The modern world is changing every single day. Because of this constant state of change, our bodies are frequently having to adjust. We have a food supply being degraded and depleted of nutritional content, which in turn, causes our bodies to become depleted. Our soil and water is contaminated with antibiotics and deadly fertilizers. All of which become part of the food chain we rely upon. Because of this, antibiotics are failing and superbugs like MRSA are on the rise. Lack of nutrition and the overuse of antibiotics are just a couple of the things wreaking havoc on our intestinal health. But there are ways to combat this and keep the gut healthy.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for thousands of years and the approach of this medical system is to treat the patient holistically. TCM has been shown to be effective at treating a wide variety of ailments, including digestive issues. Part of this is because TCM focuses heavily on diet and nutrition.
Qi is equated with energy and every organ, pathway and cell in the human body is composed of energy. For the body to function properly, Qi needs to be sufficient at all times. One of the best ways to maintain sufficient Qi is through our daily diet. Science is proving what TCM practitioners have known for centuries, our digestive health is vital for the cells of the body to function optimally.
The gastrointestinal tract acts as a “second brain.” It has the ability to constantly transform us. The Human Microbiome Project is an ongoing study confirming microscopic bacterial colonies in our digestive tract have very important jobs to do. The bacterial colonies help keep us healthy both physically and mentally. But because of human intervention, these bacterial colonies in our guts are becoming sick, depleted and are dying.
To rejuvenate these gastrointestinal bacterial colonies, many people are turning to TCM for help. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas are great methods that focus on reviving our gastrointestinal Qi. Reviving this Qi in turn can improve digestion, decrease gas and bloating and improve bowel movements. The stomach and spleen are the two main pathways TCM practitioners focus on when treating somebody who exhibits digestive Qi deficiencies because these are the organs responsible for digestion in the TCM system. TCM nutritional advice is part of this program for optimizing digestive health.
This is where fermented foods come into play. Fermented foods have been around for centuries as well. Fermentation is one of the oldest attempts to preserve food. But in today’s world, fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt are being utilized to help restore the healthy bacterial colonies found within the gastrointestinal tract.
In fermentation, bacteria or yeast feed on natural sugars found in foods. This makes certain foods easier for the gut to digest and allows for the nutrients to be absorbed during digestion. People who do not ingest fermented foods can actually develop immune deficiencies which can lead to serious illness and disease. For instance, sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage, actually has anti-carcinogenic components that can help prevent cancer. Yogurt can help prevent colorectal cancer, breast cancer and yeast infections. Kimchi has been shown to help improve symptoms of asthma and other allergic reactions, while also lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels.
Incorporating fermented foods into the daily diet and getting regular acupuncture treatments that help balance out the body’s Qi, can lead to a very healthy gastrointestinal tract. And when the gut is happy, the body is happy, the brain is happy and the mood is improved. Sound awesome? It is! Try increasing your fermented food intake and adding Acupuncture to the mix today and see how great it feels!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is something I am intimately familiar with. In my teens I developed IBS from an eating disorder, and even once my bad dietary habits stopped I continued having IBS into my 20's - until I found Chinese Medicine. Treating IBS and helping patients determine if they have food sensitivities that are contributing is something very near and dear to my heart, therefore. I even wrote my Master's Degree research paper on it which you can read by clicking here! For those not interested in the pathological details however, here are some helpful tips and tricks that you can put into action today. I hope you will find this information informative and useful! My success with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to treat IBS felt miraculous, so if you have IBS or know someone who does I HIGHLY recommend you try (or encourage those you love to try) this treatment. Regardless read on and enjoy!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, otherwise known as “spastic colon,” is a common disorder that affects the colon and causes many disruptive symptoms. Many of these symptoms can be managed with a simple change in diet and lifestyle. Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture may be able to help.
IBS symptoms may include gas, bloating, alternating constipation and diarrhea, pain, mucus, an uncomfortably full feeling and abdominal cramping. Most of these symptoms develop over time, and there is no structural or anatomical change that can be detected as cause. Doctors are unsure of the origin, though stress and diet are said to be triggers of distressing symptoms. Women suffer from IBS more frequently than men.
