Nutrition for Every Season

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

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

Chinese proverb

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

Food As Medicine

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

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

The Thermal Nature of Foods & People

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

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

The Seasons

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

The Summer Season

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

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

The Fall Season

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

The Winter Season

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

The Spring Season

Photo by Heather Barnes on Unsplash

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

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



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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.


Photo by Justin Lim on Unsplash

**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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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


Detoxifying & Balancing 6 Vegetable Stir-Fry

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Detoxifying and Balancing

Toxins are a fact of life, but taking proactive actions to expel them and not allowing them to accumulate in our body can make a big difference. The best approach to detoxify is to eat fresh clean food with high fiber and antioxidant content, drinking plenty of good clean water to flush the system and passing bowel at least once or twice daily. Exercising and taking sauna bath occasionally are all effective in helping the body to expel toxins through sweating.

Eating foods such as carrot, pumpkin, garlic, seaweed, green tea and foods with high vitamin C content such as oranges, lemon, leafy green vegetables, water chestnuts, etc. are excellent in cleaning out heavy metals from our body such as lead. Blueberry is high in anti-oxidant but purple or black glutinous rice is even higher in vitamin E and anti-oxidants.

To get the most disease-fighting antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, choose those with color; usually the deeper the color, the more antioxidants. Also fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables have more antioxidants than those that are canned, processed or heated.

Therapeutic Effects

Benefits all five organs, balancing yin and yang.

Ingredients

  • Chinese broccoli 芥蘭 – 3 to 4 stems
  • Bitter melon 涼瓜 - half
  • Lotus root 蓮藕 – a small section
  • Carrot 甘筍 – one
  • Fresh mushrooms 鮮磨菇 - 6
  • Fresh lily buds 鮮百合 - 2

Directions

1.   Wash all ingredients. Cut broccoli stems, bitter melon, lotus root, carrot and mushrooms into thin slices.

2.   Remove stems of lily bulb to separate petals and cut out any blackened edges.

3.    Heat a spoonful of oil in a wok to stir-fry carrot, broccoli, lotus root and bitter melon together. Sprinkle in a spoonful of cooking wine and a spoonful of water and cook for a few minutes or to desire softness.

4.   Add mushroom to cook for a few more minutes. Add seasoning (salt, sugar, pepper, sesame oil and a little oyster sauce) and mix well.

5.   Mix in lily and add a little corn starch water to finish.

Usage

No restrictions.

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Featured imagePhoto by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

 


Steamed Eggplant - Cancer Fighting Recipe

By VIcky Chan of NourishU

Cancer

Cancer is a sickness that is highly preventable but only treatable at the early stage. When the damages are too widespread, there is no medicine in the world that can cure cancer. Surgical removal of malignant parts from the body is just like cutting off the tips of the iceberg. If the underlying condition remains unchanged, cancer will just find other weaker areas to pop up. The only possibility to eradicate cancer is to completely change the underlying condition to one that is so hostile that cancer cells can no longer exist.

Oxygen Deficiency

Oxygen deficiency is one known cause of cancer. When the human body is supplied with abundant amounts of oxygen, all cancer cells, viruses, harmful bacteria, toxins, pathogens and disease microorganisms are killed because they cannot survive in a high-oxygen environment. People who do not exercise are more likely to have oxygen deficiency. Extensive research done in the last decade have proven that our diet have a profound effect on whether we will have cancer or not. A high sugar  and highly acidic diet from meat are known to breed cancer. A melancholy mind provokes an increase of stress hormone - cortisol, which has been directly associated with the worsening of cancer. Vitamin D deficiency is also found to breed cancer. A large-scale controlled study have found that vitamin D can cut overall cancer risk by as much as 60 percent

Prevention

Good habits of health such as avoiding smoking and drinking, avoiding fatty or deep fried food, over burnt meats, preserved foods, spicy and highly processed food, and eating smaller meals to avoid over eating are the basic prerequisites for good health. Eating a diet of at least 50% of vegetables, beans and seeds for rich nutrients, minerals, fiber and antioxidants is vital in preventing cancer. A healthy gut with good bacteria can help the immune system to fight and break down carcinogens and turn them into nutrients and harmless molecules.

