How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU’RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION?

I’m always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full blown experiment on my end.  I truly wanted to see if this was working!  And so I applied some learning from my Engineering background and took a stab at testing this theory.  It’s not an exact science and was something fun to try!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.

Why is blood circulation important to TCM?

Blood is a vital substance that circulates the in the vessels and carries nutrition throughout the body.  It is important in maintaining vital activities in the body, including nourishing and moisturizing it.

The circulation of blood relies on the pushing function of the qi.  This is why it’s equally important to have strong qi.  Blood and qi are like interconnected and interdependent.  Qi is the motivating source for the circulation of blood.

The better your blood circulates:

  • The more moisture and nourishments that travels to your organs, tissues, body, limbs, and mind continuously.
  • The more distributed our qi is because blood is the carrier of qi.  If our blood becomes collapsed and stagnant, so will our qi.
  • The more vigorous and lively we are because blood also carries oxygen.
  • The easier it is to stay warm (as body energy and warmth is generated from qi) and maintain good body function.

 

How to do a foot soak

The most basic is to simply soak your feet in warm water.  What my own Chinese doctor has suggested is to soak it until you break a sweat from your forehead.  At this point, you’ll know that the warm blood has worked it’s way up throughout your body enough to literally – break a sweat!

I was curious about testing time, so I’ve structured my foot soaks quite scientifically, but you don’t have to.  You can just soak until you feel that sweat and finish up.

What you’ll need:

  • A consistent source of hot (or warm) water
  • A comfortable place to sit
  • Some water (or drinks) to stay hydrated
  • A book or something to occupy your time
  • A towel (to dry off with afterwards)
  • A change of clothes or sweater (as you’re sweating, you’ll want to cool off gently)

If you’re testing time, add in:

  • A timer

Try foot soaks once a week!  It’s a great time to meditate and spend some “ME” time.

Ever wonder why you do a hot foot soak before you get a foot massage (in most Chinese spas)?

Click on the video below to hear about how I turned this concept into more of a science experiment (for myself) and how I knew I was improving my blood circulation.  A highly fascinating thing to try!

 

The teas and soups I drank to improve blood circulation

To improve blood circulation, there are a few soups or teas you can consider making to help you with this.  Keep in mind, the key principles and things to note are:

  • We want to encourage a more yang state in the body, which means more active and flowing 
  • To generate yang states, this is generally associated with consumption of warmer soups and teas (see below for the ones I was consuming)
  • If you’re feeling too heaty (excess yang), you can hold off on the warming ingredients and go with the neutral ones for improve circulation (or reducing stagnant blood)

 

Warming ingredients to help with blood circulation:

 

Neutral ingredients to help with blood circulation:

 

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How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

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How to Prepare for Sleep (with TCM Concepts)

How to Prepare for Sleep (with TCM Concepts)

HOW TO PREPARE FOR SLEEP

(USING TCM CONCEPTS)

Learn to prepare for better sleep and how you can transition your body and mind from a yang to a yin state as evenings nears and you’re preparing to go to bed. Learn some simply Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts and how to apply this to your lifestyle and life to create a healthier and more balanced life!

One guiding principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the yin yang theory.  In the natural world, there exists a balance between 2 opposing and co-existing forces and yet, they also exist in each other.  Our bodies, minds, and souls are designed the same way in that to be healthy, we need to be in harmony between these 2 bipolar states.  Yin is receptive and passive, calm and slow, embodying cold and damp qualities (when we are sleeping).  Yang is its exact opposite in aggressive and active, embodying heat, dryness, and movement (when we are awake).

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring these principles into the foods and drinks we consume in order to support harmony.

 

How to use this guide:

 

  • Some tips and tricks to help replenish yin and increase yin while yang recedes as part of our evening and sleep routines.
  • Do see a Chinese medicine practitioner as this information is not a replacement for a doctor.

