My Old China

Published July 17, 2011 by Polana Fowdrey
I have used Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture several times in my life, for a variety of problems and I’ve always found it helpful.
One of my reasons for not employing a raw approach to food for the past couple of decades is the Chinese Doctor’s assertion that I should eat warm foods to improve my spleen energy.
The Spleen, in Western medicine is not considered very important. It is regarded as a rather vague organ with some connection to the immune system, but many people seem to manage very well without it, due to disease or injury, etc. However, in TCM it is a vital part of the whole digestive area and plays a part in the development of muscles. Practitioners have told me for years to eat hot foods and keep the lower half of my body warm especially during the winter.
But I no longer believe this to be incompatible with the raw food lifestyle. I have made nourishing soups, which I’ve then warmed gently to blood temperature and this is very warming. Some foods such as ginger and chilli have a warming effect.
And then there’s tea. I like mixing my own blends of tea, using herbs, barks, berries as well as green, black or red tea, sometimes. One particular favourite of mine is this. I call it Blueberry Power TeaBlueberry Power Tea
1 pinch Pau d’Arco
1 bag Blueberry Tea (black tea mixed with dried blueberries)
Steep these in a cafetiere for five minutes and drink hot.
Sweeten with agave or stevia if sweetness is required.

I’ve also mixed Pau d’Arco with green tea. Chinese doctors would like this, since tea is a central part of traditional Chinese culture.

Pau d’Arco is really great stuff. It is the inner bark of the Taheebo trees and contains anti fungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic compounds. I drank it for a couple of days recently when everyone around me was streaming with a nasty cold. I had that back-of-the-throat feeling, so out came the Pau d’Arco and Zap! Cold gone! It comes from South America, so obviously it’s imported. I bought mine from Funky Raw.

Another area of contention for me in terms of Chinese Medicine has always been my decision to follow a vegan diet. Several Acupuncturists have shaken their heads at this decision (Vegetarian – fine. Vegan – no!) And they are not alone. Doctors, family members, friends and even complete strangers have lectured me on my diet because it is commonly (and incorrectly) believed that it’s not possible to get the full range of nutrients entirely from vegetables. It is possible, but it is important to be careful, generate a knowledge of nutrition, eat as wide a range of foods as possible and ensure food is of a good quality. I managed to become a bit deficient in Vitamin B12 once because I was using the wrong brand of yeast extract in my gravy! It was easily rectified.
Protein, for example, comes up all the time. “Are you getting enough protein?’
We need a lot less protein that many people believe (it’s different for children of course,) and this is easily  obtained through vegetables, beans, seeds, grains, fungi… after all, plants need to grow too, so we simply ingest their growth chemicals = amino acids!
B12 is harder to obtain in vegetable forms and a lot of vegans rely on supplements. I did this exclusively for years until I discovered that B12 comes from the dirt vegetables grow in! (Animals get this from the vegetation they eat, which is why meat contains B12.)
so now I don’t scrub every last scrap of dirt of my vegetables. I pick leaves straight from the garden and put them into salads and smoothies. I brush the dirt off mushrooms instead of thoroughly peeling them as I used to and I brush my carrots with a dry brush before juicing them. You need to be careful though. “You eat a peck before you die” may well be a true adage, but a gritty smoothie is not pleasant!

However, I do still supplement my diet in two further ways: Firstly I use a nutritional yeast which is fortified with B12 and secondly, I take a supplement tablet. I am one of those unfortunate people who doesn’t absorb or make B12 very well, so I need to ingest more to get the correct absorption. Doctors have threatened me with injections before if I let my levels drop again, so I don’t want to take any chances! I do believe it’s important for vegans to be very aware of this.
No wonder some pregnant women start eating dirt – baby knows best!

And while we’re on the subject of children. Should kids be brought up on a raw diet? I’m in a quandary with this and don’t know where I stand. There is an argument that the raw diet is healthier, contains more nutrients and is therefore better for children. but there have been cases of kids becoming malnourished (although as far as I’ve been able to determine, it seems their diets really were limited, which is not going to work anyway.)
Certainly, I believe it is better than a diet of ready meals and MacDonald’s, but I wonder, since children are growing, should they have a wider range of foods? And maybe they should be given informed choices from a young age?
It’s a difficult issue, and one I’m no doubt I’ll return to. One thing is for sure though: Right here, right now, the raw diet is working for this adult.
Originally published on www.pollyskitchen/

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