Collaborative Care makes diet recommendations for its fertility patients based on principles from Eastern medicine — specifically Traditional Chinese Medicine–but you might be wondering how the Chinese medicine fertility diet compares to Western medicine’s approach to a fertility diet.
If you’ve read more than one of our posts, you would know that diet is a very important component of our fertility treatment at Collaborative Care. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diet recommendations rely on ancient, metaphoric and even ambiguous language like “warming” or “yin and yang”, and to some, it all might sound confusing or downright strange.
We realize this approach to diet is quite different than many of our patients are used to. Many of our patients either haven’t incorporated diet changes in their fertility journey, or have incorporated diet changes based on Western medicine principals. And that’s OK. TCM and Western diet protocols aren’t mutually exclusive.
They are different, though. We think the article “Achieving Balance Through the Art of Eating: Demystifying Eastern Nutrition and Blending it with Western Nutrition” in The Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine does an excellent job of explaining the differences between the two approaches.
As the article explains:
Western nutritionists study food composition – proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals – and make dietary recommendations based on scientific experimentation and epidemiological studies. Through the ‘reductionist’ analysis, food is examined based on its components rather than as a unifying whole…
In the language of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the expression of Yin-Yang (hot and cold) and the Five Phases (sweet, acrid, sour, bitter, and salty) characterize both the person and the food. Together, these properties determine which foods are the most beneficial for each individual. … Because neither the features of our bodies nor food are stagnant, the diets that result in balance and optimal performance will vary accordingly (Kastner 2009), (Beinfield and Korngold, 1991), (Shi et al., 2011). Indeed, foods are selected to correspond to an individual’s pattern, including heat, cold, and dampness conditions, and modified based on other important factors including lifestyle, environment, climate, and season.
We agree with the article’s author that there are important aspects to each approach, and that the two must learn from each other and in fact be melded in order to help people reach their optimum health. At Collaborative Care, we do our best to meld the two. While we do focus primarily on the Traditional Chinese Medicine nutritional model, we have a basic understanding of Western nutrition and do our best to incorporate a patient’s existing Western medical advice with our own, to help each patient reach their optimal health and fertility potential.