Wet food

white ceramic bowl

Wet foods?

Thinking of digestion, the priority in Chinese medicine is to protect your Stomach and Spleen energy so that they digest food for your maximum benefit. From birth onwards, you get no more food pumped directly into  you, as you’ve been used to in the womb. No – you’re on your own, so you must eat. For that to work properly you need a good digestion and ‘wet’ food.

Of course, there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ food – even the most outrageously processed, sugar-enhanced and nutrient deficient stuff may have some benefit somewhere, sometime, for somebody!

But in general, avoid such food!

To do its job your stomach must be a moist place where acids break down food before passing it on into your small intestine. There, alkaline fluids, bile and pancreatic juices continue the digestive process until nutrients can be absorbed. That happens through the walls of your intestines into your portal vein and from there, via your liver, into your bloodstream.

Food must be mushy and wet

For all this to happen, the food must be mushy and wet so that it flows easily to press against the walls of your intestines.

Dry or powdery food doesn’t work! It’s not mushy enough and instead of providing moisture it leeches moisture from your stomach – and not always very efficiently.

You want wet food from which your intestines absorb its nutrients, also releasing its moisture, hydrating your blood naturally.

Your stomach fluids come from your bloodstream, so if you take dry food  there’s no overall hydration effect. That’s because dry food absorbs moisture from your stomach and then releases it back to your bloodstream in your intestines. Overall result – nil.

Manufacturing those stomach fluids takes work. So eating dry food makes your digestion less effective because your body has to work harder to re-supply the fluids.

Likewise, dry foods make your stomach less moist for digesting other foods.  Your Stomach has to work harder, sometimes leading to indigestion and, for you, less energy.

So avoid dry foods and eat more wet foods!

What are dry foods? (The following are just examples, not a complete list!)

  • Powders and tablets or capsules containing dried powder – even if you take them with a full mug of water because they probably won’t re-constitute into their original state before the digestive process begins.
  • Tablets made with powdered herbs. Again, drinking them with water probably won’t give time for them to fully re-constitute before digestion begins. Even so, if possible, chew them up well and take with warm water before swallowing.

shallow focus photo of breads

  • Most baked food: biscuits, bread, cakes, puddings, pies, flans, puffed rice cakes, oatcakes, Ryvita
  • Rice in a bag, which you microwave for a minute to heat up: probably needs more water to make it ‘wet food’.
  • Crisps, dry snacks, popcorn, twiglets, pork scratchings, hula hoops, pringles, mini cheddars, quavers, cheese twists, mini poppadoms, breadsticks etc.
  • Dried fruit: ideally soak in water for a while before eating
  • Coffee, chocolate




What are ‘wet’ foods? Some examples:

cooked food on black bowl

  • Long cooked and well-hydrated stews and soups
  • Rice and other grains in the form of moist congees
  • Steamed food including green leafy vegetables and root vegetables


Of course, you’ll be wondering why there’s no mention of all the raw fruit and vegetables that contain lots of water! For example, zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, melon and grapes, to name just a few!

The reason they don’t appear here is that they are all raw and cold.

If you have abundant Stomach Qi and Stomach Yang, go ahead and eat them! But being cold and raw, they do consume your Stomach’s yang energy.

Chinese medicine advises that you eat food that is cooked and warm when eaten … as a general rule. (And, of course, that you are aware of a food’s energetic effect on you, such as whether the food has a warming or cooling effect, quite distinct from whether it is hot or cold when actually eaten.)

What about a glass of water?

clear drinking glass filled with water

By the way, if you are thirsty, of course, drink water. But drinking water or other fluids when you aren’t thirsty but drink because you think you should doesn’t always have the hydrating effect you want.

Too much water drains Kidney yang and Stomach yang energies and can lead to oedema in some people. Also, a large glass of water is often more flushing than hydrating.

Too much dry food can make you overweight.

If you’ve been in the habit of eating too many ‘dry’ foods, then your digestion won’t be as good as it should be and probably you’ll tend to be overweight.

person eating nachos with sauce

That’s because dry foods are mostly carbohydrates, which you digestion turns into sugars which your spleen-pancreas then stores as fat.


Treatment for overtaxed Stomach Yin?

Treating Stomach yin deficiency requires that

  • you improve your diet, not just with ‘wet foods’, but with better nutrition
  • you get acupuncture or herbs to encourage your body to make Stomach yin fluids, and until it recovers, to help with your energy
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