Sunday, February 13, 2011

How to Stay Healthy in Spring (Feb.4-May.4)

This year, Chinese Spring Festival falls on Feb 4th., which is the first day of Chinese new year as well as the first day of spring. Yang Qi in the nature starts to rise as the sunshine feels warmer and the days get longer. Aaccording to the TCM theory of correspondence between human beings and the universe, the energy also expands naturally in the human body. However, people should be alert as it may expand in an imbalanced way.

Yang energy in the liver grows more vigorously than in other organs in spring. If it grows too quickly and upsets the balance, the excessive yang energy in the liver will disrupt the normal circulation of energy and blood, and hurt other organs, especially the spleen. This is the time when people with stomach problem tend to have a relapse.
Yang energy foods such as mutton and hot pot should not be eaten in spring. They are good in winter, but too strong for spring.Too much yang energy without sufficient nutrition will burden the liver itself and cause a weak liver.

People may often feel thirsty and find they have dry lips and throat, and sometimes high blood pressure relapses. To restrict the over-active yang energy in the liver, certain pathogenic-heat-repelling foods are recommended as part of the diet during spring. These include pear, pearl barley, eggplant, spinach and celery.

"Eating less sour foods and more sweet foods is appropriate in spring, as it can help reinforce spleen energy," said Sun Simiao, a famous TCM doctor during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) in his masterpiece "Qianjin Yaofang" (Prescriptions Worth a Thousand Gold). The "sweet food" in TCM does not refer to cuisine with a lot of sugar, but those natural foods that taste a bit sweet and can help benefit spleen and stomach. Yam, jujube and honey are on the top of the list.

According to the Chinese Five Elements Theory, (Wood, Earth, Water, Fire and Metal), each season, viscera and each of the five colors and flavors is represented by an element (yes, we have five seasons). Spring is the season of Liver, and Liver belongs to Wood, which has the color of green and sour taste. Liver, wood and spring are common in their natural properties, which is to grow and stretch , and hate being suppressed.

Here are some healthy tips for this time of the year:
1. Avoid emotions of anger and sadness. Keep a positive and optimistic attitude. Since it is the season for the liver, which regulates the  flow of Qi through the body.When you are angry or sad, Qi is obstructed.

2. Stay warm by wearing enough clothes. You can wear less upon the upper body, but keep the lower half of the body warm.

3. Get up earlier and go to bed later than in the winter. Avoid wearing tight clothes, and do more outdoor activities. As the daytime gets longer, you can stay awake longer, too. Loose clothing is more beneficial for Qi circulation.

4. Do a lot of stretching exercises since your tendons are quite contracted during the long winter. To stretch your arms, waist and legs while taking deep breaths, can invigorate blood circulation and promote qi (energy) flow.
5. Eat more naturally sweet and slightly spicy food (wolf berry, jujube dates,  peanuts, onion, cilantro), but less food of sour taste (oranges, vinegar). Too much sour taste can injure the functioning of the liver.

6. Eat a lot of green vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, broccoli, bean sprouts, etc., that do good to the liver.


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