Having a fast metabolism is essential if you want to burn off calories and keep your body in shape. Although genetics can be to blame for a sluggish metabolism, diet and lifestyle changes also play important roles. Here’s how to stimulate your metabolism by restoring balance to your body, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
How metabolism works according to TCM
Your metabolism is how fast your body can turn food into energy and nutrients that keep body processes running smoothly, and gets rid of waste. In TCM, a substance called jing (“essence”) is crucial to these processes. Jing regulates processes like growth, development, digestion and fertility, and is stored in the kidneys. A healthy kidney is essential having a good constitution and active metabolism.
In addition to the kidney, the stomach and spleen are important because of the role they play in digestion. Together, they break down the food you eat, and transport nutrients and fluid to the rest of the body. To function, these organs need qi (vital energy), which is carried around the body by blood. If you have stagnant blood or qi, these can slow down and interfere with the digestive system, leading to weight gain.
Another factor to consider is the buildup of internal dampness. The spleen is in charge of transporting fluids, but a poor or weakened spleen can lead to the accumulation of fluid in the body, leading to the condition that TCM experts call “dampness.” Dampness makes your body sluggish and causes your metabolism to slow down.
Winter melon soup: Winter melon is a yin (cooling) food that benefits the kidneys, detoxifies the body and boosts metabolism. To make a simple winter melon soup, simmer some chopped fruit with slivers of ginger in water, and add some salt to taste. To make the soup more flavorful, you can add ingredients like broth, mushrooms, black fungus and lean pork or chicken to the mix.
Job’s tears seeds: Job’s tears are a cereal that have been cultivated in China for over 4,000 years. These brown, pea-like seeds are known to strengthen the kidney, spleen and stomach. It’s also a diuretic, which promotes urination and facilitates the flow of fluids through your digestive system. The seeds can be boiled and drunk as a tea, or added to a bowl of congee with a bit of sugar to taste. Diuretic, promoting urination to facilitate the flow of fluids throughout the digestive system.
Lotus leaves: Lotus leaves are thought to be a slimming, and can act as a mild diuretic and laxative. To take it, simmer some of the leaves in hot water, add some black tea, and drink. However, drinking too much of this tea is not advised.
Sweet corn: Corn has been used in China to aid digestion since at least the Ming dynasty, which we know because its use is mentioned in a 16th century TCM text named the Compendium of Materia Medica. In addition, corn has been shown to lower cholesterol. However, take note that corn is often prescribed to treat constipation in TCM, so consuming too much can lead to diarrhoea.
Other tips to boost metabolism
Acupressure: Acupressure is a technique that involves massaging targeted acupuncture points. Unlike acupuncture, it can be done at home. Simply apply moderate pressure to the acupressure point with a thumb or finger, massaging in a circular motion for a few minutes each day.
Applying pressure to the quchi point can stimulate metabolism. To find this point, bend your arm slightly so that your elbow forms a crease. The quchi point is at the tip of the crease on the outside of the arm. Massaging this point stimulates the liver and intestines, clearing dampness from your body.
If you find yourself eating a lot because you’re constantly hungry, try massaging the yifeng point, located right behind your earlobe, which plays a role in appetite control. The shuigou spot, which is located located right above the center of your upper lip, serves a similar function.
Chew your food properly: Your saliva is full of enzymes that help to break down and digest food before it reaches your stomach. Thoroughly chewing your food lessens the stress on your stomach and other digestive organs down the line.
Stop eating before you feel full: According to TCM, you’ve eaten the ideal amount of food once you no longer feel hungry, but before you feel full. Fullness is a sign that you’re overloading your digestive system.
In addition, don’t eat too fast and don’t read or watch TV as you eat. Doing other things while eating disrupts the digestive process by sending blood and qi to your eyes and brain, when they should be concentrated in the digestive organs.