Nutrition for Every Season

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

He that takes medicine and neglects his diet wastes the skills of his physician.

Chinese proverb

Hippocrates also said, "let food be thy medicine" in the fifth century BCE. These two pieces of wisdom tell us that it was well understood many hundreds of years ago, in very different parts of the world that what we ate was an important factor in maintaining health as well as recovering from disease. And even today with advances in medicine and technology, food is still the best medicine and the easiest and most impactful way to stay healthy and disease-free.

Food As Medicine

Nutrition is one of the foundational elements of Chinese Medicine. The ancient Chinese understood very well that the best medicine is not the herbal remedy given when you have a cold or the salve when you scrape your knee, the best medicine is the food we ingest every day. It helps to build our immune systems, fortify us against disease, cool excess heat, drain dampness, move stagnation and warm us when we are deficient.

Our ancestors were intrinsically connected to nature, and this connection was necessary for survival. They paid attention to the seasons, but more specifically, changes in the weather, the cycles of crops, migration of animals, and the cycles of the sun and moon. They were attuned to the natural rhythms of the planet and were able to adjust their behaviours to maintain a sort of equilibrium with their surroundings. This focus on prevention was also very important and was knitted into the foundation of Chinese Medicine as it was practised then as well as today. But, the key to living preventatively is that we have to really be attuned to our bodies and our surroundings. We have to be able to hear what our bodies are telling us so we can give them what they need, and that is something that many of us have lost living in the fast-paced city life in the modern world. But this listening, this attunement is something that Chinese Medicine teaches. Your body is always communicating with you, you only have to listen.

The Thermal Nature of Foods & People

So, how does it work, to use food as medicine? Good question. Chinese Medicine has a pretty elegant system for understanding how to use food as medicine and stay healthy in every season. Foods have a thermal nature and so do people. It is that delicate balance of yin and yang. Some foods are cooling and some are heating. People also have a thermal nature. They usually have a thermal nature that occurs naturally when they are in a healthy state and knowing this is very helpful as you move forward. And then, the weather and surroundings also have a thermal nature, so it is a dynamic balance of these three ingredients that we are after. Granted, this can all get a little complex and you can get pretty deep into it (if you are a nerd practitioner like me), but there are some basics that will help you get started. Think about the seasons as a continuously fluctuating cycle of yin (cold) and yang (hot) energies. Summer is the height of yang or heat energies and winter is the peak of yin or cold energies. Summer gradually cools off and moves into fall, which cools further to transition into winter. Winter comes to an end and the yin energies gradually are infused with yang with spring, which further heats up as it moves into summer.

So, you want to balance the temperature of the season you are in with foods that are generally its opposite. Cooling foods in summer, and warming foods in winter. Gradually more warming foods in fall and gradually cooling ones in spring as those are the transitional months. You can also affect the thermal nature of the foods you eat by different cooking methods, which is why those change according to the season too. This is very very general, but it gives you an idea and a place to start. Then you can introduce the idea of constitutions and it adds another layer of complexity, but as you practice and becoming aware of the seasons and the thermal nature of the foods you are eating, it actually becomes this really beautifully nourishing and healing way to eat, and one your body will love. I will work on an article about constitutions to explain that a little bit more, but in general, a person is also a dynamic balance of yin and yang energies. Some people are naturally more yin and some are naturally more yang. When you know what you are, you work that into the equation too, which will only help you to keep all those energies balanced and this will help keep you healthy. When that article is finished, I will link it here.

The Seasons

Chinese Medicine was developed over thousands of years of observations of nature, human beings and their relationship to each other. In times past we have always had a symbiotic relationship, the earth nourished us with its bounty and we tended and nurtured the planet in a continuous cycle of loving interaction. Human beings followed the natural cycles of the planet and lived in harmony with the seasons.

The Summer Season

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

Summer is the season associated with the heart, the colour red and the emotion of joy. In the hot summer months, people rose early and went to bed later to capitalize on the yang energy represented by outward expression and activity. They ate foods that grew in abundance, like fruits and fresh vegetables, eating salads and lighter fare, many of which are considered cooling to balance the external heat. People also took time to get together with family and friends, connecting and feeding their heart energy, as the heart is the organ associated with summer and with it, the emotion of joy. Everything we do in summer should be an attempt to cultivate the joy in our lives. Summer is the season to feed the heart energy, and in terms of foods, many red foods are good for the heart. Cooking methods should be lighter and of shorter duration to preserve all the freshness and nutrients the food has been soaking up from the summer sun. Eating should be lighter and in smaller portions and working to keep yin fluids plentiful to counteract the intense heat of the season.

The Fall Season

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Fall is the season associated with the lungs, the colour white and the emotion of grief. As the summer season winds down and the weather begins to cool, our behaviours go from the outward expressions of summer to the more inward and reflective activities of fall which will inevitably prepare us for winter. We eat foods that grow in abundance in this season (which varies greatly depending on where on the planet you are), but in North America, we see many foods with beautiful fall colours - squashes, gourds, sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins... foods that grow in the ground and have more yang properties nourishing our inner heat as we prepare our bodies and spirits for the coming cold. Fall is a time to clear out the old, making space for the new. The energy of the lungs is "letting go" so that is the focus. Cleaning, reorganizing and donating are good practices in fall and make space for all we will cultivate over the winter. Emotionally, making sure that we have let go of any emotional hurts that have lingered is strengthening to the lungs both physically and psychologically. Many white foods are beneficial to the lungs and are good to add to the diet in the fall season. Organizing life and becoming more introspective before winter is what fall is all about, checking in to make sure we are emotionally healthy and not hanging on to things that no longer serve us.