One of the most common diagnosis of IBS in Traditional Chinese Medicine is what is known as a “liver-spleen disharmony” due to stress. Normally, the liver is in charge of the free flow of energy (or vital force), blood and oxygen to the spleen and stomach, the organs who do their job of digesting food by transporting and transforming food and descending energy downward. When the liver energy becomes stagnant through emotions such as stress, frustration, anger, moodiness and tightness in the body (the liver is sensitive to these emotions), this encumbers proper digestion and what can result is acid, belching, nausea, abdominal distention and bloating. Diarrhea or constipation can occur or irregular bowel movements. Other common symptoms of stagnant liver energy are PMS, cramping with clots and irregular menses. Easing stress would be the most important aspect of the treatment plan to get to the root of the issue.
Another common cause of IBS is food sensitivity. Eliminating trigger foods has been shown to help symptoms tremendously. Here are some things to consider eliminating:
Too many cold, raw vegetables: Eating too many cold, raw vegetables dampens the digestive fire and leads to malabsorption. Cook vegetables instead and eat them warm.
Cruciferous vegetables and legumes: These are healthy but can cause gas and bloating in sensitive individuals. Consider eating them cooked and/or decreasing or eliminating them from your diet depending on your sensitivity level.
Dairy: Lactose intolerance can lead to digestive ailments. If you aren’t sure, try eliminating dairy such as milk, yogurt and cheese for AT LEAST 2 weeks before reintroducing them and seeing how you feel.
Eating fast, while angry or hurried: When you eat or drink quickly, you might be inhaling too much air and eating too much. Eat slowly and mindfully.
Other triggers: Sensitivities might include chocolate, carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, greasy food or processed food. Hormonal changes could also be a factor in increased IBS symptoms as well. Start keeping a food journal that notes time, food eaten and symptoms for each day - see if you can draw any correlations after 2 weeks.
How to know for sure? It is best not to self-diagnose symptoms, so see your medical provider to see if you have IBS and not something more serious. Your Chinese medical practitioner can help you by diagnosing the symptoms according to a more eastern perspective, administering acupuncture and perhaps prescribing an herbal formula, and adjusting your diet to eliminate triggers that are irritating for your particular constitution.
Some remedies for IBS include acupuncture to improve flow in the abdomen and ease stress, herbs, increasing fiber (gradually, or it could worsen symptoms), massaging the abdomen (9x clockwise, 9x counter-clockwise), exercise to move things around such as tai qi or qigong, and probiotics to increase good bacteria in the stomach. Peppermint, magnesium, and chamomile can soothe and ease symptoms.
If you want to know more or want to get started with treatment, feel free to book in anytime. It would be my pleasure to apply my knowledge and experience and help!
Yours in Health,
Created by Stanley Burroughs, author of the book The Master Cleanser, the master cleanse is a great way to cleanse the body while giving the digestive system a much-needed rest. The master cleanse, usually used to achieve rapid weight loss, can also be used to heal and nourish the body.
The cleanse is a liquid diet, which some refer to as a juice fast. It effectively supplies all of the healthy and essential nutrients and calories the body needs to function. The beauty of the master cleanse is that in addition to being rewarding and beneficial for your body, it is also extremely easy to follow and inact.
There are three main parts of the master cleanse. You should utilize all three of these parts in order to extract all of the healing and fasting properties of the master cleanse. The three parts are the lemon drink, the salt drink and the herbal/laxative teas.
First, you need to make sure to six to 12 glasses of the lemon drink per day over the course of a 10-day period. The lemon drink consists of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, water and maple syrup. Balance out your intake of the lemon drink throughout the day with regular water if you still feel thirsty.
The salt drink part of the cleanse is a little bit different. The salt drink consists of just lukewarm water and natural sea salt. You should make sure to drink a quart every morning, all in one sitting.
The third and final part to the master cleanse is an herbal laxative or tea. Make sure to take a laxative or drink a laxative tea before bed each night in order to complete the steps of the master cleanse.
