Confinement Food: What Does Science Say?
Confinement food is a big part of Eastern confinement culture, and a variety of it is still consumed by many women post-birth, especially in Asia. While most of you will be familiar with the term “zuo yue zi”, or “sitting the month” in Chinese, other Asian cultures have their own version of confinement as well, such as “Sango no hidachi” for the Japanese, or “Sanhujori” for the Koreans.
Surprisingly, postpartum confinement used to be practised in European countries, as well as today in Latin American countries. Just like chinese postpartum confinement, the Japanese and Korean versions have unique meals for women in postpartum confinement. Confinement meals consist of meals that are particularly high in various nutrients, especially proteins, carbohydrates, and calcium.
The main goal of Eastern confinement is to maintain a sufficient milk supply for the baby and the reparation of the mother’s body. But you already know all this. Now, we will give a confinement food review through the lens of modern science.
Confinement food is indeed highly nutritious by any measure, even for people who have not just given birth. After all, why would a diet focused on reparation and nutrition be unsuitable for everyone? However, Chinese confinement meals are based on the principles of yin and yang, or “cold” and “heaty” respectively.
Traditional Chinese Medicine theories also believe that during the confinement period, the mother’s body has lost a lot of heat, and is now cold. And how do we ‘give the body back some of its heat’? Ginseng, sesame oil, pepper, and more, are classic examples. While your parents probably told you to refrain from over-consuming these ingredients as a child to avoid getting a sore throat because they are supposedly “heaty”, you’re going to have lots of it during postpartum, and mum will not be nagging you about that this time. So, what does science say about this?
High in protein
If you were expecting something good, then you are right! First, the high protein content of confinement food is an excellent component for improving the health of mothers and others alike! Among the benefits of consuming optimal amounts of protein include providing enzymes that help with metabolic processes, helping the body maintain organs and tissue, and even boosting hormones production.
Studies have also shown that high-protein diets could also help with short-term weight loss. Just like everything else, protein should be taken in balanced amounts as having too much protein in your diet could have unintended effects on your health. A diet with a lot of protein also comes with lots of amino acids, as well as high amounts of animal fats. Excess amino acids will be an extra load on the kidneys. Now you know why it is important to get a balanced confinement diet from a professional confinement meal provider.
Moving on to the herbs. One of the herbs that appear frequently in Chinese confinement food is ginseng. The 2 most common variants of ginseng are American ginseng and Asian ginseng, which are said to possess relaxing and invigorating properties respectively.
Plus, did you know that ginseng also comes with a metric tonne of benefits to your health as well? Ginseng is a strong antioxidant that is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties – perfect for mothers that may experience such difficulties after birth. It improves brain function, the immune system, and could even lower the risk of cancer.
With so many benefits, it is no surprise that ginseng is widely used in confinement food. Next up, black pepper. Other than being an antioxidant just like ginseng, black pepper also aids with the absorption of nutrients and promotes digestion. And it makes food taste better, so why not?
Another popular herb that is usually spotted in Chinese confinement dishes and drinks is red dates. Fresh red dates are packed with vitamin C, which is an essential nutrient to promote your postnatal recovery around the genital and caesarean area. Meanwhile, dried red dates are rich in iron to help transfer oxygen in your body and improve your blood supply.
For an easy and hassle-free way to have herbs during confinement, many moms nowadays would go for confinement herbal package that are pre-measured or even pre-cooked for them. To find yourself a confinement herbal package Singapore mothers would recommend, look for a certified medical practitioner with a good reputation.
While we are not able to cover all the list of confinement food and the ingredients typically found in confinement food here, they are largely similar to those mentioned and explored above, especially with them having similar properties as well. We conclude that confinement food is indeed healthy, but like all food, it must be consumed in moderation. By trying out confinement food catering services such as Tian Wei Signature, you will get confinement food that is not only healthy for mothers recovering from birth but also delicious food that is sure to make your day that little bit better!