Mustard Greens & Pork Soup Recipe

By NourishU

Chinese Medicine Nutrition & The Summer Season

The excessive heat and humidity in summer can affect our health in many ways. It can cause the loss of body fluid and energy with profuse perspiration and can weaken our appetite. Drinking too much fluid to fight summer heat can dilute digestive enzymes which can lead to indigestion.

Extreme heat can lead to heat stroke with symptoms such as fainting, spasm, and fatigue. It is important not to over-expose oneself to the immense heat. Drinking excessive ice cold drinks can further damage the spleen system and cause food and energy stagnation. Eating seasonal vegetables such as winter melon and citrus fruits to quench thirst, to promote digestion and to expel heat and dampness is most beneficial to health. It is also important to eat food that can improve appetite, promote digestion and benefit spleen functions. Oily and heavy meat dishes should be avoided because they will cause indigestion.

Potassium

Potassium is the most important mineral of all which is necessary for good health. Potassium's main function is to promote cell tissue and growth. Our body needs to replace dead cells and tissue every day. There is no better source of potassium than vinegar---particularly natural apple cider vinegar. It is probably the best and cheapest agent to detoxify our body. As such, it should be considered as a critical component to the fountain of youth!

In summer months: add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to a quart of water. Drink this on a hot summer day, especially before working out. Your body will feel very clean. In winter months: 2 TBLS of apple cider vinegar in a mug filled with hot water 3 times a day.

Pear

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

Eating pear after a meal/BBQ.

The Seoul National University of Medicine Division of Preventive Medicine research team led by Professor Yang Meixi in September 2010 released a report saying that eating a pear after a meal can discharge a lot of carcinogenic substances accumulated in the human body.

The survey results indicate that smoking or eating grilled & roasted meat, the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the body will be significantly lower after eating a pear. The result of the findings indicated that heated pear juice contains a lot more anti-cancer substances - Polyphenol.

Mustard Greens & Pork Soup Recipe

 

This delicious image by INRTracker.com

SYMPTOMS:

Slight internal heat syndrome with symptoms such as slight constipation, red eyes, and bad breath.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS:

Clears internal heat and relieves constipation.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Mustard Greens  芥菜 -  300 gm
  • Lean Pork -  180gm
  • Ginger – 2 slices

1.   Wash mustard greens and cut into pieces.

2.   Rinse pork and cut into thin pieces, season (a little sugar, salt, pepper, cornstarch and sesame oil) and set aside.

3.   Boil about 8 cups of water in a soup pot and put in mustard greens and ginger to cook for about 30 minutes over medium heat. Add pork and cook for another 6 or 7 minutes and serve.

USAGE:

No restrictions.


Beautiful featured image photo by Masaaki Komori 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!

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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.

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Delicious featured image photo by Edward Guk on Unsplash

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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 :)


The Yin & Yang Concept in Chinese Eating

By freelance writer Sally Perkins

The Yin And Yang Concept In Chinese Eating

Chinese food and Chinese medicine is based on the yin and yang concept of balance. It is never about specific foods, whether good or bad, but relationships created out of these foods and the health benefits acquired from them. The traditional concept of Chinese diets has always taken a holistic approach rather than individual foods. It is a relationship of cold, hot, and warm foods served together. The thermal nature of foods is not necessarily based on their preparation methods. Different seasons call for different foods. It is out of this combination that both delicious and highly nutritious foods are created.

Understanding Chinese Eating Concepts

Foods and Organs

According to Chinese medicine, every body organ is attached to a specific taste and a specific element. For instance, the heart is associated with bitterness and fire, lungs are associated with spicy foods and the metal element, the liver with soreness and wood, kidneys with the salty taste and water. This means that when preparing meals, they must always incorporate all the five tastes for the purpose of serving all the body organs. The composition of all these tastes ensures the body is well balanced and is protected from different kinds of diseases.

This delicious photo by Artur Rutkowski on Unsplash

Foods and Seasons

Foods are seasonal according to Chinese Eating. Summer is a period associated with yang: growth, light and energy. The heart is the organ symbol for summer. During this period, people are advised to eat cooling and hydrating foods. The cooking methods are also light, with most people preferring to sauté or steam food. The meals are light and servings small. Cool foods include lemons, cucumbers, watermelons, tofu, mung beans, sprouts, limes, apples, pumpkins and raw foods.  Flower leaf teas, the likes of mint and chamomile are great for cooling the body. During Autumn, sour and neutral foods are popular. These include pineapples, sesame, white fungus and most fruits. The organ associated with winter mostly is the kidney. Foods taken during this season are warm, spicy, dark and less salty. They include red pepper, red meat, chive, shrimp, spring onions, black fungus, ginger, vinegar, mustard, wine, leeks and mushrooms. The spices and food tonics help to heal up the body. Raw or frozen foods are shunned as they require a lot of digestive energy to be broken down. Meals taken during winter are often heavy and cooked for long periods. During Spring, a season indicating new birth, people eat sweet and cold foods like dates, spinach and coriander.

Foods and Nutritional Composition

Chinese medicine continues to champion for a balanced diet. A balanced meal with both carbohydrates and proteins ensures utmost metabolism. This combination also works in balancing the body's blood sugar as well as the insulin level. The nature of protein food is illustrated as crispy and dry, which heat up the carbohydrates that are illustrated as wet and moist. The benefits of eating proteins are numerous making them an intricate part of the Chinese diet.

