Applying Lessons from Chinese Medicine and Nutrition for Weight Loss

By Samantha Wiggins

Everyone wants to look good. But all too often, our pursuit of beauty comes at the expense of our health. It's important to remember that looking and feeling good isn’t just about the amount of food and exercise you get every day. It’s also about successfully nourishing every part of your being. That’s exactly what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is all about. In TCM, food is viewed as medicine — something you can use to nourish and harmonize your mind, body, and spirit.

To the Chinese, the overall well-being of the body is more important than how it looks. In fact, TCM practitioners use the food energetics system to teach patients how to heal their bodies through what they eat. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach, as each person has a particular body constitution that they must eat according to. For example, a person with a body constitution that is dry and warm would benefit from food that can bring moisture to the body. If you want to lose weight the healthy way, here are some lessons you can pick up from TCM:

Follow a Balanced Diet

You hear this advice even in Western medicine, but in TCM, the focus is the spleen and the stomach. It's important to not eat too much, but also not too little. Men's Health Magazine explains that when you gorge yourself with food regularly, your spleen and stomach fail to handle the load. This eventually leads to a whole host of problems — from poor digestion and slow metabolism to food stagnation and internal phlegm. Therefore, it's important to focus on consuming food that can boost your metabolism, promote bowel movement, and prevent fluid retention.


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Help Your Digestive System

Poor nutrition, coupled with a stressful and hectic lifestyle, is a recipe for weight gain. By getting digestive organs in good form, you would be able to digest food properly. This, in turn, allows you to harness the energy and nutrients that your body needs to prevent energy drain. In order to help your digestive system, eat food that corresponds to the organ that you want to nourish. For example, Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation notes that sour foods support the liver, so if you're craving sour food, that might just be your liver asking for an extra boost.

Boost Your Metabolism

Here on the Chinese Medicine Living site, we previously listed the 10 best foods you can eat to stimulate your metabolism. This includes food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which you can find in salmon, herring, and tuna. This can help balance your blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and regulate your metabolism. Green leafy vegetables, garlic, onion, nuts, seeds, green tea, and grapefruit are other examples. If your metabolism is slow, your meals are broken down less efficiently, leading to weight gain. Drinking plenty of water is also important.

If you ever want to try losing weight with the help of modern methods like diet pills, choose the kind that mimic what TCM does — helping the digestive organs work better and ridding it of waste. Many dietary supplements are designed to help cleanse your digestive system. This works to remove toxins and promote faster metabolism. And when your body effectively rids itself of toxic materials, you can achieve a balance that can lead to long-lasting weight loss.

All in all, rebalancing your life and managing your weight shouldn’t be difficult when you follow the techniques of TCM. All it takes is a little discipline and awareness about what your body needs. 

 

Featured image photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash



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Healing Acne Holistically With Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Sally Perkins

Acne is the most common skin disease in the United States — 50 million Americans experience breakouts each year which can continue into your 30’s and 40’s, the American Academy of Dermatology reports. While most of us turn to skincare or makeup to externally treat acne, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) addresses the underlying root causes. TCM recognizes acne as typically the result of excess internal heat caused by imbalances in the body. Treatment involves herbal formulas targeted to specific skin types, as well as dietary changes which eliminate inflammatory foods. In most cases, acne improves in as little as one month but takes roughly six months to disappear completely.

Excess Internal Heat


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In Chinese medicine, acne is primarily caused by excess internal heat. Excess heat builds up in the body when it’s under constant stress or hormonally imbalanced. This acne-causing internal heat is generated in the lungs (which control the skin), intestines, menstrual system, and by specific toxins in the body. Often, however, acne doesn’t just originate from one place; there can be multiple influences involved. For example, facial acne can result from a block in both the lungs and stomach.

The Problem of Stagnation

Chinese medicine also recognizes stagnation (or impaired blood circulation) as a root cause of acne. If stagnation is the reason for your acne, your spots may be sore, stubborn, deep red, or even purple. You may also breakout before your period and experience painful menstrual cramps. Alternatively, fluids in the body can stagnate and result in phlegm. Cystic acne is often a result of phlegm stagnation (as well as blood stagnation).

