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Spleen Qi deficiency: America’s Hidden Problem

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Introduction: The prevalence of chronic lifestyle-related disorders such as obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, asthma, coeliac disease, gastritis, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and cardiovascular disorders is rising at an unprecedented pace. In most of the cases, the above- mentioned disorders have been linked with spleen qi deficiency at some stage. The disorders of qi deficiency are more common in individuals with middle age or older people. Qi deficiency has also been linked with aging.

The concept of qi in traditional Chinese medicine: Qi has been described as one of three main components needed for the proper physiological function of the body and it circulates in the body all time. As per the Chinese concept of wellbeing, qi is considered the life-force whose proper flow in the system ensures the proper and effective functioning of all the organs. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the disorders mentioned above possibly originate due to a deficiency of spleen qi and represent a spleen qi disharmony at some stage of the disorder.

Causes of qi deficiency: Spleen prefers a dry environment for proper functioning. Thus, dampness, eating cold or raw foods can lead to qi deficiency. Moreover, involving in rigorous activities and working for long hours without taking proper rest and relaxation can also cause qi deficiency in the body. Living a life full of stress quickly drains qi from your body and make you prone to develop disorders linked with qi deficiency.

Role of the spleen in the body: Spleen in combination with stomach carries out the crucial process of food digestion and nutrient assimilation. Spleen is linked with the transformation and transport of essential nutrients such as amino acids, lipids, glucose, minerals, and cations-anions. According to TCM, the absorbed nutrients are required for the formation of blood and qi in the body. Blood and qi are essential forces for life and provide a vital force that nourishes all the body organs.

Spleen qi disharmony or deficiency indicates that spleen lacks the vital life force needed to carry out the physiological functions. Since, the spleen also regulates thoughts, normal brain activity, and muscle mass in the body, any deficiency in spleen qi adversely affects the physical and emotional wellbeing of an individual. Spleen qi deficiency can cause depression and even Parkinson’s disease.

Symptoms of spleen qi deficiency: Spleen qi deficiency affects several organs and systems in the body. However, the symptoms of spleen qi deficiency mainly manifest as digestive system abnormalities. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • One of the main features of spleen qi deficiency is persistent fatigue which increases after an intensive workout, muscle loss, and asthenia.
  • Appetite loss or a feeling of fullness after a meal.
  • Irregular bowel movements and loose stools.
  • Pale tongue accompanied with a white coating on top.
  • Weak pulse and shortness of breath.
  • Weak immunity and frequent infections such as a common cold.

Spleen Qi deficiency and cold food: Before we embark on the concept of cold food and try to establish a relationship between the cold food and spleen qi deficiency, we must first understand the role of heat in food digestion. Food must be heated in the body before spleen extracts the qi from the digested food. In cases where the spleen is already low in energy (qi deficiency) eating cold or raw food can further deplete the body energy and creates a problem in proper digestion of food. Another source of cold foods is cool drinks and juices directly taken from the refrigerator. In Chinese cuisine, very few foods are eaten raw and cooking or fermenting them is a very common practice. Therefore, individuals with spleen qi deficiency must avoid cold foods, an include cooked vegetables and easily digestible food items in the diet.

Foods to avoid: Some of the food items such as raw citrus fruits, raw salad, sweet foods, ice-cream, cool juice, beer, and other cool beverages must be avoided in case you are diagnosed with spleen qi deficiency.

Foods to eat: As a thumb rule, 50% of the total calories can come from cereals or legumes, 30% from vegetables, 15% from meat, and rest 5% from dairy products. In TCM, it is always preferred to consume whole and unprocessed foods and warm, cooked food is generally considered the most suitable for all people. Individuals with spleen qi deficiency can incorporate the following food items in their diet: cooked cereals, potatoes, green tea, carrots, squash, soups, green beans, onions, chicken beef, turkey, white fish, and certain spices like fresh ginger, sesame seeds, cinnamon, garlic, and black pepper. Eat several small meals instead of a single full meal.

Exercise: Individuals with spleen qi deficiency must make regular exercise part of their routine life. A 30-45 minutes exercise regimen is recommended. One can also try breathing exercise such as tai chi. However, exercise should be just enough to make you feel energize and must not cause fatigue after the exercise.  

