Timing Is Everything

According to TCM, all of our organs are on a set schedule. Certain times of the day are when certain organs are at thei optimal. 

Follow the schedule below as best as you can for good health:

  • Poop between the hours of 5-7AM.
  • Eat breakfast between 7-9AM.
  • Eat lunch between 11-1PM.
  • Eat dinner between 5-7PM. Don’t eat after 7PM. Give your body at least 12 hours of fasting time before breakfast to promote ketogenesis.

Try this out and notice how much more efficiently your body runs.

Stress Inflammation Pain, Part 3

Diet plays a very important role on how our bodies feel. The huge spike in chronic pain cases is indicative of a society embracing a diet that is harmful to our bodies. From poor diet, a condition, described as “dampness in the body,” becomes a problem in the body. Why? Well, let us discuss what damp is.

According to TCM (traditional Chinese Medicine), damp is a condition of the body when things become sticky and dense and heavy. Because of this viscous material in the body, things are not able to circulate properly in the body, such as blood and/or qi (energy). When things are stuck, the body reacts by trying to either push through the blockage or avoiding it all together. When the body tries to push force the blockage out, it uses a lot of energy and sends a lot of qi and blood to the site of the problem. When this happens, it is similar to an overheating car trying to go up a steep climb. In the body, it is recognized as inflammation. Other times, the body will give up after a time and stop feeding qi and blood to the area which results in weakness and numbness in the area.

Now that we have discussed how dampness in the body can create inflammation and pain, let’s talk about how dampness becomes created in the first place.

Dampness comes a from a dysfunctional digestive system.

Your digestive system can be broken due to:

  • not eating enough
  • eating too much
  • many years of eating heavy, greasy and nutritionally empty foods
  • long term illness
  • sedentary lifestyle

Ways you can tell if you are suffering from dampness within the body is:

  • you wake up feeling heavy and sluggish
  • you have cystic acne
  • you catch colds easily
  • allergies
  • you’re tired all day, fatigue
  • overweight
  • you have to use a lot of tissue to wipe after each bowel movement
  • congestion

Foods to avoid when there is damp in the body: meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, refined flours, and processed foods.

For a more complete diet guideline, please go to your nearest acupuncturist. The reason for this is because there are a variety of reasons you may have developed dampness in the body and it may also manifest itself in a variety of ways. For instance, you have dampness in the body with heat symptoms, you may also need to avoid spicy foods. But if you have dampness with cold symptoms, you will need to avoid raw food or cold food.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment.

Slow Cooker Detox Stew

Mung beans are used throughout Asia as a great detoxing food. For instance, India has their kitchari, which is used as a way to cleanse and detox the body without starving. In Vietnam, a mung bean dessert is given at the end of a meal to help cleanse and cool the body from the meal. In China, mung beans are used to cool the body from the heat of summer. In other parts of the world, mung bean broths are drunk as a way to detox the body after a night out or a weekend of indulgence. In summary, mung beans rock!

I would like to share a simple mung bean recipe that I like to use when I feel the need to give my body an extra push. It can even be used as a hangover remedy.

Mung Bean Stew
1 cup mung beans
2 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth to make it vegan)
2 cups water
2 cups mixed vegetables
1/2 onion
4 cloves garlic (crushed/minced)
salt and pepper to taste

Wash mung beans and add to boiling water.
Cook mung beans for about 30 minutes and then add all other ingredients except for salt and pepper. Bring to boil then simmer for another 30 minutes or until mung beans are fully cooked. Add salt and pepper to desired taste.

Slow Cooker Method: Throw all ingredients into the slow cooker except for the seasoning (salt slows down the cooking process of beans) and cook on high or until the beans are tender for about 3-4 hours. Season to taste.

Option: Cumin, turmeric and basil are also good for seasoning if so desired.

Other than it’s wonderful detoxing and cleansing affects, it is full of protein and can be modified to anybody’s taste preference.

Graceful Points

Easy Breakfast Congee Recipe

Every morning should begin with a nice warm breakfast. Not just a nice warm breakfast but a breakfast that is nutritious and easy to digest. That’s where congee comes in!

Congee is a rice porridge dish found in most of Asia. It is eaten for for any meal but mainly for breakfast or given when somebody is ill or have some digestive issues. It can be made savory or sweet, although it is mainly savory in Asia. It is a slow cooked meal that is easily modified to your tastes. I know what you’re thinking, “Slow cooked?!? I don’t have time for that!”

Not so! If you have a slow cooker, all you have to do is prep it at night and it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes. The following recipes are for a 2 quart slow cooker.

Basic of Basic Congee Recipe (serves 2)

  • 1/2 cup of dry rice (avoid basmati rice)
  • 5.5 to 7 cups of water (based on your preference for either a thick or soupy congee)

Rinse the rice until water runs clear and place in slow cooker. Pour the desired amount of water. Turn crock pot on to low if you set it early in the evening or high if you came home late. Leave it on all night until morning. Wake up to morning congee. Season as desired.

The above recipe is just rice and water. Basic congee is best when somebody is going through the stomach flu and can’t seem to stomach anything else. You can modify this congee anyway you like. Below is my personal breakfast congee recipe.

