Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Water, health, habits - the Chinese tales of a glass of water.

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

- Mark Twain 

(The following article came from The Green Earth Volunteers at the Environmental Journalist Salon - a Chinese and English site operated by volunteers. I've decided to translate and publish their content occasionally on The Green Elephant. The purpose is to encourage understanding amongst different cultures by a common desire to create a sustainable planet.  This also gives me a chance to sharpen my language skills.

Before you proceed, I recommend you read a short blog on the Triple Pundit about the difference between Green and Sustainability - Less Meat or More Local Food? Sustainability Calls for Both. I felt there were some confusions about what TGE is, is this a "Green" blog or a "Sustainability" blog? Is this blog about food or about LEED? I hope the Triple Pundit article helps clear my intent for addressing the totality of my circumstances in my path to living in sustainable ways.

Note: I have translated the Chinese article inline along with some of my own editorials to explain the culture from my childhood memories. I do not believe The Green Earth Volunteers have translated this article. If you should spot a translation, please let me know. I'd like to compare my work with theirs. You can click on the title link below to view the original article.)

Water for health.

来源于网络 2009-12-25
From the Network 2009-12-25

●色斑 要这样喝哟 → 清晨一杯凉白开
The tint of water - a glass of cool boiled plain water each crisp morning.

(The Chinese know their tap water is not clean. If you ever visit China, you will see everyone boil their water for consumption. There are countless funny looking large thermos containers people will carry around town. In many places, there will be a centralized water boiler; people will usually gather to get their water for the day. There is also no such thing as iced water or tea, a shock for Lauren to learn when we were in Beijing. The Chinese believes drinking iced water is bad for your health, good luck trying to order anything with ice in the glass. So, the Chinese will refer to a glass of cold water as 凉白开, literally translated as "cold white boiled water," usually served at room temperature.)  


Many claims that drinking a glass of water in the morning is good for your health, some drink a glass of salt-water? some drink honey-water? and some even think drinking a glass of lemon water can whiten their teeth? But what is the best kind of water? After a night of metabolic work, your body needs a little help in getting rid of the waste. Water that does not contain any sugar or other nutrients are probably the best kind. If there are sugar or other content in the water, your body will require extra time to process these and drinking that glass of water does not achieve the desire effect of flushing out the nights metabolic waste. So, every crisp morning, you should drink a glass of plain water to rid of yourself of the waste generated from your body the night before.

●感冒 要这样喝哟 → 要喝比平时更多的水
The common cold, the best way to a cure is to drink more water than usual.


Every time you get the cold, you will hear the doctor say: "drink more water!" This is usually the best way to a cure for the common cold. Because when you are running a fever, your body is trying to compensate and cool itself down. You may be sweating, your breathing becomes rapid; your body works hard to metabolize the sickness and your skin is perspiring to increase the performance. This is when you need to supplement your body with additional water, and your body may very well demand this by making you thirsty. Drinking more water will help increase sweating and urination, will help regulate your body's temperature, and promote rapid excretion of the bacterias and viruses in your body.

●胃疼 要这样喝哟 → 经常喝点粥
Intestinal pains, the way to drink water is through Gruel.

(Gruel, rice or bean soup as I have known them, is a staple of the Chinese diet. The most common kind of gruel, or congee as the westerner would say, is made with leftover rice and water with some random ingredients. Northern Chinese like their gruel plain, with pickled vegetables on the side and Chinese fried bread. Southern Chinese like theirs with sweet pork sausages and green onions cooked in the congee. Either way, the large percentage of the content is water. My parents would also make gruel with different kind of beans or other kinds of grain; each has its own health benefits according to traditional Chinese medicine. For example: the Chinese drink green peas gruel in the summer believing it to have a cooling effect to your chi, helping you combat the summer heat and various sickness that comes with your body's buildup of positive energy from the rising temperature.)    

有胃病的人,或者感到胃不舒服,可以采取喝粥的“水养护”措施。熬粥的温度要超过 60℃,这个温度会产生一种糊化作用,软嫩热腾的稀饭入口即化,下肚后非常容易消化,很适合肠胃不适的人食用。稀饭中含有的大量的水分,还能有效地润滑肠道,荡涤肠胃中的有害物质,并顺利地把它们带出体外。

For those with intestinal problems, or when you just don't feel well in the tummy you can employ what the Chinese calls a "preservation of health by water" method. Warm congee's temperature will have to reach beyond 60℃, 140 F. This elevated temperature gives a transformative property to the congee, where when it enters your digestive track, it changes quickly and is absorbed rapidly by the body. This is very suitable for those with stomach and intestinal problems. Because congee contains a large percentage of water, it can also effectively lubricate the intestines, clean the harmful contents in your system, and help rid of them from your body smoothly.

●便秘 要这样喝哟 → 大口大口地喝水
Constipation, you may have to drinks lots of water in big gulps. 


There are two general causes for constipation: because your stool lacks a certain water content, or your intestines no longer can excrete on its own power. You will need to consult with a physician to discover the root cause either way, but you also need to drink plenty of water as a temporary solution: drink water in large gulps, swallow quickly; this way, the water can reach your intestines, instigate movement, help move your bowels. Remember, drinking small sips of water won't help; because the water enters the body slowly and is most likely absorbed by the stomach before it reaches intestines. This will only fill your bladders.