 

Some applied TCM concepts to help:

  • Avoid yang enhancing (or warming) foods right before sleeping. This includes: spicy and fried foods, caffeine, herbs such as garlic and ginger, dong quai, or red dates. These foods increase yang and get your blood flowing, which is not what we want!
  • Allow the body and mind to come into a yin state. This means being in that calm, steady, slower flow so that it can really slow down. Don’t exercise before sleep or this heightens the yang in your body. If your mind is very active, like you’ve just had an argument, you were studying, or doing some work, spend some time to help it transition into a yin state by doing some meditating, breathing, counting sheep (now we know why we count sheep!), or anything to slow down the yin in the mind is helpful.
  • Reduce the temperature to allow for our body to transition into yin as yang recedes. As Yin is the cooler, slower state, a lower thermostat will allow our body to be in more yin and supporting deeper sleep.  Read more here on “Using TCM concepts in our every day lives“.

 

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

For further reading, I’ve found some more scientific and published articles.  Here are some to read up on: 

 

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HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

White Radish with Mushrooms and Vermicelli in Chicken Soup

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Tips and Tricks for Making Amazing Chinese Soups

Tips and Tricks for Making Amazing Chinese Soups

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR MAKING AMAZING CHINESE SOUPS

There are so many little tips and tricks in the school of Chinese soup making that it’s incredible!  And, it seems that different regions in China also have different tips and tricks!  I love how there’s a wealth of knowledge out there waiting to be captured, shared, and loved by the next generation and by those who love making and drinking Chinese soups!

If you have any more tips and tricks, please share!  It’s always a wonder to learn these!

There’s no right or wrong in how to make Chinese soups.  The simple act of bringing together raw and dried ingredients to create a concoction of love to share with our friends and family is highly rewarding!

One of our mission at The Chinese Soup Lady is to bring our love of Chinese soups to the world!

Here are a few videos on HOW-TO prepare certain ingredients:

 

There are so many interesting and unique ingredients that we see in the herbal stores, the specialty stores, and from our own Chinese doctors or at the wet mart.  I’ve often wondered, what is that?  Why do Chinese people eat it?  How do I even prepare it?  Along my journey, it was really speaking to so many people, being curious, and trying that I’ve figured it out!  I’m sure there are other ways to prepare it, I’ve heard a few techniques, so definitely try and see which one works for you!

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Soup Name: White radish with mushrooms and vermicelli in Chicken Soup Chinese Name: 白蘿蔔冬菇粉絲雞湯 (bái luóbo dōng gū fěn sī jī tāng)   For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Sometimes, I want something relatively easy and quick to whip up all in one-pot!  Make a bit of...

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The “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” of Chinese Confinement

THE DO’s and DON’T’s Of Chinese Confinement

It all starts with one key principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine:  Re-balance the Yin and Yang in the body.

The energy in the body post birth is normally in an increased yin (cooling) state due to the loss of blood and fluids during childbirth.  This means there is more yin in the body than normal and the yang (warming) needs to be strengthened (or replenished).

This is the basis of the traditional DO’s and DON’T’s of Chinese Confinement.  Keep in mind that historically, without technology, heating, or the luxuries we have today, some of these traditions held very true.  However, my guidance is for you to take the principles and tweak it so it fits your lifestyle, your environment, and whatever your resources allow.  For example, DO NOT WASH YOUR HAIR is one that you will hear very often.  The wet hair induces dampness into the body and as it air dries, it becomes cold, which also increases yin into the body through the head.  However, modern technology allows for heated spaces and hair dryers.  So if you do wash your hair, be sure to do so in a heated room and then blow dry your hair on medium to high heat until it is fully dried.

Don’t be exposed to windy or cool conditions

 

 

Yang itself is the warming and dry element of the two and is difficult to replenish if the external environment doesn’t allow it.  In fact, it may be the opposite in that more Yin is going into the body if it’s too cool, too damp, or too wet in and around the healing body.

