4 TCM remedies that help improve digestive health
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Suffering from indigestion or other digestive problems? Physician Goh Xin Yi at NTU Chinese Medicine Clinic shares a few TCM remedies that help to elevate the symptoms.

OVEREATING (INDIGESTION)

Hawthorn malt tea can help to alleviate bloating and indigestion from overeating, especially after a greasy meal.

Hawthorn Malt Tea

Ingredients:
5g hawthorn
10g malt

Method: Brew the ingredients in water for a few minutes. The tea should be consumed after meals. Take note that those with gastric reflux is not advised to take hawthorn.

Other than hawthorn malt tea, kiwi, waxberry, dried tangerine peels and radish could be taken to reduce the symptoms.

CHRONIC GASTRITIS

Chronic gastritis occurs when there is prolonged inflammation to the stomach lining.  Bacteria, consumption of too much alcohol, certain medications, chronic stress or some other immune system problems can lead to this inflammation. This can lead to indigestion, loss of appetite, upper abdominal pain and abdominal distention. Lotus seed porridge can help to strengthen the digestive system and reduce pain.

Lotus Seed Porridge

Ingredients:
50g lotus seeds
100g rice

Method: Soak the lotus seed in warm water for 1 hour. Then, boil it for 30min. Add in rice and a suitable amount of water and cook it for another 30min. If you want it to be a bit sweeter, you can add sugar.

When you have chronic gastritis, it is most important to have regular mealtimes and control the consumption of oily, fried, spicy, cold or raw food that will irritate your stomach.

CONSTIPATION

Constipation is a condition where bowel movements are less than usual and there is difficulty in emptying the bowels. It is also usually associated with hardened stools and some abdominal discomfort. If you have constipation, drink a suitable amount of water daily, add fruits and vegetables to your diet and consume fibres.

Oatmeal with Fruits

Ingredients:
50g oatmeal
2 tsp honey
Water
Cut fruits like banana and kiwi

Method: Cook your oatmeal as usual and add honey and cut fruits.

DIARRHOEA

Diarrhoea is an increase frequency of bowel movements, having loose or liquid stools or both.  The spleen is considered as responsible for digestion and absorption of nutrients in TCM. Chinese Yam and Coix Seed (Chinese Pearl Barley) can help to strengthen the spleen and remove dampness in the body. Both herbs are good for digestive health and help with diarrhoea.

Chinese Yam with Coix Seed Porridge

Ingredients:
30g fresh Chinese yam
30g coix seeds
100g rice

Method: Rinse and soak the coix seeds in water for 1 hour before using. Put all the ingredients in a pot and cook for 30min.  

TIPS TO PREVENT DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS

We are what we eat, so in order to have good digestive health, good dietary choices are necessary. Eu Yan Sang shares a few tips.  

1. Eat warm food.

There is an optimum temperature for our digestive system to digest and metabolise foods well. Too much raw and cold food, or cold drinks consumed during mealtime will upset the temperature balance in our body and slow down the digestive process.

2. Eat in moderation.

Overeating will lead to food stagnation in our body.

3. Avoid fried food, spicy food, dairy products and alcohol.

These foods can aggravate digestive disorders and cause discomfort. Avoid eating too much of them.

4. Pungent foods should be taken in moderation.  

Pungent foods like garlic, chillies, peppers, onions and ginger facilitate gastrointestinal movements, dispel gas and promote appetite. However, overeating them may cause abdominal pain due to over-stimulation of the gastrointestinal tract.

5. Limit fluid intake during meals.

Drinking only a small amount of warm fluid with meals is better for digestion. Drinking wine in moderation is also useful for digestion.

6. A little salt in your diet is important for good health.

In TCM, salt helps to clear internal body heat and toxins as it facilitates bowel movements. However, too much salt will increase the risk of cardiovascular and kidney diseases.

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