Tag Archives: vegetables

Hot, Cold or Damp – Digestive Issues and Chinese Medicine

What we eat affects us in profound ways. It’s all the more surprising then, that what we eat is so low down on our list of priorities. Society is so fast-paced now. We’re expected to eat on the go, to pick up something quick and easy, highly processed and with very little nutritional value. This is what society teaches us, so if you feel bad about the choices you’ve made with your diet up to now, give yourself a break. Life is so complicated. There are more spinning plates than ever before. You’re bound to let a couple come crashing down, but maybe I can help you realise that what you eat is a spinning plate that should keep an eye on. Let something else go instead.

When we eat highly processed foods, with lots of sugar, dairy, refined flours and heavy fats, it taxes the digestive system. All of these foods are known as ‘warming’ and ‘wet’ in Chinese medicine. That means that they generate heat, a key factor in the onset of chronic disease. When the body generates too much heat, it leads to inflammation, which can manifest in many of the health issues which are common today. These tend to be things like lupus, fibromyalgia, arthritis, rhinitis, asthma, GERD, IBS, Chrons and multiple sclerosis (though this is by no means an exhaustive list). These are the sorts of problems which I aim to talk about here because they are largely some of the same issues which I experience myself and am on a journey of healing from every day.

Foods that cool the body can be those which are actually cold, like cold water or ice cream, for example, or raw vegetables. Anything which requires the digestive system to work hard to warm, those sapping vital heat from the system. Those who suffer from cold, tend to get ill from common colds, can be extremely thin or malnourished, and experience lethargy. Cold is less of a focus in this article, but is no doubt a very serious problem when severe.

Dampness is caused when the internal environment is both hot and wet. Again, wet foods are starchy, highly processed and sugary. When the body generates too much heat and damp, we get chronic health issues as mentioned above. Rather than experiencing just an upset stomach after a meal, returning to normal the next day, somebody who experiences damp in the digestive system, could continue to experience chronic stomach upsets, even after the discontinuation of a disruptive food type.

If you suffer from a chronic inflammatory disorder, you may be experiencing damp heat, which gives rise to longstanding conditions. As an auxiliary to whatever medications you must take to keep you healthy, it’s important to work on the foundations of good health by balancing digestion. As I have long said on my blog, digestion is the cornerstone of good health. What enters the body must be digested properly. If it isn’t, we don’t nourish the body and our other organs and systems become unbalanced to compensate.

So what is the solution? As always, I recommend small changes. We do not want to make the conditions for maintaining new habits too difficult, so we need to take baby steps. Damp is treated well by avoiding the inflammatory foods which generate damp and heat. The safest way to start getting the nutrition your body needs to heal is to eat rice and steamed/ boiled vegetables more often. These are guaranteed to be digested by the body completely and will not generate gastric pain or discomfort (brown rice may be more taxing, so try white rices, jasmine is lovely). You can essentially do a lot of good for your digestion by incorporating at least one bowl of white rice and steamed vegetables every day. I really recommend a rice cooker too, one with a steamer, which can do your veggies at the same time. It’s easy, simple and can be left unattended.

Cooked vegan meals are a good place to begin, but ideally, you want to reduce the amount of fats you mix in with your vegetable and grain dishes. Bread is almost always an inflammatory substance, so is best avoided. If you can’t avoid it, try to go for rye or less processed types. Meats can tax the digestion, especially when fatty.

You can add lots of delicious things to your rice meals. A bit of soy sauce or some chilli sauce can help lift a quick meal. For something more complex, there are loads of rice cooker recipes which can be lobbed in and produce delicious meals in next to no time.

As always, I hope the best for everyone who reads in finding health and wellbeing. Chinese medicine is just one of many ways to view health, but I like to consider it from all angles so that I can give you best information. For inflammatory disorders, eliminating culprit food types and eating a little more blandly can do wonders as a treatment and to build the strength of the digestive system. But by bland, I don’t mean tasteless. Far from it! These meals can be wonderfully sumptuous without becoming difficult to digest!

