Good health starting from a good gut
We have been hearing about “Eat A Rainbow” to encourage people incorporate fruits and vegetables of different colours in their diet. Colourful fruits and vegetables have been considered healthy due to the presence of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Now, black is the new colour!
In traditional Chinese Medicine, different colours of food are assigned to the five internal organs of human body: red for the heart; green for the liver; yellow for the spleen; white for the lungs and black for the kidney, so eating black foods helps to strengthen and protect kidneys.“Reinforcing the kidney” in TCM refers to supplementing the body’s material deficit, enhancing human activity, improving immune system, and eliminating signs of weakness.
Why care for your kidney?
In Western modern Science, the kidneys are regarded to maintain the composition of blood by removing waste and excess water; whilein traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the kidney is viewed as an essential organ for the production of fundamental substances required for life activities. Imbalances in kidney essence, ‘qi’, ‘yin’ or ‘yang’ can affect the growth and development of humans, resulting in development disorders, congenital mental retardation, soft and weak bones in children and premature aging adults.
What happens when kidney energy is out of balance?
In TCM, signs of low kidney energy (kidney qi deficiency) may include:
- Low energy
- Cold hands and feet
- Poor sleep
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Low libido
- A tendency to be fearful
Yin is cooling and calming, so if it's specifically your kidney yin that's deficient (as is common during menopause, for example), you may experience symptoms that are 'hot' in nature, like night sweats or mild dizziness.
On the other hand, deficiency of kidney yang is traditionally thought to allow dampness to accumulate in the body, and as a result you might experience symptoms like fluid retention.
If any of those issues sound familiar, read on to learn how to eat to support your kidneys!
Black Foods that Support Kidney Health
Black foods are generally rich in trace elements and vitamins. Anthocyanins, which are found in black, blue, purple and red coloured foods, have rich antioxidant properties which promote health and have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. Here are some examples of black foods.
Black rice, also known as “medicinal rice”, is a kind of rice used for “reinforcing the kidney” in TCM. It is rich in anthocyanins and has been reported has anti-oxidative stress, hypolipidaemic, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects. Research proven that black rice prevented progression of renal fibrosis and glomerular sclerosis. They can be used in puddings, porridge, noodles, bread and even makes a great idea for a good kheer!
Strong pieces of evidence are available to show that phenolic compounds in foods like black grapes helps to protect kidney. Black grapes contain compounds like Lutein and Zeaxanthin which prevents retinal damage and macular degeneration. Resveratrol in grapes are known to have anti-cancer properties and have a huge protective effect on cardiac health by lowering LDL levels too. It is recommended to use in salad, smoothie and jam!
Black sesame replenishes liver and kidney, moisturizes five internal organs and brains. They also promote healthy hair growth and nourish intestines. Add some in your salads, breads, smoothies, soups, hummus or even dips!
Black beans are rich in anthocyanins which help in nourishing blood, improving eyesight and promoting healthy hair growth. Try to incorporate this nutritious food in brownies, porridge, and pudding!
The article is written by Tan Yi Li (Nutritionist) for Green Image Organic Enterprise Sdn Bhd
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