Biomedical science has reduced foods to the sum of their calories and micronutrients. While it is important to understand the biochemistry of what we eat, it is also important to realize that the qualities, colors, textures of our foods and the ways they are cooked play just as much of a role as their "nutrient content" in influencing our health. Traditional Chinese medicine has much to teach us on this subject.
The “No Fat” approach health maintenance makes very little sense, says Dr. David Riley. Rather than focusing on eliminating fat calories, physicians should be counseling patients on how to choose and use healthy, nutritious oils like flax, olive, walnut, macadamia and avocado. A little knowledge of fatty acid science can go a long way in clearing up confusion about “good” versus “bad” fats.
Much of the controversy over the health benefits or hazards of a soy rich diet arises because people fail to recognize the difference between fermented and unfermented soy. Fermentation ups the beneficia aspects of soy, while minimizing the downsides. Tempeh, a soy cake fermented with Rhizopus mold, is one of the most nutritious and delicious soy foods---one you and your patients should know. Doc Rob, our healthy kitchen guru, offers tips on making tempeh tempting.
There's a reason why nearly all traditional cultures worldwide have some form of fermented food as part of their dietary staples. Unfortunately, in the rush to modernity and "convenience," many people have lost the taste for things like kefir, kimchi, and natto. These and other fermented foods are extremely healthy, providing a rich source of probiotic gut bacteria, which aid digestion, reduce inflammation and promote overall health.
In traditional Chinese culture, as in many other cultures, the boundary between food and medicine is blurred. Daphne Rota and Lisa Lipson, two American practitioners of Chinese medicine, describe the medicinal properties of many common herbs and spices, and offer a poached pear recipe with spices to improve lung and digestive function.