by Jane Barthelemy.
It’s amazing. 4,500 years ago, the oldest book on medicine suggests we “Heal before illness can come.” The Yellow Emperor’s doctor said:
“In the old days, smart people prevented disease it before it began, just as a good leader averts war before it starts. If someone digs a well only when thirsty, or forges weapons during battle, one might ask: Aren’t these actions too late to be effective?”
Health Means Listening to Cycles in Your Body
In modern society we expect a slow and painful decline of health in later life. But why is this necessary? Why not be old, healthy and wise? Why should we accept the so-common series of health challenges as we age? These difficulties limit our enjoyment and completely block the growth of wisdom in our later years. But Daoist masters traditionally live in vital health into very old age without disease. This proves it is also possible for us. What is their secret to health?
Daoist wisdom views life as many cycles of continuous motion and change – a constant flow of expansions and contractions, like seasons in every area of our lives. When these movements are harmonized within certain bounds, physical health is a natural equilibrium. But if the balance is broken by extremes, disease occurs.
The ancient secret is listening to the body! This gives us the awareness to make many small changes to our diet and lifestyle, to continuously find a new equilibrium.
When we listen to the body, and make appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes in tune with Nature’s cycles as they’re needed, we can prevent illness and enjoy vital health our entire lives, even in old age. This requires practical knowledge and simple inward attention.
The Dangerous Transition from Summer to Fall
Summer is a time of expansion, heat, and abundance. According to Chinese Medicine the riskiest time of year happens as the warm summer weather contracts in the Fall. It is particularly important to give the body special care, laying a foundation for health during the winter. In order to avoid the all too common colds, sniffles, and lung ailments in the coldest time of year, we must adjust our diets beforehand in the Fall. Aha! Here are some recommendations from Chinese medicine for foods to assist with this transition. While these general guidelines apply to most people, your diet is very personal. So please adjust these suggestions to suit your own body:
Best Vegetables & Fruits for Fall
- Eat plenty of seasonal vegetables, especially steamed and veggies in soups.
- Pungent veggies that help stimulate the lungs, such as watercress, cabbage,
turnip, ginger, horseradish, pepper, onions, and garlic.
- Fermented vegetables which are easier to digest and help protect Spleen Qi.
- Enjoy a few fresh fruits, especially those low in sugars, such as lemons, limes,
Granny Smith apples, and grapefruit.
Avoid Foods that Cause Dampness (Fluid & mucus congestion)
- Eat more building foods than summertime, such as proteins, meats, fish, dairy, nuts, beans, seeds and gluten-free grains. But not too much as these foods also cause dampness.
- Avoid foods that build dampness, such as noodles, potatoes, bread, bananas, cake, cookies, flours, sugar, processed, and gmo foods.
- Avoid wheat which causes dampness.
- Avoid sugars, fruit juices, processed foods and refined flours, which cause premature aging and dampness.
- Avoid cold foods or drinks, dairy, and fried foods, which cause dampness.
- Avoid store-bought salad dressings made with gmo oils and sugars.
Eat Foods that Lubricate the Body, Combat Dryness, and Moisten Lungs
- Enjoy healthy oils like organic ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, sesame oil.
- Enjoy seasonal moistening foods such as pears, pumpkin, squash, apples, seaweed, grapefruit, and lemon.
- Simmer a few herb teas such as Burdock, Comfrey, Ginger, and Licorice root.
Warm Foods are best in the Fall
- Eat warm foods like bone broth, stews, soups, and hot gluten-free cereals.
- Eat beans, such as lentils, kidney beans, adzuki beans, always well soaked.
- These herbs and spices are good for the lungs: bay leaves, caraway seeds, cardamom, chives, cinnamon, cloves, dill, fennel, leek, oregano, nutmeg, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric.
- Homemade nut milks are easy in any blender, without the drawbacks of dairy.
- Soups, bone broths, stews, and well-soaked beans are nutrient dense and economical.
- Homemade coconut butter saves money over store-bought.
- Economical hot cereals can be made from sprouted grains, ground in a hand-held grinder, served with homemade nut milks. Yummy!
I hope these guidelines are helpful. Let’s hear your questions or comments below! Jane