The digestive process can be compared to a pot of soup sitting over a fire. Stomach heat is when the fire blazes up, interfering with digestion and sending excess heat upward. To help correct this, foods that clear heat and protect the stomach are recommended. Even though TCM generally emphasizes lightly cooked foods, raw fruit and vegetables are included in the nutritional guidelines for stomach heat, because they are cooling. Since most animal sources of protein are heating in nature, vegetarian protein options are also recommended.
For stomach heat, the ratio of food groups should be as follows:
40% easily digested complex carbohydrates like grains and root vegetables
20% protein, mainly vegetable sourced
*diet should include plenty of fluids, especially in the form of soups
*avoid overly spicy, oily, or hot dishes
Foods that Clear Stomach Heat
Rice, millet, wheat, barley, oats
celery, spinach, swiss chard, cucumber, lettuce, daikon radish, asparagus, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, purslane, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, avocado, arugula, watercress, spirulina, kelp, seaweed, slippery elm powder
apples, pears, watermelon, bananas, kiwis, mango
tofu, tempeh, soy milk, mung beans, yogurt
crab, oysters, clams
Foods to Restrict or Avoid
Chilies, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, onions, shallots, leeks, basil, cloves, wasabi, coffee, vinegar, mustard, horseradish, chocolate, tea, lamb, red meat in large quantities, shrimp, prawns, veal, cheese, citrus, all fried food, barbecued food
*also avoid cigarettes, alcohol, recreational stimulants
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 factsheet 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.