Clean Diet for Clear Skin


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TCM recommends avoiding inflammatory foods — particularly greasy, spicy, and damp foods — as they heat up your blood, which results in breaks outs. Don’t eat anything too hot or cold in temperature, either. Sticking to room temperature food will prevent contributing to excess internal heat. Your body needs to be relaxed in order to function optimally, rather than devoting its energy to digestion. Reducing overall stress also helps calm the body and clear the skin. Low cortisol levels help your skin stay clear and blemish-free.

Restoring the Body with Herbs

Herbs are essential for stabilizing the body. Traditional Chinese medicine treatment includes herbal mixtures which calm the body, cool the blood, boost circulation, and detox the lungs. Adaptogens are used to balance hormones, soothe the nervous system, and improve digestion — with the result of beating acne and calming irritated skin. The specific herbs used depends on your skin type and can be determined by your dermatologist.

Unlike Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine doesn’t rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. Dermatologists tailor treatment to suit each specific case with the aim of cooling excess internal heat, cleansing and detoxifying the body and externally healing the skin. Your dermatologist will work with you to find natural, effective, and holistic treatments to keep your skin healthy and acne at bay for life.

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Summer Recipe to Clear Heat & Decrease Fire

By Unfamiliar China

Clear Heat and Decrease Fire

Pressure, insomnia, prolonged exposure to a blowing air conditioner, and eating out too frequently can all lead to excessive internal heat. Excessive internal heat can be alleviated by regulating one’s diet. One should eat an appropriate ratio of meat and vegetables, and eat more fruits and vegetables that clear heat and drain fire. Enriching the yin helps decrease fire and eradicate dryness-heat. This Pork and Lotus Seed Soup recipe helps with just that!

Pork and Lotus Seed Soup

Preparation Time: 32 min.
Serves: 2

Ingredients

7.05 oz. (200 grams) lean pork
1.41 oz. (40 grams) lotus seed
1.76 oz. (50 grams) carrots
0.52 oz. (15 grams) dang shen (Codonopsis pilosula)

Seasoning

½ tsp. (2 grams) salt
½ tsp. (2 grams) chicken bouillon
a dash of ground pepper

Preparation

  • Cut washed carrot into small chunks. Cut washed pork into slices.
  • Add water to casserole dish. Add prepared lotus seeds, dang shen (Codonopsis pilosula), carrots, and pork. Cook over low heat for 30 min.
  • Mix in salt, chicken bouillon, and ground pepper to taste.
  • Turn off heat. Scoop out into bowls and serve.

Reminder

If the lotus seeds are very white, they may have been artificially bleached. It is best not to buy this kind of lotus seed.


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**Beautiful featured image photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash


Digestive Health and Nutrition in Chinese Medicine - with Recipe

By NourishU

Digestive Health in Chinese Medicine

The importance of eating a gut-healthy diet cannot be underestimated. Your gut plays a major role in your physical and even mental health, and having a healthy gut entails maintaining a balance of "good" and "bad" bacteria – something you simply will not accomplish by eating highly processed "dead" foods as found in the western diet. When a diet is devoid of "live" nutrients such as healthy bacteria, it contributes to a rise in allergic and inflammatory diseases and set the stage for asthma, eczema, and autoimmune diseases.

Until recently, most doctors dismissed the notion that your digestive system did much of anything outside of breaking down food. But in recent years, scientists have revealed just how inaccurate this thinking was. An estimated 80 per cent of our immune system is actually located in our gut, so supporting our digestive health is essential to also support our immune system, which is the number one defence against ALL diseases. Our gut is also like our second brain, greatly affecting and affected by our mind and emotion. That's is why we have this common expression of 'gut feeling'. When our emotion is upsetting our gut or vice versa, calming the gut is the first step to find a resolution.

To take care of gut problems, you must first avoid soda, doughnuts, pastries and breakfast cereals because they are loaded with sugar and corn syrup which are bad for gut health. You should cut out French fries or deep-fried foods because they are drowning in highly refined and genetically modified omega 6 oils which our body cannot digest. Also, avoid most snack foods because they are highly processed and loaded with artificial seasoning and additives with no nutritional value. When you eat a healthy diet low in sugar and processed foods, it naturally causes the good bacteria in your gut to flourish.


