Alternatively Speaking: Black eyed peas day

Natalie Marx answers your questions: What can be done to avoid becoming exhausted after eating a big holiday meal?

Black eyes peas 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Black eyes peas 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Q. Dear Natalie, can you help me overcome the fatigue that comes along after meal times during the High Holy Day season. How can I be so exhausted when all I have done is eat?
A. The types of foods we eat play a very important role in how the body reacts when it breaks down and absorbs the food. The more food we eat with little nutritional value, such as saturated fats, high sugar and salty foods, the more likely we will begin to feel fatigued.
Our bodies have the ability to break down and absorb processed foods quickly, causing our digestive system to work hard for a short period and leading to fatigue. Foods which provide good nutritional value take longer for the body to break down and absorb, thereby extending our periods of energy.
The quantity of food eaten is another major factor in how one feels after a meal. If you eat healthy meals, large or small, your body will have energy. If, however, you eat large meals that consist of unhealthy foods, you will most likely feel like taking a nap afterwards. If you do have unhealthy foods as a part of your diet, try to reduce the portion size of your meals, and eat four or five smaller meals per day instead of three large meals per day. This allows the body to digest a manageable amount of food, every so often, throughout the day.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the spleen is one of the major organs that is responsible for the management and circulation of the body's blood and those with a "weak" spleen generally suffer from fatigue. Proper nourishment and eating habits are therefore essential for spleen health.
There are specific foods according to temperature and moisture content that have a subsequent effect on spleen energy. Avoid cold and raw foods which require additional energy that can further compromise a depleted spleen. I would encourage cooked  foods which require less energy to digest, absorb easily and help to keep the spleen strong. For optimum spleen function, I suggest a diet of freshly cooked vegetables and grains and a limited amount of lean protein.
Try adding stewed or baked squash, cooked root vegetables and beans, which are energetically warming. Season foods with warming spices such as cinnamon and turmeric. Dairy products, raw foods and vegetables as well as citrus fruits require additional energy to digest and further deplete spleen energy giving you the feeling of tiredness. During the High Holy Day period try to regard mealtimes as a time of relaxation and appreciation for the food. Although it is difficult, try not to overeat or eat too fast since this will place a strain on spleen energy and inhibit digestion. If you choose to drink fluids during your meal, avoid cold drinks and enjoy a small amount of a warm ginger tea. If you can, try to ensure that you eat the heavy meals earlier in the day to allow your digestive system enough time to digest your meal before you go to sleep.
Q. Dear Natalie, I have been ignoring my rather embarrassing problem of bleeding gums for some time now. With the holidays coming up I really want to do something about it since it is making me self conscious. Can you recommend any herbs or vitamins for this?A. Bleeding gums can be a sign of a gum infection. Often when plaque hardens on our teeth, it becomes a hiding place for bacteria and over a period of time can become irritated, making the gums swollen and bleed.
There are some wonderful astringent herbs which act directly on the gum tissue by reducing secretions such as blood. Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial herbs can stop the bleeding by reducing inflammation and healing the infection. Perhaps the most commonly known and one of the most effective healing herbs is Calendula. As well as having antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, the active ingredients in Calendula include flavanoids, saponins and essential oils.
In 2010 a study was made in the issue of The Research Journal of Medicinal Plants and proved that a toothpaste containing Calendula flowers decreased bleeding gums and plaque.
I also recommend finding a mouth wash with Myrrh as the main ingredient. I frequently prescribe myrrh for its highly astringent and antimicrobial properties, excellent at healing mouth infections and reducing bleeding gums.
The leaves, bark and stems of the Witch Hazel shrub are very rich in tannins and also have atringent, antiseptic and hemostatic actions. I recommend using it as a mouth wash several times a day.
I also recommend paying attention to your diet. Improper diet that leads to certain vitamin deficiencies can lead to bleeding gums. Vitamin K deficiency can sometimes lead to improper blood clotting and can often occur after long term antibiotic therapy or from taking blood thinning medication. Try to increase your Vitamin K by eating more green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, milk, yogurt, cauliflower, tomatoes and cabbage. The suggested recommended intake for vitamin K are 120 mcg for males and 90 mcg for females.
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Q. Dear Natalie, my family customarily eat black eyed peas (Lubiya) during the High Holy Days. Can you please inform me of any of the health benefits to give me some incentive to eat them! Thanks.
A. As well as the hopes that when we eat black eyed peas, our merits will increase and we are purified, one of the fantastic health benefits of black-eyed peas is their high fiber content. Fiber helps regulate your digestive system, and works to alleviate constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber also helps maintain cholesterol levels by preventing cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Black eyed peas therefore make an excellent choice for the High Holy Day meal as they are digested slowly, giving you that feeling of fullness, with less of a tendency to overeat.
A half cup of dry black-eyed peas that are cooked have 5.6 g of fiber. They are also an excellent source of potassium. Potassium lowers our risk of heart disease since it works to maintain blood pressure levels. A half cup of dry and cooked black-eyed peas contains 239 mg of potassium. Getting enough potassium in our diets maintains healthy bones and muscles.
For the vegetarian guests at your table, black-eyed peas are an excellent alternative source of protein. Protein is important because as-well supporting as our muscles, skin, hair and nails it helps cells grow and repair, providing energy to the body. A half cup of dry and cooked black-eyed peas contains 6.7 g of protein. You can add black eyed peas to soups, salads, rice and stews and they also make a healthy side dish.
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.
Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment, including a women’s clinic every Wednesday. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom. High Holiday Special: Two treatments for the price of one. Offer ends: September 17
To make an appointment please email [email protected].Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer, email Natalie with your question at n[email protected].
Someone Once Said: 'Medicine is a collection of uncertain prescriptions, the results of which taken collectively, are more fatal than useful to mankind. Water, air and cleanliness are the chief articles in my pharacopeia.' Napoleon Bonaparte