This is why you’ll see pregnant women wearing wooly hats in the summer in Hong Kong.  At all costs, eliminate any opportunity where any parts of your exposed body are to cool, cold, or wet conditions.  Here are some examples:

  • If you’re breastfeeding and have your shoulders exposed, use a towel, shawl, or wrap to cover them
  • If you must have air conditioning on, turn the vents towards the ceiling or walls and have the cooler air circulate on the outside edges
  • Wear thicker socks or slippers if you’ve got tiled or colder floors.  The feet are one source where yang can easily leave the body.
  • Exercise in moderation, paying attention to sweat rate and exposure of sweaty skin to the cold air.  I find gentle yoga or light stretching where you aren’t sweating buckets is good (but pay attention to which muscle you’re stretching, will explain further down).
  • This goes on to support the DO NOT WASH YOUR HAIR or DO NOT TAKE BATHS (with normal water) traditions, however, you still can if you’re able to keep the room warm and dry off immediately, including drying your hair thoroughly after you wash it.

 

Don’t overexert the body

 

This has more to do with the use of energy in the body and how it’s being resourced.  The priority of your energy should be on allowing the body to fully heal during confinement.  This is where confinement gets its terminology.  Traditionally, it’s basically the woman lying in bed, pretty immobile for a whole month.  This is highly impractical and unlikely in modern times, but some of the concept of energy preservation still apply.

This includes:

  • DO NOT LIFT HEAVY THINGS.  The exertion applies very similarly to when you’re pregnant in that you don’t want any muscle strain to the uterus at all.  As these parts of the post partum body are healing, use the same principles.
  • IF YOU MUST, EXERCISE LIGHTLY AND IN MODERATION.  If you must exercise, although some TCM’s and Pui Yuets (Chinese Confinement Ladies) will frown upon this, do it in a way that’s minimal exertion.  Light stretching of legs and arms, but avoid the core area (unless you’re doing it wrapped) because that’s where the tradition of wrapping helps pull the stomach and core muscles back into place.
  • DO NOT DO HOUSEHOLD CHORES.  I wish!  Haha… however, this is the traditional way of managing confinement.  You usually had your mother, mother-in-law, or a Pui Yuet who can support you, but that’s a far ask in modern times.  It’s definitely easier in countries where hired help is more economical, but that’s where some planning will help you manage.  Pre-bought and prepared meals ahead of confinement will save you many trips to the grocery store and the prep work.  Source healthy food delivery or food preparation vendors.  Enlist the help of neighbours, family, or friends, including other children.  Recognize and accept trade offs.

 

As my second post partum began, we let go of my helper in Hong Kong.  In my head, I had my mom fly over and I was a strong empowered woman, so I could do it!  Right?  I was so wrong!

I was trying to do it all.  I was trying to be the great mom to my first daughter, the helpful daughter to my mom, the great wife to my husband, and the super housewife, but every time I see a Chinese doctor now, they always ask me to have a third baby so I can go through confinement again and do it properly and fix all the wrongs in my body!  It’s that crazy?

My lessons learned is that there have to be trade offs.  So what if you have a messy house?  So what if you’re wearing the same clothes for 4 days straight?  Protect your body.  It’s only 30 days.

Lisa

Do consume warm and drying (yang-nourishing) food and drinks

 

e of the most important part of confinement is the food and drinks you consume during this important period of your healing.  The key principle here is that anything (from a TCM perspective) nourishing the yang, mainly characterized by warming ingredients. 

Warming ingredients include:

  • GINGER, GINGER, GINGER.  The best type is to start with raw ginger and then find uses for its peel and the root itself.  You can find this in many (if not all) confinement recipes.
  • SESAME SEEDS.  Black is best, but white are also OK.  Sesame seeds are warming and can nourish yang nicely.  I’d suggest buying a bucket of these and sprinkle over white rice, dishes, stews, and even into your soups.
  • SESAME OIL.  Similar to above, this is best used in stews and dishes and all of your cooking.
  • BLACK VINEGAR.  Perfect for confinement and found commonly in the Pig’s Feet Vinegar Soup.  This is a great condiment to have as part of your confinement garnishes.  One favourite dish I like is the stewed pork ribs in black vinegar with sugar.
  • This also means avoiding foods that are deep fried, hard to digest, raw, considered toxic (goose, beef) or cooling (seafood, watermelon, ice cream, bubble tea)

For a selection soups for confinement, check out our CONFINEMENT SOUPS.