Savory Breakfast Congee Recipe (serves 2)

  • 1/3 cup of dry rice (I prefer short grained glutinous rice)
  • 5.5 cups of water (feel free to substitute for any type of broth)
  • 1 cup of sliced or diced shitake mushrooms (You can use 1/2 cup of dried shitake mushrooms. Presoak them in the morning to use at night)
  • 1/2 cup of mixed frozen vegetables
  • 1 large egg
  • sesame oil and soy sauce to taste

Rinse rice until water runs clear. Add shitake mushrooms and frozen vegetables and water. Depending on time of night, set slow cooker to low or high. Leave on overnight. Wake up and add egg and break it up in the hot congee (it will look like egg drop soup). Add sesame oil and soy sauce (tamari sauce for those who are gluten free) to taste.

If you are making for one, you can pour one serving out and freeze the other serving to consume at a later time. This meal is great because if you are in a hurry, you can pour it in a thermos so you can consume/drink it on the road (after cooling, of course) or consume/drink it at work.

There will be more congee recipes in the future. Hope you enjoyed this one.

Graceful Points

Digestion: The Boiling Pot

“Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea!” -Pepto Bismol

Do you find yourself reaching for that bottle of pink liquid that tastes of sadness? Do you find yourself popping so many Tums that you might one day poop chalk? If you said yes to either of these questions, then this is the article for you!

Most Americans suffer from heartburn, gas, bloating and indigestion because of the aptly named SAD diet. SAD stands for Standard American Diet. This unhealthy diet consists of high fats, low fiber, and a lot, and I mean A LOT of processed foods.  The human body is a great and highly efficient machine. But you throw enough junk into a machine, it will grind to a halt and make a great mess of noise (yes, I am making a farting reference) in the process. Not only are you feeling gassy and bloated, you may have constipation or diarrhea, bad breath, bad body odor, acne, etc.

Now you find yourself asking, “Well, should I be a vegan then? Should I go on a raw diet?” Before answering that question, we must look at how digestion works under the scope of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine views digestion like a boiling pot of water with a steady fire heating it underneath. The boiling pot of water is the stomach and the steady fire underneath is the Spleen. Digestion is optimal when the pot is in a constant rolling boil and the fire is consistent and strong. But when you mess with either, you end up reaching for the pink bottle of sadness.

First, lets look at how we could end up messing with the boiling pot, the stomach. Have you ever brought a pot of water to a boil and then accidentally kill that boil when you added a cold vegetable? Not only did that cold vegetable kill the boil, but it also took time to bring the water back to a boil. That is what happens in the stomach when you eat cold and/or raw foods. Examples of such foods would be salads, ice cream, uncooked veggies, slurpies, etc. Why did fruits and vegetables get thrown in to this list? Not because of the nutritional value (we love fruits and veggies) but for the temperature of the foods. They’re all cold.

[Before I press on, let me first explain what I mean by cold. All foods have a temperature. Temperature is not only based on how it feels in your mouth or hands but its affect on the body. For instance, ginger can be cold coming out of the fridge, but within the body, ginger has a warming effect. Another example would be the watermelon. It is great for summer, not only because you chilled it in the fridge, but because watermelon has a cooling effect within the body.]

When you eat foods that cool the stomach, your digestion slows and becomes sluggish. Then at the same time the fire, or spleen, has to increase its fire to bring the pot back to a boil, which takes energy away from the rest of the body to concentrate on the digestion. At this point, you feel sluggish and exhausted and have a lack energy after eating.

Cold foods are not the only culprit. Foods that are too hot or too spicy can also have a harmful effect. Examples of such foods would be fries, coffee, lamb, hot sauce, etc. When you consume an abundance of warm or hot foods, this action is similar to making the water in the pot boil over, making a big mess. Just imagine, you had placed all the ingredients into the pot and stepped away to come back to a messy stove with food stuck all over because some of it got burnt on the way down. And as the water boiled over, it also killed the stove’s fire. Now place what is happening in this scenario and translate it into your body. In this scenario, you now have heart burn, burps, and maybe even sluggishness. Sluggish, again?!? Yes, because the boiled over pot of water killed the fire, the body is struggling to start a new fire with a damp flint. And if you tax the body over and over again in a similar fashion, it will no longer have the strength to clean the mess and build the fire, which can later then result in other health problems (weight gain, body aches, headaches, eczema, and more).

Sometimes, the digestion may be poor due to other things rather than a diet consisting of bad foods. It could be genetic. You may have been born with a small fire to begin with (hypothyroidism possibly). Or you may not be eating enough to produce the fire (poor appetite, anorexia nervosa). Or you may be stressing your body out so much that you drain it from being able to do anything, let alone digest.

Since we have gone over what can make digestion go wrong, you’re asking, “What do I do?”

First of all, eat whole foods. Eat a well rounded meal. Eat a naturally colorful meal (not fruit loops), such as a medley of vegetables. Eat foods that have been cooked by means of steaming, boiling, baking, slow cooking, stir frying (but with a moderate amount of oil). Stay away from processed foods. Try to cook more often so that you are aware of what you put in your body and feel more grateful for the food that you are eating. So to answer your question at the beginning of the article, no, do not go vegan. TCM practitioners (acupuncturists, East Asian Medicine Doctors, etc.) strongly believe that eating a well balanced diet, that includes all foods (meat is allowed) in moderation as long as it supports the healthy function of the body.

If you are eating a well balanced diet and exercising regularly but still have issues with digestion, see an acupuncturist. There may be things that need to be addressed, such as eating the wrong diet for your body type or being unable to deal with the stress in your life that your body doesn’t function properly. Whatever the cause, a visit with an acupuncturist will address these issues to ensure proper digestion. Acupuncturist do not only stick needles into the body but prescribe herbs and teach their patients to live a healthy lifestyle.

For more information, come to Graceful Points for a free consultation.