What kinds of foods does fall make you start to crave? For me it is warming, spicy, cinnamon and butter with brown sugar! Pumpkin latte anyone? Interestingly, in Chinese medicine, the flavor that goes along with the fall season, according the herbal classical text the TangYe Jing, are foods that are sour in flavor. Sour flavor you ask? Think pickles, vinegars, fermented foods and certain fruits like lemons.
How do sour flavors have a medicinal effect on our bodies?
One thing that is obvious when you bite into something sour, is how it can make your lips pucker and you may notice an activation of your salivary glands!
Sour foods support our digestive fire and help increase the productivity of digestive enzymes.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, sour foods “consolidate” or “astringe” Qi and are considered Yin in nature and cooling in temperature.
Now what the heck does that even mean? Let’s investigate this!
Yang is represented by the color white and Yin is represented by the color black. As we shift into the fall season, Yang begins to be enveloped into the energies of Yin.
How Sour Foods Effect the Physical Body
Sour foods cause contraction, gathering, absorption in the body.
Sour can help dry and firm up tissues that are bogged down, sagging, and heavy.
Sour flavor helps to prevent abnormal leakage of fluids such as with incontinence, lymphatic drainage, and what Chinese medicine practitioners and scholars understand as leaking of “energy.”
How Sour Foods Effect the Spiritual Body
Sour foods support seasonal attunement. The fall season is a time when many people start to feel that “nesting” feeling of the approaching winter. The hours of daylight become shorter, in agricultural areas, is a time of gathering and harvesting. This period of contraction (i.e. moving inwards) as winter nears. Yang (heat, sun, fast moving energy, fire, summer) is starting to move inside of Yin (cooling, calming, slow, nourishing).
How Sour Foods Effect the Emotional Body
Because of the contracting / consolidating nature of sour flavored foods, it moves us physically and emotionally inward in attunement with the season of fall.
Emotionally, sour foods are used to benefit individuals who are dispersed, scattered people with unpredictably changing personalities. If you are feeling scattered emotionally, try something as simple as adding a lemon to your water and see if you notice a difference!
Some Examples of Sour Foods and Foods that are Mixed with other Flavors According to Chinese Dietetics
- Simply Sour Foods: Lemon, lime, pickles, Hawthorne berry, rose hips, sauerkraut, sour plum
- Sour and Bitter Foods: Vinegar
- Sour and Pungent (or acrid/spicy) Foods: Leek
- Sour and Sweet Foods: Adzuki bean, apple, blackberry, mango, olive, tomato, yogurt
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