You can also explore our selection of CONFINEMENT FOODS.  Here we explore all the CAN and CANNOT eat ingredients.

  • Maintaining a dry environment is also important.  This is because the principle includes dispelling both cold and moisture from the body to replenish the yang and avoid retention.  Water itself is a cool element and associated as yin.

 

 

Do create a warming environment for the body

 

Beyond the DO NOT’s of sitting in front of the air conditioning or exposing parts of your body to the air, what you want to do is be conscious and intentional with creating a warm space and moments for your body.  In some instances, ginger is your friend here as well, which is weird, but stay with me!

This includes:

  • DO OVERUSE GINGER.  Here’s how you can get creative with ginger.  The peel (along with a mix of other Chinese herbs) can be dried and used to soak your feet (a great way to get yang into the body), wash your hair, and bathe in.  I would suggest using a soup bag to store all the dried ingredients so you can take it out easily and dispose of.  You can use the peels as large dried pieces into a foot soak at least once a day.  I did this before bedtimes and it helped me sleep so well!
  • DO KEEP EXTREMETIES AND HEAD COVERED.  This means, hands, feet, head, back of neck, shoulders, elbows crease, back of knees, back of ears, and ankles are sufficiently covered and not exposed to cold or air.  You’ll notice that all these body parts have pressure points when it comes to TCM and acupuncture.  There is no such thing as overdressing.  Actually, my Chinese doctor says, there is no such thing as over-nourishing during confinement!
  • DO COOK OR HEAT UP EVERYTHING THING FIRST.  This means food or drinks, too.  This is part of the warming environment, which is just as important in terms of what you put into your body.  DO NOT EAT RAW FOOD.  This is part of principle in staying with warm and cooked foods and drinks.  And I know sometimes you get so thirsty when breastfeeding, especially if you’re in an Asian country (where it’s humid and hot), so I ended up making a dried herbal tea of longans and red dates and let it cool to room temperature.  That’s how cool as I’ll drink.  Nothing with ice.  Nothing colder than body temperature ideally.

 

TCM FACT

Children are naturally energetic and full of yang.  They are constantly moving, running, on the go, and vibrant.  As we age, we lose that ability to hold that yang in and our energy decreases and as we become older, we become more yin and actually prefer to slow down.  This is very natural.

Knowing this, in general, it means that younger mothers can hold more yang and replenish it easier than older mothers.  It is encouraged to replenish yang as you age (regardless of whether it’s post partum or not).  This will also help reduce hot flashes (during menopause) and con conserve their Qi in later parts of their lives.

I’ve started consuming a cup of dried longans and red dates tea midday since I turned 40!  I may need it even more now that I’m in Canada and definitely feeling the cold.

 

A selection of confinement Chinese Soups

What is confinement and confinement stories

Baby 5 & 6 Confinement story

Some confinement foods for your tummy!

The DO's and DON'T's of confinement

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Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

Using Amazing Substitutes for Meats in Vegetarian Chinese Soups

When you want to go meatless, but don’t want to trade off flavour!  

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

There are so many options when you want to replace meats in Chinese soups!  I try to keep the flavour profile of the soup without compromising it with the replacements.  I find vegetarian soups less oily, have more fiber, and provide a different offering to my soups!  I am able to venture into a more unique group of ingredients I don’t always traditionally use.

