Yakuzen concept: Cozy summer and long rain

We have shifted to welcome notoriously hot summer and long rain in Japan. After cheerful spring said good bye to us, I always wonder how I can lift my spirit up to welcome hot and humid Japanese summer. 

Sweating a lot. Losing appetite. Being sleepy. Suffering from headache. Swelling... You name it. There are so many symptoms summer and log rain could bring us. The key from yakuzen concept to solve such symptoms are to eat ingredients that can help water metabolism and digestion absorption.

When the body heat remains inside, we suffer from insomnia and palpitation. Symptoms caused by humidity causes loss of appetite. Summer yakzuen proposes to eat vegetables with diuretic effect and bitter ingredients.

When eating sweet ingredients tends to prevent water metabolism; thus, yakuzen suggests to eat salty food at the same time. Watermelon, summer tangerine, and melon can be very handy in summer, which you can buy at most supermarkets. these handy summer fruits can give you moisture in your body and help cooling down.

Key words for summer ingredients in yakuzen concept:

  • Removing excessive body heat, swelling: tomato, eggplant, cucumber, watermelon, etc.
  • Symptoms caused by humidity and heat: milk, brown rice, eel, etc.
  • Bitter taste: bitter gourd, chyrtsanthemum, turmeric, etc.

For more details, visit here.

Heartburn in third trimester

During pregnancy, it seems like one problem is solved and another one appears. Just like one after another. Sigh..... After morning sickness in the first trimester, a pregnant woman may suffer from constipation in the second trimester, and then she may have heartburn in the third trimester. She may hope heartburn can be the last health issue before giving birth. 

In may case, I had slight morning sickness, slight constipation, and no heartburn. I carefully watched what I ate by thinking from the medicinal food point of view. 

This article suggests that heartburn  as well as indigestion can be an issue later in your pregnancy. Luckily, this is only temporary issue most pregnant women face.  It can help to have smaller, more frequent meals, and to avoid lying or bending down after eating - even bending to load a dishwasher can aggravate symptoms so get someone else in the family to do that job! Fatty foods and spices can aggravate symptoms.

Your energy requirements do increase during the last trimester, when you’ll need an extra 150-200 calories a day – that’s the equivalent of about three oatcakes topped with houmous.  

Another important nutrient is calcium - your calcium needs double during pregnancy, especially during the last ten weeks when it’s being used to strengthen your baby's bones. Despite this, you don’t need to eat more because your body adapts to absorb more calcium from the foods you eat. So as well as dairy foods, good sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, canned fish with soft, edible bones (salmon, sardines and pilchards), almonds (unsalted), dried apricots, sesame seeds, tofu, fortified orange juice and fortified soy milk. 

Yakuzen concept: Active spring

Spring has come without notice and June is approaching quickly. After giving birth of my first baby, I feel that I have no sense of day and time. 

In spring, the blood circulation becomes great, and every organ in our body wakes up from winter and becomes very active. Many freshmen in school and work start their new life in April, and they likely get tired of working hard to meet the criteria of being good students or excellent workers after getting used to their new life. Depression is one of issues in Spring. From yakuzen point of view, depression and being tired of new life are caused by spring defeating our mental status and our body system. 

What to avoid to lose the body balance and what to do to maintain our peaceful state, yakuzen teaches as follows:

  • Avoid cold drinks and cold ingredients.
  • Eat warm ingredients.
  • Avoid rich taste (Don't use a lot of salt, soy sauce, etc.)
  • Eat simple taste.
  • Eat seasonal ingredients.
  • Take natural sweetness.

Keywords for spring ingredients in yakuzen concept:

  • Cleaning blood: celery, mint, crown daisy, citrus fruits, etc. 
  • Symptoms caused by wind: ginger, green onion, parsley, shiso, etc.
  • Sweet taste: cabbage, carrot, honey, bamboo shoot, turnip, peanut, tear grass, etc.

For more details, visit here.


Constipation in second trimester

From the same article, after several morning sickness and nausea later, pregnant women opens a door to the second trimester, best time of their pregnancy!

Yes, many women who experienced morning sickness in the first trimester recalled that the second trimester is the best trimester ever. You have almost no nausea making you sick, have great appetite, and feel baby's tiny movement in you. When I thought about my own pregnancy, the second trimester was the best one. In my case, I had great appetite all day long and felt that the baby was moving every time after I ate something. 

Even in this dreamy second trimester, pregnant women experience other issues. One after another. This time, constipation. Constipation is a common issue in pregnancy.

What should we do to avoid or ease constipation?

