Nutrition Guidelines for Kidney Yang Deficiency

The kidney organ network in TCM is responsible for the body’s ability to eliminate waste through the urine, and also storing reserves of energy (Qi). A diagnosis of kidney yang deficiency means that the reserves of Qi that warm the body are weakened, and unable to perform properly.

The digestive process can be compared to a pot of soup sitting over a fire. The body’s metabolic “fire” cooks the ingested food, which makes it easier for the body to extract nutrients from it and convert it into energy. With yang deficiency, this “fire” is weakened and unable to help the digestive process adequately. For kidney yang deficiency it is best to consume foods that are cooked. Food that is warmed is readily digested and absorbed, and allows your body to preserve its yang energy

Some general recommendations for preventing Qi deficiency include eating smaller meals, eating more frequently, enjoying meals by sitting down to relax (rather than while working, or watching the news, for example), and chewing thoroughly so you can both savor the flavors and adequately stimulate the digestive process.

For kidney yang deficiency, the ratio of food groups should be as follows:

30-45% easily digested complex carbohydrates like grains and root vegetable

30-45% cooked vegetables

10-20% protein

Foods that Benefit Kidney Yang

cooked grains, soups, rice, oats, roasted barley, sweet rice, spelt

parsnips, sweet potatoes, onions, leeks, pumpkin, squash, carrots, yams, peas, turnip

chick peas, black beans, walnuts, chestnuts, pistachios

lamb, beef, chicken, lamb, veal, goat, venison, beef kidneys

mackerel, tuna, anchovy, prawns, shrimp, salmon, mussels

black pepper, fresh ginger, dry ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, rosemary, turmeric, star anise, nutmeg, fenugreek, chives, garlic, spring onions, fennel

molasses, rice syrup, barley malt, dates, stewed fruit

Foods to Restrict or Avoid

raw fruit, raw vegetables, sprouts, spinach, salad

soybeans, tofu, soy milk, brown rice, seaweed

dairy, cold food like ice cream or smoothies, iced drinks

excessive salt, vinegar, refined sugar



Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine, Vol. 2. MacLean & Lyttleton. University of Western Sydney: Australia. 2002.

Chinese Dietary Therapy. Liu, J. Churchill Livingston: Edinburgh.1995.

The Healing Cuisine of China. Zhao & Ellis. Healing Arts Press: Vermont. 1998


This fact sheet is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is meant to complement rather than substitute for a consultation with a qualified TCM practitioner.