Tag: traditional chinese medicine

Absolutely The Healthiest Foods To Eat In Winter

winter

Strolling through the supermarket and loading up your cart with fruits and veggies might seem healthy. But eating certain produce this time of year can actually cause an imbalance in your well-being. In this post, Chef V uses ancient wisdom from the Far East to determine the healthiest foods to eat in winter.

It’s really amazing if you think about it. We have access to an amazing abundance and variety of all kinds of foods throughout the year. Blueberries in winter? No problem, thanks to it being summertime in Chile this time of year. Because of the global supply chain—a little sluggish at the moment but we won’t get into that—and hydroponics (growing produce without soil), we have at our disposal all kinds of produce and grains, no matter the season. 

While we definitely should count our blessings and feel gratitude for this abundance, we shouldn’t absent-mindedly toss just any food into our shopping carts. This is true any time of year but at no other time is this food-shopping philosophy more important than in winter. 

The stress of holiday shopping, low-UV sunlight that provides insufficient vitamin D, over-eating at holiday parties and the cold weather that drives us indoors zaps our immune system. 

To have a healthy, balanced immune system, eat foods that are in season. That means no blueberries, apricots and other summertime fruits. I’ll share my list of the best foods to eat in winter in just a bit. But first, in addition to eating seasonally, there’s another principle of healthy eating this time of year I’d like to share with you…

kidney

Supporting Kidney Function In Winter

I’m a big fan of applying ancient medicinal wisdom into modern diet advice. For instance, according to the 5,000 year old system of traditional Chinese medicine, there’s one organ that’s vital for a balanced immune system in the winter. 

Not to be confused with the organs you learned about in science class, traditional Chinese medicine organs involve more than the physical organ. They also include physical energy points (meridians) and directly impact emotional and spiritual well-being. 

In ancient Chinese medicine, every organ is associated with a season. Winter is the season of the kidneys. Take care of your kidneys and your kidneys will take care of you. The kidneys in traditional Chinese medicine act as the body’s pilot light. If this light diminishes because of stress and poor diet, your vitality and health will suffer.

root vegetables

Best Foods In Winter To Support Kidney Health

Ok, enough with the Chinese medicine lecture. Let’s cut to the chase. What are the best foods to eat this time of year? Which foods are in season, are warming to the body and keep your kidneys working in balance? 

Roots and Tubers

To stay grounded this time of year, we need food that’s pulled from the ground:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Yam
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Rutabaga
  • Parsnips
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Mushrooms

Fruits

Are you a fruitarian? Could you live off of fruit all year long? If you want to have a balanced immune system, you’ll increase your chances of staying healthy by eating fruit that’s in season only in winter. The good news is there are a few on the list this time of year that are ripe for the picking: 

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Pomegranates
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Persimmons (eat in moderation; they’re high in fructose)
  • Clementines
  • Tangerines

grains

Grains and Legumes

Unless you’re on a super strict low-carb diet (keto), you don’t have to say no to grains. Eating a couple handfuls of a grain with a lean protein like wild salmon and healthy fats like avocado will help keep you full. 

Here’s my list of the best low-starch grains and legumes (which also get a bum rap in the low-carb world) to eat in winter:

  • Quinoa
  • Rye
  • Oats (purchase non-GMO because oats are one of the most heavily-sprayed crops)
  • Wild rice
  • Barley
  • Kidney beans (makes perfect sense to support kidney health)
  • Lentils
  • Black beans (soak them overnight in water to make them easier to digest)

spices

Herbs and Spices

When the weather is frightful outside, herbs and spices that “warm the blood” as the ancient Chinese philosophers would say, might not be able to replace a wood-burning fireplace. But sprinkling these on your food or in your tea may support the immune system and actually make you feel a tad bit warmer:

  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Nutmeg
  • Clove
  • Cardamom
  • Garlic
  • Red chili pepper flakes

kale

Best Wintertime Veggies
And last but certainly not least, no wintertime food shopping run is complete without these veggies not already mentioned above:

  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • These 7 dark leafy greens that you can conveniently drink and have delivered to your home almost anywhere in the USA.

These kidney-supporting foods are in prime season right now. Load up your cart with them and have a healthy winter!