Photo by Elli O. on Unsplash

How To Make Your Chinese Diet Healthy and Balanced

It is of importance to rethink what you eat as your ideal main and side dish. In different parts of the world especially in America, we often eat so much meat that it becomes the main or go to dish.  To the contrary, every meal should consist of vegetables as the main course with proteins and carbohydrates as the side courses. Chinese medicine justifies the fact that having natural vegetables, spices and herbs can actually greatly minimize your visits to the doctor. A spice such as ginger is known to be a remedy for nausea. Chillies are also very effective in easing digestion and thus minimizing chances of constipation. One does not have to believe in the curing effect of Chinese foods to incorporate them in your diet but the general fact that natural foods translate to good health in plenty is more than enough reason. When shopping for food stuffs, try going for unrefined products. This will ensure that you get your food all natural. Soups should also be a mandatory part of your meals.

A Chinese diet does not necessarily have to be of Chinese food. They may be hard or even expensive to get. You can always use the readily available foods in your locality. What matters most is the concept of the Chinese diet. Always ensure the ingredients are natural and so more balanced.

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Featured image photo by Sharon Chen on Unsplash


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

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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


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.

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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.


Vitamins! Why You Need Them & Where To Get Them

In Chinese medicine food is the best medicine, therefore, getting enough of all the important vitamins from what we eat is something we should all be constantly working at. It can be overwhelming and hard to remember which vitamins do what and where to get them, so this is why I wanted to have a practical list to help list which vitamins we need, why they are important and where to get them. A good way to think about getting everything you need is to "eat the rainbow" meaning eating as many brightly coloured fruits and vegetables as possible (which also tends to indicate how rich they are in antioxidants). Also, having a small child to feed has made making sure that all the meals I prepare are smashed full of as many vitamins as possible for growing bodies and minds! I hope this information is helpful and will help you to eat a healthier, more balanced diet.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning that any extra that you are getting from your diet is stored in the body. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant, which are important for combatting free radical damage which leads to premature aging. Antioxidants also reduce inflammation in the body which helps to combat many diseases.  Because of their effect on free radicals, a diet high in antioxidants helps to combat premature aging, actually slowing the aging process. Vitamin A is important for many of the body's vital functions, and is especially important for children as it helps vision and neurological function, so make sure your babies get plenty of the foods listed below for their brain and eye health.

this image from huffingtonpost.com

Why You Need It

  • Vision
  • Immune System
  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Antioxidant (slows aging and reduces inflammation)

Sources

  • Liver
  • Fish Oils
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Collard Greens
  • Beet & Turnip Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Bok Choi
  • Sweet Potato
  • Carrots
  • Butternut Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Winter Squash
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Green & Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Chicory
  • Apricots
  • Prunes
  • Peaches
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet Red Peppers
  • Yellow Peppers
  • Red Peppers
  • Bluefin Tuna
  • Sturgeon
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Mangoes
  • Papaya

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin meaning any extra you consume that your body doesn't need is stored. The body produces vitamin D from cholesterol, provided there is enough UV light from our exposure to sunlight. We are also able to get vitamin D through some foods and one of its most important functions is regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. The absorption of vitamin D is improved when taken with food or a source of fat, like fish oil. Several environmental factors affect our ability to get enough vitamin D, such as being somewhere with high levels of pollution, using sunscreen, spending a lot of time indoors, living in cities where tall buildings block sunlight and having darker skin (with higher levels of melanin). So, be sure to get enough sunlight (going outside is good for your health on so many levels!) and eating a diet rich in foods with vitamin D.

this image from gizmodo

Why You Need It

  • Bone Health
  • Calcium Absorption
  • Weight Management
  • Nervous System
  • Muscle Health
  • Modulation of Cell Growth
  • Immune System
  • Reduction of Inflammation

Sources

  • Sunlight
  • Sardines
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Caviar
  • Eggs
  • Raw Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Cheese

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin meaning excess is stored in the body and not excreted in the urine. Vitamin E has many important functions in the body including being a strong antioxidant which combats free radical damage helping to prevent disease, reduce inflammation and slow the aging process. An adequate amount of vitamin E is needed for many bodily functions including the proper functioning of organs, neurological processes and the proper functioning of enzymes.

this yummy image from californiaavocado.com

Why You Need It

  • Red Blood Cells
  • Protects Against Cell Damage
  • Immune System
  • Eyesight
  • Balances Cholesterol
  • Prevents Free Radical Damage
  • Repairs Damaged Skin
  • Balances Hormones
  • Thickens Hair
  • Helps Period Symptoms

Sources

  • Sweet Potato
  • Avocado
  • Wheat Germ
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut Butter
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Tomato
  • Spinach

 

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is the last of the four fat soluble vitamins, meaning they are stored in the body and not excreted in the urine. Vitamin K is particularly important for blood clotting. Most of the vitamin K we get comes from intestinal bacteria - so the amount of vitamin K we are getting really depends on the health of our GI tract. There are two types of vitamin K that we get from our diets, vitamin K1 which is found in vegetables, and vitamin K2 which is found in dairy products and produced by bacteria in a healthy gut. Eating foods rich in vitamin K as well as making sure that you have a healthy digestive system will ensure that you are getting enough of this important vitamin.