Doughnuts are delicious, but, unfortunately, bad for your health.
Photo by Anna Sullivan on Unsplash

Avoid colon detoxification drugs and prolonged use of antibiotics which can kill the good bacteria. Eat fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, fermented milk, pickled vegetables to support your digestive health, as these foods are rich in naturally beneficial bacteria.

The health of our gut has substantial impacts on the health of our liver because everything absorbed by our intestines passes through to the liver so that harmful substances can be detoxified before they reach the rest of our body. In one study by doctors at Biolab UK, 61% of sufferers of undiagnosed chronic illnesses with predominant fatigue were found to have an overgrowth of both bacteria and yeast in the gut. As a result of their normal metabolism, these micro-organisms produce waste products in increased amounts that are harmful to the liver and overall health. Yeast, in particular, produces a large amount of ethanol which is highly toxic to the liver and damage to the intestinal lining causing 'leaky gut'.

Improving digestive health naturally is an essential part of well-being. When foods are not properly digested, it will cause low-grade food sensitivity.  Landmark studies have linked grain sensitivity to joint pain, cancer, depression, brain disorders, autoimmune diseases, and osteoporosis. Some doctors discovered that treating food intolerance found the other problems fade away without any need for immune-system-destroying medicines.

In Chinese Medicine, out of the “six evils” (the causes of sickness) – wind, cold, hot, wet, dry and fire, wetness is considered as the worst evil for health. It can turn everything sluggish and promote the development of disease. A diet high in meat over time will damage and weaken the digestive system and make the stomach wet and sluggish. When wetness mixes with heat, it is similar to the conditions of a sauna bath which can suffocate our cells. When wetness mixes with cold, it can chill our body and slow down normal body functions. Chinese doctors usually can find clues about the conditions of our gut by just looking at our mouth, tongue, and teeth.

As with everything in life, moderation is the key to balance and health.
Photo by Lukas Budimaier on Unsplash

In fact, there are many clues to tell the conditions of our internal systems. If we are always tired in the morning and have a hard time waking up and getting out of bed, it is the symptom of serious internal wetness. We can also find clues in our faeces. For a healthy body, elimination is regular, easy and in good quantity. It should be in perfect banana shape. If it is scanty, shapeless, too watery, sticking to the toilet bowl even after flushing or you need to use plenty of toilet paper to wipe yourself clean, your stomach system is too wet and at stress. The wetness can cause faeces to glue to intestinal walls and promote re-absorption of toxins into your body which is detrimental to health.

To clear internal dampness out of our body, diuretic foods, and foods that can improve digestive health is most important. Eat healthy food, exercise regularly to let the body sweat (especially in summer), reduce salt intake to avoid water retention, suck on three slices of fresh ginger in the morning to get stomach energy going (never at night), don't over-consume fluid during the day, quit smoking and drinking, and keep the living environment especially the bed and bedroom dry are effective in reducing internal dampness. Foods such as bitter melon, job's tears, little red beans, hyacinth bean, tofu, Chinese yam, green papaya, purslane, and luffa are all good for removing stomach heat and wetness and promoting gut health. Cabbage is considered as a natural medicine for our gut because it can solve many stomach problems, kill bad bacteria and heal ulcers. That's why we should eat more sauerkraut for increasing good bacteria as well.

Foods for Digestive Health

Chinese medicine believes that we are born with kidney health and stomach health is developed after birth. Since our stomach provides all the nutrients to support life, it should deserve our top attention and care. Many daily foods are for promoting digestive health and gut health.

Water

Water helps break down foods, carry nutrients to the body and remove wastes from the body.

Vegetables are as beautiful as they are delicious
Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

Vegetables

High Fiber Vegetables such as sweet potato, sweet potato leaves, Jicama, chive, cabbage, Chinese yu-choy - prevent constipation by moving waste through the large intestine quickly.

