Dietary Therapy for Yang Deficiency

By Rob Benhuri - Nov 7, 2019 1:57:54 PM

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Dietary Therapy for Yang Deficiency

Yang deficiency describes a lack of warming, yang energy within the body. Warmth is required for all of our vital processes, from digestion to reproduction and more. Therefore, yang deficiency can manifest in many different ways, and affect different parts of the body at the same time.

Some typical symptoms of yang deficiency include:

  • Dislike of cold
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pale skin
  • Tiredness
  • Loose stools
  • Low sex drive
  • Fertility issues

Yang deficiency can be addressed using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, but one of the best ways to boost your yang energy is through your diet. The most appropriate foods for people with yang deficiency are those which have a mild and gentle heating effect on the body.

Some of the best foods for yang deficiency are:


  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Radish
  • Scallions
  • Squash
  • Sweet potato
  • Watercress


  • Cherries
  • Lychees
  • Peaches
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries


  • Glutinous rice
  • Quinoa
  • Wheat germ

Nuts and seeds:

  • Chestnuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts


  • Goat
  • Kidney
  • Lamb
  • Venison

Fish and seafood:

  • Anchovies
  • Lobster
  • Mussels
  • Shrimp
  • Trout

Herbs and Spices:

  • Basil
  • Black pepper
  • Cardamom
  • Chive seed
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Dill seed
  • Fennel seed
  • Fenugreek seed
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Savory
  • Star anise
  • Thyme

As you can see, this list includes many pungent and warming herbs and spices, but it is important to use these in moderation and not go crazy. Too much hot spice will make you sweat, meaning that your food is cooling you down rather than warming you up. Not what you want if you are yang deficient!

As well as eating more gently warming foods, you can use more yang cooking methods such as stir-frying, baking, and roasting. These methods help to remove excess water from food, giving it a more heating nature. Cooking food for longer also helps, as it will make the food’s warmth more penetrating, allowing it deeper into your body.

Boosting your Kidney-Yang through Food

When you are eating to supplement yang, it is also important to pay attention to your Kidneys. This is because the Kidneys are seen as the source of all yin and yang within the body, and Kidney deficiency is often at the root of yang deficiency.

The best foods for nourishing your Kidneys are black or dark in color, and have a salty flavour. Some good examples of these are:

  • Black rice
  • Black soy beans
  • Blueberries
  • Seafood
  • Small fish with edible bones
  • Soy sauce

Although some salt is beneficial for the Kidneys, always use this seasoning in moderation. If you do not get enough salt, your Kidneys will not function well. However, if you eat too much you could risk fluid retention, high blood pressure and other Kidney problems.

Supporting your Spleen-Yang through Food

In Chinese medicine, your Spleen is one of the most important digestive organs, along with your Stomach. Since these organs come into direct contact with food, they are easily affected by what you eat and how.

Strong Spleen-yang is vital for healthy and efficient digestion. If your digestive fire is not warm enough, nutrients will not be processed properly, and excess fluids will begin to collect around your body. This leads to symptoms such as fatigue, loose stools, and edema – all the classic signs of Spleen-yang deficiency.

It is important to avoid eating too many cold or raw foods, and drinking iced drinks. These can dampen your Spleen-yang, put out your digestive fire, and make your meals more difficult to digest.

Eating too much at one time can also put a strain on your Spleen, so it is better to eat little and often. Make time to enjoy your food without distractions, and chew each mouthful well. This will assist your Spleen in its function, and help to keep your digestive fire alight.

The best foods for nourishing the Spleen are yellow or orange in color, and have a sweet or bland flavor. Some examples of good Spleen foods include:

  • Apples
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Rice
  • Sweetcorn
  • Sweet potatoes

By eating more foods to nourish your Spleen and Kidneys, and adding more warming herbs and spices to your diet, you can keep your body’s yang energy topped up. This will help you to avoid deficiency and keep your body in a well-balanced state of health. 


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