this delicious image from eatrightontario.ca

Why You Need It

  • Blood Clotting
  • Heart Health
  • Reduce Infections
  • Oral Health
  • Improves Bone Density
  • Fights Cancer

Sources

  • Kale
  • Collard Greens
  • Turnip Greens
  • Mustard Greens
  • Beet Greens
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Watercress
  • Miso (Fermented Soy)
  • Prunes
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Spring Onions
  • Cucumber
  • Fer
  • Dried Basil
  • Parsley
  • Endive
  • Okra
  • Pickles
  • Kiwis
  • Peas
  • Tuna

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is part of the complex of eight B vitamins that play an important role in helping maintain a healthy metabolism, liver function, a healthy nervous system, skin and eye health and boost energy levels. Vitamin B6 also helps the body with important functions like movement, memory, blood flow and how the body uses energy. Thankfully, most people in developed nations get enough vitamin B6 from their diets, and some even consume much more than the body needs. Since the B vitamins are water soluble, any extra that you may be getting is not stored in the body and is excreted in your urine.

this yummy image from stylecraze.com

Why You Need It

  • Brain Function
  • Nerve Function
  • Red Blood Cell Production
  • Healthy Blood Vessels
  • Metabolism
  • Skin
  • Protects Eyes
  • Boosts Energy & Mood
  • Pain Management (B6 is a natural pain reliever)

Sources

  • Turkey Breast
  • Grass Fed Beef
  • Pistachio Nuts
  • Avocado
  • Blackstrap Molases
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Chicken Breast
  • Pinto Beans
  • Tuna
  • Chickpeas / Garbanzo Beans
  • Amaranth

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the world. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include chronic fatigue, depression (and other mood disorders), or chronic stress that can lead to adrenal fatigue. Animal foods are the best sources of vitamin B12. Plant sources do not contain any naturally occurring B12 unless they have been synthetically fortified. For this reason, many vegetarians and vegans are deficient in vitamin B12. It is estimated that between 15-39% of people in the United States (NIH & American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) are deficient in vitamin B12. A deficiency is often difficult to diagnose as its symptoms are so common - feeling tired, depressed and unfocussed. If you have been feeling any of these symptoms, try upping your intake of vitamin B12, you may feel a huge improvement.

this delicious image from apparelmagazine.co.nz

Why You Need It

  • Benefits Nervous System
  • Benefits Mood
  • Maintains Energy Levels
  • Preserves Memory
  • Heart Health
  • Healthy Skin & Hair
  • Lowers Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease
  • Produces Red Blood Cells
  • Needed for Healthy Pregnancy
  • Aids in Digestion

Sources

  • Beef & Chicken Liver
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Trout
  • Yoghurt
  • Turkey
  • Raw Milk
  • Lamb

Folic Acid

Getting adequate folic acid is particularly important if you are pregnant as it helps to prevent miscarriage and neural tube defects like spina bifida (which is when the fetus's spine and back do not close during development). Folic acid is the synthetic form of B9 - also known as folate. Folate occurs naturally in many foods and since the late 90's has been added to many foods like cold cereals, breads, pastas, cookies and crackers.

this image from livingplate.com

Why You Need It

  • Needed for Copying & Synthesizing DNA
  • Producing New Cells
  • Supports the Immune System
  • Supports Healthy Nerve Function
  • Heart Health
  • Encourages Normal Fetal Development

Sources

  • Spinach
  • Beef Liver
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Mustard Greens
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Kidney Beans
  • Oranges
  • Avocado
  • Wheat Germ
  • Lentils
  • Turnip Greens
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Collard Greens
  • Papaya
  • Strawberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Raspberries
  • Chickpeas / Garbanzo Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Beets
  • Corn
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Squash

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Niacin is a water soluble B vitamin which means it is not stored in the body and any extra is excreted in urine. Niacin helps to maintain healthy energy levels and brain function. We need to eat a steady supply of niacin to make sure we don't suffer from a deficiency.

this image from stylecraze.com

Why You Need It

  • Protects Against Cardiovascular Disease
  • Supports Cognitive Function
  • Supports the Nervous System
  • Important for Healthy Digestion
  • Healthy Skin
  • Relief of Arthritis Pain

Sources

  • Turkey Breast
  • Chicken Breast
  • Peanuts
  • Liver
  • Tuna
  • Mushrooms
  • Green Peas
  • Grass Fed Beef
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Avocado

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Riboflavin is one of eight B vitamins. The B vitamins help the body to convert food into fuel. It is important to get enough B2 in your diet as it affects how some other B vitamins like B12 and folic acid do their jobs. The complex of B vitamins also help to synthesize fats and protein. Taking the full complex of B vitamins are also helpful for helping the body to combat stress. It is also the B vitamin that makes your pee turn bright yellow so you can tell if you are getting enough - actually, the flavin in riboflavin comes from flavus - the Latin word for yellow. :) We need to acquire riboflavin from our diets, ideally every day to keep optimum healthy levels.

this image from vitaminsestore.com

Why You Need It

  • Maintains Healthy Blood Cells
  • Is an Antioxidant
  • Boosts Energy Levels
  • Protects Skin & Eye Health
  • Promotes Healthy Metabolism
  • Promotes Iron Metabolism

