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 work 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.



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Incorporating Chinese Medicine Into Your Weight Loss Program

By Sally Perkins

Half of Americans say they are trying to lose weight. That’s over 163 million people in the United States alone who are unhappy with their weight, and that doesn’t take into account the rest of the people around the world who are also trying to be healthier. Traditional Chinese Medicine has many principles that contribute to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle, as it relates to food consumption, digestion, metabolism, and other bodily functions that relate to weight. There are many of these principles you can incorporate into your daily routine to aid your body in processing fuel and help with weight loss.

Definitely Your Cup Of Tea

Igor Miske

Many people equate tea, especially green tea and black teas like oolong, with Chinese culture. This is for good reason, as many Chinese people drink tea every day, and it is thought that drinking tea has many health benefits. Tea contains polyphenols, a specific type of antioxidant, which can help keep your metabolism from slowing as you lose weight. Polyphenols can also assist with digestive issues, and, as with other antioxidants, help repair cells. You can reap the benefits of polyphenols by drinking just one cup of tea per day. You can easily add this to your daily routine; just brew one cup every morning as part of your morning ritual. Just like other small habit changes you can make to improve your health, like drinking more water, standing instead of sitting at work, or going to bed half an hour earlier in order to get more sleep, this is a small modification that can yield great benefits. Sometimes the best way to make positive changes for overall health is to make one or two small changes at a time, allowing those changes to become habits before taking on more.

Eating For Energy

Qi is the energy that runs through our bodies, and maintaining a healthy, balanced qi is essential for proper health. Habits that drain your energy can be detrimental to your weight loss efforts. Unhealthy habits like eating late at night, eating raw, cold foods, and skipping breakfast can stress your digestive organs and cause your qi to become unbalanced. Something as small as adding breakfast to your daily routine can help to restore balance to your body and increase your energy, making it easier for your body to lose weight.   

Joseph Gonzalez

Supplement Your Diet

In addition to eating the right foods for your organs and to aid in digestion and energy levels, there are many Chinese herbs that can help with weight loss. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that excessive weight is caused by an accumulation of “dampness,” and therefore attempts to lose weight are made by relieving this dampness. Herbs that help to balance this condition and aid in weight loss include Bao He Wan, He Ye or lotus leaf, Fu Ling and Huang Qi. You can develop a supplement plan with a TCM specialist, and by adding your personalized combination to your diet, you can help restore your body’s balance.

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine can assist with weight loss, whether you subscribe to TCM principles completely and transform your lifestyle, or simply incorporate some of them into your existing routine. You can use TCM to aid you with a particular issue, or to achieve a generally healthier way of life. Traditional Chinese Medicine can be highly customized to create a specialized regimen for your body and your lifestyle and weight loss needs. The more research you can do on Chinese medicine and the different ways it can improve your body’s functionality, the more ideas you can integrate into your life.



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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 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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Acupuncture for Weight Loss

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

There are so many diets out there and it seems like every doctor, nutritionist and medical professional has a different approach on how to help you lose weight. This can be overwhelming and confusing to the average person trying to find information about how to eat better, exercise and lose excess pounds. I am here to tell you about the Chinese medicine approach.
Nutrition and dietary therapy are a very important aspect of Chinese medicine. The difference with Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it has 4000 years of history to back it up and it belongs to a culture that generally, do not have problems with their weight. China, and indeed much of Asia are cultures of slim people. So, they must be doing something right. The key is that, as a culture, they have a different approach to food and nutrition.
In North America we live in a culture with an excess of food and most importantly, an excess of unnatural foods full of additives and preservatives. Never in human history have we had such an array of chemicals, additives and pesticides in the food we eat. Things like MSG and aspartame – which are both extremely toxic and major causes of disease, are ubiquitous.One of the most important things we can do, and a concept that is integral to Chinese medicine, is to eat REAL FOOD. This may seem ridiculously simple, but it is not that easy to do. It is becoming increasingly confusing for the consumer to know exactly what is in the food we buy and how much it has been modified. Laws about labelling vary from country to country so it is difficult to know what exactly is in the food we are eating.The Chinese have a holistic view of the body, and a very different approach to diet and nutrition than we do in the West. It may seem strange at first, but it has been practiced for thousands of years. They believe that it is not only WHAT you eat, but HOW you eat. Here are some examples:
  1. Being MINDFUL when you eat, that is not dispersing energies by watching tv, working or studying
  2. Sitting while you eat without crossing your legs, as this crosses energy that should flow freely and unhindered
  3. Chewing your food very well
  4. Eat organically and locally
  5. Eat with the seasons
  6. Wearing loose fitting clothing so Qi can flow and not become obstructed

 

preparing food

The Chinese believe that one should eat foods that are locally grown, that is to say foods that are indigenous to where you live. This was certainly easier to do in a time before air travel. We have been spoiled by a variety of foods from all over the world that are available to us at any time of the year. And although many people love to be able to eat things like strawberries all year long, it is not considered healthy according to the TCM model, as this was not the way our digestive systems were designed. Weight has not been a problem in China until the last couple of generations because of the introduction of North American food into the diet. It is not necessarily the variety of foods that have caused this change, but the fact that the foods that many of us eat in the West are overly processed and full of unnatural preservatives that are difficult to metabolize. Foods full of refined sugar, wheat, oils and salt are some of the most unhealthy and a large cause of unnecessary weight gain.

One of the main strengths of Chinese medicine is that it is so individualistic. Because it is a holistic system, each part of the body affecting and influencing the others, there is a real emphasis on individual diagnosis. For example, lets take a headache. In Western medicine if you were to complain of headaches your MD might suggest taking something like Advil or Tylenol, and would probably give pretty much the same advice to most people who came in with that complaint. In Chinese medicine there are over 100 different types of headaches and each one is treated completely differently. It is this way with all diagnostics in TCM. There are many different types of obesity and people struggle with their weight for many different reasons. The reasons can range from physical, psychological, emotional to spiritual. This is why the Chinese medicine approach works so well. Each person is diagnosed as an individual according to their specific issues and treatment is designed specifically for them. When people ask me what I “DO” for people to help them lose weight, I have to say that it is a completely different approach for every person I treat. The reasons for gaining and keeping weight on are individual, so then, must be the treatment.

scale

In my experience, I would say that the most important thing you need if you would like to lose weight is the DESIRE. I cannot tell you how many patients have come into my office and asked me to work my magic and make the pounds disappear. And, flattering as this is, it is simply not possible. What I tell them is that they must WANT to lose the weight. And if they do I will gladly work with them using acupuncture, herbs and nutritional therapy, as well as any other TCM modalities that might help in their particular case, to get the weight off. It is a joint effort and the acupuncturist is there to help and support you through the process. With the desire of the patient, and the skills of the practitioner, acupuncture really works to help you lose weight and get back to health.