The Winter Season

Photo by 8-Low Ural on Unsplash

Winter is the season associated with the kidneys, the colour black and emotion of fear. Winter is the height of yin energies and even though it seems like a time of death, decay and inactivity, it is a season that is very active, just deep, deep beneath the surface in preparation for the regenerative activities of spring. It is a season of consolidation, gathering all energies and pulling them inward. Winter is the time of year to go to bed early and sleep later, profiting from the healing, restorative energies sleep offer us. In winter we eat less fresh foods as they are no longer available and eat more preserved foods we have prepared during the summer and fall. Eating warming foods, especially hearty soups and stews will help build our yang and counteract the cold. Our energies should turn inward in winter, while we focus on our fundamental energies, in Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are the source of our fundamental energy. Spending quiet time reading, writing or meditating are strengthening to our bodies and spirits. Keeping warm, especially our lower backs where our kidneys reside is especially important as they are the source of all our qi. Many black foods are strengthening to the kidneys and should be added to the diet in the winter months.

The Spring Season

Photo by Heather Barnes on Unsplash

Spring is associated with the liver, the colour green and the emotion of anger. Spring represents the upward and outward energies of newly growing plants, flowers and trees. The energy in spring is expansive, so it is a good time to shake off the sleepiness of the winter months and slowly start moving our bodies with gentle stretching going for long walks outdoors, taking in the revitalizing green of new plants through our eyes, which are the sense organ associated with the liver. Spring is the best time to detox from everything we have accumulated over the winter. We can detox physically, as well as emotionally. Acknowledging and processing any feelings of anger, resentment or frustration will keep our liver energy moving freely. Many green foods benefit the liver and cooking methods should be lighter and shorter duration to the slow cooking of winter, and as things begin to thaw, we are able to introduce more fresh foods into our diet. Awakening and cleansing our bodies and spirits are what we need in spring as well as gentle exercises like tai chi and qi gong which, especially when done outside in nature nourish body, mind and spirit.

If we can become aware of our surroundings and make slight adjustments to our behaviours and diet depending on the season we will see a huge benefit physically, emotionally and spiritually.



Download Our Sheet - Nutrition for Every Season

This sheet includes how to change behaviours, cooking methods, and beneficial foods, spices and flavours as well as other associations to help you live in harmony with every season.


Download Our Sheets - Living With The Seasons in Chinese Medicine

   


Are You A Practitioner?

Please visit the Chinese Medicine Professionals Shop to get PRO sheets for your clinic that you can share with patients. Yay!


Beautiful featured image photo by Marta Filipczyk on Unsplash


Shed The Pounds By Adding Goji Berries To Your Diet

By Sally Perkins

93.3 million Americans are obese and spend a whopping $147 billion U.S dollars on medical treatments alone. Obesity still remains a major risk factor for heart disease, a leading cause of death in the United States. While this may be prevalent among adults, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry consider the onset of obesity to occur between five and six years old, with an 80% chance of growing into an obese adult if this is not resolved before reaching twelve years old. Goji berries are a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believed to nourish the kidneys, liver, lungs, and stomach from ‘burn out’. Today, people predominantly consume this tonic herb for weight loss.  If you’re planning to turn your life around and make changes to your diet, start by including this bright orange-red berry dubbed as a ‘superfood’.

Goji Berry Benefits and Nutritional Value

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are the fruits of a Chinese medicinal plant, and look similar to raisins, with a slightly sour taste. This fruit contain nutrients such as vitamin A, zinc, fiber, iron, and vitamin C essential for building the immunity of the body. However, goji berries are also famous for their weight loss and antioxidant properties.

Your Handy, Go-to Snack

Goji berries are low in carbohydrates, making them an ideal energy booster snack. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study noting increased energy levels, better physical performances, and mental sharpness for test subjects taking goji berry juice for two weeks. Scoring low on the glycemic index (GI), this superfood is nutritious, while helping keep weight off.

Goji Berries Can Be Integrated in Most Diet Plans

The Atkins and Keto diets are low carbohydrate meal plans with varying portions of protein and fat. Berries are often used as part of the meal plan since they only contain 88 calories per quarter serving. These can be eaten raw, or used in smoothies mixed with other fruits or yogurt, or included in banana-stuffed pancakes, jams and pastries, such as almond and Goji berries brownies. The Atkins diet focuses on controlling insulin levels in the body using a four-phase low carbohydrate meal plan to achieve a healthy weight and maintain it. As part of your meal plan, use one serving of dried goji berries. Ideally, these berries may be added between phase 2 (balancing) to phase 4 (maintenance).

Meanwhile, a Ketogenic diet is a high fat and low carbohydrate diet to achieve nutrition ketosis, a process where your body uses fat (ketones) as fuel instead of your usual carbohydrates. This type of diet plan works best with intermittent fasting, so you should only take the berries before your fasts. If you’re still starting with this type of diet, having six small meals per day may help you develop an eating pattern, allowing your body time to adjust.

Finding Out What Works Best For You

Goji berries works well with various meal plans because of its ‘neutral’ nature. Meaning, you can consume these berries without gaining weight. Adapting a different meal plan may take some time for some people. However, lifestyle changes rarely happen overnight so expect to take this weight loss process one step at a time.


Spring Recipe - Stir Fried Chicken and Goji Berries

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Spring Recipes

Spring is the season of new growth, the season of wood and the season of the liver. It is the season of wind and rain and very unstable weather. It marks the beginning of a new growing season including bacteria and viruses. People can easily catch cold/flu and infectious diseases in spring. Wind-injuries can be characterized by rapidly changing and moving symptoms such as a stuffy and runny nose, coughs, fever, body pain, sneezing, and dizziness.

