Food Therapy in Sinosphere Asia

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2018 Feb;52(2):105-113. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000932.


Traditional Chinese Food Therapy has long been an integral part of dietary practices in Sinosphere Asia. This therapy is defined by the classification of foods into cooling (Yin) and heaty (Yang) and the manipulation of dietary intake of these foods as a therapeutic strategy for chronic diseases. Both functional dyspepsia (FD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are chronic, functional gut disorders widely prevalent in Sinosphere Asia. Diet is increasingly recognized as a symptom trigger in FD and IBS, and the evidence suggesting the utility of diet therapies as front-line management is growing, particularly in the West. Specifically, a diet low in Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols is an efficacious therapy for patients with IBS. In contrast, a proportion of patients with IBS in Sinosphere Asia utilize Chinese Food Therapy for symptom management. Chinese Food Therapy provides an attractive target for integration with evidence-based Western dietary therapies as a management strategy in FD and IBS. However, significant gaps in research exist with the utility of Chinese Food Therapy that first need to be addressed. This includes a lack of standardization for heaty and cooling classification, limited mechanistic rationale or clinical studies supporting its efficacy in FD and IBS, and the lack of an ideal practitioner for implementation of Chinese Food Therapy. Hence, the review provides a summary of the role of diet and nutrition in Sinosphere Asia with an emphasis on FD and IBS, and an examination of how modern dietary practices may be able to be integrated into practices in this region.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Diet
  • Diet Therapy / methods
  • Dyspepsia / diet therapy*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diet therapy*
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / methods*