Concluding remark: Qi is a vital force and required for survival of life. Spleen-Stomach qi is crucial for digestion of ingested food and pulling of qi from the digested food. However, due to stressful lifestyles and unhealthy dietary habits, the spleen qi depletes leading to a severe disruption in body homeostasis. Several lifestyle associated disorders such as obesity, intestinal disorders, asthma, and diabetes have been linked with spleen qi deficiency. According to TCM, consumption of cold food items such as salad, juices, beer, and other beverages is not advisable due to the fact that the body needs to heat the ingested cold food for the extraction of qi from the food. This process of heating the food further depletes the qi from the body. In TCM, it is advisable that individuals with qi deficiency must include dry, cooked, fermented food items to avoid qi deficiency. Warm and hot food removes coldness from spleen and stomach and invigorates these two organs. A regular exercise schedule for 30-45 minutes is also beneficial in replenishing the lost qi. However, one must consult a TCM practitioner before initiating any particular food items because proper diagnosis is required before beginning any special dietary plan.

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References:

[1]. Wu XN. Current concept of Spleen-Stomach theory and Spleen deficiency syndrome in TCM. World J Gastroenterol. 1998;4(1):2-6.

[2]. Zhang et al. Symptom characteristics and prevalence of qi deficiency syndrome in people of varied health status and ages: A multicenter cross-sectional study. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences Volume 2, Issue 3, July 2015, Pages 173-182.

[3]. Lio et al. Qi deficiency is associated with depression in chronic hemodialysis patients. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 30 (2017) 102–106.

[4]. Wu et al. Food therapy and medical diet therapy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Clinical Nutrition Experimental Volume 18, April 2018, Pages 1-5.

[5]. Chua et al. Occurrence of spleen qi deficiency as defined by Chinese medicine in Parkinson`s disease. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences (2017) 4, 24e30.

[6].https://www.mybodywisdom.net/articles/spleen-qi-deficiency/

[7] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06782-7

 

Gut is the second brain

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Gut has gained much importance in traditional ways of treatment like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Ancient people thought that the gut is the basis of all health issues and any disease start from the imbalance of digestion and absorption in the gut. Most of them also considered gut as a second brain that regulates metabolism and body reactions. Recent scientific advancement, clinical trials and studies related to anatomy and physiology also reveal that there is a similar network of neurons present in the gut called the “enteric nervous system or ENS”. Just like your central nervous system, ENS also comprises of millions of neurons that keep your colon moving and regulate its smooth muscle contraction. It produces electrical charges in the gut that helps to contract smooth muscles in pushing food forward and pass waste products out of your body.

Besides the gut-brain (ENS), the stomach also produces acid and digestive enzymes that help digest and absorb nutrients in the food. Ayurvedic philosophy considers this acid as stomach fire and views the health of the body as optimal functioning of stomach fire-governing metabolism. The stomach fire is further divided into three types.

The middle or average stomach fire means that your stomach is producing an optimal amount of acid that is fair enough for proper digestion of food. It also ensures that you are enjoying good health.

If your digestive fire is low, it means that there is not enough production of acid in the stomach. Low digestion fire is unhealthy and causes several health issues like fatigue syndrome, high cholesterol, skin conditions, blood disorders, cysts, allergies, and cancers.

A high stomach fire means excess production of acid that also leads to many digestive problems such as irregular appetite, signs of variable hunger, indigestion, bloating, intestinal cramps, and constipation.

The nature of stomach fire imbalance and how it interacts with the body determines the presentation of symptoms. The digestion fire causes the breakdown of food into smaller pieces. When you have normal fire, i.e., you are utilizing healthy food according to your body type, you are capable of proper nutrient assimilation. When your stomach fire gets weak (low stomach fire) the digestion of food is compromised and may lead to malabsorption of the nutrients. When it’s high, you may feel burning sensations.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may indicate that you have some sort of negative eating habits. An example of eating inappropriate food combinations includes drinking lemon water or apple cider by people with high stomach fire. To bring your digestive fire back on the track, you have to adopt certain habits that support healthy digestion. These include;

  • Eat food in a quiet environment without distractions such as using a smartphone, watching TV or excessive conversation.
  • Chew your food properly, so it will easy for your stomach to digest it.
  • Make sure to eat warm food.
  • Walk at least 40 steps right after eating a meal.
  • Don’t skip dinner and take it 2-3 hours before going to bed.
  • Avoid foods that are damaging to your body type.
  • Avoid overeating.