The master cleanse is an extremely effective form of detox dieting, and if you want to pursue it you should! Spring is the time in Chinese Medicine to cleanse and the master cleanse is a strict though relatively simple cleanse to do. I highly recommend that you read reviews of the cleanse and get the precise details of the recipe from Stanley's book and consider easing in and easing out of the cleanse if you decide to pursue this option.
I personally cleanse every Spring myself, and I particularly like revisiting a basic Elimination Diet without the testing portion - making it a 4 week process - and including a detox supplement like Mediclear by Thorne. More than anything I feel like one of the most impactful parts of a cleanse is resetting your habits. Its easy to slide into bad habits and a cleanse, any type of cleanse, forces you into that resetting. If you're lucky and determined, you make the best parts of it stick - until the holidays that is...
If you have questions about cleansing don't hesitate to ask at your next Acupuncture session and if you ARE cleansing, get on the books! Acupuncture can support healthy liver and digestive function which gets you the most out of your cleanse that you possibly can.
Its no secret that I LOVE FOOD. When I am at home I hardly leave the kitchen because I get so involved in cooking and eating and planning delicious meals, especially during the holiday season. Professionally, as a licensed acupuncturist, I also believe strongly that FOOD IS MEDICINE and that eating nourishing food is one of most important things you can do for your health and wellbeing, and I emphasize food and diet in my treatments on a daily basis.
Certainly everybody knows that food is what gives our bodies the energy we need to survive. But not everybody is aware that certain foods should be consumed during specific times of the year. In areas like the Midwest, where fruits and vegetables are harder to keep on hand when the weather becomes colder, this principle is followed a little more closely. But in areas like Hawaii and Southern California, where fresh fruits and vegetables are always available and the climate is more moderate, people sometimes forget to eat according to the seasons.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medical system that has been around for nearly 4,000 years. When this system came into being, people were much more in tune with the seasons and their environment. The foods they consumed were based on the seasons and when those foods were available. This is a system that should be followed for people to remain healthy throughout the year, regardless of where they live.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is a time of reflection and rejuvenation. The body needs the extra hours of darkness to repair. The kidneys are the center of energy in the Traditional Chinese Medicine system and thus, they need to be nourished during the winter months. It is recommended we consume foods that are warming and that will boost the kidney energy. We also need to eat foods that benefit the Shen (spirit) so that the winter months don’t bring about depression.
Things like soups and stews are extremely important during the cold winter months. Energetically, warming foods such as anchovies, bay leaves, chestnuts, chicken, fennel, leeks, mussels, mutton, nutmeg, pine nuts, sweet potatoes and walnuts are all great to incorporate into the diet. Also, foods that boost kidney energy are just as important. Items like millet, sesame seeds, kidney beans, lamb, beef, goose, duck, eggs, grains, seeds and nuts are all good tonics for the kidneys. Bone broth is another important food to consume during the winter months, as it supports the bones and the kidneys. It is recommended that the foods be cooked for longer periods and at lower temperatures to retain as much energy as possible. It is also advisable to eat more food with bitter flavors while reducing salty flavors, so that heart health is promoted and the workload of the kidneys is reduced. Bitter-flavored foods include apricot, asparagus, celery, coffee, tea, grapefruit, lettuce, kale, vinegar and wine.
One of the most commonly used foods is something known as congee. Congee is a thick grain-based soup or porridge. Congee is used in a preventive fashion to promote good health and strong digestion. Congee can be made with a single grain, like brown rice, or a combination of grains, beans, vegetables and medicinal herbs. Incorporating this item into the daily diet will improve energy levels over time. Congee is prepared in a crock pot overnight, which fits in perfectly with the aforementioned principles of slow cooking at lower temperatures. It is said that the longer the congee cooks, the more powerful it becomes.
Incorporating the foods listed above during the winter months, can be a wonderful way to boost your energy throughout the season. And this will also help in the seasons to follow, as the body will be healthier and better prepared.