Our livers are most vulnerable to wind-injury in spring. It is important to invigorate the liver by eating warming and pungent food to defend and expel wind evil. Foods that are sweet in nature such as dates, goji-berries, animal's liver and leek can benefit liver health and help to promote liver qi. Sour can nourish liver and promote blood. Salty taste can promote sour.

Spring tonics emphasize on light and healthful foods such as spinach, celery, onion, lettuce, leaf mustard, Chinese yam, wheat, dates, peanuts, onions, cilantro, bamboo shoot and mushrooms. Soybean, bean sprout, egg, and tofu are rich in protein and can promote liver health and healthy growth of tendons.

Chrysanthemum Flower

Chrysanthemum flowers are very effective in lowering liver heat and calming the liver. They can be used as a tea or cook with other ingredients to make soup or entree dishes.

Dandelion

Dandelion is everywhere in spring. It is bitter and sweet in taste, cold in nature, and attributive to liver and stomach channels.

Pick dandelion leaves from your garden or from a wild field where there is no chemical pollution to make a detoxification tea for yourself and your family in spring. It is diuretic, clears damp-heat and toxic material, and benefits liver health. You can repeat this once again in late summer when you see them bloom again. It is the most inexpensive and effect detoxification tea that you can give to your body.

Stir Fried Chicken & Goji Berries

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Benefits the liver and eyes.

INGREDIENTS

  • Astragalus (huang qi) 黃耆 - 30 gm
  • Goji-berry / Chinese Wolfberry (gou ji zi) 枸杞子 - 15 gm
  • Chicken breast - one piece
  • Cucumber - one
  • Cooking wine - 2 spoonfuls
  1. Rinse astragalus and put with 2 cups of water in a pot and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then bring water to a boil and lower heat to medium-low to cook down to 1/2 cup of water left. Strain and keep aside.
  2. Wash and shred chicken and cucumber.
  3. Season chicken with salt, pepper, cornstarch and 2 to 3 spoons of astragalus water.
  4. Soak goji-berries for 20 minutes and rinse. Season goji-berries with some astragalus water.
  5. Warm one spoonful of oil in a wok and stir-fry chicken for a few minutes. Then sprinkle in cooking wine and the rest of the astragalus water, and stir.
  6. Add cucumber and stir for a few more minutes, then add wolfberry and stir for a couple of minutes more and is done.

USAGE

No restrictions.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Photo by Tim Chow on Unsplash


Eat Your Way to Health: Chinese Superfoods

Chinese medicinal cuisine has been an important part of East Asian culture for hundreds of years. The concepts of a balanced and complete diet were noted down by the Chinese as far back as the second century BCE, with The Yellow Emperor’s Classic On Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing) containing what is very likely the world’s first set of dietary guidelines.

As with a lot of things, some kinds of food are better than others, and this article enumerates five Chinese superfoods used to reach optimum nutrition and even treat some common ailments.

Goji berries

Also known as Chinese Wolfberries, goji berries are native to the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and often come in dried form. Alive.com states that legend has it goji berries once helped a herbalist live to a ripe old age of 252 years. While there’s no way to prove the veracity of this claim, goji berries are in fact known for their anti-aging properties. They are rich in carotene, antioxidants, calcium, iron, and vitamins A1, B1, B2, and C.

This Wen (neutral) food is well loved for its nutritive qualities, and is used to treat eye, liver, and kidney illnesses. They are often recommended to boost immunity, relieve hypertension, and manage inflammation.

Chinese cabbage


This lovely image courtesy of Fit Day

The Chinese cabbage is a very common vegetable and is often served in a variety of everyday Chinese dishes. Also known as pak choi or bok choy, this Han (cold) food is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables in the world. It comes in at just 9 calories, has barely any fat, but packs lots of protein, dietary fiber, and nearly all the essential vitamins and minerals.

Because of its rich nutrition profile, it is often used to promote bone health, regulate blood pressure, fight off inflammation, and even protect against certain forms of cancer, according to Medical News Today .

Bitter melon

The bitter melon is another Han vegetable that possesses lots of medicinal benefits. It is rich in folates, phytonutrients, and vitamins A, B3, B5, B6, and C, as well as minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium. As a result, Organic Facts claims bitter melon is great for purifying the blood, improving immunity, promoting weight loss, and even treating diabetes, asthma, fungal infections, and skin irritation.

Gardenia fruit

The Gardenia fruit is a bitter Han food that is grown from an evergreen flowering plant common across Asia. Although mostly known for its fragrant white flowers, the gardenia also offers one of China’s superfoods in the form of a bitter orange fruit used in herbal medicine.

These fruits are rich in carotenoids, and combined with their 'cooling' effect, they are used to relieve fevers, halt bleeding, and reduce swelling. They have been known to control cholesterol levels, prevent urinary tract infection, and ease restlessness. Gardenia fruits are also known to be a natural alternative to mouthwash and chewing gum for treatment of bad breath or halitosis, according to a Patient.info feature. This matches the idea in Chinese medicine which indicates that the fruit’s cooling properties can help prevent 'dragon breath'.

Green tea

Green tea, which has been consumed in China and across the globe for centuries. The Daily Health Post revealed that it is believed to help flush out toxins, relax blood vessels, and reduce anxiety and stress. For the best effect, be sure to get whole loose tea leaves instead of powdered forms.

Do you have any favorite Chinese superfoods? Let us know in the comment section below!

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Beautiful featured image by Hao Ji on Unsplash


Dining Out When Following Traditional Chinese Medicine: 3 Tips

By Freelance Writer Sally Perkins

Whether you are a recent or lifelong follower of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), your perspective on nutrition is unique to that of the Western perspective. Instead of eating for indulgence and pleasure, TCM considers food to be as good as medicine. When balance is achieved in one’s diet, balance can be achieved within the body, mind, and soul. In addition to this notion, TCM also does not make universal dietary recommendations for all people. Instead, the foods that are good for one person may not be beneficial for another.

