5. Calm Cool Vitality Plan
Now we will examine the concept of Yin Deficiency, a common condition that can be helped with the right lifestyle and dietary changes. Many people are familiar with the idea of Yin and Yang as complementary forces in the world… mutually supporting and balancing each other… but would not be familiar with this idea as applied to the body.
I suppose one of the special features of Chinese medicine is the idea that the human body is part of nature, an as such is affected by the same conditions found in nature. Yin is associated with coolness, darkness and lack of movement and Yang with heat, light and movement in nature. Thus in the body Yin and Yang are associated with and responsible for similar processes: Yin with coolness, night and rest and Yang with warmth, daytime and activity. A lack of Yin therefore in the body will produce a lack of coolness an inability to rest properly, and these conditions are found to be worse in the evening or night. This will correspond to such common complaints as insomnia (waking in the middle of the night especially), restlessness, anxiety and feeling hot in the afternoon or night.
Yin deficiency is caused by a number of things, but a common cause is, put simply, a lack of rest, which over a number of years catches up with a person. So diet can help with this situation: with the addition of cooling foods, cooler cooking methods and avoiding of overly heating foods. Firstly avoiding or reducing very heating foods will help, like chilli, coffee and some kinds of alcohol (in particular red wine and spirits).
Secondly choosing cooking methods that do not further add heat energetically into the body will be good. Thus reducing frying or roasting as a method and increasing steaming or sautéing will be very useful changes. Foods to particularly add to “nourish Yin”, are traditionally thought to include the following: Meat: Pork Seafood: Oyster Grain: (fast growing are “cooler”) Rice, Corn (Maize), Wheat, Spelt. Fruit: Most fruits, especially those grown in hotter conditions. Apple, banana, blackberry, lemon, mango, orange, strawberry. Soy products: Soy milk, tofu Dairy products: Yogurt, Cheese, Milk Nuts and seeds: Black sesame, walnuts Vegetables (remember, sauté or steam generally): Bamboo Shoots, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Seaweed, Spinach, Yam Drinks: Green tea, fruit juice, larger and beer These dietary changes will be greatly complemented with other lifestyle changes, many of which have a theme of “taking it easy”, resting and avoiding (if possible) stressful situations. Spending time in nature I particular may improve Yin, and bodywork therapy as well as acupuncture treatment may be of benefit to increase this vital substance which I often think of as our “capacity to rest”.