Ancient people believed that the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth compose all matter in the universe, including that of the physical body.
Ancient people believed that the five flavors must be balanced, and one cannot get attached to any single one. The five grains provide the main nutrients. The five fruits provide assistance. The five types of livestock provide benefits. The five vegetables provide supplements.
This means that the body needs to be fed a balance of nutrients, and one should not favor one particular food.
If any of the five flavors are not balanced, it will cause a certain ailment. If one eats too much salty food, the pulse will be blocked, and one’s complexion will change.
If one eats too much bitter food, the skin will be withered, and the hair will fall out. If one eats too much spicy food, the tendons will protrude and the hands will atrophy.
If one eats too much sour food, the muscles will waste away, and the lips will become pale. If one eats too much sweet food, the bones will ache, and hair will fall out.
Nowadays, people emphasize a balanced diet, but the food they take in is already imbalanced. For example, ancient people talked about the five grains: wheat, broomcorn, millet, rice, and beans. How many people today can find all five of these grains? Actually, the five flavors mentioned by ancient people were a basic concept for ancient nutritional science. Its concepts are much broader than those of today’s nutritional science.
Modern nutritional science understands that there are more than 20 nutritional elements, many vitamins, trace elements, protein, calcium, phosphate, and so on. Actually, the composition of lives in the universe is very complicated and is not as simple as what is known by modern science.
Modern nutritional science refers to unidentified nutritional elements as unknown factors. There are many unknown nutritional factors. It is believed that a number of physical symptoms are caused by an imbalanced diet. Simply supplementing with certain nutrients, such as calcium, zinc, or the like, cannot cure them.
Ancient people believed that the human body constitutes a universe. From the macroscopic perspective, we can understand and deal with the human body based on yin, yang, and the five elements.
We can explain the physical phenomena of our body based on the movements of qi, blood, and energy channels, as well as the interaction between the five elements and the balance of yin and yang.
Ancient Chinese medical treatments did not target surface phenomena, but rather the mechanisms at a deeper level of the human body. This is truly scientific.
Modern medical science knows that the human body is a very complicated system, but it only studies the surface and the associated phenomena. Its understanding of the human body is discrete and superficial. Its treatments are also very direct and shallow.
Because it targets the surface, the effects are seen on the surface and easily accepted by people. But it cannot cure the root causes of illnesses.
In modern society, everything focuses on productivity and efficiency. In agriculture, there are many new hybrid crops and livestock. These usually have a short life cycle and grow very fast. Both crops and livestock are mass-produced.
Based on traditional views, crops and livestock grown in such a way surely did not absorb enough essence of heaven and earth. If you analyze their protein and energy levels, you might find they are not low. But they all have imbalanced “five flavors.” When people eat such foods, they will be unbalanced in “five flavors.”
People often say that free-range chicken is tasty and rich in nutrition. Industrially produced crops or livestock are all distorted.
Based on the principle of “mutual generation and mutual inhibition,” with accelerated growth, other properties, such as nutrition, must decline. Thus the nutritional level and overall quality of such food can never match that of naturally produced food. As the cycle of mass production continues, the differences will become even greater.
Similarly, cultured ginseng can never be compared to natural ginseng. If people continue to eat artificially engineered foods, what will be the consequences?
This is Part II of a two-part series. You can go here for Part I.