Winter Care For Your Kidneys

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Going Deeper: The Kidneys

The organs in Chinese medicine are more than just a physical representation. The organs include not only their physiological function, but also mental, emotional, spiritual and elemental qualities that align with nature and the seasons. Let’s explore the kidneys.

The kidney element in Chinese medicine governs water and is associated with the season of winter, where the energies are turning from the hotter yang months to the more yin of winter. Each organ has an element associated with it: liver and wood, stomach and earth, kidney and water, for example. There is also an emotion, a color and flavor associated with the organ system. For the kidneys, the emotion is fear, the color is dark or black and the flavor is salty. It also opens to the ear, has the direction of north and is paired with the bladder. The kidney element houses willpower and manifests in the teeth and luster of the hair.

The kidneys are the body’s root and contain both yin and yang energies. Yin is associated with what is dark, still, cold, feminine and is inward. Yang is more outward, hot, bright, moving and masculine. The kidneys control reproduction, growth and development and are associated with bones and marrow. The kidneys are said to store jing, which is likened to essence, what you’re born with and what’s inherited from your parents.

There are two types of essence:  

  1. Pre-natal is from your parents and can be likened to one’s basic constitution and DNA.
  2. Post-natal is what is transformed from the food you eat and lifestyle.

The second essence you have more control over health-wise. Ideally, there is a nice balance of kidney yin and yang energies, but if there is yin deficiency, there will be symptoms such as heat, sweating, dryness, irritability, insomnia and low back pain. If there is yang deficiency there are more cold signs such as cold extremities, cold and painful lower back, increased urinary frequency, fatigue, premature greying, water retention and low libido. There can also be an emotional component manifesting as increased phobias and anxieties. Many of the above mentioned symptoms can be tied to the thyroid and adrenal fatigue in Western medicine.

How to care for your kidney this winter:

Keep warm: The kidneys are affected by exposure to cold. Try a nice scarf to protect your neck from the elements, and keep your feet and low back warm in those frosty winter months. Moxibustion, which is heated mugwort, is a wonderful supplement to acupuncture that warms particular acupuncture points on the body.

Eat warm: Foods that are beneficial to the kidneys (in moderation) tend to be dark in color such as black beans, sesame seeds, seaweed, kelp, lamb and beef. Other beneficial warming foods include ginger, cinnamon, miso soup, soybeans, walnuts, chives and Goji berries. It’s best to see your acupuncturist or other health care professional to get an idea of foods that are good for your particular constitution, as some of these foods can be harmful if taken in large amounts (kelp and seaweed, in particular). It’s also best to not eat too many cold, raw vegetables or cold smoothies. Also try to ingest food and drink at room temperature. There are wonderful herbal formulas to assist the kidneys that your acupuncturist can include in your treatment plan.

Light exercise: Light exercise such as tai qi, qi gong or walking has wonderful health and anti-aging benefits and won’t cause exhaustion.

Avoid overwork, overexertion, high stress: Overdoing it depletes your kidney energy, and you might experience ill effects of burnout that are usually associated with adrenal fatigue. Ancient Chinese medical texts also recommend curbing excessive sexual activity to keep kidney energy strong and vibrant and to increase longevity.

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Nutrition for Heart Health

Nutrition for Heart Health 

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Oriental medicine (OM) nutrition combines ancient wisdom with modern science. OM nutrition is a holistic approach, which aims to balance all five flavors within most meals with one or two flavors being emphasized for therapeutic purposes. OM nutrition for a hypertension emphasizes bitter flavors, sour flavors and energetically-cooling foods.

OM theory states the bitter flavor benefits the heart in moderation but an excess is harmful as it has a drying effect; for example, coffee is bitter. In moderation coffee acts as vasodilator, increasing circulation but in excess it can raise blood pressure and has a diuretic effect. Modern scientific research has discovered while the human genome has 25 bitter taste receptors 12 of these are expressed in the human heart.

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Foods with bitter flavors include: romaine lettuce, dandelion, arugula, rye. Foods that combine bitter with pungency include: citrus peel, radish, scallion and white pepper. In OM nutrition the pungent flavor can help disperse phlegm (e.g. plaque). Foods that combine bitter with sweet include: asparagus, celery, tomatoes, lettuce, quinoa and papaya. Lemon rind is bitter and sour; vinegar is also bitter and sour.

Bitter flavors have a yin, or cooling effect, clearing heat in the body while encouraging a descent of Qi, which aids in the draining of fluids. For example, celery contains the phytochemical phthalides which relaxes arterial wall tissues to increase blood flow and thereby reduce blood pressure. The fiber, magnesium and potassium in celery also help lower blood pressure and regulate fluid balance. Caution: according to OM, those with a lot of dryness and/or bone disease should moderate their intake of bitter flavor.

