In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), color is a pointer that assists us to better live in harmony with the season.
The color for energetic Fall is blue or white. When it comes to food during Fall, white foods are the ones that will help fortify our health during Autumn. The white foods mentioned in this blog entry are suggested as either complements to your diet or as seasonal replacements for certain fruits and vegetables. Chinese medicine is all about balance so keep this concept in mind during Fall food prep. Do not eat white foods to the exclusion of most others.
The organs of Fall in Chinese medicine are lung (yin) and large intestine (yang). Our skin is so closely associated with the element of the season, Metal, and particularly associated with the lungs that TCM refers to the skin as our third lung. Lung needs to be strong enough to keep the dryness-causing wind out during Fall.
White foods, also known as clear foods, are very beneficial for the skin and they help us to nourish the lungs at a time when our bodies needs the energy our lungs the most.
Pear is just about as efficient as apple in Autumn. Its nature is cold and nourishing, balancing the yang in our bodies and helping to prevent dryness and coughing. Its properties are particularly activated when adding white flesh pear to warm soups.
White or snow fungus is one of the most popular fungi in the cuisine and medicine of China and is very nourishing to the skin. It can also help reduce lung damage caused by smoking. It has a refreshing taste and is best used in sweet soups along with pear mentioned above.
Some flower bulbs can be eaten and are enormously nutritious. The lily bulb is one of them. These bulbs can be gathered in Autumn, cleaned and sun-dried. The lily bulb’s nature is moist and it helps to pacify emotional anxiety and uneasiness as we transition from one season to the next. Consume sun-dried lily bulb with white fungus and honey or sautéed with garlic and celery.
Lotus seed has strong properties for healing colds and reducing fevers. Use less than a handful of lotus seeds (purchased in Chinese grocery stores and pharmacies) and make a warm, sweet soup with the above-mentioned ingredients (pear, white fungus and lily bulbs). Cook all together with some crystallized cane sugar (not common refined sugar) on low heat.
The water chestnut is very good for clearing the lungs and again, very beneficial for people who smoke.
White beans are very detoxifying and rich in minerals. They also contain a little known trace mineral, molybdenum responsible for manufacturing a number of detoxifying enzymes. They fight against the storage of energy as body fat and their high antioxidant content provides anti-aging properties.
Abounding in vitamin C, lotus root helps to maintain the integrity of blood vessels, organs and skin. (Vitamin C is both antioxidant and an important component of collagen.) Lotus root can be steamed, stewed or fried.
To treat dryness that comes with Autumn, here is a more exhaustive list of white foods that can be very effective. They can help clear heat, promote fluid production and moisten the lung.
- bamboo shoots
- hempseed kernels
- sun-dried lily bulb
- lotus root
- lotus seed
- pine nuts
- water chestnut
- white bean
- white fish
- white fungus
- white mushrooms
- white radish
- winter melon
Liu, Zhan-Wen, et al. Health Cultivation in Chinese Medicine. Peoples Medical Publishing House (PMPH), 2012.