7 Tips for Better Health from Chinese Medicine
Even if you haven’t scoured the Huang-ti Nei ching, one of the classic books on Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are seven easy tips you can follow right now, inspired from this ancient practice, that will take your health to a whole new level of awesomeness:
- Eat Seasonal, Locally-Sourced, Real Food. Eating natural foods that are every color of the rainbow is a common practice advised by Traditional Chinese Medicine. This will ensure that you get a variety of nutrients and plant compounds, which support the many thousand physiological processes that your body must carry out on a regular basis. You wouldn’t put sub-standard fuel in a sports car and expect it to go fast, and we shouldn’t do that to our bodies. Eating green leafy vegetables, brightly colored fruits, onions, garlic, spices, herbs, lentils, sprouts and legumes ensures we run on a full tank. In TCM, foods are also categorized by temperature, from hot to cold and flavor, pungent, spicy, sweet, sour and salty. Making sure we have a balance of these categories can also support the body and mind to achieve full health.
- Utilize the Energy of the Earth – Get Outside. There are many practices of TCM that are healing, but one that is easily accessible to most of us is spending more time outside. Even if we live in large cities, there are green spaces usually, and those of us who live in more rural areas can certainly benefit from walks in forests or along the sandy beaches that are near us. When we walk in nature, we are taking in its inherent energy – present in the wind, the sun, and the negatively ionized charge of large bodies of water. We are also stimulating important acupressure points (meridians) along the soles of our feet that help to move stagnant energy in our vital organs.
- Breathe Like a Martial Artist. Most of us breathe in a panicked, shallow way. You could call it the “stress breath.” Martial artists and yogis alike understand that our breath can move emotions, and even help us to transcend physical pain. Try breathing more deeply, from the belly and with the support of the diaphragm. You can even try specific breathing techniques offered by Chinese martial arts found here.
- Express Your Emotions. When our emotions are unexpressed or repressed, we can end up with a whole nasty list of diseases. In the West we are taught that the liver helps to get rid of unwanted toxins, but in TCM, the liver helps us to process emotions. The emotion of the liver is anger—when it is unexpressed, our energy becomes low, and we can feel listless or easily agitated. Likewise, in TCM, the lungs are associated with the emotions of grief and sadness. The spleen is associated with a busy mind and worry. The heart corresponds with joy, and the kidneys express fear. All emotions must be felt or they are stored in the body, where eventually they can cause harm.
- Go to sleep every night no later than 10:30PM. In TCM, the time we go to sleep is very important—just as important as how much sleep we get overall. Every hour that we go to sleep before 10:00PM helps to replenish our qi. If we are early to bed and early to rise, this also allows us the appropriate time for our bodies to repair and replenish themselves. In particular, the liver is thought to dispose of toxins between the hours of 11PM and your waking time, so if you cut off several hours of that repair time by going to sleep at 1AM, then the liver cannot properly rid the body of toxins, and they build up, causing disease.
- Drink Green tea. Aside from all the modern science supporting the habit of green-tea drinking, ancient traditional Chinese healers understood that the drink has massive healing potential. It has been served for over 2,000 years, and many people have cured illnesses as varied as diabetes to heart conditions by drinking green tea consistently. Green tea reduces stress, lowers bad cholesterol, aids those suffering from constipation, and can help the large intestines get rid of toxins. It should be a regular addition to your TCM way of living.
Only eat until you are 70 percent full. Our digestive systems are a big part of our health. Hippocrates even once said that all health begins and ends in the gut. So, if we want to experience good health, we need to support the digestive process. Along with eating too many processed foods and those lacking proper nutrition, we also eat too much. Ideally, we should eat until we are 70 percent full, leaving space in our belly for digestion to occur. This ensures that our food is fully digested before it enters the intestines and exits our bodies, instead of hanging around in our bowels, putrefying and causing the body to reabsorb toxins into the bloodstream.
By practicing these few tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine, we can live longer, healthier and happier lives. When are you getting started?
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