A tomato a day keeps the doctor away! The combination of lycopene, vitamin C and E, potassium and folic acid in tomatoes make it a power food for heart health. The bitter flavor of tomatoes come from the seeds; to reap the full benefit of tomatoes eat the seeds too. Heirloom tomatoes in season have the most flavor, find the tastiest tomatoes at your farmer’s market or trying growing your own.

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Summer is the season of the heart according to Chinese medicine, meaning it is the season most likely to bring our hearts out of balance if we are exposed to excess heat, which can then create and/or exacerbate internal heat. During the summer OM nutrition recommends drinking and eating foods that cool the body and heart such as green tea, cucumbers, watermelon and lemon.

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Chrysanthemum tea is a very popular summertime tea in Asia because it is so well known for its cooling properties; it is helpful for headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, chest pain and also fevers. You can add chrysanthemum flowers to your morning green tea and in the evening combine it with chamomile tea for extra cooling benefits!

OM nutrition cautions against overdoing cold foods and drinks. Too much cold inhibits the digestive process. Drinking warm beverages and soups, as well as eating foods with a little pungency (chili pepper, garlic, ginger) causes the body to perspire slightly which naturally cools the body.

For those who happen to have hypertension plus a lot of dryness: dry skin, dry eyes, dry mouth and thirst, constipation and even hormonal deficiencies can benefit from increasing their healthy fat intake. Many nutrients are fat soluble, the body uses cholesterol to make hormones, bile and vitamin D. Healthy fats nourish yin in OM nutrition theory. Some Americans who suffer from hypertension are also thin with an underlying yin deficiency, such as those with the onset of hypertension that coincides with menopausal symptoms. Sources of healthy fats include: nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, flaxseed oil and fish.

Eating beans, peas and grains are high in potassium, magnesium, fiber and are high in choline which is vital in lowering hypertension and boosting fat metabolism. Whole grains are also a good source of niacin and vitamin E and are recommended for healthy arteries, especially those that are slightly bitter such as: rye, quinoa, amaranth and oats.

Try this OM Nutrition Recipe for Heart Health:

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5 Flavors Chickpea Salad for Healthy & Happy Heart

15 oz cooked organic chick peas (1 can)
1/2 c cup cooked quinoa or 1 cup brown rice (warm)
4 stalks celery, minced
6-12 cherry tomatoes, chapped in 1/2 or 1/4
8-12 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
2 TBSP red onion, minced

Toss with dressing made with:
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP lemon juice + a little lemon zest (organic is best)
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp honey or agave
1-2 garlic cloves (minced or pressed)
1/8 tsp Himalayan or Sea salt (or to taste)
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)

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Resources
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/04/celery-may-help-bring-your-high-blood-pressure-down/
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/04/celery-may-help-bring-your-high-blood-pressure-down/
Foster, S. R., Blank, K., Hoe, L. E. S., Behrens, M., Meyerhof, W., Peart, J. N., & Thomas, W. G. (2014). Bitter taste receptor agonists elicit G-protein-dependent negative inotropy in the murine heart. The FASEB Journal, 28(10), 4497-4508.
Kastner, Joseph, MD, L.Ac, (2009) Chinese Nutrition Therapy, Thieme, Stuttgart and New York
Pitchford, Paul (2002), Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California
Ried, K., Frank, O. R., Stocks, N. P., Fakler, P., & Sullivan, T. (2008). Effect of garlic on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC cardiovascular disorders, 8(1), 1.
Willcox, J. K., Catignani, G. L., & Lazarus, S. (2003). Tomatoes and Cardiovascular Health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 43(1), 1-18.

5 Ways to Eat Without Overeating this Holiday Season

Blog-img 5 Ways to Eat Without Overeating this Holiday Season_640Moderation
We’ve always the heard the saying to enjoy everything in moderation, and that is definitely true when it comes to holiday foods. Don’t try to deprive yourself during the holidays, it most likely won’t go over well. Having an extra holiday treat here and there won’t kill you. You’re allowed to indulge a bit, just keep portions small when it comes to holiday desserts and make sure you limit how often you eat them. Going the whole season without any treats is cruel and will most likely end in binging later, so have your guilty pleasures, just keep them in moderation.

Watch the alcohol
The holidays are a time for celebration, which most likely means more alcohol. Not only does alcohol add on empty calories, but can also lead you to eating more while drinking. If you are at a gathering, limit yourself to one or two drinks to cut down on the unhealthy cravings you might be feeling afterward.