If you're having a hard time being motivated to make soup, think about hosting a favorite holiday tradition that a friend of mine instituted - Soupstice! Its a great way to get exposed to new soups! Everyone brings 6 quarts of homemade soup, preferrably frozen and labeled (or cans for donation) and at the party you trade your soups for a variety of others.
Until next time, stay warm and enjoy some warm rejuvenating soups and stews!
The kids heading back to school means you are headed back to work. And, I am not just talking about your actual job, you know, the one where you go to an office everyday throughout the Monday through Friday workweek. I am talking about packing lunches, that’s right, it is that time again. Packing your children’s lunches is a great way to guarantee they are getting the nutrients they need, as you do not always know what is prepared at the school’s cafeteria. Here are five superfoods you can sneak into your child’s lunch. Superfoods will provide the extra health boost they need!
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are great because they can be put into almost anything. In addition, chia seeds pack a powerful nutrient-rich punch, they are high in protein, fat and omega-3s. Chia seeds have been said to protect the body from chronic diseases. Sprinkle some chia seeds into your kid’s sandwich, yogurt or smoothie and they will instantly have a super lunch.
Filled with mass amounts of fiber and potassium, avocado is truly one of the more delicious superfoods. And, with a plethora of uses it is easy to sneak in some avocado to your kid’s sack lunch. Start by introducing them to guacamole, and then you can put a little guacamole with some blue corn tortilla chips or veggie chips into their lunch. Once they warm up to the avocado, use it in sandwiches, salads or other main courses.
Finally, something a little easier. Everyone loves blueberries, right? I mean how can you now appreciate such a delicious fruit. Most importantly, this fruit is one of the most powerful superfoods you can consume. High in antioxidants and phytonutrients, low in sugars and rich in vitamin C, this berry is a modern-day wonder. But, perhaps the easiest thing about blueberries is that you don’t even have to sneak them in. Just put the berries in a small container in your child’s lunch and they are sure to eat them up.
I love sugar. Or rather I should say, my brain loves sugar and tells me I can't live without it - my body, on the other hand, not so hot on the idea but my brain's overwhelmingly strong response tends to override the truth of the situation. Battling my sugar cravings seems to be a livelong journey of mine which started with an eating disorder in my teens. I find that in the best of times with regard to this challenge, that learning the truth about sugar and how it effects my body helps me rise out of the difficult craving moments and stay strong.
So here today are some facts about the "not so sweet" side of sugar to help those of you that might suffer from my predilection. Other things that I find help? Acupuncture! Of course. Also meal planning - having a plan and having healthy snacks all queued up and ready to go can make or break me on a busy or stressful day. Therefore read on, enjoy, think about how sugar effects you and what presence it has in your life and if you have questions, don't hesitate to ask!
THE FACTS, MA'AM, JUST THE FACTS
A study published by the JAMA Internal Medicine found that more than 70 percent of Americans consume more than the recommended daily amount of sugar. Sadly, most of us are addicted to sugar, which happens to be hidden in most of the foods and drinks we consume. Added sugar can cause a whole array of problems that can be short term as well as long term. If you are experiencing health problems, lowering your sugar intake may be one of your best options. Below are 10 truths about the ugly side of sweets.
Refined sugar has no nutritional value and it is recommended to consume as little as possible. The first step in eliminating sugar is from drinks such as soda, juice and mixed alcoholic drinks. Because of the large amounts of sweetener in these drinks, it can make them very addictive and hard to quit drinking.
Harms your liver
Sugar can be just as damaging on your liver as alcohol and lead to fatty liver disease. When you consume too much fructose, your body becomes insulin resistant resulting in various problems that can cause disease.
One study done in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that participants who ate the highest levels of added sugars showed the biggest increase in bad cholesterol levels and triglyceride blood fats and the lowest levels in the good cholesterol levels.
Leading cause of obesity
In America, sugar is one of the leading culprits of obesity. It is estimated that 80 percent of food products in the U.S. contain added sugar. The best way to lose weight and lower your risk of obesity is to eliminate all processed foods and drinks.
