“You shouldn’t try to go on a diet in summer,” said Prof. Yang Wei-ping seriously. I was attending a lecture about Chinese medicine at Aichi Shukutoku University last month. The theme of the class was “healthy summer eating habits.”
Prof. Yang is from Kunming in Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Kunming has one of the mildest climates in China. That’s why it is called “Spring Castle.” My town, Nagoya is incredibly humid and hot in summer and very cold in winter. So, I assumed he is having a tough time here, but he isn’t. He is a Chinese doctor. He has a broad knowledge for surviving harsh weather conditions.
There is an idea of “Tao follows nature” in China. That is, it is essential for living healthily and longer to follow nature. From the point of view of Taoism, today’s Japanese diet seems to be crazy. There are a lot of out of season vegetables and fruits which were grown with a large amount of pesticide, meat of animals which were given antibiotics, and many products with added artificial preservative in grocery stores. Japanese people rely on this kind of food industry.
Prof. Yang mentioned five key words for healthy eating manner: warm, mild, soft, little, slowly. That is, you should eat a small amount of warm, soft and mild tasting food slowly at each meal. If you have something hard, you should chew it well until it becomes soft. This eating manner is good for your digestive system.
On the one hand, in Western medicine, doctors start medical therapy on people after they catch diseases; on the other hand, in Eastern medicine, doctors start treatment before people catch diseases. If you are not in good condition, such as having a headache, stiff shoulders, back problem, or dizziness, and go to see the Western doctor, most of you will be told, “I don’t see any problems. Let’s see how it goes.” But Eastern doctors will regard those symptoms as signals that your internal organs are not working well and start to treat you earnestly. They believe that it is too late to treat patients after they are sick.
China has the yin-yang principle. Heaven is yang, and the earth is yin. Human-beings take the air from heaven and food from the earth. The Chinese character, which means energy, is made up of the symbols for ‘air’ and ‘rice’, the latter representing food. That is, you get energy from the air and food, and you become healthy with your respiratory and digestive systems working well. You are a part of this universe. You cannot be healthy if you forget about it and ignore natural laws.
As I told you above, it is very humid and hot in summer in Nagoya. The temperature is over 30 degrees every day. So, people tend to have something cold. But inside the buildings and trains are air-conditioned, and it is sometimes very cold. It means that you make yourself cold both inside and outside. It is bad for your digestive system. If your digestive and absorptive function does not work well, your immune system will weaken. This problem is not only in the summer. It will affect your condition until next spring. That is why you should eat wisely to become or stay healthy. You should eat something warm and avoid cold drinks in summer! Ah, beer and ice cream are calling me from the refrigerator…What shall I do?