Protein

Protein helps to activate digestive juices in the stomach. A healthy stomach needs enough acid to reduce all the solid things eaten to soup form for absorption. Healthy stomach acid kills off dangerous parasites and bacteria.

Fermented Foods

Foods such as sauerkraut, cheese, yoghurt, beer, miso, tempeh, and kimchi - can increase healthy bacteria in our gut and improve digestion.

Vinegar

Vinegar - helps to break down fats quickly and improves digestion.

Plum

They are sour in taste but alkaline in nature, promote digestive enzymes, anti-ageing, prevent high blood pressure and hardening of arteries, clean blood, are anti-inflammatory and promote gut health.

Cinnamon powder

Cinnamon powder - sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals.

Nature's Digestive Aids

1. Nature’s Best Constipation Reliever - Psyllium Seeds

They contain the highest level of soluble fibre of any grain source, relieve constipation, support healthy bowel function and reduce symptoms of haemorrhoids

2. Immune-Boosting Fiber - Oat Bran

It is a great fibre source that helps relieve constipation, help your immune system work better and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

3. Toxin-Fighting Fiber - Beet

Beet Fiber relieves digestive disorders, relieve constipation and binds to toxins, heavy metals, and excess hormones that have been dumped into the gut from the liver.

4. Nature’s Diarrhea-Fighter - Apple

Apple Pectin is a remarkable soluble fibre that soaks up liquid and turns it into a gel. It helps relieve diarrhoea and supports healthy digestion in many ways.

White rice helps to strengthen the spleen in Chinese medicine, which is the main organ of digestion
Photo by Vitchakorn Koonyosying on Unsplash

5. Ancient Chinese Remedy for Occasional Indigestion and Diarrhea - Rice

Rice fibre helps relieve indigestion, reduce diarrhoea, improve circulation, speeds bowel transit time, improves the fecal weight, and increases bowel movement frequency.

6. Relief for Flatulence and Bloating - Alfalfa

Alfalfa is effective at relieving stomach upset, digestive problems, flatulence and bloating.

7. Nature’s Colon Calmer - Fennel Seed

They relieve intestinal spasms and gas, relieves upset stomach and supports healthy digestion.

8. Relief for Intestinal Spasms - Peppermint Leaf

They help calm digestive spasms and relieves occasional nausea and diarrhoea, and naturally soothe the digestive tract.

9. The Green Superfood - Barley Grass

They help provide fibre for the digestive system. It’s loaded with phytonutrients that make it one of the most nutritious foods available.

10. The Native American Remedy for Digestive Problems - Slippery Elm

They help soothe the digestive tract and relieves occasional diarrhoea.

11. The Stomach Soother - Red Raspberry Leaf

They soothe stomach aches and relieve bowel disorders, constrict the tissues of the intestines to prevent water loss and soothe occasional diarrhoea.


Parsley not only promotes digestion it also cleanses the palette and freshens breath.
Photo by pintando la luz on Unsplash

12. Ancient Folk Remedy for Great Digestion - Parsley

Parsley has been used for centuries to improve digestion. It stimulates the release of digestive juices that help digest proteins and fats.

13. Grandma’s Favorite for Constipation Relief - Prune Juice

Prune juice has been used for generations to relieve constipation gently and soothe irritable bowel.

14. Special Pro-biotic Blend

Good bacteria helps to boost the immune system and supports good digestion. 80 per cent of your immune cells are in your intestines. That’s why one of the keys to a highly functioning immune system is to restore the balance of healthy flora.