Bad for your teeth
It should be a no-brainer that sugar is bad for your teeth. You may remember growing up having the dentist tell you as a kid to eat less candy to prevent cavities. As an adult, we know it’s not only candy that will cause cavities, but sugar that is found in your favorite drinks and everyday foods as well. Best way to sustain healthy teeth and gums? Cut the processed and refined sugar.
Can lead to type 2 diabetes
When your body is consuming too much sugar, your glucose levels become too high, which can be toxic to the body. When this happens, your body has a harder time producing enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal. This can then lead to type 2 diabetes.
It can be hard to get kids off sugar and maybe you’re even trying to kick the habit yourself. There are plenty of sweet alternatives that not only taste good but are healthy as well. So, throw out all the refined sugar you have at home and try easy recipes like the one below to fulfill your sweet cravings. I can tell you that chocolate + avocado is one of my favorite combinations!
Chocolate Avocado Pudding Pops
2 ripe avocados
6 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup powdered Swerve Sweetener*
2 btsp cocoa powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp stevia extract*
Dash of salt
2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp coconut oil
*note - alternate sweeteners can be swapped for ripe bananas + medjool dates to taste
Either using a food processor or a blender, puree avocado until smooth. Next, add milk, sweetener, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, stevia extract and salt. Blend on low until the ingredients are mixed well.
Melt chocolate with coconut oil for 30 seconds in the microwave or until melted.
Pour melted chocolate with other ingredients in the blender or processor and run on low until the ingredients are well mixed.
Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for at least three hours. Enjoy!
Anyone who knows me knows that I Love Food. I also firmly believe that food is the best kind of medicine. I always encourage my patients to focus on their diet first if there is any chance of diet helping or changing their symptoms. After all, diet is something that while hard to change emotionally at times, is something you CAN change at will to improve your health. If it affects your symptoms, it also gives you control over your symptoms which can be a very empowering experience once you embrace that change.
Today, therefore, is a list of 7 superfoods for aging well. Since Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture, Anti-Aging and lasting health and wellness are a primary focus in my practice, it is my pleasure to bring you this concise yet well researched list of additions to your daily diet that can help you stay well! Enjoy this short and sweet list, try eating these foods more regularly and see how you feel. I hope you'll agree that they really are super!
Olive oil is beneficial for many reasons. Researchers now know that this oil contains the antioxidants called polyphenols, which can help prevent age-related diseases.
Fish like wild caught salmon are a no-brainer. They are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which help regulate cholesterol levels and can improve heart health, which become increasingly important to take care of as we age.
Nuts like almonds are packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants and other nutrients that help fight aging. Those who incorporate nuts into their diet are shown to potentially add years on to their lives. Nuts are a great way to also get more protein into your diet and keep you energized.
Quality dark chocolate not only tastes good but can also be great for your health. Cocoa is packed with flavonoids that are good for heart disease and promote healthy blood vessels. Add a little dark chocolate into your diet to help lower your risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia.
Blueberries are known for their high amount of antioxidant properties. These berries can help inflammation and age-related deficiencies such as memory loss and motor function.
Avocado is filled with omega-3s and vitamin E, which prove to have many health benefits. If you are fighting aging skin, avocado is your go-to food for rejuvenating your skin as well as stronger nails and hair.
Turmeric is an incredible herb that is often used in Chinese medicine for its anti-ageing benefits. A part of the ginger family, turmeric contains curcuminoids, which act as a powerful antioxidant to that can reduce inflammation and promote healing. This herb is perfect for Asian cooking and to add a little spice to dishes.
I will be completely honest that this has been one of my biggest challenges throughout my life. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder from an early age, I have times where my relationship with food seems "normal" and times where I still struggle with overeating and sugar addiction. How well I do depends on so many factors, and my emotional state in the moment is always high on the list.
Speaking of lists, however, when I feel very off kilter with my eating running through a list of what to do to bring myself back to center is one of the rituals I engage in to help ground myself. This is the overarching list that I try to adhere to and I actually run through it in my mind almost like a mantra during stressful times. This is even something you could post on the fridge, especially during the holidays, to help keep you on track when you need that little extra reminder to eat mindfully!
