Winter 2014 Newsletter

Happy Winter!!!

In this month’ Newsletter:

  • Cooked vs Raw Foods
  • Tips from India
  • Stamford Location is open

A TCM Perspective on Cooked vs Raw Foods

Most of my patients are surprised to hear the recommendation to skip salads and cold foods during winter months. Ever wondered why Chinese prefer to eat cooked food, drink warm water, and never include salad on either restaurant or home menu?

The answer lies with better understanding how digestion works from a Chinese medicine perspective. Chinese Medicine sees life as a series of warm transformations—the underlying philosophy of Taoism where change and transformation are natural processes which, given the proper environment, will happen on their own. The process of digestion is viewed in the same light. Give the body proper food and liquid, a proper environment, and there will be abundance of energy and balanced metabolism. The stomach is viewed as a pot that needs to ‘cook’ the food in order to extract the nutrients (separate the clear from the turbid). The ability to transform food into usable nutrients for the cells is dependent on the ‘digestive fire’ to ‘cook’ the foods and ensure this transformation is completed. Using cold/raw food will lower or in some cases simply put out that ‘digestive fire’ resulting in symptoms like bloating, gas or upset stomach.

Importance of Cooking Foods

  • Cooking increases the warming properties of food
  • Helps break down food structure
  • Nutrients are more available and better assimilated
  • Relatively few nutrients are lost in simple cooking
  • The energy of the body is less focused on digestion and can be used in other ways.
  • Moderately cooked food is recommended to help support mental clarity and energy metabolism.

Remedies to beat the Cold:

  • Use ginger, cinnamon, clove, basil, rosemary in teas and foods regularly.
  • Warming seeds and grains: Oats, spelt, quinoa, sunflower seed, sesame seed, walnut, pinenut, chestnut, fennel, dill, anise, caraway, carob pod, cumin, sweet brown rice
  • OK to use Neutral grains rice, corn, buckwheat and rye. Other grains are too cooling.
  • Veg/Fruit: parsnip, parsley, mustard greens, winter squash, sweet potato, kale, onion, leek, chive, garlic, scallion; cherry, citrus peel and date.
  • Small amounts hot peppers/spices
  • If needed, butter is only warming dairy product. Milk/cheese are neutral.
  • Meats: anchovy, mussel, trout, chicken, beef and lamb.

India trip feedback

I recently returned from the trip to India where after just over a week i’ve learned simple yet profound steps to stay connected with the environment, the food and to avoid getting ill.

  1. Food. Food is an essential part of any culture but in India it is short of religion. The cafeteria of the resort where we stayed had white walls, not a single picture on a wall and no music.. Bottom line – NO DISTRACTION. Of course i managed to smuggle my phone since it was one of the only wifi enable spots but the point remains.. From TCM stand point Spleen is the energy circuit responsible for digestion and mental function. Once combined whichever side you focus more on wins..
  2. India-128Color.. Have you had Thali?
    Thali a cornerstone of the southern menu. It is served in a stainless steel platter with little bowls (vati) consisting of a wide variety of dal, roti, papad, curd (yoghurt), small amounts of chutney and a sweet dish to top it off. It is typically eaten with hands (this time I used a spoon) to engage all 5 senses. The combination of colors and tastes was very close to 5 elect theory: there was a yellow dish – Earth, white rice and yogurt – Metal, a few greens – Wood, red dish – Fire and for the Water element – a Jackfruit pudding..
  3. Mindefullness.
    Every day from 4am before going to work every person in Kerala goes to temple. A form of meditation is performed and intention is set for the upcoming day. Try it for 10 minuites every day for a week and see what happens.. If you can’t meditate by yourself there is a donation based class at Dew Yoga that takes place every Friday at 6.45pm.

Amma update..

We will be resuming lectures, talks and workshops with Amma upon her arrival to US. I’ll send another letter upon having the dates.. Please stay tuned.

Have a warm, safe and healthy winter.

Namaste
__/||\__

-Mark

Spring 2014 Newsletter

Happy Spring!!!

In the tradition of the Traditional 5 Element System Spring energetically emerges around the Spring Equinox, March 21st. Spring is ruled by the element of Wood. The element of Water from the previous season (Winter) feeds the Wood and helps it grow.