Acidic Cancer Forming Foods

The acidic cancer forming foods are sugar, milk, meat and caffeine. Chicken in particular should be eliminated from the diet of cancer patients because it benefits cancer growth. For patients receiving chemotherapy and suffering from destructive side effects, eating fresh and rejuvenating plant-based diet is important to clear out toxic materials. Taking one to two glasses of fresh vegetable juice daily is best to get plenty of anti-oxidants. People taking one glass of fresh organic potato juice before meal for up to three months have shown promising result in fighting cancer. Reducing salt in food is necessary to lower the burden on the kidney, heart and liver so that the body has more energy to fight cancer.

Alkaline pH Balance

This helpful image from tes.com

Maintaining the body in alkaline pH balance is needed to prevent and stop cancer growth . Seaweed and kelp are high alkaline foods and should be taken regularly. Eat fresh mushrooms, organic brown rice, egg, fish, tofu, soy beans, yogurt and some lean pork for balanced nutrition to improve immune function and overall health. Don't forget to add plenty of lemon  (highly alkaline) to your food to prevent cancer.

Anti-Cancer Conditions

Besides diet and lifestyles, it is important to control stress. Life is a series of choices and being free from stress is one of those choices that is under our control. Exercise can help to relax the body and mind, lower stress and promote good sleep. Sleeping is vital for the body to repair, recover and rejuvenate itself. Getting enough vitamin D from sun exposure is also vital in preventing and fighting cancer. When we take good care of our health, we can promote an internal condition that is not suitable for cancer cells to survive or grow.

TCM Treatments

Chinese medicine can only play the role of complementary treatment for advance cases in lessening the side effects of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, controlling pain and helping to strengthen the immune system. Chinese Medicine finds cancer as coagulation of toxic energy in our body which is causing obstruction to the normal flow of blood and qi, therefore causing tumor growth. There are four vital areas in our body where toxic energy can accumulate: the upper body around the lungs – the upper burner, the middle body around the abdomen – the middle burner, the lower body around the kidney – the lower burner and the back of our body behind the lungs – the outer burner. It is important to keep qi circulating freely in these areas to prevent sickness and cancer. Qi-kung and tai-chi use deep breathing exercise to move energy and blood around the body. Herbs such as dandelion, astragalus and pubescentis are commonly used to promote the circulation of qi.

Food Treatment

In Chinese food treatment, a well-balanced diet to promote the health of the vital organs and the normal production of body fluids are deemed as most important. Any deficiency or abnormality in body fluid level can trigger abnormal cell development and tumor growth. Blood and qi tonic, kidney tonic, antioxidant foods, foods to promote blood circulation, diuretic foods to expel dampness and blood clots are all commonly used to treat cancer.

Steamed Eggplant - Cancer Fighting Recipe

Chinese Eggplant

Symptoms

High Blood Pressure / High Cholesterol / Hardened Arteries / Gout Pain / Tumors

Therapeutic Effects

Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, soften arteries, alleviates gout pain, anti-tumor growth.

Ingredients

  • Chinese Eggplants – 2
  • Minced ginger – 1 spoonful
  • Vinegar – 1 spoonful
  • Sesame oil – 1 spoonful
  • Soy sauce – half spoonful

Directions

1.   Rinse and cut eggplant into finger-like pieces and put in cold water with one spoonful of salt to soak for 10 minutes. Remove and drain.

2.   Put eggplant on a plate and steam for 15 minutes.

3.   Remove from heat and mix in the above seasoning to serve.

Usage

No restrictions.


Chrysanthemum & Licorice Tea for Liver Detoxification

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Liver/ Gallbladder Disease

The liver is the sole organ in promoting and detoxifying the blood. Promoting liver health is similar to promoting blood. Spring is the best season to address liver health because it is the beginning of a new cycle of growth and the liver needs to produce more blood to support the growth. To protect and improve liver health, we need to observe the following guideline:

1. Drink More Water

Water is important to keep fluid moving and to clean out toxins from the body. Water helps in digestion, circulation of nutrients and detoxification of blood. The more toxins we can clean out of the body, the lesser burden it will be for the liver. Green color foods can increase the detoxifying function and mung bean is the best choice. Cooking mung beans in boiling water for 5 to 6 minutes and drink the green water regularly throughout spring and summer is best to support detoxification and can cool down internal heat.

