People who live in Beijing know that regardless of the season, breakfast restaurants will always serve warm or cold soy milk (also called soya milk or soybean milk). Many people in Beijing drink soy milk with their breakfast before they go to work.
One glass of soy milk is enough to support the body with vitamins and nutrients. It is very popular not only in Beijing but throughout China. It is much cheaper than any other type of drink. I remember when I was little, more than 40 years ago, one serve of soy milk cost only 1 or 2 cents. Traditional soy milk is made from soybeans and is high in protein and low in cholesterol. Both Traditional Chinese Medicine and modern science recognizes soy milk as being a healthy option.
In Chinese culture, people drink soy milk not only for breakfast but also for its many positive health affects, especially for somebody who has internal organ deficiency which we call “deficiency syndrome”. Sometimes, for this deficiency stage, the body has difficulty accepting or digesting stronger tonics. Soy milk is more gentle and more easily accepted by the deficient body.
1. What is Deficiency Syndrome
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the diagnosis will either be one of excess or deficiency within the body. Deficiency means that either the internal organs or the physical body is weak. Just like when a car is damaged and needs some repair work done to restore it back to its optimal function.
Deficiency syndrome includes the following categories:
Qi deficiency of the body: common symptoms – lack of energy, shortness of breath worse after doing things, palpitations, easy perspiration, frequent urination, low immune system – easily catches cold or flu;
Blood deficiency: common symptoms – pale face, pale nails, pale tongue, hair loss, grey hair from young age, tired, dizziness, delayed period or scanty flow or shortened period;
Yin deficiency: common symptoms – dry skin, constipation, hard stools, hot flushes and thirsty in the evening, red face, hot body, emotional, dark & scanty urination;
Yang deficiency: common symptoms – cold hands & feet, aversion to cold, puffiness & heavy limbs, abdominal fullness & bloating, impotency, low libido.
In our clinic, when people have a certain deficiency syndrome, in addition to their regular treatment, we also suggest certain types of foods to incorporate in their diet. Soy milk is one of the drinks we suggest.
2. Health Effects of Soy Milk
i) Tonify & Nourish the Body
An ancient Chinese nutrition book “Gang mu shi yi” records soy milk to tonify the body. The taste is sweet and it is is neutral in character, being neither hot nor cold. Soy milk acts most strongly on the Lung and Stomach channels, which helps the respiratory system and digestive system.
Soy milk is beneficial for all ages, especially people who have a deficiency syndrome as mentioned above, or one the following conditions:
a) Blood deficiency and lack of circulation, long illness and after operation or chemotherapy.
b) After labour, while breast-feeding.
c) Weak digestion – soy milk has an alkaline pH and is therefore useful in balancing acidic foods that we eat. This balance helps digestion. Soy milk is especially good for those who cannot drink dairy milk, or those with indigestion and heartburn.
d) Increase the immune system and promote growth and development in children – Traditional Chinese Medicine diet therapy texts mention that soy milk can help the development of the brain & teeth and invigorate the activity of the lymphatic system which improves the immune system. As mentioned above, soy milk works more on the Lungs and in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Lung is considered to be the first line of defence. Therefore, drinking soy milk also enhances the immune system by supporting the Lung and improving the body’s first line of defence. For these above conditions, I suggest that you drink goji berry soy milk or red date soy milk. Please see the recipe below.
3. Help to clear throat and phlegm
Some people may have a persistent phlegm problem, where it is stuck in throat.Those who suffer from heat in the throat and lung, such as bronchitis or from long term smoking. We suggest drinking the milk at room temperature which can help to clear the throat and phlegm.
Soy milk can help to improve the symptoms mentioned above. It can also be beneficial for the following issues; constipation, dry skin, ulcers in the mouth or on the tongue, anxiety, violent dreams. For these conditions it is best to drink cold soy milk.
Modern science also highly recommends soy milk, and it is becoming increasingly popular in many shops and supermarkets. Soy milk is an alkali food which can balance the acid in rice, bread and meat, thus it is good for digestion.
i) Goji berry soy milk
1 tblsp Goji berry
1 glass of soy milk
Bring soy milk to boil for a few seconds. Add Goji berries. Let it sit for 5 minutes and drink.
Effects: Tonify’s kidneys; balance ying and yang; increase energy and immune system; strengthens the bone and brain; helps to prevent dementia.
ii) Chinese red date soy milk
5 Chinese red dates washed, pitted and chopped
1.5 glass of soy milk
Bring soy milk and red dates to boil and simmer for 3 minutes.
Effects: Tonify Qi and blood; benefits breast-feeding mothers; benefits blood deficiency.
I suggest that when you drink soy milk, drink it at room temperature or warmer. For adults, drink 1 or 2 glasses per day, with children drinking less depending on the age.
i) If you are allergic to soy milk or tofu, please avoid drinking soy milk
ii) If you are unsure of your constitution or how much you should drink, please see your health advisor or experience TCM practitioner.