In our latest entry we looked at how Eastern cosmology regards the perpetual change between yin and yang, to which life is subject, as we experience things. And we reviewed how in that way of understanding the world the ancient Chinese recognized different stages of transformation, say, five “elements” by which chi moves, the subtle energy, acquiring its different qualities, which are reflected in the plant world in different shapes, sizes, colours, textures and flavours (for example, in summer nature provides us with leafy greens, fruits full of water and flavour, red and bright colours …). These different transformations are also reflected in human behaviour (anger, empathy, sadness, enthusiasm …), in different organs (stomach, liver, heart, etc.), in cooking styles, in the types of food that the soil produces.
Autumn is already here and we perceive it in subtle energy changes in nature. It is perceived as a inward tendency. In nature we see how the sap in trees goes inwards, leaving the leaves lifeless in specific types of trees. This results in wonderful autumn colours in the valleys and forests, and there is a melancholy feeling in the hearts.
All this is shown at an emotional level (sadness) and in our organs. The METAL element , is related to the lung and large intestine.
In Eastern cosmology, the metal transformation is considered as a more dry, concentrated, refined energy, with an inward tendency.
If in summer we have indulged on yin quality foods (cold, expansive, refreshing), for example ice cream, tropical fruits and soft drinks, we will have created an excess of internal coldness in us that will need to go outside. Thus, we can understand that, when energy in autumn begins to contract, colds, flu, etc. will appear. This is how the body wants to eliminate excess and promote internal balance.
Autumn is traditionally the time to store fruits and seeds. We want to go to bed and get up early in the morning. Below we present some of the aspects that characterize the METAL element.
How do we feel?
When our metal element is balanced, we have strength and instinct to survive and self-protect, we have the will to live, to dream, to be positive, sensitive and reflective.
Someone with a strong metal will be more practical and capable of organization, transform internally and with a great sense of order, ethics and self-discipline. They tend to introduce changes in their lives thanks to being very decisive, with a great sense of direction and great faith.
But if on the contrary our metal element loses energy and balance, due to poor diet or lifestyle choices, we will lose those instincts, and we will neglect ourselves, feeling grief, melancholy and sadness, where there is no desire to continue and we we become introverted, hidden from the world and unable to deal with it. The first symptoms are disinterest, melancholy and lack of self-esteem that, as the problem worsens, can lead to depression, resistance to change, and attachment to material goods and past events.
What does the visual diagnosis tell us about the health of our lungs and large intestine?
LARGE INTESTINE: Overeating and eating at irregular hours, as well as a sedentary lifestyle and stress may be the cause of most digestive problems. In the outermost part of the lower lip we can see the state of our large intestine.
Here are some of the most common digestive problems: celiac disease and food intolerances, allergies, colon cancer, colon-rectal cancer, candida, anemia, stomach problems.
LUNGS: The problems in the lungs can be observed in the cheeks (darker areas, pallor or pimples).
Pain in the shoulders is also related to lung problems. A stooped forward posture, with the shoulders drooping forward as if to protect the chest (eg working on the computer) is not good for the lungs. If the lungs are weak, we will feel tightness in the head and chest, we will sneeze and have a stuffy nose.
If we eat an excess of yin foods, this will cause dilation in the lungs, inflammation, swelling, and consequently, infections, colds, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, high fever and tuberculosis. Cough and mucous with phlegm. On an emotional level we will feel sadness and anguish.
If, on the contrary, there is an excess of yang foods, there will be a constriction, vertical lines will appear on the cheeks, shortness of breath and breathing, colds and dry cough.
The skin and its problems are closely linked to the lungs (important organs of elimination appart from large intestine). If the lungs are weak, the skin may be flaky and dry and dull. Other symptoms related to the lungs are eczema and skin rashes.
What can we advise to avoid problems in the lungs and large intestine?
Almost all the tips that I will mention are “common sense“, but they are worth mentioning. We must get up early and breathe fresh air deeply (if you live in the city, try to get close to a park at least once a day). Avoid synthetic clothing and wear cotton clothing. It is very important to avoid air conditioning, building materials and paints with toxins. Try to be in touch with nature as much as possible. When cooking, always avoid teflon and aluminum, use titanium, cast iron, stainless steel instead. Grow plants at work and at home. At least once a day rub your skin with a wet towel (for example after you have had a bath) to open up the pores of your skin well. Reduce the use of screens, mobiles and exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Of course, avoid active or passive smoking. Practice positive thinking and joy in all situations of your life. Spend more time with optimistic and cheerful people. Listen to happy music and sing every day, at least once. This may sound silly, but try to do it and you will see.
How to nourish the Metal element with food?
Energetically, metal is affected by both an excess of moist and “slimy” foods (dairies such as milk, yogurt, cream, creamy cheeses, even if made from plant-based “milks”) as well as an excess of dry foods.
Dairies (eg milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream and derivatives), flours, sweets, and pastry are mucus-forming. Obstruction of the respiratory tract manifests itself both physically and mentally (difficulty in reasoning and thinking).
To strengthen the lungs, the large intestine and the skin and harmonize with the autumn, we promote food with less water content, more salty (always add salt whilst cooking, never on the plate), cooked simply. Incorporate mild spices (eg ginger, radish or mustard).
The importance of listening to our body.
If we have symptoms such as sadness, depression, tendency to loneliness, indecision, lack of energy, confused ideas, too analytical and critical mind, nostalgia, we feel the cold, mucus, cough, pallor, wind and intestinal inflammation, tendency to constipation or diarrhea , you are locked away in your own world, swollen lower lip , dark areas in the cheeks or with pimples.
We should avoid:
• oat flakes (especially refined)
• baked flour
• excess dry and hard foods
• Animal fat
• dairy products
• nut butters (except chestnuts)
• White sugar
• tropical juices, smoothies, etc
• hot spices
• Whole Grains: brown rice specifically represents metal energy. It is especially indicated in intestinal problems. Cooked with lotus seeds, it is ideal for decongesting the lungs and respiratory tract.
o Especially those with smaller leaves (eg turnip leaf, radish, radish, carrot).
• Soups, particularly those with whole grains (eg rice or millet), especially in case of intestinal problems. These help improve intestinal absorption.
• Legumes: Black soybeans, particularly indicated, traditionally used in the East to treat respiratory problems. Cook it with onion, pumpkin, kombu, to avoid gas and promote digestion. You can also use all kinds of white beans.
• Hiziki seaweed
• Fruits: Although you have been advised not to have fruit in general, peaches and apricots may be beneficial in certain cases.
• Fish: Small fish (eg sardine, mackerel).
• Cooking styles: Use longer cooking styles, with oven and pressure. The flavour that helps to discharge accumulations is slightly spicy (turnip, watercress, radishes, daikon, mustard, ginger, black pepper). Use little water, especially in case of asthma or bronchitis.
Remember to also exercise, go to the park, surround yourself with nature, practice breathing exercises.
This is a menu for you to start practising!
- Miso soup
- Whole rice with chestnuts and azuki beans.
- Hiziki with Carrots
- Blanched green leaves (broccoli, radishes, turnip, cabbage …)
- Pears with ginger
Do not forget that we are ONE with nature, the organism that gives us life. When we harmonize with her through what she provides us with, we are creating a symbiotic relationship, fostering balance and happiness in all those we are and we share.
See you soon!