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Eating according to the Seasons


Balance your energy by eating in harmony with the Yin Yang of the season and this will have a massive effect on your health.

The ancient theory of Yin and Yang, tells us that your Qi, known as the essence of life flows through the body and that half of certain organs and meridians are considered Yin, while the other half are Yang. When Yin and Yang are balanced there is optimum health and vitality however when they are out of balance, disharmony caused he body to experience illness, sometimes vague symptoms, that allow you into work (but only just!) but you also may experience more serious disharmony or disease. We believe that nutritional or dietary choices play a hug part in achieving optimum health.

Each new season is a time of growth, rebirth and new beginnings, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) says that eating in accordance with the season will help you gain massive reap health benefits.

Lets look at how TCM advises us to eat according to the seasons.

Spring

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Traditional Chinese Medicine says that Spring is a time of renewal, growth and rebirth. The organs most influenced during this season are the Liver and the Gallbladder, meaning that you should eat a diet that supports these two organs during springtime.

The rational here, is that when the Liver functions effortlessly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly, which lend itself to optimum health. The liver also is responsible for detoxification within the body, so incorporating foods that support this process is ideal.

Nutritional Advice for Spring (Liver and Gallbladder):

  • Leafy green vegetables like kale and chard
  • Bitter greens like dandelion, endives and parsley
  • Milk thistle tea for its cleansing properties
  • Sour foods like lemon, lime and grapefruit supports the liver’s naturally sour flavour
  • Radishes as they help to move Qi around the body
  • Sprouts like alfalfa, mung bean and sunflower make delicious, nutritious additions to every meal

Summer

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Traditional Chinese Medicine says that the summer, where we experience most heat during the year is the season of upmost Yang, and this can quickly lead to imbalances if not treated sensibly. Because of the hot, drying weather, the best foods for summer are cooling, sweet, hydrating and neutral.

Nutritional Advice for Summer (Heart and Small Intestine):

  • Neutral foods can help to counterbalance the heat, so things like rice, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and salmon can make healthy choices during summer
  • Hydrating foods like cucumber, strawberries, lettuce, celery, and pears really help to temper excess yang in the body and are especially good in dry heat
  • Sweet foods like sweet corn, carrots, sweet potatoes and cooked grains
  • Light broths and soups to keep portions smaller than during other seasons
  • Cooling foods like coconut, apples, tomatoes and chilli are great in hot, humid environments

Autumn

Traditional Chinese Medicine says that Autumn is a season of distinct transition from the hot Yang summer to Yin influenced winter. Warming, pungent foods are the best picks and methods like slow-cooking or braising make for delicious meals that will support your emotional and physical health and focus on the Lungs and Large Intestine which are associated with Autumn.

Nutritional Advice for Autumn (Lungs and Large Intestine):

  • Seasonal fruits and vegetables like pears, figs, pumpkin, apples and brussel sprouts
  • Onions, peppers and cabbage are great to incorporate during autumn or prepare and preserve for oncoming winter
  • Ginger, leeks, cinnamon, coriander, turnips, mushrooms, garlic and radishes will all help to nourish the lungs
  • Quinoa, rice and oats are the perfect grains for this transitional season

Winter

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Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes that winter is associated with increased levels of Yin where rain, cold, snow and ice energy influence the Kidneys and Urinary Bladder. The TCM Kidneys are the root of our deepest constitution, when damaged can be very difficult to bring back into harmony.

So foods that have a warming nature, cooked foods are advised to nourish your Kidneys in Winter.

Nutritional Advice for Winter (Kidneys and Urinary Bladder):

  • Spices, spices, spices! Warming ones like cardamom, cinnamon and ginger will help to stimulate digestion
  • Black beans and lentils reinforce kidney energy
  • Ginger tea will nourish body and soul
  • Potatoes, pumpkin, Brussel sprouts, beets, parsnips and turnips are great for roasting or including in slow-cooked soups and stews
  • Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and other collard greens

 

Have a look at these suggestions and remember to eat according to the seasons, according to local produce and don’t forget to always smile and enjoy the food that nature provides.



James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


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Chinese Medicine and New Mums


Childbirth is a beautiful process that is probably one of the most empowering things a woman can ever do. From the first positive test, both baby and mum are introduced to a library full of well intentioned healthcare advice about drinking, smoking, eating, resting, exercise and stress management. Most mums engage with this major lifestyle change with passion and enthusiasm.

