As early as 25 AD, the Eastern Han Dynasty had books published on foods that were thought to be important in maintaining health. These books have details on food types that are considered to strengthen your immune system, improve health, and prevent aging. Some of these foods and herbs include dates, wolfberry, grape, and lotus seed, as well as sesame seeds.
Over the ages and dynasties, other important doctors continued to recommend recipes, expanding health formulas for meats, wines, and soups that are nourishing, healing, and medicinal in different ways. We will touch on the importance of your digestive health and general nutrition.
Digestion According to TCM
According to TCM Traditional Chinese Medicine, our spleen, intestines, and stomach are all related to each other and make up the primary organs within your digestive system. Did you know that your heart and lungs are also connected to the small and large intestines in your body? These large organs separate waste from useful nutrition and transform your food into real sustenance, enhancing your overall health. Your spleen, large intestine, and stomach sort what you ingest using the five flavors coming in and leaving your body. Following this logical method, you can see how blockage of the spleen causes an issue with digestion in your body. This is why it is important to consume specific foods and nutrients to ensure your Qi is free-flowing.
When you are experiencing trouble with your gut, TCM says one of 3 issues are to blame.
- Trouble ingesting unclean or raw foods
- Overeating and indulging too frequently in sweet or fatty foods
- Frequently eating spicy foods or over-imbibing in liquor
These three issues are considered to negatively affect your meridians and affect your intestines, spleen, stomach, and gallbladder according to traditional Chinese medicine and zang-fu pathology, along with cold, heat, and dampness.
Western nutrition takes an analytical approach and breaks our diet into three main groups, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. From there, western medicine breaks our nutrition down even further, grouping together minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and water which are not naturally generated within our bodies. Because our bodies do not synthesize these properties, the importance of maintaining proper amounts of these essential components is heightened. Western medicine also looks at nutrition and how it affects disease and health by the breakdown of food and nutrients. These can contribute to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and metabolic disorders.
You may have heard that where we live, including the diet and lifestyle by region, affects our health differently. The frequency of a single type of cancer can vary significantly from place to place. It is thought that eating certain types of food in childhood can increase the likelihood of specific cancer types. Soy and tea coincide with higher breast cancer rates in certain areas. When looking at heart attack rates within a Mediterranean diet, there is a much lower rate of heart attacks; or Japanese diets where there are lower rates of prostate cancer. We come to see that food is medicine, and what we put in our bodies affects the rest of our health. Our North American diet tends to show higher rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease within our communities.
The difference varies greatly between Western and Eastern medicine practices. When integrated, Eastern and Western medicine can be used to keep our bodies in their prime condition. If you are interested in learning more about TCM and how nutrition can increase your health, call Faith Foster with Avalon Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at 360-220-0226 to make an appointment today. Faith is highly accomplished and qualified in acupuncture and Chinese Medicine treatments. Book your appointment with Faith today and enjoy the vast benefits to your health all winter long.