“Warm” & “Cool” Foods: Nutrition and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

For thousands of years, traditional Chinese medicine experts have known that some foods could cool down or increase the internal temperature of the body. With this came knowledge of the different energies of “warm” and “cool” foods: nutrition and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) were partnered.

The TCM experts found the idea to be of value when approaching nutritional needs during different seasons, or when considering different human health issues, including allergies and other ailments, and feeding different kinds of natural human energies, from hot to cool. These ancient experts applied this knowledge to their healing practices through dietary recommendations.

Their concept was a simple and logical one: some illnesses may have a cause related to imbalances within the body and using food as medicine would help bring the body back into balance in the most natural and lasting way. Some beings ran warm, some cooler, and comfort could be achieved through balance. Their harmonious concept of “yin and yang” applied here, with the idea that health is a matter of maintaining a good internal balance via the foods we consume.


The energy of the animal interacts with the energy of the food

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that every being possesses its own unique energy, and the “energy” of the food that is consumed will therefore interact with the energy of the human or animal.

When it comes to our pets, those aware of holistic remedies and teachings pay attention to TCM. For example, within this concept, the liver is considered the source of Qi, the body’s life force, and its function should therefore be smooth and balanced. But, if the pet’s liver “overheats” because of an allergic reaction to the food it is processing, then phlegm can accumulate, affecting the coat of the animal, making it feel greasy to the touch. Energy and behavior can be affected by an imbalance in the yin and yang of consumed foods, it is felt.

This traditional idea is in use to this day, and is now receiving fresh attention in the spheres of both human and animal nutrition.

For example, is said that an animal with a “cold” energy will seek warm foods, and an animal with a warm energy might seek the cooling energies of a cooling food or cool protein. A pet who prefers the constant warmth of blankets and a fleece bed, or suffers from arthritis, would be said to have a cool energy, and might therefore seek the comfort of what TCM classifies as warm foods and warm proteins. Conversely, a pet that seems to prefer finding a cooler spot on a floor, likes to stay out of the sun, or is prone to panting, might be said to have a warm energy. To know for sure, a trained TCM practitioner would be asked to make this evaluation of the animal.

Be it issues of reddened itchy skin, or mucus, the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) teachings focused on the idea that food yin-yang imbalance may be the culprit, and food re-balancing could be the solution.

We thought we’d take a first look at this interesting topic here in a very simple way for those just getting interested in the ideas. We want to stress that  TCM and nutrition is a complicated subject, and we’ll talk about more in an in-depth way; but here, to start, are some of the basics worth knowing.


Yin and Yang of Food Groups: a Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective

In general, the energy properties of food groups as viewed from a traditional Chinese medicine philosophy of yin and yang are as follows:

“Cool” foods (yin foods) and cool proteins decrease the temperature within our bodies and tend to be lower in calories while higher in potassium. Fresh cold drinks and water are also part of the cool or yin group.

“Warm” foods (Yang foods) and warm proteins help bring heat to our bodies, and often are higher in calories and sodium. Ideal for colder months, they help warm the body.

Neutral” foods are part of the balance too: oil rice, and most fishes.

“Hot” foods operate on the same principles, bringing extra needed warmth to the system.

Eating too much of one food group can throw your body’s balance off, so one should ideally aim for a diet that offers a workable balance between the Warm, Cool, and Neutral food groups.

Thus, the for a human, this Chinese system proposes a healthy diet is two parts yin and three parts yang, supplemented with the neutral foodstuffs for flavor, fiber and protein. For pets, on the other hand, we look for a perfect balance between the forces of yin and yang via the foods we feed the pet.


The foods: Cool, Warm, Neutral and Hot proteins and foods

“Cool” foods (yin foods): duck, rabbit, fish, including sardines; cheese, and vegetables. Fresh cold drinks (milks, kefir, kombucha) and water.

“Warm” foods (Yang foods): chicken, eggs

“Neutral” foods: beef, pork, turkey, quail

“Hot’ foods: goat, venison, or lamb


The use of single meat proteins: Answers™ raw fermented foods

With all this in mind, as Answers Pet Food introduces our new fermented organic duck line, it can also be viewed as a beneficial “cool” meat in TCM theory.

Looking at our foods through this new lens, you might think of your favorite
Answers Dog and Cat formulas in terms of their specific proteins. TCM experts suggest that to make sure a pet with a warm or cool energy gets the proper food balance for its energy type, it is often best to look for foods that are single meat protein foods, versus foods that mix both cool and warm proteins together in one formula.

It is also important to note that how an animal is raised is very important in their categorization. Our livestock is humanely raised and handled, many of them are organic, pastured, and sustainable, being able to live in their natural habitat eating their native diets.

Our new organic duck formula will offer a unique healthy balance to our chicken, beef, and pork fermented raw food proteins.

Our organic cheese treats, organic eggs, and the organic vegetables in our foods also help pet owners form a healthy, balanced yin and yang diet for pets, with wholesome foods created specifically for the well-being of dogs and cats.

We’ll be talking more about this in upcoming articles in our blog; it’s an interesting approach to good nutrition and balanced well being for the pets in our lives.

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