We often put a lot of thought into doing things regularly to boost our immune systems. We know the necessary items that need to be present in our diet and lives to achieve this, and we boost them even more during cold and flu season. There's another issue we all deal with that can influence our healthy habits -- anxiety and overwhelm. I first want to be clear that I am not speaking of clinical anxiety. If you are struggling beyond basic daily life overwhelm, please consult your doctor.
For the overwhelm that comes with daily life, I like to look to ancient traditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, our kidneys are the body's central source of yin and yang. When our kidneys aren't functioning optimally, other health problems, including anxiety, arise. The world we live in today takes a significant toll on our kidneys, whether we know it or not. These issues can be small enough to go undiagnosed by physicians but can have a substantial impact on the rest of our bodies.
Factors such as stress, poor sleep quality, environmental toxins, and alcohol can be extremely taxing on the kidneys. Chinese Medicine views the adrenal glands and the kidneys as the same organ. The adrenals are two glands that are located on top of your kidneys. They are responsible for the production and regulation of essential hormones, including those involved in the stress response. When the adrenal glands become overworked, through too much stress, lack of sleep, or those other factors, they are unable to function normally, resulting in adrenal fatigue. This leads to numerous symptoms, including insomnia, sadness, digestive problems, weak immune functioning, and especially anxiety.
Thus, by treating the kidneys through specific foods and restoring the functioning of the adrenal glands, you can help ease some symptoms of overwhelm. To feed your kidneys optimally, try to eat more tangerines, plums, grapes, grains such as amaranth, rye, oats, and barley, celery, asparagus, cabbage, and black beans. However, it is beneficial to know whether your kidneys are deficient in the yin or yang and treat them accordingly. The yin is responsible for cooling and hydrating the body. If they are yin deficient, you might experience symptoms such as insomnia, night sweats, dry skin, eyes, and mouth, and brittle hair. Chlorella is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the kidneys' yin.
Spirulina, another type of algae, also works great. It would be best if you also were eating carrots, grapefruit, celery, cucumber, blueberries, soybeans, kidney beans, and watermelon. These are considered 'cold' foods that will help increase your yin.
Yang, on the other hand, is responsible for stimulating and warming up your body. If your kidneys are deficient in yang, you might experience diarrhea, lower back pain, fatigue, and feeling cold. Generally, symptoms are worse in the morning. If this is your case, eat "warming" foods such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, walnuts, quinoa, and black beans. Avoid any iced drinks and raw foods and try to limit your fruit intake as these are all considered 'cooling' foods that will only worsen your yin-yang imbalance.
Aside from foods to help stimulate healthy kidney function, meditation apps have helped me tremendously with combating daily overwhelm. Apps such as Headspace or Calm can help you fit meditation into your schedule in just a few minutes per day, and this time to clear your mind can transform your entire day.
Design your life for wellness…
Simple changes for sustainable results!
Laura RDH, CHC
Certified Health & Lifestyle Coach
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