Nutrition Information from a Chinese Medicine Perspective
Chinese medicine has recognized for millennia that different foods produce different effects in the body when eaten by different people. Underlying these observations is the understanding that there is no universal food pyramid that works for all people. For example, two people seeking acupuncture treatment for headaches will likely be given acupuncture treatments at different points and receive different herbal medicine because the root cause of their headaches–their differential diagnoses–are not the same. The ability to diagnose imbalances of the qi in an individual’s organs and meridians informs a practitioner of TCM as to which foods a person should eat in abundance, which foods to moderate and which foods to avoid.
For me, the general idea for creating a healthy diet for any patient is simple: variety. The broader the range of foods a person eats–always mindful of the appropriate amounts of each food–the better. In general we do best when we eat not just chicken as a source of animal protein but also moderate amounts of beef, pork, lamb, fish and other seafood. For the vegetarian diet, variety is incredibly important to make sure an individual is getting all the amino acids necessary to maintain good health.
Beyond TCM dietary counseling, I also prescribe a range of supplements whenever necessary to get the results for patients where herbal medicine cannot deliver. For example, a high-quality, broad-spectrum probiotic supplement is the best way to rebuild a patient’s vital flora of the GI tract after extensive antibiotic use. And for patients with chronic pain, a high-quality fish oil is necessary to help decrease inflammation in the body so acupuncture and acupressure can work faster to heal the affected tissue.
Are the foods you are eating making you sick?
Chinese medicine, like all forms of medicine, has its limitations. Although tongue and pulse diagnosis reveal so much information about the health of an individual, these tools still cannot detect if a patient has a food allergy or hypersensitivity to wheat or dairy for example. I go beyond the limitations of TCM by employing, when necessary, modern lab testing methods to determine if my patients are eating foods that are perpetuating their condition without knowing it.