


is the act of plunging food into boiling water for a short time. This will make foods easier to digest and quickly warm them up. Great for salads, for example.


is the act of cooking food in hot fats or oils in a pan over a fire (wok). Supply foods with Yang energy. Using extreme heat for a short time will make the surface of the food crunchy (Yang), but the inside watery and juicy (Yin). This allows to “trap” the nutrients inside the food.


is a dry-heat cooking technique that relies on air to transfer heat. It will supply foods with Yang energy.


is a long, slow cooking method where food is cut into pieces and cooked in a minimum amount of liquid. Excellent foundation for restoring Yang potential in weak or deficient people.


works by continuously boiling water, causing it to vaporize into steam, thus cooking the food. This is a neutral method which allows to nourish the Liquids. It is one of the most interesting and healthy cooking methods.


is a form of cooking that involves direct dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above, below or from the side. Develops a strong Yang and warming effect. This technique may develop toxic substances in food and should be used exceptionally.


is the act of cooking food in boiling water. This allows to nourish the liquids and to warm the food. One inconvenience is the loss of the nutrients if the water is dumped. Best is to keep and eat the soup. Boiling with plentiful water reduces the Yang energy of foods and is not recommended.


most spices are either hot or warm in Nature. Spices not only season foods, but also have a strong energetic effect on them by raising the Yang. They supplement, promote, and warm the digestive system. Very useful to balance the cooling effect of vegetables.


is the process of flavoring, browning, cooking, or preserving food by exposing it to smoke from burning or smoldering material, most often wood. This method supplies food with Yang energy.

Adding cold:

cooking with cold or cool Nature ingredients helps to harmonize and balance the excessive Yang Nature of some food. For example, adding bamboo to a spicy dish.

Adding Alcohol:

cooking with alcohol enhances the flavor of foods and warms them. This method supplies the Yang and directs it upwards. It also helps to dissolve stagnation, promote the circulation of Qi and Blood, and dissipates internal Cold.

Flaming Barbecue Meat

About the proportions, here is what Chinese medicine advises:


should account for 40 to 60% of our nutrition. They Nourish and Tonify the body. Cereals should be, with the vegetables, the base of our nutrition.


should account for 25 to 45% of our nutrition. They bring a lot of vitality and essential nutrients. They also bring all the Flavors that we need for the internal balance.


should account for 5 to 10% of our nutrition. They are a great added value to complete the intake of protein and certain amino-acids. Leguminous and cereals should be combined together for optimal Nourishment and Tonification.


should account for 5 to 10% of our nutrition. They should be seasonal, local, and must be eaten outside of the 3 main meals. The aqueous fruits highly Nourishes the Body Liquids.

Meat and fish:

should account for 5 to 10% of our nutrition. They Supplement the Body, Nourish the Blood and Tonify the Qi.

Written by Cedric Mallants / Acupunctuur en Traditionele Chinese Geneeskunde therapist in Eindhoven.



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