Optimal health requires nurturing and balance of three basic areas in our life:
Our cells receive nutrients needed for replication from the food we eat. TCM recognizes that a good diet is absolutely the best medicine.
Foods are assigned properties according to the five flavors: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty; and the four natures: cool, cold warm, and hot. The nature and flavor of food can be used to predict its effects on different organ systems and treat different ailments. We can give you individualized dietary recommendations for your particular situation and constitution.
We are living in the age of industrialized food, with depleted soils and increasing chemical and pesticide use to grow and make food; eating well can be complicated. The following are some basic dietary guidelines to prevent disease and maintain optimal health.
|Do Consume||Why?||Don’t Consume||Why Not?|
|vegetables (mostly), fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices||Plant based diets are linked to better health. Herbs and spices are dense sources of phytonutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, and other nutrients.||excess animal protein or processed meats (bacon, hot dogs, salami, bologna, pepperoni and other packaged meats)||Animal protein in excess can exacerbate many health issues including inflammatory response in the body. The World Health Organization has officially labeled processed meats as group one carcinogens, which means they are known to cause cancer in humans.|
|organic foods, particularly meat and dairy products that are organic and hormone free||Studies show organic foods are more nutrient dense. Pesticides and herbicides, which accumulate in our bodies over time, are linked to cancer, infertility, neurological diseases, and birth defects.||GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods-soy, corn, sugar, beets, papaya, canola, zucchini and yellow squash are the most common||GMO foods have been deemed unsafe and totally or partially banned in 38 countries as of October 2015. For more information visit gmo-awareness.com.|
|approximately 1 ounce of water for every pound of your weight||Someone who weighs 150 pounds, for example, needs about 150 ounces
of water per day to stay adequately hydrated.
|iced or cold beverages||Drinking cold and iced beverages impedes digestion. All liquid intake should be room temperature or warmer.|
|foods as close to their natural state and season as possible||People with digestive issues should always lightly cook their food, as raw food will not be bioavailable/digestible for them. Canned produce does not pack the same nutritional punch as fresh. Shop at farmers markets and grow what you can when possible. Freezing fresh produce does retain nutrients fairly well.||foods from far away or not in season||Produce that has traveled thousands of miles was likely picked unripe and stored at a warehouse (sometimes for months) before coming to your local grocery store.|
|very limited amounts of alcohol (preferably none at all)||Studies show regular alcohol intake increases our risk of cancer, diabetes, dementia, ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues.||more than one alcoholic beverage a day||Anything we ingest daily accumulates in our body, including alcohol. Any quantity is toxic to our livers, so if you drink, take days off in between indulging to allow your liver a rest.|
|low amounts of sugar||Sugar is a major contributor to inflammation in the body and promotes growth of yeast and other undesirable pathogenic microbes in our body.||artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup||Studies have shown aspartame, aspartic acid, sucralose, and other artificial sweeteners increases our risk of diabetes and hinders our endocrine systems. The more artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup we consume, the more likely we are to overeat.|
|foods prepared/stored in cast iron, glass, and ceramic cookware & containers||These items are free of chemicals.||heated up in plastic or styrofoam||Toxic chemicals in our storage and cookware leach into our food.|
We all know we need both adequate rest and exercise to maintain health.
Good rest means uninterruped sleep at night, preferably without the use of sleep medication, as they interfere with the normal stages of sleep. Insomnia is a very common ailment that Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat. Acupuncture helps regulate hormonal balance in the body, making it possible for people to wean off their sleep aids. TCM states we should go to sleep before 11 p.m. to maintain optimal biorhythm.
Daily meditation is also a very important practice that helps regulate the neuroendocrine system and provides the ultimate rest and reboot of our brain. Different populations of people have been meditating for thousands of years for religious and health reasons. Scientific research reveals mindfulness meditation simply helps us become happier and healthier. Even 10 minutes per day will add up and have very positive effects over time.
Exercise moves our qi (energy) and blood, helps flush out toxins, washes out our internal organs, and releases endorphins (natural antidepressant chemicals).
How we exercise is just as important – meaning we maintain awareness of our body, posture, and alignment as well as listen to our body, and never exercize through pain. This keeps our body safe. We recommend incorporating stretching, qi gong, or yoga into your routine. These types of exercises maintain flexibility and body awareness, which is of utmost importance as we age. Cognizance of how we carry our body, including alignment of our spine and how we breathe, is vital for best qi and blood circulation.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has recognized for thousands of years that emotional upset and conflict create disease and disharmony in the body; the state of the organs will affect the emotions, and emotions will affect the state of the organs.
People who lack love, support, community, and friendships in their life are much more prone to these “internal pathogens.” Good relationships buffer us from physical ailments. According to a Harvard University study of adult development, people who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier, and live longer lives. Conversely, high conflict and unaffectionate relationships are linked with higher incidence of disease.