Living a Healthy Life in Shanghai
Recently, we shared some of the ways to create a healthy environment in Shanghai. Today, we’ll offer tips for personal health. We cover some of the main topics patients ask about and concerns that come up in our Shanghai Health and Wellness group.
Is it possible to be healthy even when the environment around us isn’t always? Absolutely. The human body is strong and has powerful self-detoxing mechanisms. But, it needs to be functioning properly. Don’t become complacent or frustrated. Use these tips to keep your body strong and healthy.
Drinking plenty of water helps keep us hydrated and flushes out toxins. Many people are dehydrated without even knowing it, which can cause symptoms from feeling hungry to fatigue and dry skin.
Of course, in Shanghai we can’t rely on tap water. Get a good water filtration system for showering, washing dishes, etc. But, for drinking, bottled water is safest for now. Make sure to get mineral water, not distilled. Natural mineral water is best, or you can get distilled with added minerals if natural isn’t available. Regular distilled water is missing the key minerals your body needs for balance. The 20L bottles minimize waste but need to be emptied within about three days or bacteria forms. If you don’t use the water that fast, you can get 5 L bottles. Carry a glass or metal reusable bottle, rather than buying small plastic bottles. Also, make sure to clean your water dispenser to eliminate any bacteria.
A balanced diet of whole foods gives your body the energy it needs and helps it naturally detox. Make sure, however, to wash fruits and vegetables well with a sponge. Scrubbing does the most to remove harmful chemicals and dirt. TCM typically recommends going light on raw vegetables and fruits, which also helps with food safety. Lightly steam, blanch, or stir fry (with a small amount of healthy oil) your vegetables. Warming up food helps break down the fiber and makes it easier to digest, without losing nutritional value.
Use less oil and be aware of the risks of hot cooking oil. It can be quite toxic and burnt foods have also been associated with cancer. Cut down on sugar and fat. If you find you’ve been overindulging or put on extra weight, the best thing is simply to start eating smaller portions. We have a saying in German, FdH (Friss die Hälfte), which essentially means eat half as much. You may feel a bit hungry at first, but your stomach adjusts. You don’t have to restrict certain foods or feel deprived. Just eat a bit less each time. Nowadays, intermittent diet and fasting are widely popular too. The key is to find something that suits you.
Overindulging in an unhealthy diet is about more than gaining weight. Your whole system, and the spleen and liver in particular, get overworked. The body can handle an occasional overindulgence. But, it can become overloaded with a consistently poor diet, alcohol and stress. Then, toxins begin to build up. Cutting back and eating more healthy foods will prevent this. Also, a healthy diet can help keep you regular. Bowel movements are one of your body’s primary ways of removing waste and getting rid of all that bad stuff.
Eating more variety is much better for you than a restrictive diet. First of all, you’re more likely to stick with it and not get bored. Think of it as a way of life, not a “diet”. Ideally, we’d all eat 30 different foods each day (and vary that day to day). Eating too much of the same food leads to a buildup of allergens in the body. This is why we see so many people developing food allergies, like reactions to eggs, seafood and cheese.
Some foods can directly contribute to your body’s detoxification. Eat natural foods in a variety of colors, especially red and green vegetables that are full of antioxidants. On the other hand, hype over so called “super foods” can create problems for the environment. Huge demand for avocados, for example, has caused large swaths of deforestation. Such trends can throw agriculture off balance, as well as causing environmental strain by transporting foods around the world. We should try to eat more local foods and eat with the season. China has some of its own “super foods” like the goji berry. And, you can try the many delicious fruits and vegetables grown here for a healthier diet minus these negative effects.
Purchasing a gym membership may be your best investment in Shanghai. Don’t use pollution or a busy schedule as an excuse not to exercise. Your body needs exercise to deal with stress and toxins! Studies show the benefits of exercise far outweigh the potential exposure to some pollution. Head over to Century Park in Pudong, where you can find a large green space for getting active with plenty of trees and plants providing healthier air. Even walking 30 minutes a day can help you live longer.
Check out some ideas and tips about how to live a more environmentally-conscious lifestyle from our previous article. It is not just what we eat that affects our health. We need to think about the air inside our homes, what we wash our dishes with, clean our furniture with and put on our bodies. Unfortunately, all cosmetics in China must be animal tested. So, it may be best to import some types of products from abroad. You can also find organic brands and products with less chemicals in China.
Wear a good mask when the AQI is high. Invest in a mask designed specifically for keeping out the PM 2.5.
Medical Help to Support Your Health
The most common effects we see from pollution are respiratory tract restrictions: cough, sore throat, and increased phlegm. Some people become more prone to colds or have difficulty getting over illnesses.
Try to see a doctor if your cold lasts more than a week. We sometimes see people who have had a cough 4-6 weeks, which can be very harmful on the body. If you’ve had to take antibiotics, you might start feeling better but your system is weakened. TCM can support western medicine to help you get strong. TCM also offers wonderful solutions for common seasonal illnesses. Herbal medicine can even help prepare your body for changing seasons, especially if you tend to get sick.
Chinese herbs can be used to detox the body and address particular weaknesses in your system. Acupuncture can increase the metabolism so the body can get rid of toxins faster. It helps the body naturally rebalance.
For people who may be suffering from a buildup of toxins, weakened immune system or chronic health problems, Body & Soul’s holistic health team can evaluate and offer an array of solutions including TCM and functional medicine.
If you have any of the issues mentioned and diet and lifestyle adjustments have not helped getting your body back on track, get in touch with Body & Soul for natural solutions to restore your health. Join our Facebook group to get ideas or share your favorite tips or resources for staying healthy and being more environmentally-friendly in Shanghai.