Complete a quick quiz to know what type of body you have. Knowing your body type will help you choose the right types of food groups and better regulate your digestion fire.

Tartary buckwheat -Amazing superfood for Diabetes

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Introduction: Tartary Buckwheat or bitter buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum Gaertn.) is a plant from Polygonaceae family and a popular herbal plant in China, India, Nepal, and Mongolia.  In recent years, Tartary buckwheat has gained interest owing to its health-promoting and nutritional benefits in Asian countries. Tartary buckwheat has been found effective in treating several disorders such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, inflammation, and dyslipidemia. Tartary buckwheat is now tagged as a superfood with an array of health-promoting benefits. Moreover, the health benefits of Tartary buckwheat are superior in comparison with other buckwheat variety such as common buckwheat.

Mongolian Tartary buckwheat harvesting 2019

Nutritional composition: 

Tartary buckwheat is a rich source of several essential dietary components such as dietary fiber, fat, proteins, starch, vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and polyphenols. Some of the major chemical constituents of Tartary buckwheat are:

1. Starch: Tartary buckwheat seeds are primarily made up of starch which contains 70% of the total seed weight.

2. Fiber: Dietary fiber constitute approximately 26% of the total seed weight. Tartary buckwheat is a great source of dietary crude fiber.

3. Proteins: Tartary buckwheat proteins are found to be balanced in amino acid composition.

4. Lipids: They are 1–5% of the total seed weight. Some of the major fatty acids are palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, and eicosenoic acid.

5. Vitamins: Tartary buckwheat is a rich source of vitamins such as vitamin B complex (B1, B2, and B6), vitamin C and vitamin E.

6. D-chiro-inositol: An epimer of Myo-inositol, this is involved in insulin signaling and may play a role in lowering the blood sugar, balancing the triglycerides levels in humans.

7. Polyphenols and flavonoids: Tartary buckwheat contains several polyphenols and flavonoids such as p-Hydroxybenzoic acid, rutin, gallic acid, protocatechuic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, syringic acid, vanillic acid, and quercetin.

8. Minerals: Tartary buckwheat seeds contain Fe, K, Cu, Zn, and Mg.

In brief, Tartary buckwheat possesses several medicinal and nutritional benefits due to the presence of several phytoconstituents.

Health benefits of Tartary buckwheat

1. Acne Prevention and treatment: Some phenolics present in the Tartary buckwheat such as rutin, quercetin, and isoquercetin possess antibacterial properties against Propionibacterium acneStaphylococcus epidermis, and S. aureus. It suggests that this plant can be used in the prevention and cure of acne.

2. Anti-obesity: Tartary buckwheat extract has been shown to reduce adipogenesis and obesity-associated chronic systemic inflammation.

3. Antidiabetic properties: Tartary buckwheat polyphenols (quercetin, isoquercetin) inhibit crucial enzymes of carbohydrate metabolisms such as alpha-glucosidase and alpha-amylase. These two enzymes convert complex carbohydrates coming from the diet into simple sugars leading to a rise in postprandial hyperglycemia. Inhibition of these two enzymes, thus, controls the post-meal glucose spike and helps in the management of diabetes. Another component of Tartary buckwheat called fagopyritol B1 improves insulin sensitivity and reduces blood glucose levels. D-chiro-inositol present in Tartary buckwheat possesses insulin-like activity and helps in the reduction of blood glucose.

4. Regulates lipid metabolism: Tartary buckwheat polyphenols inhibit lipase, a critical enzyme in lipid metabolism, and helps in the maintenance of lipid homeostasis in the body.

5. Antioxidant: Tartary buckwheat is a rich source of antioxidants and thus possesses strong anti-oxidative properties.

6. Cholesterol-lowering: Tartary buckwheat flour, sprout powder, crude protein extract, have been shown to possess cholesterol-lowering effects in both animal models and human studies. Tartary buckwheat showed hypocholesterolemic properties and also balanced the levels of circulating triglycerides. Since higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides have been associated with several lifestyles associated disorders like cardiovascular diseases and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), regular consumption of Tartary buckwheat could be a preventive measure to fight with these disorders.

7. Hepatoprotective: Oxidative stress and inflammation are considered two main causes of liver damage. Tartary buckwheat extract and phenolics possess potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and prevents liver damage. Moreover, Tartary buckwheat also increases the serum levels of potent ant-oxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, therefore, raises the body`s ability to fight oxidative stress.

