| 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, tissue, and cell in our body. If we eat a well-balanced diet, our body thrives, our sleep patterns are regular, our energy is maintained and our feeling of joy is present. However, we live in a world of nutrient poor, overly processed and refined foods, that are not recognizable by our body. In disease, we find distinct correlations between foods and our state of health, making nutrition a key element in addressing the health of our body. By bringing together the science of Western nutrition and philosophy of Chinese medicine, we can approach our foods with awareness, choosing foods that support our well being.
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 levels of nutrients, we approach it from a temperature and organ perspective to more specifically identify the foods that would be the most beneficial for a patient. When we diagnose a given illness, we also see it in this light. For example, a patient coming into the clinic with signs of heat should avoid heating foods. However, we can also have a more subtle manifestation in the body that the patient may not be aware of, such as cold in a given organ that is inhibiting a particular natural process to occur. In this case, we would pair foods that have a more warming effect, and direct association with the given organ in question. In this way, we can treat a condition by merely correcting our diet.
One of the most common issues in the west is the prevalence of anxiety and insomnia, with individuals that consume coffee, even if it's in the morning. Coffee, through the eyes of TCM (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.
The fundamentals of healthy eating:
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: Cold Contracts, Warm Expands, it's the basic law of thermodynamics. 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: Eating products that come from the earth: meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, 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, 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 mineral, 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, these 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.