The Western practice of eating salads at the beginning of meals is because of a natural reaction the human body has to bitter foods (bitter in taste, as contrasted with bitter in the Chinese flavor system). When the tongue tastes bitter, the body starts producing digestive fluids, such as saliva and stomach acids. By eating salads first in a meal, the nutrients in the food that follows are absorbed more efficiently, resulting in better health.
Chinese medicine divides foods and herbs into seven flavors, each representing a basic Energetic property. Note that the flavors are based on the effects on the body and may differ from actual taste.
Bitter is Clearing and Drying. Clearing is the oppostie of Tonifying and can be used to treat Heat excess and Toxin excess. Drying is the opposite of Moistening and can be used to treat Damp stagnation.
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