January 23 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dragon, and it’s a great time to consider what we can learn about optimizing bone health from the 5,000-year-old medical science of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). With all the technological innovation of modern medicine, we tend to forget that ancient cultures developed sophisticated and complex medical systems that are still highly effective today.
According to TCM, what’s known as the kidney meridian energy system controls bone. So within TCM, one builds kidney health to maintain and improve bone health. Foods and herbs, exercises, emotions, environmental factors and even colors are thought to influence the kidney organ and meridian system via their vibrational nature, or essence.
Now as we recover from our own holiday eating extravaganzas, let’s see which foods TCM suggests as the most beneficial for bone:
1. First of all, TCM recommends choosing hot and cooked foods, which are easy to digest and more nourishing. Cold and raw foods take more energy to digest and can weaken digestion, creating gas and bloating.
2. Seafood, especially sea animals that create shells (shrimp, scallops, oysters, lobsters, and clams) are held to specifically benefit bone.
3. Soups made with bones and bone marrow are regarded as terrific bone builders.
4. The essences of walnuts and pine nuts favor the kidneys and thus the bones.
5. Amongst the oils, sesame oil and walnut oil are considered to be skeletal strengtheners.
6. The color black vibrates in harmony with kidney functioning — and black beans and black sesame seeds are traditional foods for bone building.
7. As for spices, cinnamon is traditionally held to warm and enhance digestion while promoting bone health.
Oh, about the Year of the Dragon — the Chinese Dragon is a symbol of power and wisdom, heralding a time of action, achievement, and good fortune. I’m looking forward to a great year and send you wishes for the same!