2. Eat A Regular, Balanced Diet

Both overeating or under eating can cause abnormal production of digestive enzymes and bile by the liver, therefore affecting its normal function. Foods should be bland in taste in spring and not too hot or spicy. It is best to eat more fruits and vegetables.

3. Not Too Much Alcohol

Moderate drinking can uplift liver yang energy but too much alcohol can damage the liver by giving it too many things to detoxify.

4. Stay Positive and Be Happy

Anxiety, anger, sad and worry are the emotions that can cause suppression to liver energy and damage the liver. Controlling these emotions can give positive and uplifting energy to the liver so that it can work at its best.

5. Get Adequate Exercise

Light outdoor exercise in spring such as hiking, jogging, and tai-chi can promote blood circulation which is good for promoting liver function.

6. Eat Foods That Benefit The Liver

Foods such as chrysanthemum, animal's liver, goji-berries, angelica, etc. can lower liver heat and enrich the blood. Eating some sour taste foods can help to promote liver health but overdoing it can suppress liver energy.

The Liver in Environmental Illnesses

The importance of the gut flora in ill health is becoming increasingly obvious as it is implicated as a cause of an increasing number of illnesses. The health of the gut has a substantial impact on the health of the liver as everything absorbed from the intestines passes through the liver so that harmful substances can be detoxified before the rest of the body is exposed to them.

In one study by doctors at Biolab UK, 61% of sufferers of undiagnosed chronic illnesses with predominant fatigue were found to have overgrowth of both bacteria and yeast in the gut1. As a result of their normal metabolism, these micro-organisms produce waste products that in increased amounts can be harmful to the liver and the person’s health as a whole. Yeast in particular produce a large amount of ethanol (drinking alcohol) which is highly toxic to the liver, in fact, alcohol is the single most toxic substance to liver cells. As well as producing increased amounts of toxic substances for the liver to deal with, yeast or bacterial overgrowth also causes damage to the intestinal lining causing 'leaky gut'.

Increased gut permeability results in even more potentially toxic substances from the gut being absorbed to put further stress on the liver's detoxification pathways. A study of liver disease in alcoholics found that only the patients with a leaky gut developed cirrhosis of the liver2. This points to the possibility that in people with gut dysbiosis, not only is there chronic ingestion of alcohol but the leaky gut caused by bacterial and/or yeast overgrowth leads to more severe effects on the liver from the alcohol produced. If the liver is overwhelmed by toxins from the gut and from chemicals in everyday use it won't function correctly and may even become damaged and inflamed. As a result, not all toxins entering the liver are detoxified and gain access to the bloodstream to travel anywhere in the body. These toxins and the excess of free radicals (highly reactive forms of oxygen) caused by poor liver function can cause direct damage to tissues and also initiate allergic or auto-immune reactions. Un-neutralized toxins are also expelled into the bile in this situation and can further damage the intestinal lining, setting up a vicious cycle in which gut dysbiosis and leaky gut cause poor liver function which in turn worsens the gut dysbiosis and leaky gut.

As mentioned earlier, the liver requires large amounts of energy and nutrients to function efficiently. If the liver is overwhelmed by toxins, these nutrients can become depleted and the liver will function inefficiently resulting in numerous symptoms and problems throughout the body. Many of these nutrients can be replaced by supplementation, improving the functioning of the liver. There are also a number of herbs and other methods that can heal a damaged liver and improve detoxification functions.

Herbs for the Liver

Milk Thistle (Silymarin)

Milk Thistle for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from medicinalplantsindia.com

The milk thistle plant contains silymarin and related flavonoids which are some of the most potent liver-protecting substances known. These flavonoids are powerful antioxidants so protect the liver from damaging toxins and free radicals. They also stimulate healing and the production of new liver cells and cause the liver to increase production of glutathione, the bodies most important antioxidant and detoxifying substance. Silymarin has been proven to both protect liver cells and repair existing damage in animals intoxicated with mushroom toxins, medicines, heavy metals or toxic organic solvents3. Human studies have also shown decreased mortality in patients with alcoholic liver damage who are treated with silymarin3. Milk thistle is commonly available in capsule or tincture form and a common dose would be 200mg 2/3 times per day. For hepatitis and cirrhosis doses of 400mg or more 3 times per day are common.

