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Food as Medicine in Japan

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The basic premise of Japanese health and longevity is that healthy food is natural medicine. The result is that healthy eating is quite simply a 'way of life'. The housewife in Japan looks at ingredients as a trasure house of nutritional value and health promoting properties. She would look at food in terms of season, region, lifestyle and would have the knowledge that some foods make the body cold, while others make it hot.

Vegetables and fruits gathered in winter have the effect of making the body hot, while those harvested in summer have the effect of making it cold. Identically, vegetables and fruits gathered in cold areas are effective in making the body hot and those in hot areas are effective in making it cold.

Therefore, having too much cold food makes the whole stomach cold and may cause a lack of appetite, summer lethargy, and summer loss of weight. In addition, too cold air-conditioning may cause neuralgia, menstrual irregularity and oversensitiveness to cold. On the other hand, too much hot food may cause inflammation in the stomach due to keeping too much heat inside.

hot food  : spices (ginger, red pepper, Japanese pepper etc.), sake, roots.
cold food : cold drinks, fruits ,bitter vegetables.

Traditional herbal medicines and therapeutic foods are still widely used among the people of Japan.. Through the history of 5000 years, the Japanese experienced Shamanistic belief, Taoism, Buddhism (since 400 AD), Confucianism (since 1400 AD). The Yin/Yang energies and Five-Phases theories are applied in selection of food for the maintenance of health as well as disease control.

 

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