konchog uma

Daoist dietary science

Recommended Posts

when i was 18 i read Daniel Reid's "Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity" and let it change my life




has anyone else read this book? it focuses on food combination, living foods, fruit/veggie juices, fasting, colon cleansing, herbs, and also covers a host of other topics from qigong to philosophy, but i wanted to start a thread for people to talk about their experiences with daoist diet and different diets they have tried.


i haven't combined complex animal proteins with carbs for 15 years. i gave up drinking milk and eating wheat. i juice carrots lemons apples whatever every day. i try to keep 50% of my diet raw living foods (enzymatically active) or at least eat a huge salad every day. i drink kombucha (but not too much, i read it hurts the kidneys in quantities above 2 bottles a day). i keep it organic and local about 90%.


now i am 33 and people tell me i look way younger all the time. however i am still looking to improve so i would like to hear from others who have comments on daoist dietary practices, on my practices, on daniel reid's book, on other literature that would benefit those on the path of respecting their spirit's temple, or on anything you might think is related and beneficial. thank you!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

thats great, thanks! i just searched for da liu on www.paperbackswap.com and found this book




so i had it sent to me. thanks for the recommendation!


i also found this as a similarly searched book




and ordered a used copy on amazon.


thanks, usually when i search for books on "tao" all i find is a million copies of the tao de ching, some deng-ming dao, the tao of pooh, etc. those books up there are the books i have been looking for!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tao te ching for some thought provoking words, read about the warrior diet for health, not reading books to improve love life, knowing your limits to live a durable life.


I'd raise a beer to that, but I don't like beer.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tao te ching for some thought provoking words, read about the warrior diet for health, not reading books to improve love life, knowing your limits to live a durable life.


I'd raise a beer to that, but I don't like beer.


i raise my carrot juice to you sir

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

your juicer of choice? :huh:


i had an acme for years and now i have a tiny little thing i found at goodwill :D


the acme finally bit the dust. i haven't used a lot of different kinds of juicers, but i've drank a lot of different kinds of juice! hahaha


i keep it simple, carrot apple ginger lemon garlic celery is what ive been doing for a while lately

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

From The Daoist Tradition by Louis Komjathy……


Daoist Dietetics


Dietetics refers to food consumption and to theories related to eating and nutrition. Conventionally speaking, dietetics is primarily about food and liquids, especially consumable beverages. In contemporary America, the dominant view of food is based on modern theories of nutrition and modern scientific categorizations, though there are also cultural and religious minority viewpoints. In addition to fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy, and meat, the dominant view includes scientific analysis based on "vitamins and minerals," "sugars," "proteins," carbohydrates," and so forth. Such views differ from those of traditional Chinese and Daoist dietetics, a point which highights the cultural dimensions of diet. The most common analytical framework in Chinese dietetics centers on yin (cold/cooling/moistening) - yang (hot/warming/drying) and Five Phase characteristics (e.g. the five flavors). Such categorization is also utilized in Chinese pharmacology and the classification of herbal substances. Like other dimensions of the Daoist tradition, such as the foundational cosmology and certain views of self, Daoist dietetics is, first and foremost, rooted in traditional Chinese views and consumption patterns.


Although "dietetics" technically refers to theories and practices related to food intake, and especially to the modern study of nutrition in terms of health, Daoist dietetics is much more complex than "food consumption." In addition to the conventional, therapeutic, and cosmological ingestion of food, Daoist dietetics includes ascetic, alchemical, and monastic approaches. Considered comprehensively, it encompasses dietary modification, fasting regimens, herbology and mineralogy, as well as vegetarianism, avoidance of the five strong-smelling vegetables, and abstention from intoxicants. Daoist dietetical views, the religious rationales and motivations behind one's relationship to food, consumable substances, and forms of nourishment, are also diverse. As is the case with Daoist Yangsheng practice, motivations range from health and healing through vitality and longevity to immortality.


