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Healthy Eating According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

You might already know (and its pretty common knowledge) that the Chinese diet is full of vegetables.  But did you also know that animal protein is kept to a minimum.  Have you ever actually wondered why?  Its ok if you haven’t but I think its interesting to know a bit more.  Next time you head up to Convoy or Kearny Mesa for San Diego’s best Asian food you’ll be a little bit wiser as to why the menus contain so much of some foods, little of others and the proportions.  

Here in the West the current fad or buzz-word around nutrition is all about “clean eating”.  TCM has known about this for thousands of years.  With TCM it boils down to the energetic properties of foods and keeping them as close to their natural form as possible.  TCM also recognizes that the gut is the basis of health.  It all starts here as I so often tell my patients in my San Diego acupuncture practice.

Digestion should be something that occurs naturally and without any problems.  In a healthy human body it should literally go “unnoticed”.  When this happens the body is able to extract the most amount of nutrients possible. When there are problems afoot, the body’s digestive system can get slow, sluggish, noisy or even overactive.  All of which interrupts adequate nutritional intake and proper expelling of toxic waste product.

TCM calls the most common side effect of eating foods that block Qi, “dampness”.  Common everyday foods in this country that contribute to dampness are dairy, sugar and white flour. The symptoms of “dampness include loose stools, constipation, swollen joints and excess weight.  These are all things that I see in my San Diego Acupuncture practice daily and are the common nutrition, diet and weight loss problems in this country.  These lead to chronic allergies, arthritis and pain but rarely is nutrition the first line of defense unfortunately.

Nutrition in TCM says things like steamed rice, small amounts of meat protein, cooked veggies are very important. Vegetables can work to drain the excess dampness and the more colorful they are, the better they are for you.  Things we also know to be true in Western Medicine. Leafy greens and veggies should fill up most of your plate, then move on to carbohydrate and protein.

Rice is a balanced food thats easy to digest.  It is also very neutral and rarely causes an allergic reaction for people- unlike wheat and gluten.  Lastly protein and beans are very difficult for people to digest and should be consumed in small quantities.

TCM also talks about foods to avoid:


Cold foods

Raw foods

iced drinks

frozen foods

Why?  Well, cold naturally slows down metabolic processes along with digestion and raw foods take a tremendous amount of effort for your body to digest.  Stealing valuable qi from other needed areas.

I love to work with patients on nutrition.  I believe in a healthy balance between Western and Eastern.  It can be so valuable for treating arthritis, chronic fatigue, IBS, Chrons, constipation, weight loss, insomnia, even fertility and anxiety!  Aside from pain- especially back pain and neck pain and sciatica these are the things that I treat the most at my Acupuncture San Diego practice.  Banker’s Hill, Mission Hills, North Park, South Park, University Heights, dry needling, Hillcrest, Downtown San Diego, Little Italy, Normal Heights Acupuncture.


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