China has thousands of years of development of health culture and healthy practices. Here are just a few ideas in Chinese health that I learnt while living and working in China.
Attribution: Flickr - Tom F
Say no to cold foods
This is more common in the south than the north of China, but often it is recommended that you stay away from cold foods, especially iced drinks and ice cream. This idea is also shared by Ayurvedic medicine.
Attribution: Flickr - Joy
The idea is that cold foods are counter to our bodies current state and so interfere with our body functions. This certainly helps when you have stomach ailments.
Medicine starts with nutrition
While living in China, a Chinese friend came back from the doctor with a huge bag of subscriptions. When I took a look they were almost all supplements.
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I asked a doctor about this and she said "Of course, most people don't know how to eat properly." Imagine this, along with medicine your doctor provides good advice on what to eat. A friend was told to cut down on chili and seafood while recovering from a burn injury.
Does this work? Well there are two aspects. First of all, to be healthier we should focus more on our diet, but it also gives us a sense of control and participation when we are doing something actively in response to our illness.
Listen to your heart
A good Chinese medicine doctor should be able to diagnose any problem by simply listening to a patient's heart or pulse. The Chinese believe that the heart is central to health and it is important to look after it.
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A good reason in China to take a day off is that your heart is racing. When was the last time you listened to your own heart?
Rest and recover
One of the things that surprised me the most in China was the amount of time people would take off when they were sick. In Western culture we try to jump back into work right away while in China, even the hardest working people will take time off to recover properly before returning to their normal 12 hour days.
It all goes together
It is a pity that this is dying out in China now. In the past doctors in China would study both Chinese and Western medicine and treat people using one or the other depending on the nature of the problem, often combining both.
Attribution: Flickr - Victoria Reay
Unfortunately in recent years most doctors learn either one or the other, and not both.