Both Eastern and Western medical traditions agree that porridge makes a fantastically healthy breakfast. In TCM terms grains provide nourishing support for the stomach and spleen, which needs a warm, hearty, easily digestible breakfast. Porridge and congees fit the bill perfectly and by nourishing the spleen they help to build good qi, maintaining our equilibrium, stamina and immunity.
Health benefits of oats.
A study conducted by Harvard University concluded that wholegrains such as oats may be the key to living longer and reducing the likelihood of heart disease. Their low GI index mean that they increase blood sugar levels gradually, slow releasing their wholegrain goodness, avoiding sugar spikes and keeping us fuller for longer.
Porridge made from oats is relatively high in protein and contains an array of vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, iron, zinc and magnesium. It also contains a particular type of soluble fibre called beta gluten that can lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels helping to prevent heart disease. As if that weren’t enough it is also beneficial for the gut as oats act as a prebiotic encouraging the growth of good bacteria in the bowel.
The options are endless…..
Whilst oats alone are fantastic they may be combined with other grains such as bulgar, quinoa, millet and amaranth. In TCM whilst grains are supportive to the spleen dairy is seen as ‘damp’ and damaging so in order to maximise its nourishment, its best to make porridge with either water, coconut, rice or almond milk.
Toppings such as cinnamon support the blood sugar balance whilst nutmeg and raw honey again tonify the qi. Fresh, stewed fruits, compotes, goji berries, nuts and seeds can all be used to jazz up your breakfast bowl and further enhance its nutritional content and, depending on your taste, add a more sweet or savoury slant.