Traditional Chinese medicine says that everything in the world is made up of five elements of energy: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. If you’re craving a certain type of food, it’s an indication that one of these energies is out of balance. A craving for sour food, for example, could indicate an imbalance of the Wood element, which corresponds with liver and gallbladder qi. If you’re feeling stuck and under stress, this might mean your liver qi has some stagnation (per Yinova Center).
Sour flavors calm the body because these foods affect the liver first. The liver regulates emotions, and liver qi can cause insomnia, headaches, or high blood pressure. Eating something sour can stimulate this qi and bring your emotions back into balance. Chinese medicine practitioners like dark vinegar to circulate blocked liver qi (per Renew Health & Acupuncture Clinic). According to Mend Acupuncture, sour foods like sauerkraut, pickles, or kumquats also help your body transition from the cold, sluggish winter months to the growth of spring.