Since these principles vary so significantly from what is considered to be healthy in Western diets, dining out can quickly become a challenge. The majority of foods and beverages offered in restaurants are often heavily processed, full of sodium, sugar, and other toxins. Because of this, is it impossible for someone following TCM to dine out? Thankfully, the answer is ‘no.’ With a bit of planning and research, you can continue to follow your lifestyle while enjoying local restaurants and events. Here are three tips to help you meet your nutritional needs when dining out. 


Photo by Lan Pham on Unsplash

Research Restaurants in Advance

These days, nearly all restaurants make their menus available online. This makes it much easier to know which restaurants will have foods that are appropriate for you, and which ones you should avoid. Before deciding where to eat, research which local options have the most choices for your needs. It is also extremely helpful to follow this tip while traveling. If you have questions about a menu you have viewed online, or are wondering if certain dietary accommodations can be made, be sure to call the restaurant prior to your arrival. 

Bring a Nutritional “Cheat Sheet” With You

If you have an extensive list of foods/beverages to limit and include within your diet, it can be difficult to remember what is ok to eat and what isn’t. When going to a restaurant (or even to the grocery store), bring a “cheat sheet” that lists all of your essential nutritional items. Rather than the unreasonable alternative of bringing a TCM book with you, or even the inconvenience of looking up information on your phone, a concise list is all that you need. Carrying a TCM “cheat sheet” will help you stay focused and on-track with your nutritional needs. 

Speak with Special Event Coordinators About your Nutritional Needs

Planning or attending a big event (such as a wedding or a corporate retreat)? If so, you might be concerned about how your TCM dietary needs can be accommodated. Thankfully, there are ways to ensure that the catering company will have items that you can eat. First, if you are the one planning the event, find a local health focused caterer who is open to bringing at least one item that adheres to your needs. Be sure to also find out if there will be other individuals in attendance who have specific dietary requests as well. If you are simply attending an upcoming event, inquire about the foods that will be provided. In the event there is no food that will meet your needs, you will at least have advanced notice. Plan on eating prior to or after the event to avoid the temptation of indulging in foods that are heavily processed.

Although it may seem like a challenge, dining out while following TCM can be achieved. Rather than skipping fun dinners and events, research and plan in advance so that you can enjoy special moments with family and friends while maintaining balance in the body.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .

Delicious featured image photo by Edward Guk on Unsplash

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .

Would you like to learn more about nutrition according to Chinese Medicine? Check out these fancy downloadable information sheets about all things Chinese Medicine to learn how to use this wonderful medicine to live a healthy lifestyle in the modern world. Get them here - Learn Chinese Medicine Living :)


Eating Out the Chinese Way - The History of Chinese Medicine Nutrition

By John Voigt

One should be mindful of what one consumes to ensure proper growth, reproduction, and development of bones, tendons, ligaments and channels and collaterals [i.e., meridians] This will help generate the smooth flow of qi [life energy] and blood, enabling one to live to a ripe old age. 

From The Yellow Emperor’s Classic on Medicine.

The Yellow Emperor’s Classic On Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing), circa second century BCE, is the most important ancient text on Chinese medicine. In it are the concepts of a balanced and complete diet, and probably the world's first dietary guidelines.

The Thermal Nature of Foods - Warming, Cooling & Neutral

Basic concerns are about Han (“cold”) and Re (“hot”) foods. Han foods such as kelp, wheat, vegetables, and pork possibly may cause diarrhea. Re foods such as ginger, pepper, mutton, and unripened guava possibly may cause heartburn or constipation. Wen (“neutral”) foods such as rice, beans, fish, and beef can help to repair the body’s tissues.  Bu (strengthening) foods such as ginseng, deer velvet, and dates may be healing.

Food Relationships in Chinese Medicine - A Holistic Approach

But this is not about one food by itself being good or bad, it’s about the relationships of food.  Chinese dietetics—as most past and present Chinese thought—is based on holistic concepts, not singularity concerns. For example, with the above foods, vegetables (a Han or so-called “cold” food) is usually cooked with some Re (a so-called “hot”) food such as ginger or pepper. That neutralizes or balances out the “cold” [yin] and “hot” [yang] aspects of each food, and helps create something good for you and delicious as well.

Along the same idea of a food gaining its meaning by its relationships to other foods, in classic Chinese cuisine we most often find the “neutral” food (the rice or noodles) along with the main meal (meat or fish), accompanied by various other dishes usually vegetables. For example, The yang of rare beef is balanced by yin of tofu or cool slices of fruit.

The Healing Nature of Foods

The foods need to be prepared in the proper way, vegetables not overcooked, but not raw either; small portions of meat or fish not fried. In The Yellow Emperor’s Classic we find, “Heavy and greasy food causes a change that may result in serious illness.”

Also from that book, from Chapter 81, section 22 we find: Five cereals (such as rice, sesame seeds, soya beans, wheat, millet) provide our basic nourishment. Five fruits (such as dates, plum, chestnut, apricot, peach) add what the cereals lack. Five animals (such as beef, dog meat, pork, mutton, chicken) give certain advantages that animals possess. Five vegetables (such as marrow, chive, bean sprouts, shallot, onion)  provide a wide range of needed substances. If the food tastes and smells good, then eat it to replenish the body’s needs.

These guidelines are approximately two thousand years old, yet amazingly from that time to today most Chinese people followed them whenever they were able to do so. This article will close on how the tradition is being automatically preserved today without the restaurant or their customers knowing what is happening.

