Acupuncture and Nutrition: how to FEEL good!
What does it mean to live at full capacity? If you are not rising out of bed in the morning with energy, if you’re feeling tired during the day, you’re aches and pains are worsening, you’re putting on weight, or you feel like you’re aging too quickly ─ these are all signs you’re not functioning at 100 percent. Proper nutrition and balanced eating provide important strength to our whole body, like gasoline for your car; food is fuel for our body. And when we make consistently poor choices in food and eating habits, our digestive system gets blocked or clogged. In conjunction with good lifestyle choices, Acupuncture assists in getting you to feel and function at full capacity. When your body’s natural detox system becomes overloaded with stress or improper nutrition, then immune and body function decreases, presenting as fatigue, weight gain or aches and pains. The heart of preventative medicine lies in diet and nutritional therapy; eat well, exercise and reduce your stress… otherwise your immune system is impaired, leaving your body more vulnerable to germs like the flu. Because nutrition is an incredibly large topic, one should incorporate professional advice to find instruction tailored to your personal habits and patterns. Unfortunately most traditional doctors aren’t trained in diet, supplements, exercise, meditation and other therapies. So when you look for advice or information, make sure you obtain information specific to YOU. Qualified physicians and practitioners (like a Nutritionist and Acupuncturist) will take the time to hear your health goals and concerns, and use their experience and education to offer expert instruction and advice. Reading magazines, newspapers or the internet can be helpful but may ultimately misinform when it comes to your personal body type. Following are some essentials to consider for vitality:
- Healthy eating is not only about quality food, but proper eating habits. For example breakfast can be considered the most important meal because it sets your glycemic index (blood sugar) for the day. Many people eat in a hurry or choose quick and unhealthy foods, or worse, replace a meal with a liquid “shake”; this compromises your Spleen energy causing body-sluggishness, fatigue, digestive upset like gas or flatulence, and the propensity to crave sweets later in the day. Additionally, some folks choose to exercise without having properly nourished their body; the prime example is to eat breakfast AFTER their work-out – this depletes the Spleen energy, stresses tendons and ligaments leading to muscle tension and injury, diminishes blood control causing easy-bruising, and worse depletes your immune system (for which strong Spleen energy is key). Just like your automobile requires gasoline, your body needs energy from food – when the tank gets low and you run on fumes too often, you stress your whole body system causing it to break down more easily because ‘running on empty’ is not optimal function.
- When choosing dietary therapy, people with chronic sinusitis, general fatigue or digestive problems should consider immediate changes in their diet. For others, the transition should be more gradual in order to ease into a new nutrient system; sudden changes can shock or stress the body.
- In general it’s best not to eat heavy foods during an illness and when you’re in the phlegm stage (like chronic sinus congestion) it’s also good to avoid dairy and raw cold foods.
- One of the reasons the flu strikes hardest in winter is because the body naturally excretes waste more slowly this time of year, owing to extreme toxemia of your system if you are eating more junk/processed foods, exercising less (or not at all) and not managing your stress. [For those who juice: An effective flu therapy is a SHORT therapeutic fast and supplement with a potassium-rich blend of juices: carrot, celery, parsley and spinach.]
- When you’re living with depression, it’s important to know that there’s also a physiological influence to the food you consume. The chemical structure of what you eat communicates with your body, which can affect cognition, influence mood and physical body states. Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, professor of neuropsychology at the University of Southern California, says, “Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain. The more balanced you make your meals, the more balanced will be your brain functioning.”
- CLEANSES or fasting: traditionally this method was used to purify the body and clarify the mind, an honorable technique in self-purification, to rejuvenate every organ, gland, tissue and cell in your body. It has also been used to strike out toxemia, serious ailments and as preventive regimen. TODAY cleansing has been popularized with a blind belief that it always improves health or increases weight loss. The caution is that careless or uninformed cleansing can exhaust or shock an already weakened system; cleansing when you are in a healing/recovery phase (physically or emotionally) may further weaken your immune and digestive system. With cleanses one must remain properly hydrated as well as moving bowels daily to prevent toxic build-up. It is always best to have professional advice to avoid damage by prolonged cleansing or lack of body balance when normalized eating returns.
- Mother Nature offers a wonderful menu, but understand for individual dietary guidelines every person has a different metabolic type. In addition, metabolism further changes with the aging process. Most people have a balanced metabolism, but others can be either vegetarian or carnivorous. Understanding which foods help you feel best can be a matter of trial and error. If large quantities of animal protein don’t leave you feeling depleted, and if large doses of sugar and starch don’t make you nervous, then you are probably a balanced metabolizer. Remember the goal of eating is to NOURISH our body and energy system. There are countless ‘diets’ out there designed to lose weight in a short time period; but choose wisely, not all diets teach eating habits that support LONG-TERM weight management and wellness.
- Fresh and personally prepared is best! It takes careful planning to shop and prepare for ourselves and family. There are plenty of healthy-quick-preparation meals to put-together in lieu of fast-food, you just need to PLAN ahead. Any person that has dieted and lost weight and MAINTAINED the loss will tell you it takes constant attention and PLANNING. Always strive for fresh – consider this: lettuce and greens significantly lose precious nutrients and enzymes when they are cut hours in advance of eating (beware of those bagged salad mixes).
- Vitamins/Supplements – the majority of us are deficient in two ‘vitamins’: Vitamin D and Omega-3s (and potentially a third: probiotic). But buyer beware, most of the so-called ‘natural’ vitamins on sale today are in fact synthetic products or else crystallized extracts of natural products such as bran, liver, butter and citrus fruits. The extraction process requires the use of powerful chemical solvents such as ether, benzine and methyl alcohol, lead and aluminum salts and distillation at high temperatures. These processes denature the vitamin and destroy their related enzymes. Ultimately, try to rely on food as a natural source and not a pill which may be of poor quality.
“There are four basic foundations of achieving and maintaining good health,” said Bob Flaws, popular author and translator of Chinese medical texts, “These are: diet, exercise, adequate rest and relaxation, and a good mental attitude.”