Food intake


The traditional Chinese, and thus Daoist, diet centers on the consumption of grains, vegetables, beans and legumes, as well as fruit, with smaller, supplemental amounts of eggs and the flesh of slaughtered animals ("meat"). Before the modern period, dairy products were scarce, if not non-existent in the Chinese diet. This was a shared Chinese and pan-East Asian diet. In certain regions, the standard Chinese diet also includes mushrooms, nuts and seeds, and seaweed. Water and tea, hot water infused with dried leafs from the Camellia sinensis tree, were the primary beverages of traditional China. Various types of grain alcohol were also consumed.


Daoist dietetics related to food intake involves a therapeutic orientation and parallels classical Chinese medicine. A Daoist therapeutic diet emphasizes the complex interplay among one's constitution and energetic tendencies, climate and seasons, and qualities of food. On the most basic level, it categorizes things in terms of yin (cold, cooling, moistening, etc.) and yang (hot, warming, drying, etc. Next, it categorizes things in terms of the Five Phases (wuxing), namely, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. One's constitution may have, for example, an excess of Water and Earth, and a deficiency of Wood and Fire. Each of these is associated with particular organs, tissues, conditions, seasons, flavors grains, vegetables, meat, etc. A common use of correlative cosmology with respect to dietetics involves the five flavors namely, sour (Wood/liver), bitter (Fire/heart), sweet (Earth/spleen), spicy (Meta lungs), and salty (Water/kidneys). The ideal meal consists of a balance of each of the five flavors. One may, in turn, adjust one's lifestyle and diet to return to an increased condition of equilibrium and homeostasis, of health and wellbeing. At the same time, one may simply be attentive to the energetic qualities of specific foods in relation to one's constitution. One may consume food in a more therapeutic and energetic way.


From a Daoist perspective, a therapeutic diet includes a seasonal and energetic component. This takes us to another dimension of Daoist dietetics, namely, cosmological attunement. A cosmological orientation again utilizes correlative cosmology, that is, yin-yang and the Five Phases. One becomes attentive to the energetic qualities of specific seasons: spring (minor yang), summer (major yang), fall (minor yin), and winter (major yin), and adjusts one's lifestyle and diet accordingly. The primary factors in one's health, after cosmological, ancestral, and environmental influences, are food (spleen/stomach) and breath (lungs). From this perspective, clean air, nourishing food, and good sleep are the foundations of health and wellbeing. Connecting these insights to seasonal awareness, one adjusts one's sleeping and eating patterns in relation to the corresponding seasons: in spring, one goes to bed early and wakes up early; in summer, one goes to bed late and wakes up early; in fall, one goes to bed early and wakes up early; in winter, one goes to bed early and wakes up late. That being said, many Daoist practitioners find that they require less sleep and less food as their practice deepens. With respect to eating, one eats foods in season. In a contemporary, industrialized context, this is often difficult to determine, as food grown all over the world is transported to international locations. However, in a traditional context, one can observe the principles of seasonality and bioregionalism, that is, eating local, seasonal, and organic foods. An interesting modern example, which expresses some classical Taoist principles, is Masanobu Fukuoka's (1913-2008) The One Straw Revolution.


Finally, with respect to food intake, Daoists have often followed standard Chinese dietary principles, principles which have a root in Yangshang ("nourishing life") practices. One is encouraged to recognize the ancestors (human and non-human) before eating. One adjusts one's diet with attentiveness to age, season, and health issues. One eats pure and fresh foods. One eats food containing the various flavors. One eats a nourishing meal during the time of the stomach (7 a.m. - 9 a.m.). One primarily eats vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans. One takes at least 100 steps after finishing a meal. One enjoys the food and company that surrounds one. With respect to dietary prohibitions, one is advised to avoid eating anything discolored or bad-flavored. One avoids eating anything not well cooked. One avoids eating anything that is rotten, old, or stale. One avoids eating late at night and eating a full meal at dinner. One avoids over-eating. One avoids lying down immediately after eating. One avoids negative emotions when eating. In a modern context, one also avoids drinking ice water with meals, as it taxes the spleen-stomach and inhibits digestion, which is sometimes compared to a warm stew. There are also specifically monastic guidelines, which parallel Daoist ideals of ritual purity. One avoids eating strongly flavored dishes (garlic, onions, leeks, etc.), which are associated with the creation of heat and activation of sexual energy. One abstains from smoking. One abstains from drinking alcohol.