Love, 

Chef V

Veronica in field

Do You Have a Parasite in Your Gut? How to Kill it

gut parasites

How To Kill Parasites In Your Gut The Natural Way

Got a freeloader living in your gut? If you have been diagnosed with parasites, is it possible to kill them off with natural ingredients? Keep reading to find out…

It’s got to be one of the most embarrassing and self-deflating situations: You’re shopping in the supermarket when all of a sudden a stranger asks, “How far along are you?” 

The problem is that you’re not pregnant. But your belly looks like you could be two or three months along in the prenatal journey. 

For some of the 60 million people(!) in the U.S. that, according to the CDC, are living with toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection, a chronically-bloated belly isn’t the only concern. 

gut parasite

Top Signs You May Have a Parasite

Parasites can also cause brain fog, skin problems, constant fatigue, muscle pain, an itchy anus, frequent hunger and a long laundry list of digestive issues. 

Another nearly 4 million people, says the CDC, have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by another parasitic infection called trichomoniasis, or trich for short. And here’s another scary stat from the CDC: More than 14 percent of people in the U.S. are exposed to the roundworm parasite that lives in the intestines of dogs that causes toxocariasis.

Sorry, Coconut (my 4-year old four-legged furry pet child): I just don’t know if I can look at you the same way for the next couple days after learning that. But thank God for heartworm pills!

gut health - Coconut and roundworm

Parasites: Not Just A Problem in Poorer Countries

I admit that I thought parasites were mostly something people picked up by visiting a developing nation in the tropics, where hot, damp and humid conditions are rife for all kinds of creepy microorganisms. 

But clearly, there are many among us right here in the good ol’ USA who are walking buffets for parasites. Now, I’m not intentionally trying to scare you; lord knows we have enough things right now to worry about. The good news is that if you have a healthy immune system, your body will be able to prevent parasites from taking up residence in your intestines and stealing your vital nutrients. 

However, thousands of people each year succumb to parasites, mainly by eating or drinking contaminated food and beverages. 

And if that’s you, natural ingredients may help…

natural remedies dried herbs

Treat Parasites Without Medication?

Unfortunately, many symptoms of parasitic infection mirror those of digestive disorders. The only way to know for sure if you have a parasite is by getting your stool tested. Another bummer when it comes to parasitic infections is that stool samples don’t always detect parasites, even when there is one. Far and away, the best stool sample analysis for detecting parasites, says the CDC is the ‘Wheatley method trichrome staining technique.’

If you have a parasitic infection confirmed, your doctor will likely recommend taking a prescription medication for the specific parasite.

Taking medication probably is the quickest way to eradicate the infection. But they don’t always work. Parasites are notoriously difficult to completely wipe out. And if your immune system is compromised and your gut microbiome doesn’t have enough friendly bacteria, there’s a good chance the parasite could re-emerge bigger and badder than before.

Some people would rather go about treating parasites (and candida, which is an overgrowth of a yeast fungus; technically it’s not a parasite) with natural remedies. If that’s you, the best ingredients that are backed by at least some decent research include:

  • Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)
  • Aged garlic extract
  • Oregano oil
  • Black walnut
  • Clove oil

gut parasites remedies- grapefruit and garlic oils

There’s one more natural antiparasitic ingredient I’d like to mention. And that’s Pau D’Arco, which is the Portugese name for ‘lapacho,’ the bark from a tree found in South America, including the Amazonian rainforest. Pau D’Arco is actually a natural anti-bacterial.

If you have a parasite, your doctor may want you to also take an antibiotic just in case you also have a bacterial infection. But antibiotic medications wipe out all the good bugs in your gut. This weakens your immune system, making conditions more likely for the parasite to grow.

Pau D' Arco tree

Eat This, Not That … For Parasites

So what are the best foods to eat for killing parasites? Well, let’s start with the worst thing to consume if you have a parasitic infection: sugar. And I’m not just talking about the added grams that come from soda, snacks and the like. You also should avoid starchy foods that easily convert into sugar like white rice, white flour, wheat flour and high starch carbs like mashed potatoes.

According to Mount Sinai of New York, raw garlic, pumpkin seeds, pomegranates, beets, carrots and a mixture of honey and papaya seeds may be beneficial for killing parasites. And don’t forget to use herbal remedies such as wormwood, barberry, goldenseal, oregon grape, anise and garlic. Mount Sinai adds that homeopathic remedies may also help.

Make sure you also support your liver’s detoxification pathways. One great way to do that is with Chef V’s Cleanse or 21 Day Detox.

