TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE REMEDIES
To aid digestion, leaky gut, gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance FODMAPs, candid, bloating, constipation, diarrhea
When I turned 25, I started to permanently have a belly. I thought it was just extra fat since the rest of my body was perfectly fit and fine. After several years of increasingly worsening digestive symptoms, I finally realized there were a lot things I could and could not eat.
Western medicine might call this IBS, leaky gut, gluten and lactose intolerance, but Traditional Chinese Medecine (TCM) practitioners chalk it up to simply an imbalance of the heating and cooling energies of the body – otherwise known as the yin and yang. Yin is soft, feminine, cool energy – think a trickling stream in an underground cave, while yang is like the sun, bright and hot.
Most of the times digestive problems come from a lack of yang, which is the body’s general lack of qi or life force. The trick is to drive more heat into the body so it can properly assimilate, digest and break down food. Think of it as adding more coals to the furnace called your metabolism.
And what are these coals? Not a handful of pills and synthetic supplements – instead food is daily medicine in Chinese culture.
Contrary to the micro view of nutrition and its protein and carbohydrate and fat molecules, Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese Medecine take a macro view and consider the basic elemental state of each food.
Salty, fried, animal products and cooked foods are contracting and warming to the body (having the properties of fire, air, and wood – much like an oven or furnace).
Most fruits vegetables and sugar and alcohol – expanding, often humid and cooling to the body (like a cool stream or river).
During and right before their monthly cycles, Asian women never drink or eat cold or frozen foods, for example.
The reason why you crave chocolate during your period – your body is trying to expand and release the uterine lining. A better alternative are some cooked fruits, blackstrap molasses with ginger (called Chinese chocolate), and other unrefined sugars.
Often Chinese women also eat liver and other items high in iron to replenish the blood lost during menstruation. Iron can also be be found in wheat, corn and spinach.
Spicy foods are a damp and hot energy, creating steam and smelly gas (!) in the body.
Fungal infections and candida come from a state where mold and mildew grow – warm damp and dark, like your shower for example.
Giving these critters food to grow, like sugar; worsens the condition. That is why you cannot feed your body sugars or yeast that have not been pre-digested by friendly bacteria and transformed by lacto-fermentation. Healthy gut superfoods like raw sauerkraut, kombucha and unfiltered apple cider vinegar are the way to go.
They balance your intestinal flora by gobbling up the excess glucides that lead to thrush and candida overgrowth. The so-called ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria live in symbiotic harmony. One cannot exist without the other.
According to Eastern philosophy, the key to eating right and staying healthy is like most things in life – striking a balance.
As a general rule, your diet should be 80% cooling and 20% heating. So this means 80% ‘plant-based’ and 20% animal-based (eggs are highly contracting).
Otherwise if you are vegan, then fried (yes! it can be healthy in balance), roasted foods, ginger, lychee (a hot fruit), spicy and hot (temperature) foods, as well as adzuki beans (a small red bean used frequently in East Asian cuisine).
Fish and bone broth are incredibly grounding and mineralizing, and may be necessary for even vegetarians while they are healing from some type of chronic digestive disease or autoimmune disease.
This is not to say that you should be loading your plate – it should still only be 20% of your plate. As well as it needs to be the highest quality and untainted by pesticides and antibiotics.
Farmed salmon is one of the worst fishes to eat at the moment – often pesticides are added into the congested waters.
Non-organic meat fish and poultry can be fed GMO crops like corn – watch out! Even in countries like France where GMO produce is banned.
One could write a whole book about the do’s and dont’s of health – but just remember. Keep it simple. And realistic. You know processed food is not good for you, and fruits and vegetables are. But also know that if you are too stringent and don’t eat some ‘unhealthy’ or ‘bad’ foods, then your body will develop disease because such is the balance of life.
So don’t beat yourself up too much the next time you ‘cheat.’ It’s the universe within you that is striking a harmonious balance.
I offer one-on-one nutritional consultations – please contact me directly at: ivy(at)ivyeats-dot-com.
I am also happy to answer any other questions you might have on heating and cooling foods, and traditional Chinese medecine, please leave your question in the comment section below!
See you next time,
Love & Health,