Now to make all this simple for the health (and food loving) reader. After all, the many millions of Chinese who go to their favorite restaurants aren’t bring along any of the ancient treatises on dietetics. Nevertheless, the traditional way of ordering and serving food seems to be right on the mark on what the ancient seers taught about food and good health. All over the world you will see this standard pattern in middle and smaller sized Chinese restaurants—(the more larger ones are becoming more geared to tourists and the new Chinese upper classes who eat like their western counterparts).  Not surprisingly such non-traditional diets have been accompanied with an increase in western styled diseases.

Eating - The Chinese Way

Here’s how the “natives” eat, and how you can do the same.

Begin with those tiny bowls of free sweet and sour pickles, or pickled cabbage, or cooked peanuts, etc. that many restaurants just bring you without you asking for them. Something like an appetizer, but not quite; they prime the digestion. Then order several different vegetable dishes. And some rice. Then some fish (usually with the bones included—be careful don't swallow any); or some meat. And finish it all off with a soup. That will help your digestion. Traditionally the final close is making a big burp to show your appreciation to the cooks and servers, and remove any bad qi—but you might because of western propriety leave out that final gesture—(or is it better described as a bodily function noise?).

That’s it. Now go enjoy such a standard traditional and healthy meal.  Best done in a large group of friends and family with chopsticks.

Postscript: For more about the proper kinds of food for health from both an eastern and western point of view, see my “Color Dietetics – With a Poster to Hang on the Wall. https://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/blog/color-dietetics-poster-hang-wall/

Sources and Further Information

Ho Zhi-chien. “Principles of Diet Therapy in Ancient Chinese Medicine: ‘Huang Di Nei Jing.”  http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/apjcn/2/2/91.pdf

Sun Simiao on Dietetics in the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine Journal (Autumn 2013, vol. 10, no. 2). https://static1.squarespace.com/static/537fb379e4b0fe1778d0f178/t/5399d890e4b0bcfc5d028d47/1402591376077/Sunsimiao+on+dietetics.pdf

“Chinese food therapy.” Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_food_therapy

Some Other Interesting Info (Nerd Facts)...

Sun Simiao (581-682) who was known as “The King of Medicine” - (one of is greatest credentials is that he lived to be 101 years old) - taught that the prevention of disease should come before any medical treatment. However, if treatment was required, he believed that dietary concerns should never be neglected. He wrote, “Proper food is able to expel evil and secure the zang and fu organs [the viscera] to please the spirit and clear the will, by supplying blood and qi. If you are able to use food to stabilize chronic disease, release emotions, and chase away disease, you can call yourself an outstanding artisan. This is the special method of lengthening the years and “eating for old age,” and the utmost art of nurturing life. Sun Simiao,  known as the “King of Medicine,” (581-682). https://static1.squarespace.com/static/537fb379e4b0fe1778d0f178/t/5399d890e4b0bcfc5d028d47/1402591376077/Sunsimiao+on+dietetics.pdf

.  . .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Image Credits

The featured image photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Vegetable photo by David Vázquez on Unsplash

Bok Choy photo by Jodie Morgan on Unsplash

Soup photo by Elli O. on Unsplash


Diet and Spirituality: Feeding the Mind, Body, and Soul

By freelance writer Sally Perkins

The idea that food can be a direct route to health and happiness is a belief that’s been long held by proprietors of traditional Chinese medicine. Recipes have passed down through generations that are used to help prevent and treat disease, slow down the aging process, or simply improve overall fitness. To this day, many households that use a traditional approach to health consider the pantry to be synonymous with the medicine cabinet.

In traditional Chinese medicine, food is more than just sustenance. It’s a healthy lifestyle choice that has a significant impact on your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Practitioners of traditional medicine promote the idea that a carefully crafted diet plan should be the first line of defense against any illness or ailment. Traditional medicine has shaped many common Chinese dishes that include a wide variety of vegetables and meats considered to have positive health benefits. Different health call for different ingredients, including herbs, spices, and vegetables that are known to have healing properties.

Dampness

Foods that are damp in nature can slow the digestive system and interfere with the flow of energy throughout your body. This blockage can lead to pain, disease, chronic allergies, and even arthritis. Signs of dampness can include congestion and excessive mucus formation, indigestion, weight gain, and swelling in the joints.

Foods to Include

  • Cooked vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans, lentils, and legumes
  • Lean protein
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Seaweed and kelp
  • Nuts and seeds

Foods to Avoid

  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Refined sugars
  • Processed flour
  • Coffee and alcohol
  • Bananas and avocado

Yin Deficiency

Responsible for keeping you cool, a deficiency with your yin can lead to overheating and fever. Yin is closely associated with the kidneys, which function to remove toxins from your system. An imbalance in your Yin can be the result of stress or overwork, but it may also be due to an inadequate diet.

Foods to Include

  • Barley, millet, and other whole grains
  • Beans and seeds
  • Eggs
  • Fruits such as apples, pears, and bananas
  • Seafood and red meat

Foods to Avoid

  • Hot or spicy foods
  • Caffeine, cigarettes, and other stimulants
  • Sugars

Yang Deficiency

Also often a result of improper kidney functioning, a deficiency in Yang energy is characterized by soreness in the joints and lumbar region, cold sensations in the limbs, difficulty urinating, incontinence, and a decreased libido.

Foods to Include

  • Berries and nuts
  • Red meats such as lamb and venison
  • Seafood
  • Strong spices such as black pepper, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, peppermint, and more

Foods to Avoid

  • Cold foods and liquids
  • Raw food

According to traditional Chinese medicine, a balance between flavor and nutrition helps to promote both physical and spiritual well being. By eating the right foods, you can keep your body in balance and reduce or alleviate the symptoms of certain chronic conditions.

