Do you recall your mum and grandma telling you to take care during puberty because it sets the stage for healthy womanhood? Then when you got pregnant, they say that if you don’t observe confinement traditions, you’ll suffer the consequences. These include rheumatism, general ill health and a difficult menopause later in life. And that only by having another child can you re-adjust your constitution during confinement again. Are these simply old wives’ tales or is there real wisdom behind it?
We all know that diets and lifestyles affect overall health and wellbeing throughout our life. But according to TCM physicians, there are three stages in a woman’s life that make a distinct difference.
Puberty – Laying the Foundations
The first of these three crucial stages is puberty. A balanced diet, adequate exercise and sufficient sleep during adolescence can directly affect her eventual height and body shape. It also helps strengthen her immune system and regulate her menstrual cycle.
Support her growing bones with foods that contain abundant calcium and protein. Milk, soy milk, dark leafy greens and lean meats are good choices. Most adolescent kids are also ‘heaty’ and ‘dry’, making them prone to acne and irritability. Balance this by taking foods such as bird’s nest, which contain a variety of essential amino acids. Boys can benefit from the same.
Tian Yuan Xiang recommends Chicken Essence with American Ginseng for adolescents approaching puberty. American ginseng boosts energy levels and qi, while double-boiled chicken essence replenishes good quality proteins.
(See also: Precocious Puberty Explained)
Confinement – Reconditioning the Body
The second stage where nourishment is most crucial is during confinement. With all the hormonal ups and downs, it’s considered the optimum period for conditioning a woman’s constitution. But first, it’s important to take care during pregnancy to maintain physical strength, boost immunity and ensure swifter postpartum recovery. This also means the new mum can regain her figure sooner, while having ample nutritious breast milk for baby.
The most common problems expectant mums encounter are related to poor appetite due to morning sickness, leading to poor nutrition. Many also experience constipation and edema. Rather than taking excessive medication, why not use a natural diet to encourage healing? For instance, eat fibre-rich foods such as bananas, alongside high quality proteins that the body can easily digest and absorb.
During the confinement month, Chinese traditionally use tonics, alcohol, sesame oil and ginger to nurse the body back to health. TCM recommends such ‘warm’ foods and ingredients, although it’s best to consult a certified physician as maternal conditions can vary. Chicken essence and bird’s nest can also help quickly replenish lost nutrients while nourishing the body.
Tian Yuan Xiang recommends Chicken Essence with Vaccaria Seed and Chicken Essence with Cordyceps for ladies observing confinement. Vaccaria Seed is known to boost lactation and even relieve (postpartum) hair loss, while Cordyceps can boost lung qi and adjust the immune system. Chicken Essence for Digestion contains ingredients beneficial to the spleen and stomach, organs in charge of transporting and absorbing nutrients. Promoting spleen and stomach function increases the absorption of other tonics taken after birth.
Menopause – Ageing with Grace
Menopause is the third stage where an invigorating boost can make a difference, this time to your golden years. Let’s face it — all women wish to mature gracefully both on the inside and on the outside. Giving the body what it needs can not only help lessen uncomfortable menopausal symptoms, but may even reduce the chances of suffering from chronic diseases that seem to come inevitably with aging.
From a TCM perspective, ladies approaching menopause tend to have weak kidney qi. This leads to physical signs of ageing and a build-up of ‘fire’ in the body which can cause hot flashes or insomnia often associated with menopause. Alleviate the symptoms by pairing yin-nourishing herbs with calcium-rich foods. Together they can help reduce internal ‘heat’, replenish loss of bone mass, stabilise the mood and promote better sleep.
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So mums, seize these three extra-crucial chances to nourish your body for a lifetime of health. From adolescence and puberty to pregnancy and confinement, and then to menopause, an easy way to do this is to add Tian Yuan Xiang Chicken Essence to your diet. And there’s no better time to start than now.
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