  1.  Keep drinking liquid including water, herbal tea, fresh juice (not too much of juice due to to much sugar in fresh fruits).
  2. Eat wholegrain versions of foods including bread, cereal, or pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, cookies, etc.
  3. Eat a lot of vegetables with fiber such as celery, spinach, yam, potatoes, etc.
  4. Eat moderate amount of nuts and seeds.

More tips for morning sickness

After I wrote the last post, I found a very useful website about how to minimize your morning sickness. 

This article is simply written for every trimester to let us know tips to calm nausea as follows;

  1. Eating little and often, basing meals and snacks on starchy foods like bread, porridge, plain biscuits, crisp-breads, oatcakes, pasta, rice or potatoes.

  2. Minimizing fatty foods which are harder to digest.
  3. Choosing quick and easy recipes which need little preparation.
  4. Keeping a couple of plain biscuits beside your bed - it can help to nibble on one before you get up.

I would add "drink a lot of water" to the above. As for water you drink, water left in the room temperature is the best one to drink for any women. Water form the refrigerator is your enemy as it does cool your body instantly which you don't want. Try to drink warm or at least drink left in the room temperature.  I try to avoid ice cubes in my any drink, drink warm water right after I woke up, and have a cup of soup almost every night as a light dinner. I know a friend who melt s her ice cream before swallowing it! I think her case is too extreme but I admire her strong will that she does not want to cool her body. 

Ginger to minimize morning sickness in first trimester

As a "mom-to-be", healthy eating habit was one of most interesting topics last year.  

I didn't suffer so much from morning sickness in the first trimester few months back. I felt sick when I was brushing my teeth. The taste of toothpaste lasted forever in my mouth even after eating some spicy food. But that was all. That was the end of my morning sickness story. As you know, every pregnancy is very unique to each woman and you wold never know you may suffer from morning sickness, literally every morning, or you may not suffer from it like me at all. 

I have a good news for pregnant ladies or ladies waiting to get pregnant! Ginger is a key to be (almost) free from nausea or morning sickness. Ginger has shogaol (shogool), B-carotene, VB1, VB2, calcium, etc. Ginger is a natural anti-emetic which helps to ease your nausea. 

In Japan where I live now, ginger is mainly used as a side dish like with sushi, sashimi, etc. to get rid of smell of fish and enhance your appetite; however, ginger in pregnancy case can play an important role to calm your nausea. 

One of well-known effectiveness of ginger can be a smoother of blood circulation. Better blood circulation makes your body warm. The more ginger, the more hotter! This may not known widely, I guess, but ginger can also help stopping nausea. In the yakuzen world, ginger is used for people with motion sickness, and of course for pregnant women. 

To minimize your morning sickness and maximize the effect of ginger, simply slice fresh ginger and put it in your tea cup. Simmer sliced ginger in your favorite tea an enjoy the spicy smell of it. Moderate volume of ginger is a key to minimize morning sickness. Moderate means one small spoon of grated raw ginger or 1g to 4g of dry ginger. 

Ginger is also effective to seasonal cold, diarrhea from being cold, and loss of appetite.


Function: Warm/Heat

Taste: Spicy


Fruits and veggies for pregancy

As my pregnancy continues, I am fighting against my huge appetite. While trying to follow healthy diet as much as I can including a lot of vegetables, grains, meat, fish, and fruits, I wonder how much and what of fruits and veggies as a pregnant woman. I love fruits and can keep eating fruits even right after regular meals!

Fruits and veggies contain full of fibers, minerals, and rich nutrients. Pregnant women can and should have fruits as your snack, such as a slice of cantaloupe and a bowl of strawberries. Having these fruits with protein such as cottage cheese can boost your sustainable energy.

So, how much is enough for your baby and yourself during pregnancy? According to the article, pregnant women should aim to have 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 to 3 cups of veggies a day. For example, here is what counts as a cup:

  • 1 cup raw or cooked veggies
  • 2 cups raw leafy greens
  • 1 cup raw, canned, or frozen fruit
  • 2 small bananas or 1 large one
  • 1/2 cups dried fruit
  • 1 medium to large piece of fruit
  • 1 cup 100% fruit juice, veggie juice, or fruit-veggie juice

For some of you, it sounds like too much to consume a day but I am confident I can eat more than 2 cups of fruits and veggies per day.

10 excellent foods for pregnancy

I am currently 6-month pregnant. Whenever I talk to my mom and other ladies in my mom's generation who experienced pregnancy, I am told, "you should eat for two!"

I do appreciate advice and suggestions from experienced moms anytime. Well, if I follow their advice and actually eat for my baby and myself, I would have gained too much pregnancy weight! I try to control how much I eat and what I eat, especially throughout pregnancy period. BUT I get so hungry so soon after eating a meal. Should I actually eat for two just like what experienced and kind moms suggest?

Probably, it is not only me but some pregnant women would be so confused about what to follow for a baby's nutrition and growth.

