This article is adapted from information in my book "Superior Health: The Secrets Of The Chinese And Eastern Way".
Over that time it has refined, very logical, well developed approaches to understanding foods and their actions in the body.
One of these methods is the Five Flavours. They are sweet, salty, spicy, bitter and sour. Each taste has a very different reaction in the body, producing very different results.
I will discuss in detail all these flavors eventually in this blog.
Generally, in small amounts, the tastes have a beneficial reaction. Whereas in large amounts they can disturb the body and throw it off course, even producing illnesses in it. By simply manipulating these flavors in your diet it can also help to resolve and even cure many ailments.
For example, if the body becomes too toxic, you will need to take in more foods that detoxify until you become clean again on the inside. After that the body should be able to function properly again and whatever ailment initially caused by the toxins will most likely fade away and disappear.
It is the master of detoxifying and cleansing your body.
(Another effect it has is to cool the body. How it does this will be explained in a future blog.)
The cells in your body don’t like anything that tastes bitter. They close up against it. As they are clamping up, they are squeezing fluid out to push the bitterness away. They are treating it like a poison, ( just like that old expression “a bitter poison”). As the cells push out fluids they also push out fats and toxins as well. This gives them a good cleaning.
The whole of the body can be cleansed by the ingestion of bitter fluids, foods and herbs.
Many antibiotics are probably created from the chemical extraction of bitter foods and herbs. They share similar characteristics to each other. They both purge and flush toxins and bacteria from the body. Their side effects are also similar. For example, the bitter taste is constantly producing fluid wherever it touches. Some bitter fluids, such as grape or prune juice, are directed into the intestines and they end up awash with large amounts of fluid. The bowel movement then becomes looser. This is also a common side effect to be found with some types of antibiotics. (However some bitter tastes like lemon will pass out of the intestine and deeper into the body, thus causing the cleansing effect in that area. Lemon won’t therefore generally increase bowel movement.)
Traditionally a hot lemon drink is often used to help alleviate a cold or cranberry juice is used to help treat cystitis infections and urinary tract infections.
Even in our kitchens and around our houses we can see the effectiveness of bitter flavours. You will notice that many washing up liquids and cleaning products, particularly ones dealing with fats, grimes and grease, use bitter lemon, orange peel, grapefruit, or lime in them. You can try a simple experiment to see its effects. If you get a greasy pan and put water onto it, it won’t do much. If you wipe it about you will make a sludge at best. But if you squeeze lemon juice onto it, you will start to see the fats break up. If you wipe this, the fats will easily start to remove themselves from the pan.
Firstly they don’t want their fruits to be eaten until they have matured the seeds inside of them. So to start with they are very bitter and off putting. They act like natural pesticides. When the seeds are ready they use the suns’ natural energies to ripen and sweeten the fruit.
However, they often retain a bitter undercurrent and the seeds too can be even more bitter. If you have ever eaten grapes with seeds, you will notice the harsh bitterness when you bite down on them. After birds and animals have eaten this now ripe fruit, the remaining bitterness causes fluid to gather in the intestines and helps to wash the seeds quickly down through the intestines and out of the animals. The seeds are then deposited in a new area, where fresh life can burst forth and begin its journey.
In your body the natural fat buster and detoxifier is bile. It is produced in the liver and the gallbladder. Chinese doctors sometimes in the past used animal bile as treatments. Can you guess what flavour it is ? That’s right, it is bitter, hence the old expression, “as bitter as bile”.
The general rule for using the bitter flavour is to use plenty of it when you are in a hot and toxic state. Consume lots of green tea, plenty of juices like pomegranate, berries and grapes, up to about a litre a day. And if there are signs of active bacteria and infections, have watered down weakened lemon, lime or grapefruit juice for a while to help deal with them. One should also obviously stop taking in foods that are toxic and phlegm creating as well, there is no point in clearing things out and putting them back in at the same time.
When we are in a balanced state, the advice changes, here we can have lots of weak bitter flavors, such as green tea or watered down juices. We should also have a glass or two daily of the more medium bitter tastes like pomegranate, berries and grapes. Intense flavors like lemon and grapefruit should be taken infrequently, perhaps once a week or even once every few weeks.
So by maintaining a moderate amount of bitter tastes daily we will help to keep our bodies clean and prevent infections and many other ailments. And by manipulating and increasing bitter tastes if we become toxic and sick then we can help to treat and often cure our own illnesses.
Amongst the common fruits that taste bitter are pomegranate, red or black currants, red or green grapes, blueberries, black berries, lemon, lime, raspberries, grapefruit, pineapple, cherries, prunes, passion fruit, kiwi, plums and cranberries.
And of course we can also have plenty of detoxing green tea.