Category Archives: Nutrition

Damp

Damp/Phlegm

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Damp and Phlegm are on a continuum Think of Damp as a mild spring day with an overcast sky. Think of Phlegm as thick fog.

Damp and Phlegm are excesses that have root causes. Either the cause is a weakness of the digestive system (Spleen Qi deficiency) or the condition is caused by too much of the wrong type of food.

When Damp assumes substance it becomes Phlegm. Usually that means something like extra pounds, thick drainage, or even soft nodules. In rare cases, the Phlegm can be invisible. Those people will have problems apprehending the world clearly. They can have difficulty concentrating, or in extreme cases, psychiatric problems.

Overweight people often skip breakfast, because they aren’t hungry. They may even feel slightly nauseated. The phlegm obstructs the natural hunger response.

Begin by reading the dietary recommendations listed for Spleen Qi deficiency, including breakfast suggestions. Please do not eat yogurt or cheese for breakfast.

Green tea can help with the muzzy-headed feeling.

Foods to be Avoided:

Avoid dairy, including milk. If you must have some cheese, then have a bit of goats-milk cheese or feta. Unfortunately, soy products and soy milk, as well as peanuts, also make Damp worse. Use grain such amaranth, or cooked lentils, to meet your protein requirements. Seeds can also be combined with vegetables to add protein. For instance, add sunflower seeds to salads and Muesli. If you eat meat or chicken, avoid fatty cuts and remove the skin. Butter and most oils should also be eliminated.

Refined sugar destabilizes the blood-sugar levels, making us hungry, which makes us eat again. Try to save refined sugar for an occasional treat.

Foods with Diuretic Properties

Alfalfa, parsley, radishes, celery, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, and kelp all drain damp, through their diuretic properties.

If the damp has already progressed to phlegm, don’t expect instantaneous results. TCM herbal therapy can be helpful, when used over a period of time, in conjunction with life style changes. Phlegm will make you feel lethargic, and your limbs might feel heavy, but exercise is a must.

 

Empty Heat

Empty Heat (Yin deficiency)

To understand the concept of Empty Heat, you first have to understand the concept of Yin. Yin is deep, earthy, and moist. In Chinese medicine, Yin describes the fluid, and substantial aspects of our bodies. As we age, our Yin decreases. When our Yin is insufficient to balance our Yang, the Yang heat-generating aspects of our body predominate. This can account for symptoms such as night-sweats or restlessness.

The recommended diet consists of 5% white meat such as poultry or fish, 30% cooked vegetables, 40% grains, 20% fruit and salad, and 5% milk products. If you tolerate dairy well, you can try a bit more,

Piechart-Yin

  1. Food preparation is important. Steaming foods, or making stews, is the best method. Steamed vegetables can also be mixed into raw salads, and Muesli can be made with raw, grated fruit.
  2. Some Yin-nourishing foods are honey (a small amount), walnuts, black sesame, tofu, seafood, and berries.
  3. Black tea, and especially coffee, should be avoided. Don’t drink more than a cup or two of green tea. If you feel dry, pear juice is moistening. Grape juice, fruit tea, or yoghurt drinks like Lassi are good.
  4. For night sweats and sleeping problems, you can prepare wheat water. Use two tablespoons wheat berries and cook them in ½ a Liter of water for 20 minutes. Sieve and drink cool.
  5. Exercising excessively to stay very thin contributes to Yin deficiency, as does sleeping too little. Contemplative exercises such as yoga or tai-chi are suggested instead.

Blood Deficiency

Qi and/or Blood deficiency

Without a list of symptoms, it’s sometimes hard for the practitioner to distinguish between Qi and Blood deficiency. Women tend towards Blood-Deficiency. In Western Medicine, an actual blood deficiency is known as anemia. Though the TCM term Blood Deficiency includes this, it expands on the concept, to include other maladies.

The suggested diet consists of 5% meat, 30% cooked vegetables, 40% grains, 10% milk products, and 15% fruit and salads.

Fivelement-Piechart-150906-001-Qi-Blut-Mangel

  • An exclusively vegetarian die is not recommended for Blood deficiency. If you would like to avoid meat and fish because of moral reasons, eggs, seitan, and tofu are important elements of the diet. If you don’t wish to get a TCM herbal formula, preparations such as Floradex can be helpful.
  • Eat lots of dark green vegetables such as chard and spinach. Eat red and purple fruits and vegetables such as red cabbage, beets, blackberries, and red grapes.
  • Meat should be prepared in such a way as to be easily digestible. More than 50 to 70 grams at one time can be too much for your digestion. Marinades such as apple cider vinegar (diluted 1:2 with water), tomato juice, wine, or lemon juice help break down the protein chains for better assimilation.
  • Heavy menses are often the cause of Blood deficiency. If you want to avoid the Pill and other pharmaceuticals, acupuncture and herbs can be helpful.

Spleen Qi Deficiency

Spleen Qi Deficiency

Spleen Qi deficiency? Sounds pretty strange. The spleen is one the left side of the body, and sequesters red blood cells.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the term “Spleen Qi deficiency” is synonymous with digestive difficulties. In addition to our ancestral energy, which can be understood as “DNA”, we have only two sources available for energy—air and food.

If our digestive capacity is impaired, chances are good we’ll feel foggy-headed and tired.

With this diagnosis, it’s important to watch one’s eating habits.

  • Warm Breakfast: Warm breakfasts are recommended. That does not mean a cinnamon sticky bun right from the microwave! Rice or millet cooked with a stewed apple, some raisins, nuts and cinnamon can be warmed and eaten. Warm, slightly sweetened polenta with stewed fruits is another alternative.
  • Drink warm or room-temperature drinks. Ginger tea is very good for this condition, especially when prepared with fresh ginger.
  • Especially avoid ice-cream or cold beer. Be careful with excessive sweets.