Chinese people place great importance on what food a person can eat and how that food should be eaten. The body is considered to be an extension of the universe, and consequently, what can and should be eaten relies largely on maintaining the balance between the body and the univers.
Therefore, what is eaten during a given time, and how the food is prepared, is an important part of Chinese culture.
Historically, Chinese food has been closely tied to medicine, since anything that goes into the human body can either nourish it or harm it. The earliest Chinese medical texts list hundreds of ingredients, along with the effects they can have on the human body.
One of these books, called The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (黄帝内经, Huáng Dì Nèi Jīng), was written in the early Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220) and is more than 2,000 years old.
In The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, food is separated by its nature and characteristics, and recommendations are made for what
types of food to eat for different health conditions and during different seasons or in different climates.