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Healthy Ageing

The Gift of Youth

By NATURA Magazine.

Bird’s nest is beneficial not just to the elderly and the pregnant—they offer the gift of good health to young people, too!

A gift of bird’s nest, touted as the caviar of the East, often connotes not only good health for the recipient, but also wealth on the giver’s part. It’s the go-to present for business people prospecting clients, and nervous lovers meeting potential in-laws. However, the health benefits of bird’s nest are not only reserved for the older generation. In fact, bird’s nest is packed with nutrition that’s ideal for young people and their constitutions.

A Rich Legacy

The Chinese got this point early on—as early as the 15th century!

Bird’s nest was treated as an imperial delicacy right from the start, as the introduction of the humble swiftlet’s nest during the Ming dynasty was hardly modest. First presented to the court by the famous Admiral Zheng He, bird’s nest subsequently entered the lexicon of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the 17th century.

That this product has been enjoyed by the rest of the world since then is thanks to the swiftlet as well as farmers from various countries. The composition of the nests varies according to the species. The texture differs according to the birds’ choice of ‘real estate.’ The collection of empty nests is not a universal practice as yet. Over-harvesting of nests and dumping of eggs before they are hatched pose a serious threat to the swiftlet population, although such practices have been on the decline in the last decade.

Proper farming and harvesting methods, and legislation for the edible bird’s nest industry are critical to ensure a steady stream of bird’s nest into the market as well as protection for the species. The man-made birdhouses help with sustainability. The interior of these house-farms simulates the conditions of natural caves, and aspects such as humidity, light and noise levels are controlled to preserve the quality of the final harvest.

All-in-One Health Food

The popularity of birds’ nest can be attributed to its neutrality. It is neither a heaty nor cooling food, making it perfect for all types of constitutions. At the same time, it can address yin and yang imbalances, whichever is specific to your constitution. Bird’s nest offers health benefits to a wide range of people, regardless of age.

Beauty

Previous studies have detected Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) activity in swiftlet nests, in particular a study by researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. EGF proteins are known to stimulate cell regeneration and growth. This process helps to make skin supple, while combating the ageing effects of wrinkles and sagging skin, making it popular as a skin care ingredient in the cosmetics industry.

Respiratory health

People who have respiratory problems or who just want better respiratory health can find particular comfort in bird’s nest as it has moisturising properties. This is why bird’s nest is used in TCM to soothe bronchial ailments such as cold, influenza and asthma. It can have a cooling effect on the lungs and stomach when these organs lack yin, relieving the symptoms of thirst, dry and sore throat, and chronic dry coughs.

Better internal functions and overall health

Stress from work and unhealthy lifestyle habits can create imbalances within our bodies, leading to fatigue and an increased tendency to fall ill. TCM uses bird’s nest to improve the function of lungs and overall qi in the body, thus boosting the immune system. It can also stimulate appetite, digestion and bowel movement.

The desire to be healthy is definitely not limited by age, and health is certainly not to be taken for granted. A gift of bird’s nest to your partner can be an appropriate way of conveying your love and perhaps even gratitude that your chosen one is in the pink of health to enjoy the many years ahead with you.


Photo courtesy of Thinkstock. This article first appeared in NATURA magazine issue No.11. Find NATURA at Eu Yan Sang retail outlets, newsstands and major bookstores in Singapore.

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