Light and simple Diets
The ancient Chinese believed that Light and simple diets could prevent diseases, strengthen the body and promote longevity.
The book Nei Jing 内经 said: “Consuming large amounts of rich, greasy food can induce furuncle, large lesions with pus”. What it means is that rich greasy food causes Qi and damp-phlegm stagnation which, over time, can lead to heat-toxin accumulating and resulting in carbuncle and furuncle formation.
“肥肉厚酒，务以自强，命之曰烂肠之食…” — 吕氏春秋
“香美脆味，厚酒肥肉，甘口而病形” –韩非子 (约公元前280年～公元前233年)
The old medical text book, Lu Shi Chun Qiu吕氏春秋 said: “Fatty meat and strong wine can rot the intestines. One should refrain from consuming them.”
Han Fei Zi 韩非子(280-233BC) , a famous philosopher in the warring state period, said: “Rich delicacies, fried food, strong wine and fatty meat, while pleasing to the palate, can cause disease to form. “
Zhu Danxi 朱丹溪, a famous physician from 1281 to 1358, stated that, “Indulgence in food to please the palate and consuming excessive richly flavoured food can cause various types of diseases.”
“关中上地，俗好俭啬，厨膳肴羞，不过殖酱而已，其人少病而寿。江南岭表，其处饶足，海陆鲑肴无所不备，上俗多疾，而人早夭。” — 嵇康
Ji Kang 嵇康 , who wrote the book Yang Sheng Lun 养身论 compared the diets between the southern and northern people in China and concluded that: “…in northern China, where people habitually eat simple meals with pickled vegetables and soybean sauce, the people suffered from less illnesses and have a longer lifespan than those who live in the south who enjoy all kinds of savoury food.”
These three books, Yi Xue Xin Wu 醫學心悟， Bao Yang Shuo 保养说，Lu Shi Chun Qiu 吕氏春秋 all pointed out : “One should refrain from heavy, spicy food and strong wine.” Lu Shi Chun Qiu 吕氏春秋 also stated that “Too much heavy food will cause the stomach to be overloaded, and hence cause the blocking of Qi”
Sun Simiao 孙思邈, the very famous Chinese Medicine Doctor and Taoist priest. He maintained that the diet of the elderly should primarily consists of non-heavy, lightly salted food; barley, wheat and non-glutinous rice would be best. He also emphasised that those who care about their health and longevity should consume less meat. The same view was held by Zhu DanXi 朱丹溪 in his book Ru Dan Lun 茹淡论.
Ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine has long held that a simple and light diet (grain and vegetables) promotes bodily resistance to diseases.
Modem research suggests that over consumption of fat by the body may cause the plaque in blood vessels which leads to arteriosclerosis, hypertension and coronary heart disease.
Apart from a vegetarian diet, the ancient Chinese doctors also advocated mild-tasting food.
Tastes, especially saltiness, should not be strong and the intake of salt should be controlled. Nei Jing 内经 stated: “Too much salt will enlarge bones but shrink muscles, exhaust Qi and, especially, depress the heart-Qi.”
The book Lao Lao Heng Yan 老老恒言 says, “Blood congeals and dries when it meets with salt.”
Chen Jiru 陈继儒 the author of the book Yang Sheng Fu Yu 养生肤语, suggested that mild tasting food can prolong life. He suggested that the officials and workers who lived in the imperial palace had a shorter life span partly because of their food ,which was too salty and whose other tastes were too strong.
Sun SiMiao 孙思邈 also suggested that less salty food promoted longevity.
Therefore, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) suggests that those who hope to enjoy good health and longevity must follow the principle of eating light meals and foods with light taste.