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5 Element Diet : What To Eat For Your Body Type

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

This piece of wisdom has stood the test of time over centuries. While there are some ailments Western medicines has answers for, no visit to the doctor or prescription bottle can replace the importance of a proper diet. But even those who know this and take it to heart often have trouble figuring out what an ideal diet is for them as an individual. One-size-fits-all approaches seldom yield the best results.

In Chinese medicine, each person fits into one of the 5 TCM elements: wood, water, fire, earth, and metal. By knowing what body type we fit, we can then eat a balanced diet that suits our individual needs, leading to better health over time.

In this article, we’ll go over how to tell what body type you are based on your physical condition and symptoms, what organs that body type corresponds to, and what changes you can make to your diet to live your healthiest life according to the teachings of Chinese medicine. We’ll explain how to balance the five elements in your body to keep you feeling your best.

Element Diet: Recommended Foods for Each Body Element


This body type is most strongly associated with the liver and its ability to cleanse the body of impurities. More specifically, maintaining liver yin, gallbladder yang, and healthy tendons are crucial for this type.

Common Physical Symptoms of Wood Types

PMS, high blood pressure, tight muscles, and headaches are common in wood types. Wood body types tend to be prone to tension-related physical symptoms. They may gravitate toward unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress, such as alcohol, which can exacerbate these issues. This makes proper diet all the more crucial for them.

Foods to Emphasize

  • Sour foods, which stimulate the liver (grapes, lemons, limes)
  • Green foods with stalks
  • Oats
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Mung beans and lima beans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Green bell pepper
  • Green peas
  • Lettuce
  • Zucchini
  • Avocado
  • Plums

Foods to Avoid

  • Alcohol, especially in excess
  • Soft dairy, like milk and soft cheeses


Fire types have a strong affinity to the heart and all its many functions. This group corresponds closely to heart yin, small intestine yang, and, by extension, the blood vessels.

Common Physical Symptoms of Fire Types

Fire types tend to be susceptible to issues related to the heart, whether directly or indirectly. This extends to insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, and trouble regulating body temperature, acne, skin rashes, and circulatory problems of all kinds.

Foods to Emphasize

  • Grains like amaranth and corn
  • Beans
  • Red lentils
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pistachios
  • Bitter foods like dark leafy greens
  • Dandelion root
  • Scallions
  • Tomatoes
  • Cooling foods like pears, cucumbers, and yogurt to maintain balance
  • Cherries
  • Persimmons

Foods to Avoid

  • Overly spicy foods, which can lead to over-heating
  • Chocolate
  • Sugar


Earth body types have strong affinities toward the digestive organs such as the stomach and intestines. It’s crucial that they maintain spleen yin, stomach yang, and maintain healthy muscle tissues through their diet and lifestyle.

Common Physical Symptoms of Earth Types

Thanks to their strong ties to the digestive organs, it’s no wonder that earth types can often suffer from digestive issues, loose stools, and food allergies or intolerances. But it might be more surprising that other issues can arise from these organs, such as fatigue, obsessive or intrusive thoughts, anxiety due to excessive worrying, and feeling depleted over time. Earth types are particularly susceptible to physical and emotional burnout. Maintaining proper balance in their diet can be crucial to manage these issues.

Foods to Emphasize

  • Root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, rutabagas
  • Squash
  • Cabbage
  • Grains like millet and barley
  • Legumes like garbanzo beans and peas
  • Pine nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Leafy greens
  • Light proteins
  • Fruits, especially figs, oranges, papayas, pineapples, and strawberries

Foods to Avoid

  • Refined sugars and excessively sweet foods. Replace these with yams, sweet potatoes, and carrots instead. These vegetables have relatively high sugar content, which can satisfy cravings, without overwhelming the senses or throwing the digestive system off-balance.
  • Meat


Metal body types have a strong affinity to the lungs and skin. It’s crucial that they maintain lung yin, large intestine yang, and proper balance in their skin.

Regular aerobic exercise is particularly important for metal types, as it strengthens the lungs and respiratory system. While diet is a crucial part of overall health, metal types should take special care not to neglect physical activity as part of their health routine.

Common Physical Symptoms of Metal Types

Thanks to their strong ties to the skin and lungs, it’s no wonder that metal types often experience respiratory problems like asthma or skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

Foods to Emphasize

  • Sour foods
  • Foods with high mineral content like leafy greens (especially mustard greens) and vegetables
  • White foods like mushrooms
  • Rice
  • Navy beans
  • Soybeans
  • Almonds
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Pears

Foods to Avoid

  • “Junk food” (highly processed, sugary, overly salty prepackaged foods)
  • Eggs


Water body types are most closely related to the kidney, bladder, and bones. Maintaining kidney yin, urinary bladder yang, and a healthy bone mass is crucial for water types.

Common Physical Symptoms of Water Types

Water body types are often susceptible to frequent urinary tract infections, sore joints, back problems, and water metabolism issues like swelling and edema.

Foods to Emphasize

  • Salty foods
  • Kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Fruits such as mulberries, pomegranates, and raspberries
  • Soups and stews, especially during the cold months
  • Seaweed
  • Buckwheat
  • Legumes (aduki, kidney beans, pinto beans)
  • Water chestnuts

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.

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