The organ systems of the Liver and Gallbladder are related to the Wood element. Other tissues related to Wood are nails, tendons, ligaments and eyesight. Spring is about bursting upward, unfolding.  Typical signs of weakness or stagnancy of circulation result in inappropriate anger, frustration, even depression and resignation with an inability to focus and finding direction.

In the mean time, here are some essential tips to getting your body in sync with the world around you.

1. Breathe

Metal element controls Wood and associated with Lungs. Therefore it is essential to increase supply of oxygen in blood, boost the Lung function and ‘pacify’ that angry Liver.

2. Stretch.

The tissues that correspond to Wood are tendons and ligaments. Stretching it increases flexibility and decreasing potential sprains by bringing blood, oxygen, nutrients to tissues and promoting circulation of energy, lymph and blood.

3. Eat green things.

The color green is the color of spring and now is the time to really increase your green vegetable intake. The best choice right now are leafy greens, sprouts, spring onions, mustard greens, and herbs such as turmeric, basil, marjoram, cumin, fennel, dill, ginger, mint, chamomile and  lemon balm which are all helpful in preventing Liver energy from becoming stagnant.

4.  Slow to Anger.

Anger is the emotion associated with the Liver and Spring.  Becoming excessively angry, and/or perpetually irritable adversely affects the liver.  Practice a little restraint when a situation or person gets under your skin.  Feeling angry or complaining constantly are self-indulgent and destructive responses. Anger begets anger. Your body’s biochemistry responds to anger by down-regulating serotonin and other feel good neurochemicals. You put yourself in a vulnerable and depressive state by allowing your anger to dominate your emotional landscape. Liver is a main energy (Qi) pump in the body that, once stagnant creates a systemic response.

The healthy Wood qualities are the following:

• able to plan effectively
• make clear decisions
• even tempered
• sense of being firmly rooted, but flexible
• is well organized and efficient
• high level of confidence and assertiveness
• energy level is consistent and high

if any of the above seem challenging feel free to email-me.

Allergies?

5_element_pres_graph7dfd92Does everyone have it in the Spring? Not really. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Allergic reaction is an immune response to external pathogen due to weakness of the systemic ‘defense’ called Wei Qi (Chee). This type of defense is controlled by Lung (Metal Element) which with absence of proper oxygenation and nourishment by Earth (mother) element becomes weak and unable to perform its ‘defending’ duties.

During the Wood/Spring time the element rebels and ‘attacks’ the Metal that is being drained by Water/Winter.

Acupuncture is a very effective tool in boosting the immune function therefore diminishing allergic response.

Sample Spring Refrigerator Shopping List

Use these tastes of foods to address each of the five elements and aid the Liver/Wood move through the circle..

  • Sour. The most beneficial way to bring sour flavor into your diet is to eat lots of young greens tossed in lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and olive oil.
  • Bitter. alfalfa and other sprouts, amaranth, asparagus, basil, chickweed, chicory, dandelion, dandelion root, lettuces, nettle, oregano, parsley, quinoa, scallion, thyme. watercress, young kale, any other green, leafy plant you find.
  • Sweet. amasake, asparagus, basil, beets, chamomile tea, chrysanthemum tea, cow and goat milk, dandelion, dried or fresh fruit in season, eggs, fennel seed, ghee, grains, honey, jasmine tea, lime flower, mungbean sprouts, nettles, olive oil, parsnip, pea sprouts, potato, soya milk, spinach, winter squash.
  • Pungent. anise seed, arugula, basil, black & white pepper, cardamom, chickweed, cilantro, cinnamon, dandelion, fennel seed, garlic, especially wild spring garlic, ginger, jasmine, lemon balm, minor’s lettuce, mint, onion, parsley, peppermint, radishes, scallions, spring onion, ramps. star anise, watercress.
  • Salty. alfalfa sprouts, bee pollen, dandelion leaf, dandelion root, fish, kelp, mineral salt, miso, nettle, nori, seaweed, tamari.

Thank you for reading and I hope to see some of you at Dew Today. Have a Happy, Healthy, stress and allergy free Spring.
Namaste,
Mark