The diet of today’s modern life and the ancient Chinese way of life are so vastly different that to compare them to almost impossible. Fertility and nourishment go hand in hand, the female will nurture and nourish her baby from conception to birth and diet can be a determining factor. Listed below are recommended as beneficial in TCM
Please keep in mind not all foods are included as we have only touched on some foods, not all of them.
Qi and food
A diet of varied fresh and tasty food eaten in an unhurried and regular daily routine will benefit the Qi and ensure its capacity to transform the nutrients in food into the molecules which are required for all the thousands of biochemical processes which occurs every moment in every organ and tissue.
When Qi is weak and obstructed, you may experience:
- Bloating after eating
- Qi is an immaterial substance which we translate as“ energy”, the TCM the concept of blood includes the material substance we can see (in our veins). Plentiful Blood and Qi makes our bodies more resilient in both physically and emotionally.
When Qi is weak or obstructed:
fatigue, loose stools, poor appetite, dizziness, pale face, weak voice/reluctance to speak, sweating with little/no exertion, irregular periods, higher susceptibility to infections, muscle aches and pains.
Foodsthat can help:
- Add spice (replace spice by aromatic herbs such like coriander, peppermint) when cooking
- Drink warm water with lemon or lime juice
- Bitter leaves like arugala (rocket) or watercress help digestion
- Pungent foods like onion, garlic, coriander, chives, and small amounts of chilli also help digestion and Qi movement
- Chinese people sip green tea during meals to facilitate digestion (especially fats)
- Grains: oats, rice, sweet rice.
- Vegetables: potato, squash, sweet potato, yam.
- cherries, dates, figs, grapes
Blood and food
Use whole foods as a source of iron and help in the process of making red blood cells. When a women’s period is scanty in TCM it is seen as a blood deficiency (Liver-blood) it means that the uterine lining is thin and lacks nourishment. In men this can contribute to poor semen quality. In western medicine a person is blood deficient is called anaemic.
Food that builds up blood:
- Meats and poultry, especially stocks and soups made from bones.
- Stocks and soups made form bones provide blood fortifying bone marrow and calcium form the bones (vinegar can be added to leach out)
- Meats that have been marinated before cooking provide rapid nourishment for the blood.
- Egg yolk
- Green vegetables
Foods that should be avoided(foods that are heating and stimulating):
If period is heavy or skin rashes are present – avoid stimulating foods such as coffee, chilli and pepper as this
Foods that don’t allow the blood to flow freely during the period – to be avoided
- Sour, astringent foods
- Sour fruits such as Grapefruit, lemons, limes
- Sour yoghurt
Phlegm-Damp creates an internal environment of congested and stagnant fluid that becomes mucus. This condition is most related to the diet (nutritional) and can be alleviated or prevented through the diet.A diet that is the most unlikely to create Phlegm-damp is one that has limited fatty rich foods and includes foods that helpmobilise fluids and break up congestion.
Signs and symptoms of damp-phlegm
- Sticky, sluggish or unformed stool
- Sinus problems
- Foggy head
- Heart disease
- Mucus will build up in the chest
- When excess mucus forms in the gastrointestinal tract, bowel movements become sluggish and unformed.
Impact on fertility from Phelgm-Damp
- Vaginal discharges or inflammation (UTI, cystitis)
- Blocked tubes or inflammation
- Ovary cysts
- Thickened uterine lining
- Discharges from the penis
- Thick, congealed semen
Phlegm-Damp and food
Poor eating habits allow accumulation of Phlegm-Damp.
Foodsthat should be reduced:
- Fatty meals
- Dairy products
- Sweets–chocolate, ice cream, etc.
- Fried foods
- Overconsumption of dairy products lowers and declines fertility. With ageing, it is steeper at age 30-40 years
Foods to break up the congestion and drain Phelgm-Damp:
- Hawthorn flake
- Broad beans
- Adzuki beans
- Yi Yi Ren Semen Coicis Lachryma-jobi
Yin energy is sometimes translated into Western understanding by saying Yin reflects the function of the parasympathetic nervous system. Yin is essentially an internal and quiet energy.
Signs and symptoms Yin Deficiency
- Lower sperm counts – males
- Low quality egg maturation – women
- Afternoon or evening sweats,
- Dry mouth or throat,
- Tinnitus- constant ringing in ears,
- Achy lower backor Aching bones.
Foods that will Nourish the Yin Energy
- Adequate Fruit, Vegetables and proteins
- Alfalfa sprout, artichoke, asparagus, kelp, mung bean sprout, pea, potato, seaweed, string bean, sweet potato, tomato, water chestnut, yam, zucchini
- Dark fruits – blackberry, mulberry and blueberry
- Dark coloured beans
- Ensuring the body is well hydrated
- Coconut milk, sesame seed, black sesame seed, walnut
Examples of every day western foods that can be used to build yin, include:
- Fruit smoothies with honey and banana or a fruit salad
- Fish dishes with coconut milk
- Omelettes with cheese
- Tacos made with Kidney beans and topped with a small amount of cheese
- Baked Potato stuffed with tofu with soya sauce and sesame seeds.
- Pork and apple dishes
Metabolism and mental processes become sluggish. The body and limbs easily feel cold and lethargic.
Signs and symptoms of Yang deficiency
- A lack of motivation and assertiveness,
- Loose and watery stools nausea and vomiting,
- Loss of appetite
Foods to Avoid
- Avoiding icy drinks and ice-cream
- Use spices in cooking like ginger, garlic shallots or cinnamon
- Trout, lobster, prawn, mussel,salmon
- Walnuts, pistachio and chestnuts
Examples of every day western foods that build yang energy
- Roast chicken with sage and thyme
- Rice porridge with cinnamon, nutmeg and a little brown sugar
- Leek and potato soup with black pepper
Jing preserving foods
Jing energy is in the deepest origins of our cells, a substance inherited from our parents. Jing energy represents a balanced lifestyle, balance meaning in diet, work,rest and sexual energy. Too much stress, fast paced activity can deplete this essential energy, leaving us feeling tired, fatigued, and generally unwell with no specific signs and symptoms.
Foods that Nourish Jing Energy
Foods that are designed to nourish are particularly recommended when trying to conceive. Seeweed and Algae nourish the Jing as they contain trace elements which are necessary for many processes in the body including the production of the gametes (eggs and sperm) and the hormones which control their development.
- Royal Jelly
- Eggs of Birds – nature’s most complete proteins
- Seeds and Nuts
- Seaweeds and algae –
- Organs (particularly kidneys) Made into broths is an alternative source.
Stress and fertility
Once the qi energy is obstructed to the heart it is almost always emotional (stress is an emotion) the message that should be sent to the ovaries does not arrive – eggs are not stimulated. IN extreme cases, periods can stop altogether.
Stress when continued for long periods of time will affect the liver. You will feel frustrated and easily angered. Decisions will become more difficult to make.
The liver is the filter for our bodies not only are outside environmental toxins filtered through our liver, also the by-products of our body’s chemical processes. Once our bodies become stresses the liver can build up toxicity. When attempting to fall pregnant we want to support our liver, therefore the hormones our body has to use are much better quality.
Some symptoms that you might notice from stagnation in the liver:
- Pain in the lower back
- Aching in the lower back
- Painful and swollen breasts
- Lower abdominal pain
- PMS – oversensitivity of emotions
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Nails can be thin, brittle, pale and weak
Foods that benefit to the Liver:
- Dark grapes
- Chicken Soup