Sources

  • Meats
  • Organ meats
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Soy Beans
  • Spinach
  • Beet Greens
  • Tempeh
  • Yoghurt
  • Crimini Mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Almonds
  • Turkey
  • Sea Vegetables
  • Collard Greens
  • Kale
  • Bok Choi
  • Green Beans
  • Swiss Chard
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Shitake Mushrooms

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

Featured image photo by Jonathan Perez on Unsplash


Eating an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

It has become clear in recent years that chronic inflammation is the cause of many devastating diseases including arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer. Research has found that eating a diet high in anti inflammatory foods not only protects against disease, but speeds the metabolism and actually slows the aging process. Inflammation is the body's healing response, which sends a signal to direct more blood, nourishment and immune response to an area of injury or infection. Chronic infection however, is destructive to the body and can lead to disease. Inflammation can come from many sources; toxins in the environment, sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise, stress and emotional toxicity, genetics and most importantly, what we eat. Because the diet is so powerful when it comes to both harming and healing the body, below are some of the ways that we can all eat in a way that combats inflammation. Food therapy is a huge component of Chinese medicine, and what we eat is one of the easiest and most powerful ways that we can use to stay healthy now and long into the future.

One way to use food as medicine is to make sure that we are eating food that is as fresh and chemical free as possible. That means eating organic whenever possible to avoid pesticides and unnatural genetically modified foods that our bodies are not designed to consume. It is always best to eat fresh, local foods that are minimally processed to get the most benefits for your mind and body. The following foods are some of the best for fighting inflammation.

Steamed Vegetables

steamed veggies for inflammation : Chinese Medicine Livingthis image from thedailytea.com

There are many ways to cook vegetables, but steaming is one of the best because it improves the availability of nutrients helping us to absorb more of them as well as allowing the mucosa in the GI tract to repair itself. Use minimal raw foods (which are considered "cold" in Chinese medicine) except for occasional salads in warmer months to help keep you cool. Vegetables provide important flavonoids and carotenoids which have antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties. Excellent vegetables for inflammation include eggplant, okra, onions, purple cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and red peppers. You can add anti-inflammatory herbs and spices such as turmeric and ginger to make those veggies even more delicious and enhance their anti-inflammatory effect. Eat 5-6 servings a day minimum. One serving is equal to 2 cups of salad greens, 1/2 cup of cooked, raw or juiced veggies.

Grains

Grains for inflammation : Chinese Medicine Livingthis lovely image from spoonuniversity.com

You can eat one to two cups of whole grains per day. The best for inflammation are barley and oatmeal. Be sure to consume high amounts of fiber as it contains naturally occurring anti inflammatory phytonutrients. Other grains that are good for inflammation include basmati, brown or wild rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and rye. Rice crackers and wasa crackers are another grain food that you can eat with spreads like guacamole and hummus (excellent anti inflammatory fats!). Grains digest slowly, keeping blood sugar levels stable thus helping to combat inflammation. 3-5 servings a day. One serving is equal to 1/2 cup cooked grains.

Nuts & Seeds

nuts and seeds for inflammation : Chinese medicine Livingthis lovely image from thedolcediet.com

Nuts and seeds are a great food as they are so portable. You can carry with you raw, unsalted almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Flax and chia seeds are a great thing to add to smoothies or salads. Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews and walnuts are also packed with anti inflammatory properties. Nuts and seeds are whole foods, and really pack a punch when it comes to inflammation because they offer healthy fats, fiber, protein and vitamin E. Nuts and seeds contain either monounsaturated or omega-3 fats which help to reduce inflammation. 5-7 servings a day with one serving equal to 1 teaspoon of oil, or about 2 walnuts.

Legumes

legumes for inflammation : Chinese Medicine Livingthis pretty image from justhospitality.co.uk

Split peas, lentils, pinto beans, mung beans, chick peas, black beans and adzuki beans are great for inflammation. They are packed with folic acid, magnesium and potassium as well as soluble fiber. They also have a low glycemic index which makes them great for anyone concerned about high blood sugar. Make sure to eat legumes well cooked, as they can be hard to digest. A good way to consume them is pureed in spreads like hummus. 1-2 servings per day with one serving being equal to 1/2 cup of cooked legumes.

Fish

Anti-inflammatory foods : Chinese Medicine Livingthis pretty image from crystalcoveseafood.com

Because much of the earth's lakes and oceans are now polluted, it is best to eat deep sea fish, and smaller fish with less time to accumulate toxins. Fresh caught fish is preferable to farmed fish. The best choices are salmon, halibut, black cod, herring, sardines and mackerel. Fish should be poached, baked, steamed or broiled. Fish contain omega 3 fats which are a powerful anti inflammatory for the entire body, and particularly the brain. Recent research has also proven that the omega 3 fats in fish oils can protect the elderly brain, with the ability to maintain optimal brain function for longer than for people who don't eat fish or supplement with omega 3 fats. You want to have between 2-6 servings per week, with one serving being equal to 4 ounces.

