The solstice turned yesterday taking us out of the darkest time towards the coming light of spring. It is at this time Chinese Medicine ties the body to the Kidney and Bladder – telling us to go deep, to take time to rest and restore. I was recently asked to write an article for the Active Retirement Ireland Annual www.activeirl.ie on how to generate and conserve energy as we age. In Chinese Medicine this too covers the realm of the Kidney and Bladder. So the information in the article covers food that can fortify us all within the quiet steady winter months.
In the west we are all familiar with veins and arteries that carry blood around the body. In Chinese Medicine there is a similar system that carries energy (chi) around the body. These energetic pathways are called Meridians. Shiatsu works on these meridians and acupressure points to diagnose and treat different ailments to maintain the body’s balance. Shiatsu & Conscious Cooking specializes in using food to attune the body and bring optimum health.
As we enter the third age of our life a hormonal shift usually happens for both men and women. Many physical symptoms can manifest at this stage, hot flushes, drying skin, changes in sleep patterns and loss of sexual desire. Most of the time we accept these changes as a normal aging process, however it is possible, even desirable to age and retain a full, juicy, va va voom zest for all areas of life.
In Chinese Medicine the Kidney and Bladder energy stores our essence and as we age this can weaken, which not only affects these organs but our hormones, bones and nervous system that this meridan system encompasses. So its important to keep this energy as strong as possible. Barley is a great ingredient for strenthening and keeping the bladder strong and healthy. Make Barley water by simmering 50g of barley in 1 litre of water for at least an hour. Strain the barley from the water and keep the liquid in the fridge taking 75ml daily. Mix with hot water, lemon or honey to suit your taste. Adding the cooked barley to soups or stews even salads will further strengthen the bladder and stop too many trips to the toilet.
Another ingredient used for strengthening Kidney energy are Black Sesame Seeds. For best results these seeds need to be taken daily. 1 or 2 tsp of black sesame seeds per day is best. Traditionally in China they are dry roasted to reduce the oxalic acid and release the vitamin e, calcium and other minerals. Then they are sprinkled on porridge or noodles. Alternatively grind them into a paste and take with warm water in the morning. Both black and white sesame seeds are rich in vitamin e and calcium but white seeds bring moisture to the large intestine whereas the black seeds support the kidney, the endocrine system and boost core energy. They can tonify brain activity and alleviate painful, weak or stiff joints. They build body fluids and have the ability to stop greying hair, repair hair loss and improve declining hormonal function.
The kidney and bladder are represented by Winter in Chinese Medicine. It is a time for going deep inside, being still and centred. The flavour is salty and the food is full of minerals and trace elements. Through mass production of food, sometimes our dinner can lack these essentials but there is still one food that is full of vitamins and minerals and that is seaweed. Seaweed is an ancient superfood and has been eaten by our forefathers for thousands of years. The protein content and vitamin C is extremely high and easily absorbable making ideal for the repair and regeneration of cells
I would recommend eating seaweed everyday in some form. It can be sprinkled unrecognisably into stews and tossed, after a little soaking, into a stir fry. All seaweeds are a diuretic, they cool the body and help break down lumps and bumps such as cysts, lipomas and goiters. The high iodine content helps thyroid function and its ability to detoxify means blood is healthy and flowing. This food is high in calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamins C and A, protein, Vitamins B, fibre and alpha linoleic acid. It can even help remove residues of radiation in the body. Buying Irish seaweed is easy online or even find Dillisk in your local Supervalue.
Cucumber and Dillisk Seaweed Salad
Dillisk/Dulse is said to have over 200 times more iron than green leafy land vegetables. It is exceptionally high in iodine and manganese which is great for keeping our digestive enzymes and metabolism in smooth running order.
- 20g=large handful Dillisk/Dulse Seaweed
- Freshly squeezed Orange Juice
- 1 Cucumber
Soak the dillisk in the orange juice for ten minutes, meanwhile slice the cucumber paper thin. Return to the seaweed which should now be soft, take it out of the orange juice and finely chop as if it were an herb. Toss this through the cucumber and serve as a fresh accompaniment to the warming vegetable curry or yummy in a chicken sandwich.
The above recipe was taken from Joanne’s book “Shiatsu & the Art of Conscious Cooking” which can be bought here on this website or Etsy Shop or in sterling on Amazon
More information on which food suits you today please use the fun, free app at www.shiatsu-consciouscooking.com/app
Active Retirement Ireland are www.activeirl.ie