In today’s post, I am going to go back to the theory of Yin and Yang and explain Yin deficiency and Yang deficiency from the traditional medicine point of view. Please note that it is for information purposes only. If you suspect that you are deficient in either Yin or Yang and want to implement significant changes to your diet, I advise you to consult with a certified Oriental medicine practitioner to find out what foods are good for you and what foods should be avoided.
Yin deficiency could occur when excessive Yang energy depletes the blood and moisture from the body. Yin deficiency in the human body is akin to a lack of water in nature. Think of a forest plagued with drought. You would find trees with wilted leaves, drying streams and cracks in the soil.
When Yin deficiency afflicts the human body, its dry conditions could outwardly manifest in the dry skin, mouth and hair, as well as a frequent sensation of thirst and a purple tongue with cracks. As the internal heat continues to affect bodily fluids, the chi energy in the human body increasingly loses its sources. Ultimately, the deficiency of Yin will lead to the deficiency of Yang as well, given that Yin and Yang in the body nourish each other.
A person who lacks Yin could be subject to dry skin, dry eyes, hot flashes, irritability, dizziness, vertigo, restlessness, sleeping problems, such as insomnia and night sweats, or physical, emotional and mental instability. (We can also apply this to a relationship: When Yin deficiency occurs in a relationship, it could manifest in frequent conflicts and irritable experiences.)
The stomach is the organ that is most affected by Yin deficiency. People who are deficient in Yin tend to be thin. They tend to have a flushed complexion and a red tongue with a rapid pulse. Those who are deficient in Yin may want to increase their intake of Yin foods and reduce the intake of Yang foods.
Peppers, chili, and ginger are some of the most warming foods. Therefore, it would be helpful to avoid them. Spicy and pungent foods have strong warming effects and thus should be avoided. Those who lack Yin can boost their Yin energy by increasing the consumption of Yin foods.
Tropical fruits, cucumbers, tomatoes, seaweeds and green leafy salads are some of the most cooling foods. However, we have to keep in mind that even when we are deficient in Yin, we still need to consume Yang foods as well for a healthy Yin Yang balance.
The deficiency of Yang could occur when excessive “dampness” in the body overwhelms the energy of the body and disrupts the Yin Yang balance. Like a fire that extinguishes water, Yin depletes Yang in the body. However, Yang deficiency does not necessarily mean that Yin is excessive. The deficiency could be caused by hereditary bodily characteristics, a poor diet or illness.
As trees would need an adequate amount of sunlight, the human body needs a fair amount of Yang. Plants or trees that lack sunlight could be afflicted with growth problems, as well as excessive dampness that could easily attract various parasites and insects.
In the human body, the deficiency of Yang also leads to internal dampness and fluid retention caused by a lack of internal heat. The deficiency could manifest themselves in continuous lethargy, a lack of energy, cold extremities, a low sexual drive, poor circulation and a need for excessive sleep.
The deficiency of Yang negatively affects the general functions of the body, such as digestion, circulation, respiration and secretion. The kidneys, heart and the spleen are the three organs that are most vulnerable to Yang deficiency. As the organs do not function properly and the body loses its vitality due to their unhealthy Yin Yang balance, it could gradually weaken the immunity system, thereby inviting a chronic disease or illness.
People who are deficient in Yang could have a tendency to dread the cold weather or cloudy days and dislike cold foods. They may also find it hard to get up in the morning and start the day with energy.
Other symptoms of Yang deficiency include an unusual liking for sweet foods, coffee or Coke, slightly murky urine, frequent urination, and swelling joints. When the deficiency of Yang reaches a certain level, the body could react to it by developing excessive perspiration and a faint pulsation.
Those who suffer from Yang deficiency may want to increase the intake of Yang foods and reduce the consumption of Yin foods. They can increase the intake of warming foods, such as hot peppers, chili, ginger, cinnamon, onions, and spicy and pungent foods, while reducing the intake of cooling foods, such as tropical fruits, cucumbers, tomatoes, or green leafy salads since these foods could further offset the Yin Yang balance by dampening the energy of Yin.
Those who are deficient in Yang may want to eat slowly. The more the food stays in their mouth, the warmer it becomes. It reduces the cooling effects of a certain food.
We can also increase Yang and even alter the Yin nature of a certain food through barbecuing, roasting, grilling, smoking, baking and simmering. These cooking methods are known to increase the Yang energy of the food. Using hot spices or ginger also enhances the Yang quality of a certain food. However, we should not limit our diet only to Yang foods because the body still needs Yin foods no matter how deficient the body may be in Yang energy.
When we are deficient in Yang, we tend to be lethargic and inactive. Therefore, we can deliberately try to bring more passion and love into our lives to whip up the energy of Yang. In general, it is more difficult to heat up the body from inside than to cool down the body from inside. Think about the length of time needed to boil water and the length of time needed to extinguish water. Those who are deficient in Yang should be patient and should not expect any quick results in restoring the balance between Yin and Yang.
Those who are deficient in Yang may want to increase the intake of Yang food, and those who are deficient in Yin may want to increase the intake of Yin food.
<Yin and Yang food table>
|Barley||Black pepper||Brown rice|
|Cuttle fish||Chocolate, Curry||*|
|Ice Cream||Green onion||*|
|Kidney (pork)||Kidney (beef)||*|
|Radish||Rabbit, Red wine||*|
|Salt||Sour plum||Sesame oil|
|Spinach, Strawberry||Squash||Steamed white rice|