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What happens after childbirth is a similar but with slightly different zeal. Mum is exhausted and baby becomes a full time job. Even reading the plethora of magazines and books on the subject can sometimes become a chore for mum. New mums can be out of the maternity ward after only a few hours. This can leave the impression that childbirth is easy and now that baby is “out” the main activities of childbirth are finished. Mum should “take it easy” and look after her child. There is a distinct difference between this perception and Chinese culture.

Yue Zi (月子) – A Month of Postnatal Stillness

Chinese culture also takes childbirth very seriously but the emphasis is not only on baby but particularly on mum. They even have a term for it called “Yue Zi (月子)”. The translation is simply “The Month”, with a capital T and M. The Chinese particularly recognise that a pregnant mum has expended an abundance of “essential energy” called (Yuan Qi) ancestral energy, a deep foundational energy that is difficult to replenish.

Yue zi in China, is a month long period of confinement for mothers after a childbirth. Of course it makes sense to “take it easy” Right! but to “Zuo Yue Zi ” (Sitting The Month) is so much more than just taking it easy. Mothers will stay at home for the full month and not leave the house. Relatives will “live” in the house providing emotional and physical support and help out with cooking, cleaning, washing and even taking care of baby. One of my patients asked if this actually encouraged post natal depression.

Postnatal Depression

Zuo Yue Zi  is the preventative treatment to prevent post natal depression. In the ancient texts it is said that ” Zuo Yue Zi reduces back pain and poor spirit”. New mums are also prescribed specific Tuina (Chinese medical acupressure) or acupuncture protocols, as well as nutritional healing herbs and foods. One of the weird foods being “bird’s nest soup”. An excellent dish that’s recommended for new mums is Ginger Chicken. New mums are encouraged to eat temperature warm/hot foods to replenish essential energy to assist their body to recover after childbirth and they are discouraged from eating cold foods, which require extra energy to digest and absorb. Drinking herbal teas, such as fennel, which is traditionally used to improve lactation.

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A fundamental concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine is that Yin (阴) and Yang (阳) are the complementary forces of the universe and life that create an energy called Qi. When they are imbalanced, there is disharmony leading to a physical disorder or illness. Yin represents cooling, while Yang represents heating. An example of a well balanced Yin and Yang would be a regulated body temperature, neither too hot (as in hot flashes) nor too cold (as in cold hands and feet).

To restore balance, an excess of Yang (hot) Qi is balanced with cooling foods and herbs, while an excess of Yin (cool) Qi is balanced with warm food and herbs. Pregnancy is considered a warm condition and delivery causes a great loss of warmth due to bleeding. Consequently, during the Zuo Yue Zi period, Chinese women eat hot food and spices in order to restore balance to their inner energies. See below for a list of warming and cooling foods.

They are encouraged not to read for long periods, to preserve their eyesight. If they do read, it should be in a correct position with sufficient light. The most important is nothing will affect their rest. The temperature of their house should be balanced, neither too hot nor too cold.

In addition to this, these new mums are encouraged not to shower for the whole month. After childbirth, new mums are especially susceptible to colds, flu and diseases during this time. Some mums are discouraged from brushing their teeth, in case water contains unhealthy elements.

Young Chinese today are moving away from the tradition  “Zuo Yue Zi “, as they believe that they can be protected and “cured” with modern medicines and hospital treatments. Perhaps forgetting the first cardinal rule of health, wellbeing and fighting any disease, “Prevention” in other words “practicing behaviours that prevent us from getting sick in the first place”.


