The Sephardic Community of Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Rambam’s Principles of Health: Cooling and Warming Foods

 A person whose flesh is hot should not eat meat and honey and should not drink wine, as the king Salomon said in an allegory, “it is not good to eat much honey.” He should drink water from endive (chicory) even if it is bitter, as he should drink and eat the way of healing alone in order to be healthy and keep whole, since it is impossible for a person to live without eating… (Rambam, Hilchot Deot, Chapter 3, Halacha 2)

 Rambam teaches that everyone regardless where they live should follow the principle of opposites—“warming coldness and cooling heat.” This principle is the cornerstone of many healing traditions including Chinese and Indian dietetics and is the key principle in many herbal traditions the world over. 

When Rambam discusses cold and hot foods, he does not refer to physically cold foods, but energetically cold foods. This is in accordance with all Oriental medical models, which teach that energetically cold foods not only lower body-temperature but also tend to slow down circulation and metabolism. Warm foods, conversely stimulate and invigorate blood circulation and metabolism, while raising the body-temperature. Energetically cold foods tend to be quickly digested and excreted by the body, not providing long-lasting energy and sustenance. Fruits and vegetables are examples of cold foods. They provide a quick boost, but do not provide long lasting energy and warmth. Cold foods can be used to balance a meal when hot/spicy foods are eaten and maintain balance by cooling an excessively hot body. Spices tend to be warm and should be limited during the summer to avoid creating excessive heat within the body.

 Excerpted from Safeguarding Health by Rebbetzen Chana Bracha Siegelbaum from

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