Some common fruits like this citrus one can help one recover from digestive disorders and the effects of alcohol, which come with the territory during festivals like Tet. Photo by Khanh Vy
The Vietnamese New Year (Tet), the country’s biggest holiday that begins this Friday, is a time when some extra demands are made of one’s body, even though they are made in the spirit of celebration.
More often than not, people end up eating and drinking a lot, so herbalists suggest fruity therapies to detoxify bodies after high energy consumption via beer, other liquor and numerous dishes.
Pham Nhu Ta, member of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Vietnam Traditional Medicine Association, said that after a heavy drinking session, one can restore sobriety, or some semblance of it, simply by drinking a big glass of watermelon juice. The fruit will be available in most houses as a Tet decoration, he noted.
Drinking water cooked with some tea buds, carrot and skin of winter gourd (bí xanh in Vietnamese) is another remedy.
An herbal tea made with fried and ground skin of Chinese oranges with pieces of plums is also recommended.
Water boiled with black beans can help someone who has passed out after drinking too much wine as it makes them vomit.
Drinking some water mixed with the powder of kudzu (sắn dây) roots can also soften the impact of alcohol on the body, as can orange or lemon juice, Ta says.
Indigestion and food poisoning, especially from eating seafood, can be fixed with the juice of an aromatic leafy herb, shiso (tía tô), or carrots or water spinach.
Drinking a lot of water mixed with ground mung beans can help one throw out both food and wine.
Most Vietnamese houses put up a decorative dish of fruits including figs, as the name of it sounds similar to “wealthy” in Vietnamese. But this fruit can also help prevent digestive disorders during the festival. They have to be chopped into pieces, fried until they are slightly burned, and boiled with water for daily use as a kind of tea.
A lot of eating and traveling during the festival can dehydrate bodies, affecting the qi and the blood system to cause constipation as well as annoying moods.
A recommended cooling dish is beef cooked with broccoli and some ginger.
Some mixed juices can boost one’s immune system, such as a mixture of ripe papaya, orange, melon, lemon, strawberry, honey and yoghurt; or one with carrot, tomato, apple, lemon juice, honey and celery.
Too much fatty or spicy intake is not recommended, Ta says.
Doctors say Tet is a sensitive time for patients with chronic diseases that are closely related to their diet, like diabetes and hypertension.
Meals happen with greater than normal frequency during the festival, which has three main days but basically lasts for around a week; and traditional dishes like sticky rice cakes, pickles, pork pies or sugared fruit snacks are all not recommended for people with these problems.
However, they do not need to abstain completely from the drinking and eating, just control their intake.
A diabetes patient should have no more than 200 grams of sticky rice cakes (bánh chưng, bánh tét, bánh dày) a day, while those with high blood pressure need to use pickles fermented with sugar and vinegar instead of salt.
Pork pies are high in cholesterol and should be limited to 100 grams a day, and people with diabetes and hypertension also need to remind themselves to stay away from animal fat, skin and egg yolk, as well as sugared dried fruits (mứt) that have little fiber content remaining.
Fresh vegetables are a safe choice and so are fruits as long as they are not too sweet. Tea should be preferred to soft drinks, doctors say.
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