Well wishes, J

C Is for COVID – 5 Ways to Get More Vitamin C in 2021

It’s been a trying year, I think we’d all agree. The news has gone from miserable to downright dire. Christmas was cancelled here in the UK as the new covid (dare I even utter the words!) variant spreads across the population. Medical experts are straddling a wrecking ball of ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’, ‘maybes’ and ‘could be’s’, like they’re Miley Cyrus during the chaotic years. Toilet roll, our most beloved signifier of civilised society teetered on the precipice of market place extinction, followed closely by the elusive transparent liquid alcohol, feverishly sought by all.

Despite this confusion, experts agree that getting enough vitamin C can help support your health if you do get the new virus. Some scientists believe that those at higher risk, with cardiovascular disease or immune system problems are likely more at risk due to the fact that their cells are worse at transporting vitamin C. Without this vitamin, the body’s cells struggle to fight back or heal the damage caused by the virus. For this reason, we’ve got to keep an eye on our vitamin C levels before we get ill so that our cells can retain as much as they need to effectively fight viral infections. Here are five simple ways to get more Vitamin C in every day:

1. Take a Supplement

yellow medication pill on persons hand

Now this may seem like a straightforward starting place, but if you’re concerned about your vitamin levels, taking a vitamin C supplement may improve your levels over time. Again, this will depend on how well you are able to absorb the supplement and on how well your cells are able to take in nutrients. Still, getting into the habit every morning to take the supplement may help in the long run, and in most cases, will do no harm. If you have a medical condition, please consult with your doctor first regarding any supplement choices. Safety first!

2. More Fruit

round orange fruit

Fruit! The font of plenty! So villainised for its sugar content these days! BUT, if you’re not diabetic or in some form of exemption, fruit as a snack is brilliant for a high dose of vitamin C that tastes delicious and doesn’t cost too much! Citrus fruits keep a long time and are typically high in vitamin C. Berries like blueberries, strawberries and blackberries are also high vitamin C fruits that taste delicious! Little tip here, for those on a budget, buy your berries frozen. They’re cheaper than fresh, but just as healthy for you.

3. Vegetables

bowl of salad

Kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts are cheap and full of vitamin C. You might be breaking wind, but you’ll keep covid (and dear ones) at bay! Broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange, so scrap that last tip and start munching on them stalks. Cook them though, yeh? Let’s not be that person eating raw broccoli in public now shall we?

4. Po-tay-toes?

green and brown round fruits in green plastic bucket

What’s taters eh precious? Now, don’t be coy with me my hobbity friends. The common potato and its sweet counterpart, the, uh… SWEET potato, are great sources of vitamin C. That means MORE mash, and baked potatoes, and all of the good, wholesome, starchy meal ideas you can put this tuber at the centre of!

5. Juice It

carrot juice on mason jar

The thought of eating getting you down? Cooking broccoli got you giving up? Never fear, juice is here! Seriously, vegetable and citrus juices can get you tonnes of vitamin C. If you have to buy store bought, try to go for fresh juices not from concentrate. If you can afford to buy, or have, a juicer, juicing fresh produce not only gets the best results, but in my opinion, tastes better too! You’re also overwhelmed with options for juice recipes which can keep it interesting. I personally like to juice a whole bunch of celery because it’s great for digestion and helps keep the heart healthy.

Ok, so you’re armed with your covid toolkit for fighting the virus with the power of vitamin C U LATER VIRUS. You’re getting it from a supplement, fruit snacks, high vitamin veggies like broccoli, your favourite yummy starches, and, for those of us who cannot lift a finger to cook, juicing! You’re all set. Remember, getting your vitamin C levels up before you get ill will make the process easier and the recovery faster. So, make sure to follow these tips and try to get some vitamin C in your diet over this period. Hopefully you won’t have to deal with this virus at all, but if you do, you’re that little bit more prepared, and your body will thank you!

Follow me on Heathen (top right hand corner) for more light hearted health advice. Be sure to share these articles with friends and loved ones who you want to protect in these times. Maybe a Juicer in the January sale? There’s still time!