Balancing Digestive Health Herbal Soup


Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

SYMPTOMS

Lack of appetite, yellow urine, dry mouth, and throat.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

Clear dampness and strengthen the spleen to improve appetite, diuretic.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • Lean Pork 瘦肉 – 180gm
  • Job's Tears (yi yi ren) 生苡米 – 30gm
  • Lotus Seeds (lien zi) 蓮子 – 30gm
  • Lily bulb (bai he) 百合 – 30gm
  • Chinese Yam (shan yao) 淮山 – 30gm
  • Solomon's Seal (yu ju) 玉竹 – 30gm
  • Fox Nut (qian shi) 茨實 – 30gm
  • Glehnia (bei sha shen) 沙參 – 30gm
  • White bean 白扁豆 – 30gm
  • Ginger 生薑 - 3 slices
  • Citrus Peel (chen-pi) 陳皮 – one small piece (pre-soaked and with white tissue removed)

1.   Soak herbs for half an hour and rinse clean.

2.   Rinse pork, cut into large pieces and put in boiling water to cook for a few minutes, remove and rinse.

3.   Put all ingredients in a soup pot with 3 litres of water and bring to boil. Remove foam, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 3 hours.

4.   Add salt to serve. Eat some herbs with soup.

USAGE

No restriction and should be taken regularly to promote health. Suitable for the whole family of all ages.


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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.


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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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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


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

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Featured image photo by Jonathan Perez on Unsplash


Immune Boosting Recipe - Winter Vegetable & Mushroom Soup

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Recipes That Improve the Immune System

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

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

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

Foods for Boosting the Immune System

Eggs

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

Green Tea

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

Mushrooms

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

Korean Ginseng

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

Cooked tomato

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

Garlic

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

Water

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

Herbs

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

Winter Vegetable & Mushroom Soup

this lovely image from walesonline.co.uk

Therapeutic Effects

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

Ingredients

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

this beautiful image from naplesherald.com

Directions

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

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

this delicious image from epicurious.com

 

Usage

No restrictions.

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

Delicious featured image photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash


How to Get Healthy in 2017 with Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Another year is upon us! The arrival of the new year always causes me to reflect, and think about what I would like to improve upon in the coming year. Health, happiness and well-being are always top of the list, so here is a list of some things that we can all do to be a little healthier and happier in 2017.

Take Time for Yourself

this beautiful image from 68.media.tumblr.com

This is a hard one. Our lives seem to get busier and busier and we all seem to be working more and sleeping less which means less time for, well, us. Even though taking time out for ourselves is often not easy, it is an important part of our health. Psychologically, it is you caring about yourself enough to take the time to do something that feeds you, whatever that may be. Go for a walk, read a new book you've been meaning to start, have a bubble bath, start a new art project... do something that feeds your soul. Your whole body, mind, and spirit will thank you for it.

Meditate

this relaxing image from www.chatelaine.com

Now I know the thought of meditating is scary for a lot of people, especially if you have never done it before. But meditation doesn't have to mean spending hours on a mountainside in complete seclusion. If you are new to it, start slow. Spent ten minutes a day, either when you get up in the morning (the energy of the day is so calm and lovely at this time), or if it is easier, at the end of the day before you go to bed. Just sit or lie quietly without distractions (the TV, your phone, computer, etc..) and just relax. For the first many times you do this, your mind will no doubt be racing and it might not feel relaxing at all, but if you think about it, you never just "let your mind go" like this. We are always forcing our minds into doing things, like work, cooking, driving or what-have-you. Your mind also needs time to empty itself out, but once it does and goes quiet... it is wonderful. With some practice, you will be able to drop into a quiet meditation easily, and your body and mind will crave it because it is so nourishing to every part of you. I find that the benefits of a little daily meditation spill out into the rest of my life causing me to be calmer, more patient and generally happier which is a wonderful thing.

Find a Local Farmer

this image from larahudson.com

Reconnect with your food. Food does not arrive at the grocery store wrapped in cellophane and politely organized and placed onto carts. That food is grown and tended by farmers - people who have one of the most important jobs on the planet - feeding us. Our food is the medicine we use every day to keep us healthy, and many of us have lost our connection to where it comes from. If you are able to, find a local farm where you are able to visit and buy fresh, organic (if possible) foods for your family. If this is not possible, then find a local farmers market and meet the farmers there. This will give you a new appreciation for where your food is coming from, who is growing it and in turn, you will be eating local (very good in terms of Chinese medicine) and supporting your local farmers - who absolutely need and deserve the support of their communities. Farmers markets are also a wonderful place to meet other local, health conscious people, eat local treats and reconnect with your community. Win-win!