 

**Beautiful featured image by Blair Fraser on Unsplash


Winter Recipe - Lamb Thigh & Warming Herbs Soup

By NourishU

Winter Recipes in Chinese Medicine

This beautiful Photo by Natasha Vasiljeva on Unsplash

Winter, with the drop in temperature, is the time to slow down physical activities as our body's metabolic rate slows down at this time of year. It is also the time to eat nourishing food to help the body to preserve energy. Animals follow the law of nature and hibernate throughout winter. Human should also preserve energy and build up strength, preparing the body for regeneration and new growth in spring.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, tonic-taking in winter has a great bearing upon the balancing of Yin and Yang elements, the unblocking of meridians, and the harmonizing of Qi and blood. In the five elements theory of TCM, winter is when the kidneys are highly active and they have astringent and active storage functions that help in preserving energy. People should eat food with less salty taste in order to reduce the burden on the kidneys. Uncooked and frozen foods can damage the spleen and stomach and should be taken in moderation.

In winter when body's resistance is low, elderly people are especially advised to take food tonics which can improve their body constitution and promote better resistance to illness. Food tonics can have much better healthful effects than supplementation and drugs.

The tonics include superior warming herbs, fatty and meaty foods. Our body is designed to absorb the rich and nutritional foods better at this time of the year. For people who have a cold constitution with cold hands and feet, weak kidney health with frequent urination, cold and stiff body and constant pain in their backs and ankles, winter is the best time for them to correct these health problems, as it is when the body is most responsive to nutritional treatment.

The warming winter foods include chive, chicken, mutton, shrimp, ginger, garlic, walnut, mushroom, chestnut, mustard, vinegar, wine, gingko, red pepper and spring onion. For people who are cold in nature, they should also use warming herbs such as dangshen, ginseng, astragalus, reishi mushroom, longan fruit and deer horn, etc. to promote yang energy.

Winter Recipe - Lamb Thigh & Warming Herbs Soup

Symptoms

Lack of appetite, cold hands and feet and general weakness due to being overworked.

Therapeutic Effects

Warms the center, promotes blood and qi, promotes vital fluids and prevents aging.

INGREDIENTS (3 servings)

Rou Cong Rong

  • Lamb thigh 羊脾肉 – 360gm
  • Broomrape (rou cong rong) 肉鬆蓉 – 15gm
  • Chinese Yam (shan yao) 淮山 – 30gm
  • Angelica Sinensis (dang gui) 當歸- 9gm
  • Asparagus root (tian dong) 天冬 ( 去心 ) – 9gm
  • Astragalus / Astragali Radix (huang qi) 北耆 – 6gm
  • American ginseng 花旗參 - 9gm
  • Atractylodes Rhizoma (pai chu) 白朮 – 6gm
  • Glutinous rice 糯米 – 60gm

Shan Yao - Chinese Yam

1.   Rinse lamb and put in boiling water to cook for a few minutes. Remove, rinse and drain dry.

2.   Brown lamb in a wok with no oil.

3.   Rinse herbs and rice and put together with lamb in a slow cooker with 6 cups of boiling water. Turn on high heat and let it cook for at least 4 hours until meat is all tender.

4.   Add salt and 2 spoonfuls of wine and serve.

Dang Gui Chinese Herb

USAGE

Not suitable if you have a cold or flu. Take once a day with a meal.

For people who may be too weak to accept this enriching recipe right away, it is recommended to start taking astragalus and dates tea, a couple of times per week for two weeks before taking this recipe.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Featured image by Photo by Tom Crew on Unsplash

If you would like a downloadable information sheet that will tell you all about how to live in harmony with the Winter Season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Winter Season in Chinese Medicine.


Immune Boosting Recipe - Winter Vegetable & Mushroom Soup

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Recipes That Improve the Immune System

Health preservation and sickness prevention are the main themes in Chinese medicine and strengthening the immune system is the key in achieving these objectives. When the immune system is healthy, it can counteract adverse effects and prevent the development of sickness. It can also enable self-healing and lessen the impact from invading elements.

It has been known for many decades that sugar depresses the immune system. It was only in the 70s that they found out that vitamin C was needed by white blood cells so that they could phagocytize bacteria and viruses. White blood cells require a fifty times higher concentration, at least inside the cell as outside, so they have to accumulate vitamin C. Vitamin C and glucose have similar chemical structure and they compete for one another upon entering the cells. If there is more glucose around then less vitamin C will be allowed into the cell. Therefore, a low sugar diet is absolutely necessary to enable more vitamin C to get into the cells and increase immune function.

Following a diet rich in antioxidants is also essential to support good immune function. Abundant in many fruits and vegetables, antioxidants combat free radicals which can damage DNA and suppress the immune system. Choosing healthy omega-3 fatty acids available in oily fish and flax seeds over saturated fats found in meat and dairy products can help increasing your immune functions.

Foods for Boosting the Immune System

Eggs

Egg yolks are loaded with choline, which is proven to help combat breast cancer.

Green Tea

Green tea can slow down the growth of cancer cell. Drink green tea after each meal can kill germs growth in mouth and can increase elasticity of arteries.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants, riboflavin, selenium and other nutrients that keep the immune system healthy, they also help stave off cancer and prevent cancer growth. Wood-ear mushroom has blood thinning effects similar to aspirin which can prevent blood clots without the side effects

Korean Ginseng

Korean ginseng can prevent cancer, calm nerves and treat neural disorders, treat low blood pressure, anemia, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and skin disease.

