Eating Bitter

umeboshiWell, now that it is spring I will give some simple nutritional advise.

Eat one umeboshi pulm a day. Umeboshi is a special preserved plum from Japan that is really sour, squish up your face sour. It is prepared with shiso leafs (sesame). The sourness will be a jolt to your system, which feels great coming out of winter into spring. Think of it as breaking up the ice and letting the rivers flow. Umiboshi will create a lot of saliva and invigorate your digestion. It literally makes me want to squirm and jump.

I have a real appetite for umeboshi, but I didn't know that until I was in my twenties in Japan. At first I just ate them when I sat down to breakfast because everyone else was eating one. It was like a "I can survive this!" challenge.  Over time I felt my body start to gently crave umiboshi.

Americans are so used to eating by taste, they will often claim not to know what appetite is, outside of "I'm starving." Appetite is sensitivity to your internal organs.  Sensitivity of what each part of your system needs. The muscles crave blood like thirsty vampires. Organs which have a role in producing blood all extract different types of gu qi (nutrition) from food. These organs communicate what foods they need in order to produce quality blood through appetite.

All internal martial arts improve appetite sensitivity,...if you are paying attention.


Bitter melon was in my local farmer's market this fall and winter. I'm not sure if it was there during the summer when Chinese traditionally eat the bitterest foods. Americans only eat bitter with sweet in the form of burnt things. That ruins the effect.

Bitter foods like grapefruit and bitter melon are really good for improving the function of the liver, which is in charge of blood distribution throughout the body. The heart's job is really easy if the liver is working optimally, so bitter foods are considered especially good for the heart.

bitter melonAlcohol and sugar go right to the heart and brain, so the liver doesn't get a workout. Alcoholics often have really healthy hearts when they die of liver disease. Here is an article about Bitter melon and the seemingly endless modern experiment to completely ignore the role of appetite in health.

and here too. 

note: My current favorite way to prepare raw bitter melon is to slice it very thinly, sprinkle it with salt and leave it for 4 to 6 hours covered in the fridge.   (A single portion raw is a one inch chunk.)