The article published by Baby Center (I read their articles every single day) suggests 10 nutritious ingredients you can use for everyday cooking. These 10 foods are very handy and you can find them probably anytime in your refrigerator.

  1. Eggs
  2. Salmon
  3. Beans
  4. Sweet potatoes
  5. Whole grains
  6. Walnuts
  7. Greek yogurt
  8. Dark green , leafy veggies
  9. Lean meat
  10. Colorful fruits and veggies

1. Eggs

Eggs contains 12 vitamins and minerals, and one egg is just about 90 calories only. Eggs has choline which helps a baby's growth and brain health.

2. Salmon

I do love salmon! Salmon can be cooked in any way from Japanese to Italian. Not to mention, salmon is full of omega-3 fats which are perfect for a baby's development. According to the yakuzen theory, salmon can be beneficial to anemia, dry skin, stomach, poor energy, etc.

3. Beans

Any kind of beans can do: lentils, black beans, pinto beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas, etc. Tofu or other alternatives made from beans can count. Beans gives you the great amount of fiber and protein. For example, the yakuzen theory proposes black beans can work for swollen legs (which many pregnant women are suffered from!), adzuki beans for itchiness and redness (probably works for pregnancy stretch marks), and chickbeans for constipation, anemia (yes, many pregnant women do experience hese symptoms, too!).

4. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes contains carotenoids like carrots which can give you vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. Excessive intake of vitamin A may be dangerous (animal liver, milk, etc.) but carotenoids are completely different one. The yakuzen theory can tell you sweet potatoes can get rid of excess water from your body, constipation, and high blood pressure.

5. Whole grains

Whole grains are essential in pregnancy because they contain fiber and vitamin E. Popcorn, whole grain bread, quinoa, etc. are whole grains. Whole grains are superfood which can be easily obtain and cooked in many ways.

6. Walnuts

Walnuts are the great source for plant-based omega-3, protein, and fiber. Although walnuts are high-calorie ingredient, they contain good fat. As they are so easy to grab and so handy when going out, they can be on-the-go snack. The yakuzen theory suggests that walnuts work for lower back pain, frequent urination, constipation, cough, dry skin, etc.

7. Greek yogurt

In Japan, green yogurt has been very popular lately. Very rich and thick texture makes me feel like I eat cream cheese or cheesecake! This super food, of course, is a great source of calcium for a baby's growth, especially the development of bones.

8. Dark leafy veggies

There are a lot of green leafy veggies; spinach, kale, lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, broccoli, etc. They contain nutrients including vitamins A and C, and folate! Pregnant women cannot ignore folate which works perfectly for a baby's overall development.

9. Lean meats

My grandmother was a vegetarian. Her eating habit affected what I eat in the past. Now, I eat balanced-meals for my little baby. Well, meat is a great source of protein. I rather like to eat fishes but try to cook lean meats more than once a week.

10. Colorful fruits and veggies

Colorful fruits and veggies are great for eyes and health. Each color group offers different vitamins and minerals. 

Source: http://www.babycenter.com/101_the-10-best-foods-for-pregnancy_10392775.bc


Relationship between healthy food and age-related cognitive decline

The research from Colorado State University revealed that the following tips can slow your cognitive decline and aging, actually.

  1. Eat you vegetables, especially green leafy veggies.
  2. Eat blueberries and walnuts.
  3. East fish once a week.

How simple these tips are! According to the research, these ingredients supports brain health including memory and processing as you get older. In addition to the eating habit, the increase of fruits and veggies intake, exercise, etc. can also educe age-related risks.

Age-related risks including Alzheimer's disease, dementia, cognitive impairment, etc. are fearful as we age. There is an effective diet developed by Martha Clare Morris from Rush University. Her method is called MIND diet. The MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The MIND diet proposes to stick with eating Mediterranean food and watching your high blood pressure. 

The MIND diet suggests 10 brain healthy ingredients: green leafy veggies, other veggies, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and red wine. On the other hand, there are 5 brain unhealthy ingredients which you should control the intake or avoid: red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, sweet pastries, and fried or fast food.

After reading the article, I tried to recall what I usually eat. I believe yakuzen and follow what it suggest me to eat. So, I guess I am almost all right with what the MIND diet proposes. As I noticed, you may also notice there are a lot of common rules between healthy food particularly the MIND diet here and yakuzen theory. Healthy food can fight against getting old with a lots of healthy issues which everyone fears about. Eating healthy can slow your age-related cognitive decline! This is such a great idea for me or you who like to be healthy eaters because eating what you love connects to making you healthy and live longer. 

Source:  http://source.colostate.edu/healthy-food-interventions-may-slow-cognitive-decline