Chicken & Turkey

the anti inflammation diet : Chinese Medicine Livingthis lovely image from finecooking.com

Most people eat a diet high in animal foods, which can lead to health issues. Remember moderation in all things! Meats also, because of the huge demand and factory farming contain hormones and other drugs that you are also consuming when you eat the animal. Another thing to consider, and Chinese medicine believes this, is if the animal is raised in terrible conditions and has lived an unhappy life, you are eating that energy as well. Best to reduce animal products, and choose grass fed, organic meats from happy animals. If you are lucky enough to live near a farm where you can develop a relationship with the farmer and ensure that the animals are both healthy and happy, all the better. For those of us who cannot, best to stick to grass fed, organic meats, and organic, cage free chickens and eggs. Remove skin from chicken and turkey (to avoid excess fats). Chicken and turkey should be baked, broiled or steamed. 1-2 servings per week, one serving being equal to 3 ounces of cooked chicken or turkey.

Fruit

Fruit for inflammation : Chinese Medicine Livingthis pretty image from medicalnewstoday.com

Fruits are a wonderful source of antioxidants and are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids. Try to eat the rainbow with lots of variety while eating fruits that are in season, fresh if possible, or frozen. Always buy organic if possible as fruits tend to be grown using a lot of pesticides. Fruits yield a ton of health benefits as well as being highly anti inflammatory. The best choices for their anti inflammatory properties are raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, nectarines, peaches, red grapes, pink grapefruit, pomegranates, plums, cherries, apples and pears. Eat 3-4 servings per day with one serving being equal to one medium sized piece of fruit.

Butter & Oils

Foods to fight inflammation : Chinese Medicine Livingthis lovely image from radiantlifecatalogue.com

When using butter, try mixing one pound of butter with one cup of extra virgin olive oil. Whip it at room temperature and store in the refrigerator. This mix provides the benefits and taste of butter and the essential fats found in olive oil. When using oil for cooking, try to use extra virgin olive oil. On salads try organic, expeller pressed sunflower or safflower oils, as well as walnut and hazelnut oils for a different flavour. Try not to heat the oil, but add it after foods are already cooked. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants.

Spices

Anti-inflammatory foods : Chinese Medicine Livingthis pretty image from ubizarre.com

Spices add flavour to the foods we eat, and some spices are loaded with anti inflammatory properties like turmeric and ginger. Some others are curry (which includes turmeric), parsley, savory, cardamom, garlic, chili peppers, thyme, rosemary, basil and cinnamon. You may use unlimited amounts of spices to add to any dish. Be creative, the right combination makes any meal even more delicious!

Herbal Teas & Water

Anti-inflammatory foods : Chinese Medicine Livingthis beautiful image from americanpregnancy

Everyone knows the importance of staying hydrated, so a minimum of 8 cups of clean, filtered (reverse osmosis filtered if possible) water a day is recommended to stay healthy and combat inflammation. Drink it at room temperature or warmed if you prefer, but do not add ice or drink it cold out of the fridge (this is very hard on your spleen!). A glass of lemon water in the morning is an excellent way to detox your body before you start your day. Drink herbal teas, preferably in the evening and sip them slowly. It is best not to drink with meals as it dilutes stomach acid and hinders efficient digesting. Tea is high in a compound called catechin, which reduces inflammation. Drink herbal teas 2-4 times per day. The best choices are high quality oolong, green and white teas. Research how to brew each type for maximum flavour and health benefits.

Eating in a healthy, balanced way is one of the best and easiest ways that we can not only combat inflammation, but maintain overall health. Other factors like managing stress and regular exercise are important for avoiding inflammation. Chinese medicine says balance in all things which it seems is getting harder and harder to do with lives that are increasingly complex and hectic. Remember to chew food well and always take time to eat, trying to just focus on eating rather than doing many things at the same time. This is difficult in a culture that values multitasking, but being mindful and focussing on eating is a way that we can help the digestion to be more efficient and process our food more thoroughly. There are many foods you can add to your diet to reduce inflammation and stay healthy and happy, right now and well into the future.

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How to Get Healthy in 2016 with Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Eat Your Medicine

There is a huge emphasis in Chinese medicine that the food we eat is our best medicine. Food, after all, is the medicine we take into our bodies many times a day. This philosophy makes sense, especially when you are talking about Chinese medicine, which is a medicine of prevention. Why not eat to stay healthy so that you never get sick? So how, you might ask, can I eat in the healthiest way according to Chinese medicine? Well, eating with the seasons is one of the fundamentals. This used to be the way that not only the Chinese ate, but the way all of our ancestors ate as well. What was eaten was what was grown in that particular season - which is what our bodies, and especially our digestive systems were designed for. Part of the reason that we have so many digestive problems in our present culture is because we are able to eat foods that grow in all seasons (because of the miracle of mass transportation and refrigeration): strawberries in winter, root vegetables in summer, etc... Although it is wonderful to have this kind of variety all year around, it is not what our digestive systems were designed for, and they are still catching up as far as evolution is concerned. In Chinese medicine there are also many foods and recipes that are used when we come down with something like a cold or flu. Congee is a good example - and there are a few excellent recipes here - Winter Congee for Colds & Flu, Chicken & Corn Congee, Ginseng Congee for Health & Longevity.  Part of the job of the Chinese medicine practitioner is not only to administer acupuncture and herbs, but also to consult their patient about nutritional therapy to help the body to rebalance and heal, because, food is some of the most powerful medicine. :)

Reconnect With Nature

Healthy 2016 With Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from sheknows.com