Conclusion

Well, I hope a parasite isn’t to blame for what’s bugging you. But if a lab test reveals that you indeed have one, don’t despair. You can kill it and come out the other side stronger than ever.

Eat This, Not That … In The Summer

Veronica slicing cucumber

Are you stoked to finally be able to gather with friends and family this summer? You should be. After the summer of 2020 deprived many of us of pool parties, backyard barbecues and trips to the ice cream store, we should have a newfound appreciation for these favorite summer pastimes. 

I don’t blame you for celebrating life to the fullest. But before you party with reckless abandon this summer, there’s a danger posed to your health with every summertime gathering. No, I’m not referring to the C-virus; there’s already enough media attention surrounding that … you don’t need to hear it from me, too. 

The danger I’m talking about isn’t potentially lethal like the C-virus, but it can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms better left unspoken at the dinner table. And I’m not talking about the side effects of partying too much. Obviously, chugging beers by the pool under the blazing sun can make you feel like you’re dying. 

traditional Chinese Medicine

Worst Foods To Eat In Summer

What I’m talking about is a 5,000 year-old concept from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It’s called Damp Heat. What does an esoteric ancient philosophy from the Orient have to do with grilling it up in your backyard with friends? 

You see, eating fatty, greasy food isn’t a recent health problem. Thousands of years ago, ancient Chinese enjoyed finger-lickin’ good pork, sometimes to excess. The ancient Chinese philosophers and doctors of their day noticed that just as the air outside can be hot and sticky, eating and drinking certain things in excess can create heat and dampness in the body. 

Not to get too textbook-y here, but the basic theory of Dampness in TCM is that it occurs when there’s too much moisture or water trapped in the body. Anybody who feels like they have swollen extremities (edema) can relate. 

Unfortunately, many of the most common foods and drinks people have in the summer can create excess Damp and Heat in the body. The offenders include: 

  • Dairy (ice cream)
  • Grilled meats (barbecue)
  • Alcohol (beer)
  • Added sugars 
  • Ice-cold drinks

Am I saying you should never have ice cream? No, I’m not that puritanical of a certified nutrition therapist. But what I am recommending is that the next time you get invited to a backyard gathering, don’t have ice cream and 3 beers and 3 burgers. As always, moderation is the key. 

Another thing that Chinese medicine textbooks say to avoid in the summer is lots of raw food like salads. Wait, what? Aren’t salads super healthy and really desirable this time of year? Well, for starters, I sure eat a ton of salads and my digestion is fine. 

But the reason you’re not supposed to eat lots of uncooked veggies, according to the theory, is that it requires a lot of energy for your Spleen organ system to process. In Chinese medicine, the Spleen is the organ that’s responsible for transforming nutrients into usable energy. No double pun intended, but this is an instance where I go with my gut and throw theory to the wind.

summer vegetables

Best Foods To Eat In Summer

Yes, I’m totally throwing salads on this list, despite what traditional Chinese medicine theory says. But by all means, if you notice that after you have a big salad that your digestion is off, maybe dial it down and have a much smaller one. And start taking digestive enzymes.

Here’s some other foods I love to feast on this time of year:

  • Berries (I top them on my salads)
  • Avocado and guacamole
  • Corn (Buy organic; over 90% of the conventional corn grown in the USA is genetically-modified.)
  • Zucchini
  • Melons
  • Cucumber
  • Asparagus
  • String beans
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach and other leafy greens (I drink leafy greens every morning doing this.)
  • Apricots
  • Quinoa
  • Other low-starch grains
  • Lean fish like mahi-mahi, poke, sashimi
  • Eggplant (Want to get your barbecue on, plant-based style? Grilled eggplant is one of my faves.)
  • Mango (My go-to healthy dessert; I’m only human so sometimes I top it with whipped cream; whipped coconut cream that is!)

Any seasonal fruit and veggie should be high on your list of foods to eat this time of year. Support small family farms by shopping at local farmer’s markets. 

And make sure you don’t overdo it by eating typical summertime unhealthy foods. Not only does barbecued meat have the potential to cause Damp Heat in the body, it also produces Advanced Glycation End (AGE) products in the body. “AGE” is a very appropriate acronym because having lots of AGE products causes premature aging. 

To a happy, healthy summer!

Chef V and tropical green drink

© 2021 Chef V, LLC.