Reconnect with Nature

this lovely image from www.drjimtaylor.com

I know I say this one a lot, but it is so imperative to health on every level. One of the reasons we see disease on such an unprecedented scale is that we have lost our connection to nature. We live in huge cities where we spend our days behind desks in buildings under florescent lights instead of in forests and jungles, which is where we belong. We were not designed to live this, well, unnaturally. Obviously, it is not feasible to go completely wild and live in forests (unless you are really hardcore) but in Chinese medicine, we are always striving for balance. So, even if you work in an office or a factory and sit behind a desk or stand on an assembly line, eat your lunch outside. Take off your shoes and put your feet in the grass. Feel the earth, it is talking to you in a language you have probably forgotten. It is feeding you in a way you desperately need to be fed. When you have time off, go for a walk in a forest, swim in a lake or ocean, or instead of working out at the gym, go for a run outside. Our connection to the planet feeds us as much as what we eat and drink, so think of your time outside as food for your body and soul. You will notice how much better you feel, inside and out.

Zoom Out

this magnificent image from youtube.com

I love this one, and doing it helps your mental state more than you can imagine. Zooming out just basically means, keeping things in perspective. When you are having a problem or something disastrous is happening in your life, just take a moment and back up. Zoom out of your situation. Zoom out of the building, the street, the neighbourhood, the city, the country, the continent, the planet, and so on. The farther out you go, the better you will feel. It is so easy for our lives to become very small. Problems become huge and often seem insurmountable, but zooming out will help to keep things in perspective. Think to yourself... in the grand scheme of things, does this really matter? In a week, will I be thinking about this at all? Zooming out is a sort of meditation, and one I do often if I am struggling with something. Instead of feeling small, I am always trying to be as big, as expansive with my mind and my awareness as possible. Not always easily done, and certainly takes practice.

Be Grateful

Gratitude is something I try to practice every day. It has been one of the most beneficial practices that I have in my life, and I am so grateful for it. Ha. Being grateful doesn't mean that life is not going to present challenges. Life is full of them. But spending some time each day to consciously think about what in your life you are grateful for will put you in a happy, loving state of mind, which will attract more happy, loving energy to your experience. This energy will help you to cope when difficult situations arise and help you to fully appreciate all the wonderful things/people that you have in your life. Absolutely everyone has things that they can be grateful for, and focusing on this positivity will only draw more of it into your life and that is a wonderful thing.

Unplug

this image from gameacademy.com

We are all connected, and now this is even more true with the advent of the internet and the miracle of cell phones which allow us to communicate with one another from almost anywhere on the planet. This wonderful technology has allowed access to information by millions of people who would otherwise not be able to benefit from it. There are so many positive aspects to our ability to connect, but there are drawbacks too. The pendulum seems to have swung quite far in that direction so that in our attempt to stay technologically connected to each other, we have lost our human connections. I see groups of teenagers sitting together, each looking at their cell phones, instead of talking to each other. People live is vast cities, crammed into apartment buildings, but never interact with each other. As with all things, we are going for balance. Many people could not live without the internet or god forbid, their cell phone, but trying to unplug, at least for parts of the day or week is a good way to bring about that balance. Call a friend, then go and meet with them. Have a coffee and a conversation. We are social animals (not social media animals, although sometimes it seems we certainly are) and human contact is good for us and we NEED it.

Be of Service

A part of being human, and one of the reasons that I think we are here, is to serve our fellow human. This doesn't have to mean volounteering in a cancer ward or an old age home (as these are big commitments - but wonderful things to do), it may be as simple as helping someone struggling with their groceries, opening the door for someone with their arms full, giving someone directions when they ask you on the street. These small things make a huge impact. No one makes it through life alone. We all need each other, and by being kind, generous and helpful with our fellow human being is the glue that holds us all together. In a time where there is so much divisiveness in the world, it seems there are so many reasons for us to fear and hate each other, all it takes is the conscious effort to not let in that darkness and to treat each person with love and compassion, just as you would like to be treated. It will go a long way to healing the negativity on this planet and it happens to feel really good too. <3

How to Get Healthy in 2017 with Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living