We’ve always the heard the saying to enjoy everything in moderation, and that is definitely true when it comes to food. Don’t try to deprive yourself during special occasions and holidays in particular, it most likely won’t go over well. Having an extra treat here and there won’t kill you. You’re allowed to indulge a bit, just keep portions small when it comes to desserts and make sure you limit how often you eat them. Going the whole season without any treats is cruel and will most likely end in binging later, so have your guilty pleasures, just keep them in moderation.
Watch the alcohol
When the times call for celebration, this most likely means more alcohol. Not only does alcohol add on empty calories, but can also lead you to eating more while drinking. If you are at a gathering, limit yourself to one or two drinks to cut down on the unhealthy cravings you might be feeling afterward.
Focus on the protein
Protein-packed foods are a great way to fill up without adding a lot of sugar and empty carbohydrates. Pack your plate with low-fat meats like turkey and chicken. If you’re vegetarian, eat more of the tofu than the side dishes that are most likely to be sugar and carbohydrate heavy.
Fill up on the water
Don’t forget about water! The celebrations especially are an easy time to drink more sugary beverages than normal. Substitute drinks for water, and drink a lot of it. Not only is water essential for your health, but drinking a glass before a meal can fill you up more as well, preventing you from overeating.
Take your time
Eating too fast is one of the easiest ways to overeat. When you don’t give your body the chance to digest food and feel full before you stop eating, chances are you’re going to end up eating more than you want. Eat slowly and enjoy each bite to give your body a chance to catch up. This way, you’ll end up getting full faster and eat less.
Acupuncture and Diabetes
The rate of diabetes in America is alarming, 29 million Americans to be exact. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030 the number of people with diabetes worldwide will double from the current 380 million people who currently suffer from the disease.
Living with a chronic illness like diabetes does not only affect someone’s physical health, but mental and emotional as well.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, diabetes represents a deficiency and dysfunction in the spleen and pancreatic system.
If the spleen/pancreatic system’s function declines, it cannot produce the insulin necessary to handle glucose in the bloodstream, which causes a variety of diabetic symptoms.
Chinese medicine has had an understanding of diabetes for thousands of years. It is known as aiaoke, which means an emaciation-thirst, as diabetes can cause a person to lose weight and have extreme thirst. In ancient times, type 2 diabetes was found in the wealthiest people because of their diet that was high in fatty and sugary foods.
The TCM theory behind diabetes states that diabetes is a result of an imbalance of yin. Because of the imbalance, the body’s natural energy flow called qi becomes out of balance and blocked.
A report done in 1994 in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine looked at 60 patients with diabetes and found that 2/3rds of the patients in the group receiving acupuncture noticed an effect and improvement in their symptoms. The other group received a diabetes pill, and researchers concluded that although both had therapeutic effects, acupuncture was more effective in prevention including cardiovascular diseases.
Although a lot of Westerners don’t think of acupuncture as a treatment for chronic disease, specific acupuncture points on the body have been proven to be effective for diabetes.
Unlike prescription medication, acupuncture has almost no side effects and is completely natural. The treatment is painless, and along with treating your illness, acupuncture can leave you feeling relaxed and calm. If you or someone you know is suffering with diabetes, ask an acupuncturist how they can help you on the road back to better health.
Symptoms: fatigue, lassitude, abdominal bloating, loose stool, a pale tongue with white coating, and a fine weak pulse
Recipe: Rice porridge with common yam and lotus seed - Boil a suitable amount of rice, yam and lotus seeds until all are very soft. The final consistency should be of a thick soup
Symptoms: fatigue, weakness, soreness in low back and knees, feverish sensation on the palms and soles, a cold sensation on the backs of the palms and soles, a pale tongue, and a deep fine pulse
Recipe: Walnut and black bean porridge - Wash 50g black bean and 100g millet. Cook it with 30g walnuts and water until the consistency is thick and all the ingredients are cooked well
Sources: http://bit.ly/1LwljDO, http://bit.ly/1LwlrDj
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.