There is nothing more healing that walking on the beach by the ocean, or strolling through an old growth forest. And nothing reconnects you better than lying in the grass, or taking your shoes off and walking directly on the earth. As a species, we are presently more connected to each other than at any other time in our history, which is amazing and makes out lives better in many ways. Access to information, sharing of knowledge and being connected to people who are far away has never been easier. Unfortunately, we seem to have lost our connection to nature. Children, instead of playing outside as they once did, often sit inside, in front of the TV instead of exploring the natural world, running and playing outdoors. As we grow into adults we spend years in schools sitting at desks, until we venture out into the working world where we sit indoors for many hours a day until we can go home to rest. Our bodies were designed to MOVE, and our lives used to be completely connected to the outdoors, where we were in constant contact with the incredible healing energy of nature. So make some time to go outside every day. Smell a flower. Hug a tree. Walk barefoot in some grass or gaze at the sky. Your body (as well as your mind) will love you for it.

Live With the Seasons

Chinese medicine tells us that to be in harmony with our bodies and in good health, we must also be in harmony with nature. This means living with the seasons. Every season has its own unique energy - winter contracts, spring is expansive, summer radiates and fall begins to withdraw. Each of the seasons has its own unique energy, and Chinese medicine teaches us the ways in which we can aspire to live in harmony with those energies. For example, in winter we go to bed earlier and sleep later, we pay close attention to the kidneys (the organ associated with winter) and eat foods that grow slowly and deep in the ground - like root vegetables - that are warming in nature. We look inward and nourish our inner selves in this season. Our lifestyles should reflect the season we are in, and Chinese medicine gives us many ways in which to do this. You can learn how in the following posts...

Winter

•   Living According to the Winter Season with Chinese Medicine

Spring

•   Loving Your Liver with Chinese Medicine
•   Loving Your Liver with Nutrition
•   The Liver & Anger

Summer

•   Living With the Seasons - Summer
•   Summer Foods & Preparation According to Chinese Medicine

Autumn / Fall

•   Living With the Seasons - Autumn / Fall

Be Grateful

Healthy 2016 With Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This pretty image from fastcompany.com

This is one that I have learned from experience both in my own life and from many years of treating patients. For me, I have noticed that when I am having a difficult time, down in the dumps and struggling, one of the best things that I can do to pull myself out of it is to take time on a regular basis to go through a mental list of all the things that I am grateful for. When it comes to my patients, I noticed after a few years that the patients that I had with the most problems, chronic imbalances, pain and recurring illnesses were generally the ones who were the most unhappy, the most negative and the least optimistic. I am a firm believer that we attract what we think about, and I have experienced the benefits of a positive attitude, especially when things in our lives are difficult. I know that I have worked this into my morning routine, taking time every day when I get up to go through all the things that I am grateful for. This is a really good way to remind yourself of what is awesome in your life and by doing this, you are more likely to attract positive things, people and experiences into your life as well.

Meditate

We are now starting to understand scientifically the benefits of meditation on the mind and body, but many cultures around the world have been aware of the enormous benefits of meditation for thousands of years. Places like India and much of Asia have a long history of meditation. A lot of people are intimidated at the thought of meditating, especially if they are doing it for the first time. Of course, there are many techniques when it comes to meditation, but I believe that even a few minutes a day of sitting quietly, allowing your mind to just "relax" is of huge benefit on many levels. If you want to get really hard core, there are many, many meditation techniques out there, you just need to find the one that feels right to you. I have done a couple of Vipassana meditation retreats which were amazing experiences (you can read about them here - My Ten Day Vipassana Meditation & Vipassana 2.0). Meditation helps us to decompress in a world that leaves us overstimulated and exhausted, without enough time to relax. Its benefits include alleviating stress, improving sleep and boosting the immune system. I know most people cannot dedicate an hour or more to meditation every day, but even just ten to twenty minutes will make a huge difference, just try it out and see.

Get Enough Sleep

Healthy 2016 With Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from psychologies.co.uk

When we sleep our body gets a chance to heal and repair. Problems with sleep, either problems falling or staying asleep, are common. As a culture, we tend to not get enough sleep and the quality of our sleep is compromised, which means more stress on our immune systems which can lead to illnesses. There is no magic number when it comes to optimum number of hours a person should sleep at night, but that feeling of exhaustion should not be present when we wake up (and it so often is). Think of sleep like you think about the food you eat, that it is medicine for the body. Another good thing to remember is that melatonin - the hormone produced by the pineal gland that regulates sleep - is released according to cycles of light and darkness. We were designed to be awake when it is light and to sleep when it is dark. This has largely changed with the invention of electric lights, so a good way to improve sleep is to keep your bedroom as dark as possible with as few electronic devices as possible in the room, especially close to your head. Being in complete darkness will ensure a better, deeper sleep which will allow your body the rest it needs as well as to repair and heal which will ensure that you stay healthy.

Breathe Deep

It seems simple, but the breath is a big part of health. Taking long, deep breaths increases the amount of oxygen that the body, all of its tissues and especially the brain, is getting. There is a theory out there that this is the function of yawning- to increase the amount of oxygen that is taken into the body. Because we spend so much time sitting, we tend to breathe more shallowly, getting less oxygen and making things like thinking, concentrating and remembering more difficult. Taking some time every day to sit up straight, or even better stand and walk around and breathe deep into your belly (like children do naturally) will help you stay awake and think more clearly. This is extra awesome because it is so easy, so breathe deep!