Cooked tomato

Cooked tomatoes have been proven to prevent uterus, prostate, bladder and pancreatic cancer. Tangerine tomatoes are a little-known species, distinctive for their orange color. They have a better form of lycopene which is particularly effective in fighting breast, prostate, ovarian, cervical and colon cancer. Cooked tomatoes also can treat and prevent cataracts, muscular degeneration, diabetes, and more.

Garlic

It is the most inexpensive common food that can give your immune system a boost. Add a couple of spoonfuls of minced garlic to your steamed rice or fried rice, or to your daily meal and it will help your body to prevent colds, fight viruses and kill bacteria.

Water

Drinking plenty of water and steering clear of sugary beverages, like soda and energy drinks, also help fend off infection by flushing out your system.

Herbs

Many tonic herbs have superior properties that have long been known to enhance the immunity of the body. Mushroom, ginseng, ling-zhi, cordyceps, Chinese yam, dang-shen, astragalus and many of the common herbs are part of the Chinese diet to boost the immune system.

Winter Vegetable & Mushroom Soup

this lovely image from walesonline.co.uk

Therapeutic Effects

Strengthens the body constitution, improves energy and body resistance, promotes general health and strengthens the immune system.

Ingredients

  • Button mushrooms - half cup
  • Onion - 1 large (finely chopped)
  • Garlic cloves - 4 (minced)
  • Carrot - 1 large (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • Parsnip - 1 large (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • Green cabbage - 1 small head (shredded)
  • Olive oil - 2 tablespoons

this beautiful image from naplesherald.com

Directions

1.   Heat oil in large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté at least 5 minutes or until onion is golden. Add carrot and parsnip and sauté 5 minutes or until carrot is crisp-tender.

2.   Stir in cabbage and cook, covered, 5 minutes or until beginning to wilt. Stir in 3 cups water, mushrooms and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 25 minutes or until mushroom and winter vegetable soup is richly flavoured.

this delicious image from epicurious.com

 

Usage

No restrictions.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

If you would like a downloadable information sheet that will tell you all about how to live in harmony with the Winter Season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Winter Season in Chinese Medicine.

Delicious featured image photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash


Color Dietetics - With a Poster to Hang on the Wall

by John Voigt

Diets rich in a variety of colors and different fruits and vegetables are good for your heart and brain healthand may decrease stroke risk. American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Eat a variety of types and colors of vegetables and fruits to give your body the mix of nutrients it needs. Try dark leafy greens; brightly colored red, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits; and cooked tomatoes. A diet rich in produce can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar which can help keep appetite in check. Harvard School of Public Health.  

Introduction

For thousands of years, Chinese thinkers have known that within nature there is a complete code for health, harmony, and wellbeing. There have been many explanations and commentaries about each individual being made up of five ever-changing interacting universal vortexes of energy (qi), physicalness (e.g., bodily organs), and conscious sensation (the mind and emotions). Each of these five energies has a separate color.

Cut Out and print this chart and put it on a wall in your kitchen. The link to the printable PDF is below. :)

The Color of Foods Poster : Chinese Medicine Living

The Color of Foods Poster : Chinese Medicine Living

===========================================

The Color of Foods

Goal: Eat Daily From Each of These Groups. Aim for a Total of Five to Ten Servings

GREEN

Cruciferous - Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, turnip greens, watercress. (Go for one to two daily servings from this very important group.)

 Leafy Greens  - Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, chicory, Swiss chard; also artichokes, asparagus.

RED

Apples (w skin), beets, cherries, cranberries, Chinese wolfberry (Gǒuqǐ),  guava,  pink grapefruit, pomegranates, radishes, raspberries, red grapes, strawberries, tomatoes (especially cooked, tomato juice, pasta sauce, tomato soup, tomato paste), and watermelon.

YELLOW-ORANGE

Apricots, avocados, butternut squash, cantaloupe, carrots, grapefruit, lemons, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pears, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, curcumin [in turmeric].

WHITE

Garlic (raw and freshly cut, mashed, or chewed. Onions, leeks.

BLUE-PURPLE

Blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, plums or prunes.

Other important produce: almonds, bananas, beans, cacao, flax, ginger, green or black tea, mushrooms, olive oil, soy (tofu, soy milk, edamame, etc.), sunflower seeds, walnuts, whole grains. Possibly (and in moderation) coffee, red wine.

Eat the rainbow : Chinese Medicine Livingthis delicious image from organicandhappy.tumblr.com

===========================================

Western Medical Science on a Color Produce Diet

Green Cruciferous. May induce detoxification of carcinogens, block tumor growth and work as antioxidants. American Institute for Cancer Research.

Leafy Greens. Some laboratory research has found that the carotenoids in dark green leafy vegetables can inhibit the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells, skin cancer cells, lung cancer and stomach cancer. Rio Grande Cancer Foundation.

People who ate one to two servings of green leafy vegetables a day were cognitively 11 years younger than those who ate fewer greens. Blueberries may have the best cognitive perks. AARP.

Red - Fruits, Vegetables, [also beans].

Diets rich in these nutrients are being studied for their ability to fight heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s Disease as well as skin, breast and prostate cancers. fns.usda.gov.

Red - Tomatoes.

Epidemiological studies have associated tomato consumption with a decreased risk of prostate cancer. Annual Review Food Science Technology.  

Tomatoes may be considered a valuable component of a cardioprotective diet. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Yellow - Orange

[Some possible benefits:] Research shows that these nutrients reduce the risk for cancer and heart attacks, boost immunity, help maintain good vision and strong bones/teeth/skin. fns.usda.gov. 

White. Garlic and other foods in the onion family may be included in the variety of vegetables that are recommended for lowering cancer risk. American Cancer Society.

Blue/Purple.

help your body defend against cancer, reduce the risk of age-related memory loss, help control high blood pressure and reduce the risk of diabetes complications and heart attacks. fns.usda.gov.

