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January 5, 2010

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Home » Feature » Health and Environment

Girls in short skirts lose 'hot' energy in winter

STAYING warm in winter the TCM way means keeping warm, avoiding the cold, getting plenty of sunlight, doing gentle exercise and eating yang (hot energy) foods.

Note: All those young women in short skirts and short jackets are losing their vital "hot" (yang) energy for the sake of fashion. The best advice is to wear more clothes.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the major principle for health maintenance in winter is cang (storing) because yang keeps the body warm and active.

Sunshine is a major source of yang energy in the universe, and ancient TCM principles call for arranging one's schedule accordingly, with respect to sunrise and sunset.

Yang energy is consumed when people are awake and active and it is stored during sleep. Therefore, the first principle of storing energy is to get up late (or later than usual) and to go to bed early. One should wait for the yang-giving sunshine, according to "Huang Di Nei Jing" ("The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor"), the fundamental text of TCM.

As the sun rises later in winter than in other seasons, the idea is to get up no earlier than 7am. These ancient principles date from agrarian times when people lived closer to nature: Obviously modern people don't go to bed when the sun sets.

Anyhow, get plenty of sun (vitamin D) but don't get burned. A problem arises because sunblock prevents the body's production of vitamin D.

In addition to staying warm and wearing enough clothes, it's important to avoid pathogenic cold in winter, according to both the Yellow Emperor and Beijing TCM expert Zheng Guzhong, author of "Qiu Yi Bu Ru Qiu Ji" ("Better Refer to Yourself Than the Doctor").

Pathogenic cold (yin energy), which prevails in the universe in winter, can cause health problems. It can consume yang energy and obstruct the normal flow of blood and energy, resulting in pain. Blood vessels and tendons contract, which is unhealthy.

Wearing enough clothes is the easiest way to conserve yang energy, which defends the body against invasion of pathogenic cold. But yang energy is consumed by fighting the cold, so it's important to dress warmly.

The many young women who wear short skirts and short jackets in winter may be damaging their yang energy for the sake of fashion. Underneath their makeup, their complexion may be pale, bluish or dark. The cold slows blood circulation and may cause aching or numbness.

The head, back and feet are especially vulnerable to pathogenic cold, so it's important to keep them warm in winter.

Soaking the feet in hot (not too hot) water before bed warms both your system and your feet. The idea is to soak until there's a slight sweat; too much sweating is bad because it disrupts yang energy.

Getting sunshine (but shade your face) between 10am and 3pm can protect the head and back from cold. Light physical exercise in the sunshine is healthy, but if the temperature is below 2 degrees Celsius, it's best to wear a hat to conserve yang energy - otherwise yang energy is lost from the head.

Intense physical exercise that causes a heavy sweat should be avoided in winter, lest it consume too much yang energy that should be stored.

Tai chi, walking and simple stretching are good as they warm up the body but don't produce sweating.

Winter swimming is not suitable for everyone. Though swimmers don't sweat, weak people who swim may catch cold and cold water robs the body of yang energy.

It's best not to remove clothes during exercise until the body has warmed up; replace clothes after exercise. Sitting on a cold surface after exercising is unhealthy because pathogenic cold energy can invade from the bottom, travel through the back and reach the head, undermining organ health.

Eating a rich (but not too fatty) and balanced diet helps fight the cold. "Hot" foods that reinforce yang energy include mutton and other meats, jujubes and various nuts. High-protein, high-carbohydrate and fatty foods help fight the cold but too much fat can increase cholesterol. Lean mean, eggs (not too many yolks), fish, dairy products, beans and bean products - all high in protein - are recommended especially for the elderly and those who are overweight.

As usual, fruit, vegetables and fiber are important.

Air-conditioning makes for comfort but spending too much time in a warm room can dry the skin and hurt the respiratory system. Using a humidifier or placing a bowl of water in a room can add important moisture. Airing a room can prevent cross-infection among family members.

Tomato Tomatoes are great for your heart and everything else. They contain lycopene and other elements that can help stave off heart problems and stroke and are said to help prevent cancer.

Tomatoes are loaded with anti-oxidants and contain the four major carotenoids: alpha- beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene.

Lycopene, in particular, is thought to have the highest antioxidant activity of all the carotenoids. Lycopene contained in the tomato skin blocks "bad" LDL cholesterol that can clog arteries.

Diets rich in tomatoes and tomato sauce (like pasta in Mediterranean diets) are recommended. Cooked tomatoes are best as that form of lycopene is best absorbed by the body.

Tomatoes are also high in vitamins C, E and potassium.

Spaghetti with tomato sauce

Ingredients: Spaghetti (400g), small tomatoes (500g), 2 cloves garlic, around 1/10 liter extra virgin olive oil, handful of basil, salt


1. Fry garlic in oil, add chopped tomatoes, pinch of salt.

2. Boil spaghetti until it's slightly undercooked, combine with sauce, add basil, mix.

Note: Garlic cloves may be picked out.

Pasta puttanesca

Ingredients: Linguine (320g), chopped tomatoes (300g), pitted black olives (60g), capers (30g), salty anchovies (30g), 1/10 liter extra virgin olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, chopped parsley, a couple spicy red peppers, salt


1. Fry garlic and pepper in oil, add anchovies and simmer at low hat.

2. Add chopped tomatoes and cook rapidly at high heat, add olives and capers.

3. Boil linguine until it's slightly undercooked, combine with sauce, add parsley. Chinese cabbage Cruciferous vegetables (Chinese cabbage, other cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower) are especially good for the heart and Chinese cabbage is very popular in winter.

A cup of cooked Chinese cabbage juice contains as much calcium as a cup of milk. It's loaded with fiber that aids digestion and increases the absorption of animal protein.

It contains cancer-fighting phyto-nutrients, including beta carotene and sulforaphane. Nutrients can help prevent and reduce heart inflammation.

Cabbage is rich in vitamin C and builds immunity.

It also contains molybdenum, a micro-element that helps restrict the production of ammonium nitrite and thus helps fight cancer. It contains more zinc than mean or eggs.

Chinese cabbage is especially recommended to elderly and overweight people as it contains pectin that helps eliminate bad cholesterol.

Chinese cabbage and vinegar

Ingredients: Chopped Chinese cabbage (300g), 15 corns Sichuan pepper, sesame oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, starch (20g) mixed with water


1. Fry peppercorns in sesame oil quickly and pick them out.

2. Add Chinese cabbage and stir-fry.

3. Add seasonings and starch water.


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