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Food offers us the means to get through our work and daily activities. But food also has the power to heal and bring balance to our lives. What we eat can either assist or hinder our efforts to maintain health or recover from illness.

The Standard American Diet – called SAD – evaluates foods based on the content of protein, fat, carbohydrates, calories, vitamins and other components. However, ancient Chinese and Indian classification of food is founded in the food’s ‘energetic’ effects and the ability to generate either a hot (yang) or cold (yin) response in the body. Each food has an energetic property that falls within the yin-yang circle.

Yin represents the energy that is responsible for body functions that are cooling and relaxing, as well as the elimination of waste and toxins.

Yang represents the energy that is responsible for warming and activating body functions.

Flagstaff’s Heather Bostian works with (not on) individuals to help each one gain and maintain optimal health and livelihood. She specializes in the implementation of multiple therapies, such as massage, nutrition, energy and hormone balance, meditation, exercise and more, that target the root of the problem and induces healing. She is an advocate for eating a diet comprised of whole (not processed) plant-based foods and eating foods specific to each person and his or her current health conditions. The goal is to restore and maintain balance and proper rhythm in the body, mind and emotions. She believes the body was made to heal itself when given the proper foods and care.

Bostian explains, “Pain, disease, inability to sleep – just to name a few – are unhealthy conditions that are the result of yin-yang imbalances in our bodies. We not only absorb nutrients from our foods but also specific energies from the foods we eat. This means that if we consume the yin (cold) or yang (hot) energy our bodies need we can correct the imbalances that are causing our medical conditions. Imbalances cause illness and unhappiness.

“Eating too much, too little or the wrong yang or yin foods can cause the body systems to lose rhythm, balance and flow, which results in ailments and illnesses. Changing how you view your food and preparing energy-appropriate meals will bring balance to the entire mind and body, resulting in a healthier and happier life.”

Chinese medicine tells us that people who consume too many yang foods may feel overly warm, anxious and constipated and may develop medical conditions such as high blood pressure, skin rashes and hot flashes. People who consume too many yin foods may experience fatigue, weakness, aches, depression, diarrhea as well as a stuffy nose, cough with clear white phlegm and fluid retention.

Conditions that alternatively arise from too much cold or heat energy in the body can include constipation, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, headache. A holistic practitioner can help determine whether consuming more or less yin or yang foods is the correct approach to restoring balance, thus restoring health.

Which foods are yang and which are yin? Here are some simple, basic rules and examples to help determine the kind of energy a certain food has:

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• Yang (hot and warm): grows in the air and sunshine or is hard, dry and spicy in flavor and includes grains, onions, radish, sweet potato, turnip, peach, berries, walnuts, chicken, lamb, venison, cayenne pepper, dried ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, chili powder, horseradish, lamb, trout and whole green or red peppers, chai and jasmine tea, algae, brown sugar, ginseng and vinegar.

• Yin (cold and cool) grows in the earth and darkness and is soft, wet or cool in flavor and includes grains, apples, bananas, pears, papaya, grapefruit, strawberries, watermelon, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, cucumbers, squash cabbage, eggplant, spinach, string beans, Swiss chard, celery, soybeans, fish, pork, eggs, honey, malt and royal jelly.

• Neutral foods are nourishing to everyone and don’t increase the yin or yang balance in the body. Neutral foods include apricots, figs, pineapple, beets, cabbage, carrots, olives, pumpkin, string beans, yams, eggs, oats, almonds, peas, peanuts, rice, beef, oysters, pork, whitefish, salmon, sardines, herring and saffron.

“Choosing the best foods can be overwhelming at first, but it is really quite simple. We are bombarded with information and the latest and greatest, which is why it is important to return to ancient wisdom and philosophies, doing so can bring peace, health and happiness,” Bostian said. “Connecting to and embracing the wisdom of our body to create, sustain and maintain life is a great way to slow down the aging process, maintain health and experience life to the fullest.”

An easy-to-read comprehensive list of yin yang foods can be found at

Simply put: Eat to live your best life ever.


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