Yu Shui (雨水) Solar Terms – Diet and General Wellness Guidelines

We are into the Yu Shui (雨水) solar term (节气) starting from 19 Feb to 4 Mar 2024. Yu Shui is the 2nd solar term out of the entire 24.

In this solar term, we will experience more rainfall while the temperature starts to increase. But at the same time, the air/wind will still be cooling at times.

Hence, the weather will be wet and warm in some places. 

This is also the solar term that the Lantern Festival (元宵节) falls on. During the Lantern Festival, some people will eat sweet dumplings (汤圆) made of glutinous rice, and black sesame/red bean paste. 

Regarding dietary recommendations, 药王, 孙思邈 (581 – 682 AD) (Sun Si Miao, also known as the King of Chinese Medicine) has some advice for us:

“春日宜省酸增甘,以养脾气”.

The above phrase means that during this period, we should reduce the intake of foods that are sour and increase the intake of food that is sweet (here does not mean sugar, it means food that is sweet in flavor from the TCM perspective) to strengthen our spleen qi. 

The following are some of the recommended foods (sweet flavors from the TCM perspective) to eat during this solar term:

Chinese Yam (山药) – Chinese yam not only has great benefits for the lungs and kidneys, and it can also strengthen the spleen to help absorption of nutrients better in our body. Chinese yam is one of the best foods for strengthening the spleen qi.

Red Dates (红枣) – In《本草纲目》(one of the most popular classics for TCM herbs/foods), it mentions 枣为脾之果. It means that red dates is used for strengthening the spleen. The main benefit of red dates is that they help to strengthen the Qi in your stomach and spleen. Hence, it is very suitable for people who have a weak spleen, no appetite, loose stools, and low energy. 

Glutinous rice (糯米) – Glutinous rice can help to strengthen the spleen and relieve excessive sweating. It is no coincidence that in this solar term (Lantern Festival), the tradition is to eat sweet dumplings (汤圆) that are made of glutinous rice. Just make sure not to eat too much sweet dumplings as too much glutinous rice will cause indigestion. Remember to eat all foods in moderation.

Chinese barley (薏苡仁) – Chinese barley is an excellent food to eat during this solar term especially when the weather is warm and wet. Chinese barley can help to strengthen the spleen by removing excess dampness through urination. Just take note that pregnant women must avoid eating Chinese barley.

Carrot (胡萝卜) – Carrot is a very common vegetable that can be found easily. Many people underestimate the benefits of carrots. Carrots not only can strengthen our spleen, it can also nourish our livers to brighten our eyes. Some people may experience a yellowish skin color after consuming too many carrots, so in this case, just stop consuming them and the symptoms will subside. 

General Wellness Recommendation

In this season (this solar term and the next 4), our liver will easily go into an excessive state as Spring aligns with the wood element (same as the liver). This can make a person easily frustrated and hot-tempered. One way to prevent this is to eat foods that are sweet in flavor (as mentioned above) and the other way is to get in touch with nature.

This is also a good time to go for a walk/hiking in the park, or forests or get in touch with nature to relax one’s tension.

Doing some light exercises like brisk walking, jogging, taiji, qigong under the morning sun will help your body strengthen your immunity and get rid of dampness (through sweating), especially in this solar term. 

Avoid eating strong tonic food in this season (unless you have yang deficiency) and try to eat more vegetables, especially those sprout-type vegetables (refer to this blog post on vegetable recommendations).

Hope you find this blog post useful!

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