8. Energy booster: Tartary buckwheat flour extract has been shown to improve energy levels. It reduces blood urea and inhibits the production of lactic acid and free-radicals. Since lactic acid and free-radicals contribute to fatigue, their inhibition by Tartary buckwheat boosts the energy levels and acts as an anti-fatigue recipe.

9. Antihypertensive: Hypertension cases have increased significantly in the past few decades. Some of the chemical constituents of Tartary buckwheat namely gamma-aminobutyric acid, certain polyphenols, and some peptides have been shown to reduce blood pressure. It has been demonstrated that Tartary buckwheat sprouts increased the levels of nitric oxide and bradykinin both known to promote the dilation of blood vessels. Furthermore, the levels of vasoconstrictor endothelin-1 decreased. Taken together, Tartary buckwheat reduces blood pressure and acts as a hypotensive agent.

10. Anticancer: Tartary buckwheat has been shown to possess cytotoxicity against several cancer cell lines.

11. Anti-genotoxic: Tartary buckwheat polyphenols such as rutin and quercetin reduce chemical-induced DNA damage thus helps in the maintenance of genome integrity.

12. Anti-inflammatory agent: Tartary buckwheat sprout extract inhibits the synthesis of potent inflammatory molecules such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 production. Since inflammation is a key contributing factor in several disorders such as obesity, insulin resistance, non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, and cardiovascular disorders, the anti-inflammatory properties of Tartary buckwheat may help in the management of these disorders.

13. Cognitive functions: Tartary buckwheat components rutin and N-trans-ferulotyramine have neuroprotective functions. Phenolics of Tartary buckwheat such as rutin prevents oxidative damage to neurons in diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

Cautions: Although Tartary buckwheat has been considered a superfood and used as an herbal plant for ages, some of the proteins present in Tartary buckwheat such as Fagt2 are allergens for some people. Some common signs of allergic reactions are allergic rhinitis, asthma, and angioedema.

Concluding remark: Tartary buckwheat is a rich source of high-quality protein, dietary fiber, lipids, minerals, vitamins, and several health-promoting plant polyphenols and flavonoids. Several health benefits of Tartary buckwheat have been documented and proved scientifically. It normalizes blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and therefore helps in the management of symptoms associated with common lifestyles associated disorders such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders. It also possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-genotoxic properties. Thus, Tartary buckwheat can be a beneficial dietary component for individuals affected with disorders of a sedentary lifestyle.

Where to buy: click here

References:

[1]. Lee et al. Contribution of flavonoids to the antioxidant properties of common

and Tartary buckwheat. Journal of Cereal Science 68 (2016) 181e186.

[2]. Fan Zhu. Chemical composition and health effects of Tartary buckwheat. Food Chemistry 203 (2016) 231–245

[3]. Lee MS, Shin Y, Jung S, et al. The Inhibitory Effect of Tartary Buckwheat Extracts on Adipogenesis and Inflammatory Response. Molecules. 2017;22(7):1160. Published 2017 Jul 12. DOI:10.3390/molecules22071160

[4]. Zhang et al. Antioxidant properties of Tartary buckwheat extracts as affected by different thermal processing methods. LWT — Food Science and Technology 43 (2010) 181–185

[5]. Dietary healing & lifestyle suggestions according to traditional Chinese medicine.

White Hyacinth beans health benefits

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White Hyacinth beans (lablab bean) is a pole beans cultivar of Fabaceae family of legumes. Lablab bean is probably originated from India, where it is grown in the home-gardens for immature pods, which are eaten as vegetables. The beans are also enjoyed in Japan as fujimame, in the Middle-East, Central America and Brazil. We are very proud that growing this healthy beans in Mongolia and introducing health benefit of it to the world.

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Adzuki bean health benefits

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Adzuki beans, also called azuki or adzuki, are a small bean grown throughout East Asia and the Himalayas. In Japan and other Asian countries, Adzuki beans are a popular ingredient, If you’ve enjoyed Japanese desserts, chances are you’ve had adzuki beans. They are apparently the second most widely used legumes in Japan after soybeans and are commonly made into a bean paste to be used in sweet recipes. We are very proud that growing this healthy small bean in Mongolia and introducing health benefit of it to the world. Read More

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