Burdock

Burdock for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from commonsensehome.com

Burdock contains a number of nutrients important to liver function. These include vitamins B1, B6 and B12 which are essential for the function of phase 1 liver detoxification's pathways, vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant and sulphur which is essential for a number of important phase 2 liver detoxification pathways in which potent toxins created by phase 1 detoxification are neutralized. Phase 2 pathways requiring sulphur include those utilizing glutathione. Burdock also contains other substances such as arctiin which act to improve liver and gallbladder function.

Dandelion

Dandelion for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine LivingThis lovely image from smallfootprintfamily.com

Clinical studies have shown dandelion extract to have protective effects against lipid peroxidation and free radicals, both damaging products of a poorly functioning liver4. Like burdock, dandelion contains a wealth of nutrients important to liver function, especially the B vitamins. It cleanses the liver and increases the production of bile. Dandelion is often used as a herbal treatment for all liver diseases of the liver including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and jaundice.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an infection or inflammation of the liver due to viruses of "A", "B" and "C". Drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated seafood can result in hepatitis A. It can easily spread through person-to-person contacts. Hepatitis B is usually contracted from bad blood or infected needles or sexual activity. Hepatitis C is always acquired from blood transfusions. The major symptoms are fever, flu-like symptoms, weakness, poor appetite, fatigue, dark urine and light-colored stools. Most people who got hepatitis can eventually recover with proper nutrition and complete rest. However, liver disease caused by alcohol can lead to death.

Chinese medicine sees hepatitis as damp heat invasion causing spleen dampness, liver energy congestion, blood coagulation, disharmony of liver and spleen, and liver-kidney yin deficiency. An Infectious virus, excessive alcohol consumption, and irregular eating habits can impair the normal functions of the spleen, therefore affecting liver and gallbladder's ability to regulate bile. Bile will then deposit in muscles, skin, bladder, creating yellowish eyes, face and urine. Treatments focus on clearing heat, removing dampness, harmonizing spleen, and nourishing yin. Herbs commonly prescribed are capillaris, atractylodes, aconite, persica, and carthamus.

Jaundice

Jaundice is a yellowish pigmentation of the skin. Jaundice is often seen in liver diseases such as hepatitis or liver cancer. It may also indicate obstruction of the biliary tract, for example by gallstones or pancreatic cancer. Turmeric in yellow curry is effective in treating jaundice.

The diet for people with liver disease should be low in protein, low fat and avoid raw fish and shellfish. Avoid spicy and highly processed foods. Sweet potatoes can lower the yellowish color in the skin. Foods that are diuretic, such as job's tear, are useful in removing dampness. Drinks made of bitter melon and dates are tonics for the liver. Dandelion and burdock are effective in cleansing the liver and the bloodstream. Licorice is used for treating viral hepatitis. Honey can promote proper functioning of liver cells, lower liver fat and promote proper circulation of blood and lower blood pressure. Green pepper and bitter melon are best for releasing liver fire with symptoms of red and dry eyes. White turnip soaked in vinegar can promote bile movement and help to secrete gall bladder stones and kill cancer cells.

Gallstones

Gallstones are formed by stagnant bile flows, secreted by the liver and passed to the gallbladder for storage. First, it formed sludge and then stones. When the stones are small, they will pass through into the intestines and out. If they are large and got stuck in the bile duct, they will cause a sharp, stabbing sensation. Most elderly people have gallstones due to excess cholesterol, high sugar and fat diet and overweight. Women on the pill are more likely to have gallstones. The symptoms are bloating, upper abdominal discomfort, flatulence and food intolerance.

Diet plays an important part in preventing the formation of gallstones and reduces the frequency of their attacks. The preventive diet consists of fruits, vegetables, fiber, no sugar, and little saturated or unsaturated fat. A vegetarian diet is recommended. Lemon juice with olive oil before bedtime will help to eliminate gallstones. Apple juice, pear juice, and beet juice are good for cleaning out the system. Sour white turnip promotes the production of bile and prevents the formation of gallstone. Walnut and celery can help to pass out small stones and so is sour plum juice.

Chrysanthemum & Licorice Tea

Chrysanthemum Flowers for Liver Health : Chinese Medicine Living

Chrysanthemum Flowers 

SYMPTOMS:

Eyes with white secretions at both corners of the eyes, especially upon waking up in the morning.

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS:

Lowers liver heat and clear toxins in the eyes and liver.