Express Yourself

Healthy 2016 With Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This lovely image from penmastersonline.wordpress.com

As you may know, Chinese medicine is a holistic medicine, meaning it is not just about the physical body, but about all aspects of a person. This includes the emotions, and Chinese medicine places special importance on the emotions and expressing them freely. Keeping things in, suppressing your feelings or expressing them in an inappropriate way can lead to imbalances in the body and its organ systems and lead to illness. Yes, that's right. Not expressing how you feel can make you sick, and I see this all the time. I am not telling you the next time someone cuts you off in traffic that you should follow them, wait until they get out of the car and scream at them, I mean to be aware of your feelings, and that they are appropriate to what is happening, and if not, think through where they might be coming from. If you are feeling particularly irritated by that person who cut you off, try to sort out where that frustration might be coming from (it is probably the liver). This is particularly important in our personal relationships. Holding on to things like anger, guilt, shame and other negative emotions can be detrimental to health. Journal, go for a walk to clear your head or sit and talk to a friend, or better yet, speak to the person who may have made you upset in the first place. If you get your feelings off your chest (in a kind, respectful way) you will be amazed at how much better you feel, and you will be keeping all the energy or qi flowing smoothly, which is the key to health and happiness.

Moderation

Moderation is both a concept important in Chinese medicine and I believe, in any happy, balanced person's life. In my practice I try not to tell my patients not to do this and not to do that, instead I try to communicate the importance of moderation. When I am asking about a person's diet, they inevitably will give me a sheepish look and tell me about the 2 pieces of chocolate cake they ate the night before, or the quart of ice cream or glasses of red wine they had at a party expecting looks of disapproval from me. Not at all. I try to express the importance of enjoying your life for one - if you are really desiring that piece of cake, or that glass of wine and it will give you extreme pleasure to give it to yourself, then by all means DO IT. The worst thing you can do is to have it and then feel horrible about it. That is negating any positive benefits that thing has given you. So if you do it, OWN IT. Enjoy that piece of cake or glass of wine. Allow yourself to have it if it makes you happy. Just don't do it every day perhaps, keep it balanced. Make sure that you are doing things, the good and the not so good, with moderation. Everyone needs chocolate cake sometimes. ;)

Laugh

Healthy 2016 With Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

This image from livescience.com

Joy is the emotion of the heart in Chinese medicine. Makes sense, right? When we feel joy, happiness, laugh, all of these emotions we tend to feel in the heart. The heart is the benevolent ruler of all the other organs, and to feed it, we need an ample amount of joy in our lives. You can think of this also as medicine; something you must seek out to keep yourself healthy. Think about how you feel when you laugh. You feel amazing. When you hear a story about something good happening to someone, you feel happy. Notice how your body feels the next time you are feeling joy. It feels delicious. Conversely, the heart is injured if there is not enough joy in our lives, and there is certainly plenty of that. What is it like to be around someone who is deeply unhappy? Someone unable to feel joy? Their energy is dark and it is difficult to be around. Sometimes it is easy to get bogged down by all the stresses in our lives, and there are a lot of them, so this is a reminder to go out and find some joy. Seek it out. Laugh. Sing. Dance. Smile. It's good for you.

Get an Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture is one of the best ways I know to stay healthy and to heal if you are sick. Obviously I have a bit of a bias, but I also have a lot of experience both having acupuncture, and seeing its beneficial effects in my patients. Because Chinese medicine was designed as a preventative medicine, having regular "tune ups" with acupuncture is a great way to keep your immune system strong so that you never get sick. In our culture, we tend to wait until things become catastrophic (like getting a disease) before we seek out medical advice, but in many cultures, like Chinese culture, they understand that prevention is the best medicine. Acupuncture is a powerful tool to help rebalance the body, boost the immune system and keep you strong so that you never get sick. It is the thing I have used since I was a teenager, and the gift that I try to bring to my patients every day when I go to work. I am deeply in love with it, because I know it works.

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Featured image from huffingtonpost.com

 

How to Get Healthy in 2016 with Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living


Black Foods for Kidney Health

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The kidneys, in Chinese medicine, are considered the "root of life" as they are responsible for many vital functions in the body. The kidneys store what is called "essence" which is derived from each parent and is established at conception. The essence determines our health and vitality throughout our lives, which is why the health of the parents at the time of conception is so important. The kidneys also govern birth, growth, reproduction and development and are important for sexual health, so we want to always make sure that our kidneys are healthy and functioning optimally. Winter is the season associated with the kidneys, and for this reason winter is the best time to strengthen the kidneys. There are many ways to keep your kidneys strong like martial arts, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and conveniently, the foods we eat.

The colour associated with winter and the kidneys is black, so in Chinese medicine eating black foods is beneficial for the kidneys, helping to strengthen and protect them. Below are five black foods that are excellent for strengthening the kidneys, they also all happen to be delicious, which is awesome.

