Nutrition is one of the most crucial aspects of our health. The nutrients, minerals and proteins in our foods are responsible for the production of every bone, muscle and tissue in our body. If we eat a well balanced diet, our body thrives, our sleep is regular, and a sense of joy is present. However, more often than not this is not the case. We live in a world of overly processed and nutrient poor foods not recognizable by our body.
The modification of these foods over the last 100 years has lead to a drastic evolution of what we eat, without our digestive system being able to evolve at the same rate. In so many conditions, internal and external, we find distinct correlations between the foods we eat and our state of health, making nutrition a key element in addressing diseases of the body. Nutritional support can be done in conjunction with acupuncture, and botanical medicine or as a stand alone therapy.
In Chinese medicine, the health of a given food is seen quite differently than in Western nutrition. Rather than merely categorizing food groups based on the levels of nutrients, Chinese medicine approaches nutrition based a temperature and organ perspective to more specifically identify the foods that are the most beneficial for an individual. When we diagnose a given illness, we also see it in this light. For example, a person with signs of heat should avoid heating foods. However, subtle manifestations in the body can occur that a person may not be aware of, such as cold in a given organ that is inhibiting a particular natural process to occur. In this case, foods should be consumed that have a more warming effect and also have a direct association with the given organ in question. In this way, we can treat a condition by merely correcting diet.
One of the most common issues in the West is the prevalence of anxiety and insomnia, especially with individuals that consume coffee. Coffee, through the eyes of traditional Chinese medicine, is warming and a potent stimulant of the adrenals and liver. Coffee also competes with adenosine, a chemical released in the body to create the sensation of being tired. When caffeine floods the body, we block this chemical and unintentionally push our body beyond its natural limits. In some cases, it can increase the sympathetic system, increase cortisol and exasperate a general anxiety disorder. To treat an anxiety condition, there are many more factors at play that we have to acknowledge — simply removing a stimulant is not a treatment in and of itself, but can significantly decrease the frequency and intensity of the episodes.
Healthy Eating 101
Eat Whole Grain: Unprocessed Meats and Oils; Organic & Non-GMO
The Body Loves Regularity: Consistent meal times makes for a happy body.
Avoid Iced Foods And Drinks To Promote A Healthy Digestion: The the basic law of thermodynamics is that cold contracts and warm expands. In the body this manifests as the contraction of cells and the body’s inhabitation in the release of necessary enzymes. To increase and promote the release of healthy digestive enzymes from your gut, we must introduce room temperature/warming foods.
Keep It Simple: Eat products that come from the earth: meats, veggies, fruits, nuts and grains. If its comes in a box the body has to figure out what you just consumed and how to break it down. Remember, Twinkies don’t make blood. Be gentle on yourself: transitioning your diet is hard, so go slow and be kind. Mistakes happen.
Try Gluten Free: Its not for everybody, but if you have an inflammatory condition it can help dramatically.
Fat Is Good, Don’t Be Scared Of It: Your body needs fat to absorb crucial vitamins and minerals and a lack of fat can cause a lack of these nutrients. Some examples of healthy fats are: avocados, coconut oil, butter (yup, I said butter, you’re welcome), olive oil (you can cook with it! its OK), raw milk, bacon, eggs and fish oils.
The Foods You Eat Don’t Translate Directly Into Cholesterol: Cholesterol is the cause of inflammation. Your body does not produce cholesterol from the foods you eat. Rather, when we eat processed foods and hydrogenated oils, they cause inflammatory conditions in the body. In turn cholesterol is produced to decrease the inflammation.
Eat Fruits Not Refined Sugars: Recent studies show that sugar is sugar, meaning that organic turbinado/raw sugar is no better than white sugar in the body. Rather than eating that cookie to get a sugar fix, have some fruit. Fruit has more fiber to decrease the release of glucose into the blood stream, thus inhibiting the body from being overwhelmed by excessive sugars.