East Asian medicine, doctors who could give treatment by prescribing a menu
designed specifically for a patient after examining him or her were called,
literally, food doctors. They held the most highly esteemed position
among the hierarchy within the medical field, followed in order by, again
literally, illness doctors, injury doctors, and animal doctors,
which roughly correspond to the modern internist, general surgeon, and
In terms of human
health maintenance, food is the most fundamental. Thus it can be understood why
doctors who could judge which foods were good and which bad for a patient based
on an examination of their condition were considered as the first rank
The yin and yang
theory of East Asian medicine represents the most fundamental mode of thought
(or way of visualizing or thinking about something) to occur in ancient China.
Everything in existence and all phenomena, regardless of whether they could be
seen or not, were categorized as either yin or yang. A balanced state between
the two, whether in politics, economics, or the health of humans, was seen as
the most desirable natural state. In terms of therapeutic treatment based on
the regulation of diet as well, patients were made to eat food that was
specified as either yin or yang and that was accordingly prescribed based on the
diagnosis of their pattern of imbalance.
As for daily diet,
consuming the whole of a food item is considered the most correct way to eat,
since each food item has a natural balance between yin and yang. For instance,
the leaves of a vegetable are yin and the root is yang. The inner kernel of
rice is yin and the germ is yang. The innards of a small fish are yin and the
skin is yang. One's natural resistance to disease should be strong if, from the
beginning one eats foods that are well balance in yin and yang.
When we give
dietary recommendations in our clinic, of course we follow the East Asian
medical model. At that time we will tailor our advice on a case-by-case basis.
But, it should be realized that quick amelioration of an illness cannot be
expected when eating a diet that has too much importance attached to nutritional
composition, or a diet overly rich in animal protein. To the contrary, there is
a drastically increasing tendency for those with such a diet to develop chronic
illness such as cancer, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, or allergies. This is not
only in adults, but is also continuingly becoming prevalent among children.
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