I cringe at the thought of there being ANOTHER blog or article out there regarding digestion. We are saturated with information and a lot of people are very confused over what’s out there, I don’t blame you. I was confused to until I stopped paying attention to what the experts, trainers and dieticians were saying and started being my own authority on my own body.
Patients come in all the time and ask “how does acupuncture help strength your digestive system?” They will often ask if I’ve heard of this fact or that, this diet or that, read this book or that and mostly I say ‘no, I’m not familiar with that one.’ That is 100% by choice. I suffered from analyses paralysis when it came to all aspects of my health and finally I had just had enough. I closed the computer and the books and started paying attention to how my body reacted to whatever I was putting in. That’s how I learned to eat the right way for my body.
I’m not hear to tell you what to eat I’m hear to encourage you how to eat. I’ll go through some of Chinese Medicine’s general guidelines when it comes to food and talk a bit about how Acupuncture can help get you on the right track when it comes to healthy digesting.
First, let me tell you how frustrated I was when I thought I was doing everything right and I was still suffering from painful bloating, horrible room-clearing-gas, and constipation. I lived like that for years and it wasn’t until I started TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) school that I began to get it sorted out. I had lived with these symptoms for so long – since I was a young kid – and had resigned myself that this was just how it was going to be. But I hated it. It was embarrassing and not just caused me physical and physiological discomfort; it also created social discomfort and anxiety.
My first experience with some sort of relief was when I went to see one of my teachers who is a master Chinese Medicine herbalist and Acupuncturist. After three days of taking a disgusting sludgy concoction I felt relief. Finally after a decade and a half of being plagued with these uncomfortable symptoms I finally felt ‘normal.’ As I started to feel relief I got really excited and intrigued about what else I could do. Two of the key things at the time were letting go of being vegan and warming up my food. I used to be a salad queen; salad for lunch, salad for snack salad for dinner.
Sidebar, I’m not here to get into a debate about veganism, vegetarianism or meat eating, do whatever works for you. I found out I was very deficient in Blood, which is why I started eating it again and at the time it really worked for me.
And that’s really the key point I want to drive home here, find what works for you. Sometimes that means letting go of some of your ideas to finally find some balance.
So How Does Acupuncture Help Strengthen Your Digestion? Here are 5 ways it can!
- Warm up your food – If you eat salads and raw veggies and fruits for the majority of the day then stop. This is hands down the number one thing I recommend to people that they a) resist and b) benefit from. Unfortunately it’s mostly women who resist it. Our obsession to be fit and skinny drives SO MANY of our decisions…and I’m not immune. It’s taken me a while to choose health over appearance and it’s something that is still constantly present – I hope one day it won’t be but for now it’s just how it is. So I choose, daily. It’s almost always women who also benefit from most from warming up their food. Here’s the logic behind it:
- Women are Yin, Men are Yang. Yin is cooling in nature, Yang is warming. If we are seeking balance then women need more warming foods and men can handle colder foods. Simple.
- We need digestive fire to metabolize our foods. If we are constantly putting cold foods into our system, it dulls this flame or puts it out. To support healthy digestive fire we need to maintain a good balance or warming foods and cooling foods.
- Eating with the seasons – Again it’s all about finding the balance. In winter eat more soups and cooked foods and in the summer, although you should still eat 40-50% warm or cooked foods, you can get away with more salads, raw fruit and vegetables.
- Soups, roasted veggies and baked fruit are excellent ways to still get your veggies and support digestive fire. Bone Broth is by far my favorite way to heal the gut. You can download a basic how to from my website.
- Limit heavy foods like nuts and dairy – From a Chinese Medicine perspective this goes back to the digestive fire. These foods are typically cold in nature and are also heavy so eating them in excess can easily dampen the fire. Not only will it weaken digestive fire, in excess, they can also create an environment in the gut that welcomes little critters like, bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Gross right. And UNBELIEVABLY common, even amongst ‘healthy’ people. Nuts can also irritate the gut lining and exacerbate existing symptoms. For more on this click here. Heavy foods also include greasy, fast foods.
- Get Acupuncture – Getting acupuncture can help to harmonize and strengthen the digestive system so that everything is functions more efficiently. It will also allow you to get a proper Chinese Medicine diagnosis, which will allow you to get more specific with your food guidelines. The way acupuncture works is that it can remove blockages if things are stuck, but it can also bring energy to areas that might be slightly deficient. So if you are like me, for example, and suffer from the energy being super blocked in your Liver, acupuncture will help get that energy flowing so that the Liver can move QI (pronounced CHI – it means energy) through the digestive system and intestines. The Liver has a particular affinity for acupuncture so it is VERY effective for this.
- How You Eat – It’s about how you eat not necessarily what you eat. Eating in a calm and relaxed manner allows the body to digestive foods more effectively. You can look at it like this, if you are busy working or driving or doing something else while eating, your body, mind and energy aren’t focusing fully on digesting food. So ditch the emails, texts, phone calls, Internet etc. while you eat and instead opt for something more calming, like staring out at a beautiful view. Read more about what director of medicine at Digestive Health Center in Salem N.C has to say about the topic.
- Slow Down – Slowing down at mealtime also benefits your body’s ability to digest food properly. In addition to creating a more relaxed atmosphere it also gives your body time to register when it has had enough food. The benefit of this? You eat less. You eat what your body needs. No more, no less. In my first couple weeks at TCM school I asked my principal what the Chinese Philosophy was on eating. He said Not Too Much, Not Too Little, Just Right. Simple and Brilliant! When you eat what your body needs, no more, no less, your bodies ideal weight is maintained as well. To see what webmd has to say about mindful eating click here.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can effectively treat all sorts of digestive disorders such as:
- Irritable Bowel
- Food intolerances
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Intestinal Polyps
- And more…
If you have any questions about whether Acupuncture can help with your digestive concerns please feel free to contact me.
With Love from Kelowna, BC,