Some tips for Vegetarian Chinese Soups:

  • While you don’t need to blanch these ingredients, some do taste better if you pan fry it first (ie: soy products, mushrooms, even some vegetables such as potatoes)
  • Many vegetarian choices have great shelf life (dried mushrooms can last greater than 1 year, packaged nuts like chestnuts and peanuts can also last 3-6 months), although fresh peanuts last around 5 days in the fridge
  • Save your tummy as these ingredients eat like a meal
  • You can get creative to mix and match, or create your own!
  • Mushrooms have a rich, earthy, profile to the their taste, while nuts also have some earthy taste, but lighter
  • There are so many amazing fruits and vegetables available in the Asian repertoire such as gobo (or burdock root),  Japanese pumpkin, seabed coconuts, even normal coconuts can work!
  • Don’t forget to consider Chinese Herbs as replacements as well

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Soup Name: Chicken Herbal Soup with Abalone  Traditional Chinese Name: 鮑魚清雞湯 (bào yú qīng jī tāng) This soup is warming in nature and sweet to taste. Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.One of my favourite basic chicken Chinese soups - ever!  And it's...

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What is Chinese ABC Soup?  A Guide to Getting Started with Chinese Soups.

What is Chinese ABC Soup? A Guide to Getting Started with Chinese Soups.

What is Chinese ABC Soup? A Guide to Getting Started with Chinese Soups.

New to Chinese Soups? Start here with a Chinese ABC Soup!

Serves: 6 large bowls

Prep Time:  15 mins

Cook Time:  2 hours and 30 mins

For more videos, visit us on YouTube.

I get the question of “How do I start with Chinese Soups?” or “Chinese soups can be awfully complicated.”  Well, for someone who is a CBC (Chinese born Canadian), I learned something called the Chinese ABC Soup and as I ventured into the world to explore Chinese soups, I learned that the ABC soup is pretty common, but interpreted differently depending on who I speak with!

Characteristics of Chinese ABC Soup:

  1. Very common Chinese Soups (most families make them, you can find them in restaurants, or soups of the day)!
  2. The ingredients are readily available, almost all year round, in any supermarket.
  3. There’s no special technique or equipment needed to make these.  Chop, drop, and boil!

For this video, I’m making my family’s favourite of carrots, corn, and green radish combined with a few simple and common Chinese Pantry ingredients.

You can follow any of these ABC soup combinations to start making Chinese soups!  It’s super easy!  Enjoy!

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Happy Chinese New Year's!! Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!! As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what's called "New Year's Cake".  It's basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and...

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Soup Name: Chicken Herbal Soup with Abalone  Traditional Chinese Name: 鮑魚清雞湯 (bào yú qīng jī tāng) This soup is warming in nature and sweet to taste. Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.One of my favourite basic chicken Chinese soups - ever!  And it's...

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Happy Chinese New Year's!! Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy, and beautiful year of the rabbit!! As a tradition, the Chinese will eat what's called "New Year's Cake".  It's basically sweetened rice and glutinous rice flour pan fried until soft and...

Cooling and Calming Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea

Tea Name: Chrysanthemum and Roselle (Hibiscus) Honey Tea Traditional Chinese Name: 菊花茶 (jú huā chá) This tea is sweet and sour to taste and cooling in nature.Visit us on YouTube for more tea and soup videos.Taking a moment?  Want something calming and soothing?  Try...

How to check if you’re improving your blood circulation?

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION? I'm always curious about metrics and measuring success or at least measuring progress.  What started as an initial recommendation from my Chinese doctor to do foot soaks to improve circulation, turned into a full...

White Radish with Mushrooms and Vermicelli in Chicken Soup

Soup Name: White radish with mushrooms and vermicelli in Chicken Soup Chinese Name: 白蘿蔔冬菇粉絲雞湯 (bái luóbo dōng gū fěn sī jī tāng)   For more videos, visit us on YouTube.Sometimes, I want something relatively easy and quick to whip up all in one-pot!  Make a bit of...

GIVE YOUR LOVE OF SOUP.

FOLLOW US AND SHARE.

ON YOUTUBE

ON INSTAGRAM

ON FACEBOOK