Some warming food and spices (Yang)

  • Asparagus
  • Black vinegar
  • Cardamom
  • Carp
  • Cashews
  • Chestnuts
  • Chicken
  • Chinese dates
  • Cinnamon
  • Dates
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Grapes
  • Guavas
  • Herbal teas
  • Longans
  • Mandarin orange peels, dried
  • Oats, yin/yang
  • Olive oil, yin/yang
  • Onions
  • Pepper
  • Raspberries
  • Rice alcohol (for cooking)
  • Rosemary
  • Scallions
  • Sesame seed oil
  • Shrimps
  • Turkey
  • Warm water

Cooling food and drinks (Yin) to be avoided during lactation according to TCM

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Beansprouts from mung beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cold water
  • Cucumber
  • Fig
  • Green tea
  • Hops
  • Ice creams
  • Kangkong
  • Kiwi
  • Lettuce
  • Mulberry
  • Oranges
  • Papayas
  • Pears
  • Persimmon
  • Pineapple
  • Pomelo
  • Spinach
  • Star fruit
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Watermelon
  • Yogurt

Eating cool food (both in nature – Yin – and in temperature – cold) is supposed to cause colic and diarrhoea in breastfed newborns.

The cooking methods allowed are basically only two and that is steaming or lightly stir-frying foods, with minimal use of oil, salt, or soya sauce.



James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


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Ginger Chicken to Strengthen the Body


This dish is traditionally prepared to strengthen the body and improve lactation, especially for new mums during the Chinese tradition “Zuo Yue Zi”  indicating the first month after giving birth. During this period, Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends eating warming food (Yang) because the body has lost a lot of Yang energy and blood during delivery. We would also recommend that mothers take a gentle yet powerful tonic remedy called Womans Precious which is based on a famous Chinese herbal formula.

This warming dish is also perfect in Autumn/Fall/Winter when we are susceptible to cold.

What you need:

  • vegetable oil
  • ginger cut into thin strips
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • chicken breast cut into small pieces
  • soy sauce to taste
  • pepper to taste

How to make it:

  • Heat oil in a frying pan (wok).
  • When the oil is hot, add the garlic cloves and ginger strips. Cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly with a pair of chopsticks.
  • When the garlic and ginger become golden brown, add the chicken previously cut into thin pieces.
  • Cook stirring constantly until the chicken is golden.
  • Season with soy sauce to taste.
  • Serve with a bowl of jasmine rice per person.

Vegetarian Choice:

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You can also add carrot cut into strips and cook it together with the ginger stripes. The taste will result sweeter. Furthermore by stir-frying the carrots beta carotene will be preserved.

Caution:

Due to its anti-platelet properties, the use of ginger should be controlled in case of risk of haemorrhage, if you are taking anticoagulant drugs or if you experience blood coagulation disorders. Ask your doctor for more information.



James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


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Turmeric Cleansing Tea


This deep cleansing health drink has been known to benefit sufferers of cancer and dementia and many other chronic diseases. This also means it can benefit wellbeing in general leading to a long healthy life. Turmeric is one of the most beneficial herb foods that is taken in Asia to fight against vomiting, nausea, as well as many other conditions. It is used in the prevention of illness as we age, allowing us to age gracefully as nature intended. This herb has been used since ancient times for cleaning the body from poisons, which is why I have included it here in this traditional cleansing tea.

Ingredients:

  • 2 grams of turmeric
  • 8 grams of ginger
  • 8 grams of cinnamon
  • a pinch of cardamon
  • 12 ml milk
  • 500 ml of water (boiling)
  • a teaspoon of honey

Preparation:
Mix all of the ingredients and pour the 500 ml of boiling water. Add milk.
Drink fresh over 15 minutes. Not advised to save and re-heat.

I hope you enjoy this simple health drink and remember not to over do it, moderation and variety are the key to good healthy nutrition.



James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


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Yin Deficiency



What is Yin?

Yin is the opposite and yet complimentary partner Yang. The theory of Yin Yang is a very important concept in Chinese medicine. When we look at the classic Yin Yang or Tai Ji symbol, it depicts a balance between Black and White. Yin, represented by black, includes the characteristics of night, shadows, anything damp or wet, it is dense and cold. Yang represented by white, includes the characteristics of sunlight, daytime, warmth, dryness, energetic substances. It is at one understanding very simple yet at another interpretation, one of the most complex academic theories in Chinese medicine. Yin and yang are complementary and cannot exist without each other. They are constantly changing into each other.

Generally speaking, in our bodies, Yin is the deepest aspect of our body. Yin is considered the foundation of blood or deeper body substance that creates blood. All of the organs are separated into Yin and Yang organs. Our Yin organs are the more dense, solid organs, such as the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, spleen. The Yang organs are considered hollow; such as the small intestine, large intestine, bladder, and gallbladder. Yin is influenced by time of day, with twilight and night time being considered a Yin time. Sleep is a yin activity.