●恶心 要这样喝哟 → 用盐水催吐!
Nausea, drink salt water to induce vomiting!


Nausea is a complicated thing. Sometimes it's because you ate something bad and your body is in a protective mode trying to reject the vile things. Under these circumstances, you should not fear vomiting. Once you are rid of what you just ate, your body will feel better. If you are having difficulty vomiting, try and use salt water to induce the vomit. Have a warm glass of salt water, drink a few large gulps, you should be able to regurgitate. Afterward, you can use the salt water to rinse your mouth. (Salt kills bacteria by hypertonic environment; water rushes out of the bacterium by osmosis killing the creatures.) This also reduces inflammation. After induced vomiting, you will be dehydrated. Drinking a little bit salt water also supplies electrolytes you need.

●发热 要这样喝哟 → 间断性、小口补水为宜
"Rising Heat," heat related illness - drink water in small sips.

(This is something I am intimately familiar. Dehydration and heat related problems were things of regular occurrence in Iraq. As a medic, I was well versed in the signs and symptoms. Thanks to Dr. Brown, I also picked up a few good tips from him in recovery and prevention. He would recommend drinking small sips of water; no big gulps, he would always say.) 


When we speak of "rising heat," we refer to the rising body temperature and excessive sweating due to strenuous activities. You may feel exhausted, of course drinking water is the best emergency medicine under the circumstances. Drinking water may restore circulation volume to normal, process nutrients for absorption to replace what has been spent, release the excessive heat your body generated during the activities, normalize your body temperature, and increase your endurance. The thing that need caution is: during the activity one feels the urge to replenish rapidly, drinking a few soda in a few gulps; this will increase workload to the heart rapidly, (causing problems if you are predisposed to heart diseases or circulatory problems). Remember to drink water frequently and in small amounts; drinking a good amount of water prior to activities is also a good preventive measure to take.

●肥胖 要这样喝哟 → 餐后半小时喝一些水
Losing weight, drink some water half-hour after each meal.


Some believe you don't need to drink water to lose weight! Today's medical experts will tell you this is a urban myth. If you want to lose weight, but you don't drink enough water, your body cannot metabolize the fat in your body; you end up actually putting on weight. Many of the body's chemical processes depends on water as a facilitator. Your body's digestion and the endocrine system depend on water; toxic substances in the metabolites also relies on the presence of adequate water to stay under control, avoiding dysfunctions in your digestive tract. Half-hour after each meal, drink some water; this will strengthen your body's digestive capacity, assist you in maintaining your figures.

●咳嗽 要这样喝哟 → 多喝热水
Coughing requires drinking some hot water.


When it comes to coughing, some may experience sputum, many may feel suffocated, uncomfortable, hard to expel the lodged mucus. A good way to be rid of the symptoms is to drink more hot water. First, hot water may break up the mucus making it easy to cough up sputum; secondary effects include increase urine output to be rid of harmful substances in your body and soothe the trachea and bronchial mucosa, reduce edema, reduce the frequency of coughs. 

●失眠 要这样喝哟 → 热水的按摩作用是强效的安神剂
Sleeplessness, warm water massages is the best way to calm nerves.

(In China, people don't shower daily. There is simply not enough water to accommodate this luxury. The cost of a shower system in limited living space is also prohibitive. Washing our feet, however, is a necessity deemed by all. I remember staying with family members over the years, as recent as last Summer, the first thing they did offer before bedding down is a pan and hot water for me to wash my feet. My grand-uncle would say: "Ai, Jin, wash your feet before you go to bed. You had a long journey and warm water on your feet will give you a pleasant sleep."


A gradual drop of body temperature is part of the process of falling asleep into dreams. A comfortable environment is necessary, a warm environment is essential. Hot bath and hot water foot bath have the same effect, both will give you a warm environment. This compensates for the gradual decrease of body temperature as you drift to sleep. One thing need to be noted: water massage has a unique  relaxing, gentle, rejuvenating effect on the body and is the best sedative agent.   

●烦躁 要这样喝哟 → 多多喝水
Irritability, drinks lots and lots of water.


Our mental state and physical functions are intricately linked. There is one substance we know of that provides the link between the mental and the physical, hormones. To put it simply, hormones are of two types: either producing pleasure, or pain. Endorphin is the "happy hormones," adrenaline is often referred as the "pain hormones." When you are irritable, adrenaline in your body will surge. This increase is toxic to the body as any abundant poisonous substance that is present. One of the method to flush your body and dilute the poison is by drinking plenty of water.          

●心脏病 要这样喝哟 → 睡前一杯水
Heart problems, drink a glass of water before you go to sleep. 


If you have heart problems, you should develop a habit of drinking a glass of water before you go to bed. This may significantly reduce your chances of morning chest pains (angina), heart attack related symptoms. Heart attacks and other circulatory problems are often caused by high blood viscosity. When you sleep, you may sweat, your body loses water causing the water content in your blood to decrease and your blood viscosity becomes very high. However, if you drink a glass of water before you sleep, you may reduce your blood viscosity and avoid sudden onset of heart attacks. A glass of water before you sleep may just save your life in the morning.

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