Black Rice

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

this lovely image from dailyhealthpost.com

Rice is a staple food in most of Asia and has been for thousands of years. You may not have heard of black rice, or ever seen it in the grocery store, but black rice has been eaten throughout Asia for centuries. It is often referred to as "forbidden rice" because in ancient China it was grown in very small quantities and reserved solely for the emperor. Thankfully, black rice is now available to everyone, but it is still very rare, especially compared to other rice varieties. You can sometimes find it in health food stores, and it is worth trying as its health benefits are impressive. Black rice is literally smashed with antioxidants, in fact it has the highest level of the antioxidant anthocyanin of any known food. Black rice also reduces inflammation, protects the heart from atherosclerotic plaque which can lead to heart attacks and stroke, detoxifies the body, helps to prevent diabetes by slowing down sugar absorption in the blood, improves digestive health and is naturally gluten free. Black rice is also... excellent for kidney health. :)

Black Lentils

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

this lovely image from dailyhealthpost.com

Lentils are loved by vegetarians worldwide for their high levels of protein and the ease with which they can be added to any meal. They are low in calories and high in nutrition. They lower cholesterol because of their high levels of soluble fiber - which also helps to stabilize blood sugar. Lentils improve digestion and protect the heart because they are an excellent source of folate and magnesium which are both important for heart health. Lentils help with weight loss because they are good sources of fiber and protein, yet they are very low in calories and contain virtually no fat. Lentils are also an excellent source of energy due to their fiber and complex carbohydrates and their high iron content helps to produce energy and aids in metabolism.

Black Garlic

 

 

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living
this lovely image from dailyhealthpost.com

Black garlic was developed in Korea and has been gaining popularity for the past several years for its distinctive flavour and its impressive health benefits. The process of how black garlic is made is described below (its pretty elaborate!) - this description is from Dr. Mercola's website -

Black garlic is produced by “fermenting” whole bulbs of fresh garlic in a humidity-controlled environment in temperatures of about 140 to 170 degrees F for 30 days. No additives, no preservatives... just pure garlic. Once out of the heat, the bulbs are then left to oxidize in a clean room for 45 days. This lengthy process causes the garlic cloves to turn black and develop a soft, chewy texture with flavors reminiscent of “balsamic vinegar” and “soy sauce,” with a sweet “prune-like” taste.

This process of "fermentation" seems to supercharge garlic's already enormous healing properties. For example, the compound S-allylcysteine which is a natural component of regular garlic and a derivative of the amino acid cysteine was found to be in much higher concentrations in black garlic than its white garlic counterpart. This compound is thought to reduce the risk of cancer and lower cholesterol. While regular garlic has antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, black garlic seems to have these properties, but on steroids which makes it even more effective than its white garlic cousin at fighting infections. Black garlic has also been proven to have twice the amount of antioxidants as white garlic making it excellent for fighting disease. Antioxidants protect cells from damage (free radicals) which leads to disease and accelerate the aging process. Eating foods high in antioxidants is one of the best things we can do to keep our immune systems strong and help fight disease.  They also help to keep the body from aging prematurely by protecting it from free radical cell damage.

Black Beans

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

this lovely image from dailyhealthpost.com

Black beans are one of my favourite foods. They are easy to prepare, high in dietary fiber, an excellent source of protein, full of antioxidants and very affordable. My favourite way to eat them is to fry up a chopped onion in some butter, add a pinch of Himalayan salt then add a can of black beans and fry them up until the liquid is almost gone. They are delicious and good for the whole body, especially the kidneys! (they even look like little kidneys). Black beans also help protect the body from inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and are excellent to add to your diet if you are trying to lose weight. Black beans improve your overall digestion as their high fiber content helps to flush toxins out of the digestive tract which helps protect against digestive problems like constipation, Crohn's, IBS and others. Black beans are also excellent to include in your diet as they provide long lasting energy as they keep blood sugar levels balanced. Black beans are a wonderful addition to any diet as they have so many amazing health benefits!

Blackberries

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Oh delicious blackberries! I am always anxious for summer to arrive as it is the season of all those delicious berries. Blackberries have many health benefits. They are rich in bioflavonoids and packed with vitamin C. Blackberries are also very high in those desirable antioxidants that help us fight damaging free radicals - which can lead to cancer and other diseases. Blackberries are low in both sodium and calories which makes them part of a healthy diet and helpful if you are trying to lose weight. Something less known about blackberries is that they help to promote the healthy tightening of tissue which makes them a great way to keep skin looking young and healthy. Prolonged consumption is also beneficial for the brain, increasing brain function (and we could all use a little more of this, no?) keeping you more alert, thinking clearly and improving memory. The tannins in blackberries also help to reduce intestinal inflammation, relieve hemorrhoids and soothe the symptoms of diarrhea. Blackberries are also often used in oral care products like gargles and mouthwashes because of the astringent effect of their tannins.

In Chinese medicine we are taught to live according to the seasons. The winter is the season associated with the kidneys, and it is at this time of year that it is the most beneficial to eat foods, or participate in any other activities that benefit the kidneys. The colour associated with winter and the kidneys is black, so eating black foods is healing and strengthening to the kidneys. It is also good to remember that foods with a dark blue, purple or black colour have the highest concentration of antioxidants which have numerous healing properties including protecting against free radical cell damage, the effects of which lead to cancer and other serious diseases. My philosophy is always to eat foods that are as close to nature as possible, and these are some of the best to include in your diet during the winter season. They are delicious, and your kidneys will love you for it. :)

 

Black Foods for Kidney Health : Chinese Medicine Living