When the Yin of your body is healthy, your energy cycles are in perfect balance throughout the day. Your sleep is peaceful, for approximately eight hours a night. You will have adequate energy to complete your work. The Yin, like your blood, will help anchor your emotions, and it will be easy to manage stressful environments, demanding jobs, etc without feeling triggered into a stress response.

Signs and Symptoms of Yin Deficiency

  • Spontaneous afternoon sweats
  • Night sweats
  • Hot flashes (Flushes)–especially in the afternoon and evening
  • Five palm Heat— meaning the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, or all of the above will feel hot periodically throughout the day. You may feel yourself having to kick your feet out from under the blankets throughout the night when this happens.
  • Difficulty staying asleep or frequent waking throughout the night
  • Dry hair, dry skin, dry mucus membranes
  • Fatigue — deeper than the blood deficiency fatigue
  • Frequent urination during the day
  • Frequent nocturnal urination

What causes Yin Deficiency?

Yin deficiency can occur for a wide variety of reasons. Living in a dry climate can slowly deplete Yin. Excessive sweating and exercise, stress, living in an extremely noisy environment, long periods of worry, and overconsumption of hot spices, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, other drugs, and refined foods, will also drain Yin.

Most chronic illnesses, autoimmune disorders, and wasting diseases will either start out with a Yin deficiency clinical picture or will develop Yin deficiency in conjunction with other symptoms. These cases are inherently more complicated and need supervision of a trained health care provider.

Yin represents the energy that is responsible for moistening and cooling bodily functions. When this energy is depleted your body begins to show signs of “heating up”. This is not a true heat but rather a lack of the moistening and cooling functions that are necessary to maintain a healthy balance. Foods to tonify Yin include;


Meat: Beef, duck, goose, pork, pork kidney, rabbit
Fish: Fish in general but especially clam, fresh water clam, crab, cuttlefish, oyster, octopus, sardine.
Grains:  Barley, millet
Legumes: Adzuki, black beans, black soya, kidney, lima, mung, Tofu
Vegetables:  Alfalfa sprout, artichoke, asparagus, kelp, mung bean sprout, pea, potato, seaweed, string bean, sweet potato, tomato, water chestnut, yam, zucchini
Fruits: Apple, apricot, avocado, banana, lemon, lime, mango, mulberry, pear, persimmon, pineapple, pomegranate, watermelon
Nuts and seeds: Coconut milk, sesame seed, black sesame seed, walnut
Dairy: Cheese, chicken egg, cows milk, duck egg
Oils: Honey, malt,
Herbs/other: Marjoram, nettle

Supplements: American ginseng, royal jelly


Foods especially useful to tonify Kidney Yin Deficiency.

Meat: Duck, pork kidney
Fish: Fresh water clam, oyster
Vegetables:  Alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, kelp, potato, seaweed, string bean, sweet potato, yam
Fruits: Lemon, lime, mulberry
Nuts and seeds: Black sesame seed
Dairy: Chicken egg

Examples of every day western foods that can be used to build yin

  • Fruit smoothies with honey and banana
  • Fruit salad made with the fruits listed above
  • Fish dishes with coconut milk
  • Omelettes with cheese
  • Asparagus and egg salads with sesame seeds
  • Tacos made with Kidney beans and topped with a small amount of cheese
  • Baked Potato stuffed with tofu with soya sauce and sesame seeds.
  • Pork and apple dishes
  • Miso soup with tofu and seaweed

Foods to avoid

It is important to ensure that stimulating foods are not being consumed, as these will only further depleate yin. Caffeine, alcohol, sugar and strong heating/ pungent spices all belong in this category. Note. Yin building foods like yin tonifing herbs have a tendency to be congest the spleen and promote stagnation if large amounts are consumed.

It is therefore important to consume small quantities frequently rather than large helpings irregularly.

Smiling Body recommendations:

You may enhance your daily health by taking our Chinese Herbal Homeopathic Remedy “Woman’s Precious”.



James O’Sullivan from Galway is a credible and engaging speaker, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving his patients, his students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is a respected author and has appeared on many public media.


Disclaimer

This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.


Please share! Help the word get out. Pin the graphic too.