A recent Food Trends Report study (2016) published by Google revealed that more people than ever are interested in the health benefits of functional foods. But what are functional foods, exactly? The Journal of Functional Foods defines this food category as “those containing various factors to ensure or enhance health.”
The vocabulary may be new-fangled, but the concept is not. The TCM perspective is that every food has a specific healing essence that helps repair and rebuild the function of particular organs. The essence of these foods work to balance and harmonize the body’s energy. In other words, “food-as-medicine.”
TCM categorizes foods and their functional health benefits according to taste, color, and temperature. These properties determine what organ systems most benefit from a given food. TCM also looks at the food’s where, what, when, and how. For example, red fruit is good for building red blood cells, walnuts are brain-shaped and are therefore good for the brain, fruits grown in hot regions and in the summer are good for cooling fevers and inflammation, and so on.
You don’t need to wait for modern research to tell you how to incorporate functional foods into your life, as Eastern nutrition is rich with thousands of years’ worth of wisdom and observation. Food-as-medicine is a profound concept: each food, no matter how humble, has a powerful healing essence that can help enhance your health at a very deep level.