One of my students said that she has high blood pressure and is taking medication for this. She is a very nice lady and is like my mother-in-law who is always busy. Even at home, my mother-in-law cannot just sit down to relax and watch a programme on the telly. She has to iron or sew or eat something while she is watching as her mind is not relaxed. One of my grandmothers was also like this. Having had to bear and raise eight children, she was kept very busy and did not like to waste time even when she was older.
So it is a bit like the chicken and egg conundrum. Not being able to relax the body means that the mind also does not have a chance to slow down. When the mind cannot relax, many kinds of problems will result including s tr e s s, w or r y, d i ge s t ion problems, insomnia and even high blood pressure. The more we wind a clock, the tighter the spring will become until eventually, it weakens and eventually snaps. This weakening of the spring is like our body starting to have problems. It is already letting us know that our lifestyle is not right.
Food is something we take in every day and it can radically change our emotions, our energy levels and most importantly our health. The other day I was looking through an old album of my family and saw pictures of my grandparents and their friends at a river picnic. Even though they were all in their 50's, none of them were overweight and all had good complexions and more streamlined bodies than the today's equivalent. I heard a report that over 30% of all Americans are obese. Yet in my grandmother's time, I know they drankfull fat dairy milk, ate butter and big slabs of my grandfather's favourite sharp cheddar cheese. I know this because my uncle was their milkman!
Despite all of our technological advances in the west, why it is that there are more cases of obesity and chronic illnesses than ever before? Is it because of all the fast food restaurants? Genetically modified and chemically laden foods? Is it because we move less and so our body chemistry is different? Personally, I would say it is probably all of those things and also the fact that we eat much more of everything, including processed sugars.
Still, it is not too late to make a difference. High blood pressure and low pressure are very common and not always the problems of the elderly but of any age. Low pressure is when the body does not have enough Qi and blood. High blood pressure is when there is too much tension in the body and so the internal organs, particularly the heart, cannot relax. High blood pressure can cause dizziness (particularly in the morning), headaches and insomnia.
Eating foods that will cool down the body will help release poisons and heat from the blood and internal organs. Just like when a car is overheated, we should stop driving it for
"Food can radically change our emotions, our energy levels."
a while and let it cool down. Later we can add some water to the radiator and coolant to the engine to stop the problem from happening again.
In Chinese food cures, there have been some studies done for patients with high blood pressure (also called hypertension). One of the foods they have tried is celery and to very good effect. In addition to having a cooling effect on the body, it also has a calming effect. In one of the studies, patients saw a lowering of their blood pressure and improvement in their sleep after only one day of taking the celery.
In another study, a 40 year old man diagnosed with hypertension began to take celery as part of his main meal. He also ate a mostly vegetarian diet (some meat, like beef and lamb can cause more heat in the body). After one year, his blood pressure was normal without taking any medication. Below are some recipes which use celery in different ways. If drinking the celery juice, this should be varied with some cooked celery otherwise it can create too much cold in the spleen. If you have a weak spleen or ulcers, then it is preferable to eat cooked rather than raw celery, particularly as part of a rice soup.
Take 3-8 stalks celery and pound in mortar and squeeze juice through fine cloth to equal 8 tsps or 40ml. Add equal amount of honey and take daily. For weak digestion, heat the celery gently with the honey and then take.
Celery Congee (Rice Soup)
Take 3-5 stalks washed celery and chop in pieces and stir fry lightly in a bit of oil. Set aside.
Take / cup dry rice and add 4-5 bowls water in large pan. Add / tsp oil and small amount of salt and bring to a gentle boil. (The oil will help prevent the soup from boiling over.) Lower heat and partly cover and simmer. Stir frequently
If too thick, add more water. The soup should be done in 2-3 hours but can be made ahead and served the next day. Add celery 15-20 minutes before serving. Alternatively, you cook the celery just before serving and add to your serving bowl rather than the rice soup (congee). This allows you to keep the rice soup 'fresher' and means you can add different ingredients the next day
Celery Stir Fry
5-8 stalks celery (Chinese or English) Cashew or macadamia nuts 2 carrots - peeled and sliced Oyster sauce Soy sauce
Take 5-8 stalks celery and wash. (If using Chinese celery, you will need more pieces as it is much thinner.) Lay flat on chopping board and place knife so that it slices on the diagonal away from you. This will give it a nicer shape and also allow more area for the heat to be absorbed which will reduce the cooking time and keep the celery fresher. Do the same with the carrots.
Heat a pan (without oil) and add in nuts and shake pan over heat until nuts are lightly browned. Set aside for later. Add in small amount of oil and salt to pan and let it get hot. Add in vegetables and stir fry approximately 4-5 minutes. Add in 1 tsp oyster sauce (vegetarian mushroom flavoured sauce is available as substitute), a small amount of soy sauce (do not over do or it will ruin the delicate taste of the vegetables) and stir until mixed. Place on plate and add nuts on top and serves by Jessica Tse
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