Licorice Root : Chinese Medicine LivingLicorice Root : This lovely image from Mountain Rose Herbs

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chrysanthemum (ju hua) 菊花 – 30gm
  • Licorice (gan cao) 甘草 – 15gm

1.   Rinse herbs and cook both ingredients with 3 cups of water over medium heat down to one cup of tea (about 15 minutes).

2.   Strain and drink tea.

USAGE:

No restriction.

The beautiful featured image photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash


Color Dietetics - With a Poster to Hang on the Wall

by John Voigt

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

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

Introduction

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

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

The Color of Foods Poster : Chinese Medicine Living

The Color of Foods Poster : Chinese Medicine Living

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

The Color of Foods

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

GREEN

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

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

RED

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

YELLOW-ORANGE

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

WHITE

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

BLUE-PURPLE

Blueberries, blackberries, eggplant, plums or prunes.

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

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

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Western Medical Science on a Color Produce Diet

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

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

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

Red - Fruits, Vegetables, [also beans].

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

Red - Tomatoes.

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

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

Yellow - Orange

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

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

Blue/Purple.

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

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

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Additional Notes

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

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

Frozen produce is often better than fresh.

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

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

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

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

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Why and How the Five Colors Work

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

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

From the Daodejing chapter 42 (excerpt) - Genesis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Endnotes

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

[EN-wuxing]

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

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

And  New World Encyclopedia.  

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

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

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

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

Color Dietetics Additional Info

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


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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Lo-han Fruit for Soothing Throat and Cough

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

Luo Han Guo or Lo-han fruit is a fruit which has been used as a medicinal herb for treating cough and sore throat for centuries in China and is popularly considered to be a longevity aid.

The fruit is collected as a round green fruit that turns brown upon drying. The outer surface of the dried fruit is round and smooth, dusty yellow-brown or dusty green-brown. It is covered with fine, soft hair. The fruit is covered by a hard but thin shell. Inside is a partly dry, flexible substance containing the juice, as well as a large number of seeds. The skin, juicy part, and seeds all have a good sweet flavor. Its nature is cool, and it has no poison.

The sweet taste of Lo-han fruit primarily from mixed mogrosides and are estimated to be about 300 times as sweet as sugar by weight, so that the 80% extracts are nearly 250 times sweeter than sugar. It has more recently been developed into a non-caloric sweetener to compete with other herbal sweeteners in relation to diabetes and obesity, because it can substitute for caloric sugars normally consumed in the diet.

The dried Lo-han fruit is very inexpensive and each one is about the cost of a fresh lemon but has many medicinal benefits. It is known to help relieve sunstroke, moistens the lungs, eliminates phlegm, stops cough, and promotes bowel movements.

Lo Han Green Tea Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Applications:

1. Heat stroke with thirst: Take one fruit, break it open and stir into boiled water. Drink the liquid in place of tea.

2. Acute or chronic throat inflammation:  Take half a fruit and 3-5 seeds. Cover with hot water and simmer for 20 minutes, then swallow the tea very slowly.

3. Chronic cough:  Take 1 piece of fruit, cover with water, simmer, and drink the liquid. Do this twice each day.

4. Constipation in the aged:  Take 2 pieces of fruit, obtain the juicy part and the seed (put the shell aside for other uses), break apart, cover with water, and simmer. Drink before going to bed.

5. Diabetes:  Take an appropriate measure of the fruit and crush it or simmer it into a thick juice and add to food being prepared, using it as a substitute for sugar.

The following is a very easy recipe for general detox or soothing throat infection with phlegm. It can be consumed regularly especially in late fall and early winter months. Please explore other recipes on our website (www.nourishu.com) using the fruit to cook as tea or soup.

Lo Han Green Tea Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Lo-han Quo Green Tea

Symptoms

Throat infection with phlegm.

Therapeutic Effects

Clear phlegm and toxic materials in the lungs. This recipe is good for prevention too.

Ingredients

  • Lo-han quo  羅漢果 – half
  • Green tea - adequate

1.   Put both ingredients in a teapot and pore in adequate boiling water, cover lid and brew for 5 minutes. Serve as tea.

Usage

Drink throughout the day with no restrictions.

Lo Han Green Tea Recipe : Chinese Medicine Living

Lo-Han Fruit for Soothing Throat & Cough : Chinese Medicine Living

Buddha Bracelet : Chinese Medicine Living