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Chinese medicine

5 Habits For a Healthy Summer

5 Habits For a Healthy Summer

Summer is the season of joy, movement, energy, and activity! Staying in harmony with the seasons is an age old tradition according to Chinese Medicine. Follow these tips to stay balanced this summer.

1. Get Outdoors

Enjoy this nice weather while we have it. For those of us that tend to spend all day in an office, hidden from the sun, it's important we get outdoors when we can to stay balanced this season. The sun offers us a good dose of vitamin D, which is important to prevent depression, and ensure good kidney function. If you're the type of person that feels cold all the time, getting more sun is one of the easiest and most natural ways to warm your body up. Just set a reminder on your phone every 2 hours to go outside and get some fresh air. It will not only keep you balanced this summer, but you may find you're more productive too!

2. Socialize 

For many of us this can can be as simple as enjoying drinks with friends, camping, having a BBQ, or a day at the beach. The one thing these activities all have in common is - more time spent with the people you love. The season of summer resonates with Fire, the elemental nature of the Heart organ, which is nurtured by the emotion of Joy in Chinese Medicine. During the summer, you will want to nourish your Heart by socializing, and experiencing more joy with the people you love. Camping is great for this, because we tend to gather in groups around a campfire - indirectly nourishing your Heart and Fire element.

3. Eat Fruit

Fruit is naturally "in-season" during the summer months. Of course in North America we can get fruit all year around but Summer offers fruit which has been picked ripe, and grown locally, improving the health of the fruit and its benefits to our bodies. Summer in general is the season when the amount of energy we receive from the sun is strongest, warming our bodies up, and boosting our energy as we experience more daytime. Given this increase in warmth in our bodies, this makes eating raw fruit a viable option as our bodies have more warming "Yang" energy to transform the raw fruit into vital nutrients. It's also a great way to stay hydrated if you're spending much of your time outdoors. BBQ tends to create toxic heat in the body. You may experience more nose bleeds this time of the year, mild afternoon fever, sweating more easily, or a desire for cold drinks. These are all signs that there could be excess heat in the body. Good fruit options for clearing heat are pears, cantaloupe, watermelon, and bananas. Caution to those who are pregnant, and individuals who feel cold all the time, or have a weak digestive system as these foods may be contraindicated.

4. Exercise

It's important that we exercise throughout the year, but Summer is the season we should be most active according to Chinese Medicine. If you're finding it difficult to exercise at the end of a long day, try waking up earlier to go for a quick run. The sun rises earlier this time of year, which shortens our natural sleeping patterns, and makes it easier to be an early bird.

5. Realize Your Potential 

Summer being the most expansive, and energetic of all, is the season when our goals, visions, and dreams should be realized. Whatever dreams you've been holding onto for the past year, or visions you have for your life's potential, don't hold them back anymore, put them into action. The joy and satisfaction from making your vision or dream a reality, will boost your spirit and nourish your Heart. Ultimately, making you realize that any dream you have, big or small, can come true. Summer is the season to live your life with joy, happiness, and love. Go out, and do that which satisfies you deep within your heart. Make your dreams a reality this summer.

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Soup For Preventive Health

Soup For Preventive Health

Soup is one of the traditions that have survived throughout Chinese culture as a way of maintaining good health, and is probably one of the ways that Asians remain looking so young even as they age. In fact, many homemade soups share similar herbal ingredients to those used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I recall growing up as a child, and my mother would make soup once a week. In our family, this was a form of preventive medicine we used to keep our bodies nourished and healthy. My mother would always tell me to drink the soup, and she placed such a high importance on it, I think this is one of the reasons I find it easy to accept Chinese Medicine as a lifestyle.

The ingredients would be different depending on the season, but in general there is usually meat with bone as a base. Pork bone, or chicken bone is commonly combined with herbs, and vegetables. The bone is very nourishing according to TCM and should not be omitted in making soup. As you boil bone, it releases vital nutrients and minerals our bodies can use to build blood, bone, and connective tissue. This can be beneficial for people suffering from blood deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, and arthritis - or even as a way to prevent these illnesses altogether. In addition to this, the bone marrow within bone is said to be produced by the kidneys in TCM, which are the root of our bodies. Consuming soup containing bone marrow can supplement our bodies and nourish our kidneys - an organ that may need boosting in infertility cases.

There was always a noticeable difference in how I felt after drinking soup. When your body has everything it needs, your energy level goes up, you become less irritable, more calm, and yet focused. In making soup, all the nutrients from the ingredients are extracted into the broth and the hot temperature of soup makes it easier for your digestive system to absorb everything. Soup is a great way to nourish our bodies, moisten dryness, and stay in harmony with the seasons.

In the winter, it makes sense to consume soups with warming properties as this keeps our immune system strong, ensuring we are able to ward off colds during the frigid winter months. Examples of foods with warming qualities include ginger, cinnamon, chicken, lamb, onions, and coconut meat.

As for the summer months, we spend a lot of time in the sun, either working on the garden, sitting on the beach, or BBQ'ing which adds an element of fire to the food we eat. This can cause us to lose our body fluids through sweating, while creating excess heat in the body leading to irritability, thirst which cannot be quenched by water, restlessness, fever, mouth sores, and constipation. A good soup to balance the body during the summer is watercress soup. A simple recipe involves boiling watercress, and adding salt. Watercress contains heat clearing and fluid nourishing qualities to replenish our bodies. If you want to take it a step further try adding pork bone, and herbs like barley, lotus root, dried shiitake mushrooms, and lotus seeds.

Feel free to search through the "Food As Medicine" page for more summer cooling foods.

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