Rainbow Bowl : Chinese Medicine Livingthis delicious image from sheknows.com

===========================================

Additional Notes

Serving sizes are approximately one cup for leafy greens, berries, melon chunks, 100% juice or fresh juice. Approximately half a cup for other fruits and vegetables. American Heart Association recommends nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, about 4.5 cups.

One clove of garlic is often suggested as a serving size, but pragmatically with it (and onions) odor must be considered.

Frozen produce is often better than fresh.

Vegetables are best eaten lightly cooked (steamed, or lightly stir-fried or sautéed in vegetable oil).

As a suggestion from the author, shop with all your senses. Learn to sense the qi (the vital life energy) in your foods. Look at the qi of the colors: is it natural (no dyes), full, rich, vibrant? Is the Smell fresh, clean, invigorating? (people often do this with cantaloupes). Touch (maybe even squeeze those tomatoes). Shake it, tap it and Listen.  If possible Taste—perhaps you will even feel a tingle of the healing qi on the tip of your tongue.

What about your sixth sense? Become like an East Asian shaman and use your imagination and intuition. Have fun with this: Pick up that plant and playfully psych out if it will be good or not for you. As in, feel its vibe. Doubters and skeptics are invited to experiment and see what happens. The more you do these things the easier it gets, and for some it really does work.

More practically, as my daughters so lovingly taught me, make Smoothies, but go for more vegetables and fruits (in different colors of course) and less, if any, dairy and sweeteners. Smoothies are such a convenient way to “Eat Five A Day.”

===========================================

Why and How the Five Colors Work

In thousands of studies, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables promotes health. Western nutritionists say such produce contains important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients (aka phytochemicals).  Phyto means “plant” and especially interesting they often give produce its color. But what is difficult for western scientific investigators is there may be as many as 25,000 phytochemicals and they are in (analogous to TCM) constant holistic interactions. When pharmaceutical companies isolate one chemical out of food and process it into pills, the pills seldom work as efficiently as does the whole food itself.  [EN wiki]

Chinese cultural thought offers different theoretical explanations why choosing and eating fruits and vegetables by their colors enables wellbeing. What follows is an all too abbreviated explanation of how everything works in the universe.

From the Daodejing chapter 42 (excerpt) - Genesis

(Before the beginning was) Dao from which is born One (an unmanifested primordial energy called Qi).  This One gives birth to Two (the static polarities of Yin and Yang). Then Three—a dynamic Qi appears opening Yin and Yang into a harmony of infinite interactions.

And from Three, creation [in time and space] unfolds and all things are born… By blending the qi they achieve harmony. http://qi-encyclopedia.com/index.asp?article=Qi-in-the-Daodejing

Yin is negative passive energy; yang is positive active energy. Their continuous interactions produce cycling patterns of five; this is the basis of all existence in nature, man and the universe. These Five Element Energies in constant unfolding changes are called Wuxing. Wuxing is understood as Wood-Fire-Earth-Metal-Water, and in the body as the Five Organs: Liver-Heart-Spleen-Lung-Kidney. For our purposes Wuxing defines the colors of fruits and vegetables. [Endnote wuxing]

The reader with even a small amount of knowledge of TCM will notice familiar key terms. In TCM illness appears when qi and/or yin-yang are out of harmony and improperly effect the Five Element Organs.

There is more, but it is not often discussed in TCM.  Certain Confucian scholars suggested that deep within the confines of the Dao there was something even more deeply and profoundly hidden. They called it Li which is now defined as “form or pattern” but originally meant “markings in jade, grain in wood, fiber in muscle.”  In Chinese philosophy, in its merging of science, poetry, metaphysics and practicality, Li is considered to be the matrix of the proper order of all things in man and nature. Another very early meaning of Li was “cutting things according to their natural grain or divisions.”  When one lives in accordance with the Li—the natural laws of nature—one gains wellbeing. For example, in practicing a dietetics based on the colors of the wuxing one could gain health. The person is “cutting things according to their natural grain or divisions.”  If they eat too large quantities of processed meat and sweets and become obese they are not, they are working against the Li. [more about Li at https://liology.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/nature%E2%80%99s-organizing-principles-the-li/

Eat the rainbow : Chinese Medicine Livingthis yummy image from exploregram.com

===========================================

Endnotes

[EN wiki ]According to the American Cancer Society, "Available scientific evidence does not support claims that taking phytochemical supplements is as good for long-term health as consuming the fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains from which they are taken." “Phytochemical.” Wikipedia.

[EN-wuxing]

Wuxing (wǔ xíng - 五行, literally “five movements”). Pronounced “woo” [low tone] “shin” [rising tone].

Xing originally meant the place where roads intersect; therefore a strong implication of motion, along with subtle implications of someone walking the path (of the Dao). It is often too simplistically defined as the “Five Elements.” A better definition is the Five Universal Movements of Change.  More at Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

And  New World Encyclopedia.  

===========================================

Disclaimer: This article is offered for educational purposes. It is not meant to take the place of professional medical services. If you are or may be sick see a doctor. However, fruits and vegetables consumed in the normal amounts of a healthy diet by healthy people should prove to be helpful and unlikely to cause any serious problems.

However, if you are taking any medications talk to a health care provider about any potential risks. Certain medications may harmfully interact with certain foods: for example ACE inhibitors with bananas; or grapefruit and pomegranate juices with certain cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Eat the Rainbow : Chinese Medicine Livingthis lovely image by atastylovestory.com

=============================================

For more information about the health benefits of color dietetics from western perspectives click the link below

Color Dietetics Additional Info

To learn more about author and contributor  John Voigt, read his bio.