Getting Back To Basics

On occasion, a patient will come into the office expressing frustration that trying to eat healthy is like trying to figure out rocket science. I completely understand. There are so many ways of “tweaking” your eating habits that it can easily become confusing. So for today’s post, we’re getting back to the basics of nutrition.

Nutrition is things that nourish. To nourish means to supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth. (As an aside: please note that more than food can accomplish this!) In regard to what we ingest, there are the 4 basic nutrients and also the micro-nutrients (micro because we need them in micro amounts).

Water, Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats: The Basic 4

Did you know that the human body is two-thirds water? Water is needed for every function of the body! Therefore, it is certainly considered one of the four basic nutrients. You lose up to 1 quart of water a day between your kidneys and skin. You lose approximately a half cup from feces and around a cup from your lungs. At a minimum, replenish this loss by drinking around 10 cups of clean, clear, delicious water daily.
Carbohydrates are the gas that make the body go. Both simple and complex carbs are needed on a daily basis for good health.
Did you know that proteins help maintain the correct acid/alkali balance of the body? They are also needed to make the body’s tissues, enzymes and hormones. Proteins are formed from amino acids. (Think freight train: the number and arrangement of the variety of box cars, aka amino acids, determines the type of protein). There are both non-essential amino acids (meaning it is NOT essential that they come directly from the food you eat but can be put together by the body from the foods you eat) and essential amino acids (it IS essential that you get those exact amino acids in the food you eat).
Fats are also nutrients needed for good health. Fats are made from fatty acids. There are also essential fatty acids: omega 3s, 6s and 9s. Understanding fats completely is a blog entry in itself but for now, make sure to always get your essential fatty acids and the proper amounts of good fats in your diet.

The Micro- Nutrients: Vitamins and Minerals

Needed vitamins include:
Vitamin A (retinol)
Carotenoid complex
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Vitamin B12
Biotin
Choline
Folic acid
Inositol
Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
Vitamin C
Bioflavonoids
Hesperidin
Rutin
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol)
Vitamin K
Essential fatty acids

Needed minerals include:
Boron
Calcium
Chromium
Copper
Iodine
Iron
Magnesium
Manganese
Molybdenum
Potassium
Selenium
Vanadium
Zinc

Do you get your daily nutrients? it’s a good place to start when you are getting back to basics!

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From An Acorn…

acorn 188/365 by linaloo1
acorn 188/365, a photo by linaloo1 on Flickr.

“To wish to be well is a part of becoming well.”

Seneca quote (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)

What Kind Of Tree Are You?

Elm Tree by kevinkpc - (Catching Up)
Elm Tree, a photo by kevinkpc – (Catching Up) on Flickr.

When patients are trying to figure out traditional Chinese medicine’s angle on human health I often end up explaining by using an analogy of a person being a tree.

You can be whatever kind of tree you want to be. Your chief concern(s) are like a limb (or limbs if you have more than one issue). If we are considering only the limb in question, it looks like the limb is an independent thing. Likewise, multiple limbs look independent of each other. Everyone knows however, that the limb isn’t the whole tree. In fact, the limb doesn’t exist without the rest of the tree. All limbs originate from the same trunk and root system. An acupuncturist is always considering the limb(s) but also the entire tree. When we are formulating a treatment plan we can treat just the limb(s) in question, just the roots of the issue or a combination of both. When treating the “root’ causes of an issue, often not only does the limb of concern improve but the entire tree begins to thrive.

What kind of tree are you?

Summer Sky, Fire Bright

Summer Sky by ►CubaGallery
Summer Sky, a photo by ►CubaGallery on Flickr.

So far in the 5 element series we’ve talked about autumn, winter and spring. And so, before we say good-bye to summer, (and even though I may be slightly late in doing this) let’s talk about how Chinese medicine makes 5 element sense of this bright, yang of yang season.

Summer belongs to the fire element. The energy is expansive, the climate is hot. The following is the list of the other characteristics of fire:

Color- red
Phase- full yang
Direction- south
Life cycle- phase youth
Development- blooming
Smell- scorched
Flavor- bitter
Mental quality- creativity
Negative emotion- hate
Positive emotion- joy
Body- pulse
Aperature- tongue, throat
Body fluid- sweat
Yin organ- heart
Yang organ- small intestine
Tissue- vessels
Change- to grow
Sound of voice- laughter or lack of laughter

How do these associations strike you? Do you see a personal pattern within them? Check out the other seasons using the links above to see how they fit into the story of you.