Focus on the protein
Protein-packed foods are a great way to fill up without adding a lot of sugar and empty carbohydrates. Pack your plate with low-fat meats like turkey and chicken. If you’re vegetarian, eat more of the tofu than the side dishes that are most likely to be sugar and carbohydrate heavy.

Fill up on the water
Don’t forget about water! The holidays are an easy time to drink more sugary beverages than normal. Substitute drinks for water, and drink a lot of it. Not only is water essential for your health, but drinking a glass before a meal can fill you up more as well, preventing you from overeating.

Take your time
Eating too fast is one of the easiest ways to overeat. When you don’t give your body the chance to digest food and feel full before you stop eating, chances are you’re going to end up eating more than you want. Eat slowly and enjoy each bite to give your body a chance to catch up. This way, you’ll end up getting full faster and eat less.

Most of all don’t forget to enjoy the holidays and the delicious food that comes with it, don’t be afraid to indulge a little!

7 Tips to be Stress-Free During the Holidays

7 Tips to be Stress-Free During the Holidays

Keep a routine
It is especially easy to lose your normal routine during the holidays due to festivities and the special occasions that tend to happen this time of year. Don’t abandon your healthy habits, keep your usual routine of diet and exercise, which is especially important when holiday foods and drinks come around. Try keeping a calendar to keep better track of your schedule.

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Prioritize
It is easy to take on too much during this time of year. On top of your normal schedule, there is the obligation to see family, attend gatherings and gift-giving. You can only do so much! Prioritize and don’t be afraid to say no if you simply don’t have enough time to commit to something. The holiday season is busy and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

Watch the wallet
There is nothing that will stress you out more in the long run than spending too much money during the holidays. Make a budget and stick with it. It is incredibly easy to overspend during this time. Budget and allow yourself to spend a certain amount for the entire season, you’ll thank yourself after the holidays are over.

Make time for yourself
Although it is the season for giving, make sure to make time for yourself too. It can be stressful and overwhelming when you try to constantly please others. It is okay to say no to events that you may feel obligated to go to. One of the most important ways to stay stress-free this season is to give yourself time to relax. Do yoga, read or any other activity you like to do to relax.

Try acupuncture
There is no better time than now to try acupuncture. If you are feeling under the weather, stressed and not at your best health, acupuncture can help. Acupuncture can help lower stress levels, boost your immune system and leave you feeling relaxed. Give it a shot!

Give Back
Volunteer at your local food back or donate to a clothing drive. Giving back to the community is always important, but especially during the holidays. Spending time helping out doesn’t just help others, but can benefit you as well.

Don’t sweat the small things
Holidays are meant for family, friends and for celebration. Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is a time to relax and be thankful for the people in your life. Material objects come and go, but relationships will be there and are the most important thing of all. Put your job and your stress on the back-burner for a bit and enjoy the people who mean the most around you.

5 Tips to Help Your Diabetes

Blog-img 5 Tips to Help Your Diabetes - Doc_640There are about 29 million people in the United States who suffer from type 2 diabetes, an illness that is becoming increasingly common and is also highly preventable. With lifestyle changes, diabetes can be managed and prevented.

Aim for a healthy weight

When you have extra weight, this can cause an increase in blood sugar. Maintaining a healthy weight can keep your blood sugar at more normal levels and better overall health.

Exercise

Exercise is very important when it comes to managing or preventing type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise can help lower weight, lower stress levels, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride. Even just by adding in walks into your day can make a difference. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least four times a week.

Diet

Having a healthy diet is a lifestyle change, and that can be hard for people.

Keep carbs in check, they tend to affect your blood sugar the most. Know how many carbohydrates are in the food you’re eating to keep them at the level you need to be for managing your blood sugar.

Avoid processed sugar.  Sugar in the form of sucrose or high fructose corn syrup can spike blood sugar rapidly. For people with diabetes, it is especially dangerous.

Be on top of your schedule

Diabetes requires an everyday awareness as well as a schedule when it comes to medication and insulin. If you have trouble remembering to take your medication or test yourself regularly, try setting reminders on your phone or keep a calendar near by. Consistency can make all the difference.

Try acupuncture

Neuropathy is one result of diabetes, acupuncture can help reduce this nerve pain by boosting the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever. Acupuncture has almost no side effects and is a great complementary option to reducing chronic pain.

 

http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/natural-remedies-type-2-diabetes

http://www.ghc.org/healthAndWellness/?item=/common/healthAndWellness/conditions/diabetes/topTips.html