While these dietary principles derive from a variety of sources, both Daoist and non-Daoist, both ancient and modern, it is noteworthy that one already finds a precursor in the fourth-century BCE "Neiye" (Inward Training) chapter of the Guanzi (Book of Master Guan).



Considering the way of eating,

If you over indulge, your qi will be injured.

This will cause your body to deteriorate.

If you over restrict, your bones will be weakened.

This will cause your blood to congeal.

The place between over-indulgence and over-restriction,

We call this "harmonious completion."

Here is the lodging-place of vital essence.

It is also where knowing is generated.

When hunger and satiation lose their regulation,

You must make a plan to rectify this.

If you are overly satiated, engage in activity.

If you are hungry, expand your thinking.

If you are old, forget your worries.

If you are overly satiated and do not move,

The qi will not circulate through the limbs.

If you are hungry and do not expand your thinking,

When you finally do eat you will not stop.

If you do not forget your worries when old,

The wellspring of your vitality will dissipate.

("Neiye' Chapter 23)


(Komjathy goes on to explain in detail specific Daoist ascetic diets, alchemical diets, and Monastic diets.)

Edited by Yueya
  • Like 4

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Somwhere in this forum I once posted a link from Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine about Harmonising Earth, culinary recipes. I realised there was an error in the file, so here's an updated link.


Btw, the key to long health and longevity is regulating Spleen/Earth health, which is the hardest organ to heal due to the nature of our modern society: too much thinking, computer work and worry.


For spleen qi deficiency (the most common ailment in modern society):


I prefer herbal formulas. One of the best is Gui Pi Tang, which is described here:


Normal dosage:

Chief Herbs:

Huangqi (Astragalus membranaceus) 12 g
Longyanrou (Dimocarpus longan) 12 g

Deputy Herbs:

Renshen (Panax ginseng) 6 g
Baizhu (Atractylodes macrocephala) 9 g
Danggui (Angelica sinensis) 9 g

Assistant Herbs:

Fushen (Poria cocos) 9 g
Suanzaoren (Ziziphus jujuba) 12 g
Yuanzhi (Polygala tenuifolia) 6 g
Muxiang (Aucklandia lappa) 6 g

Envoy Herbs:

Fried gancao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) 3 g
Shengjiang (Zingiber officinale, fresh ginger root) 5 pieces (medium sliced)
Dazao (Ziziphus jujuba, Chinese red date) 1 piece


*Essentials of Chinese Medicine by Zhanwen Liu & Liang Liu


I'd start with a 10-day treatment. A significant improvement of spleen and heart function will be noticeable.


Needless to say a qualified TCM practitioner should only prescribe this formula. I am only providing a guideline.


Some notes:


The spleen is a very important organ (it's in charge of transportation; everything is moved by its workings. Absorbing and moving: these are the essential actions which define the spleen/stomach network as the main source of the life-sustaining postnatal energy). I place it first, above the rest of the organs, since any spleen qi deficiency is a precursor to many other patterns (kidney yang deficiency, dampness/phlegm, blood deficiency, spleen yang deficiency, spleen qi sinking, spleen not holding blood, heart qi deficiency, lung qi deficiency); ALSO a deficient spleen saps the energy of the water element (kidney) and lifespan is decreased as a result (earth controls water/controlling cycle). In any case a deficiency of any organ network inevitably leads to a drainage of the kidney, but in my experience spleen qi deficiency (today's most significant health condition) is the culprit.

In addition to that, generally speaking the root of spleen qi deficiency is lung qi deficiency since most humans come to Earth crying, this causes lung damage inevitably, so our lungs are weak already from the moment we are born. The lung is also a very sensitive organ.

Lung qi deficiency → Spleen qi deficiency → dampness/phlegm, blood deficiency, spleen yang deficiency, spleen qi sinking, etc. + the fact Kidney network is weakened and suffers drainage overtime (key symptom: dark circles under the eyes, root (kidney) and branch (eyes-liver)).

Clinical manifestations: poor appetite, slight abdominal distention after eating, tiredness, lassitude, desire to lie down, pale complexion, weakness of the limbs, loose stools, pale tongue, empty pulse.

Key symptoms: poor appetite, tiredness, loose stools.




  • Like 3

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites