Posts Tagged ‘holistic living’

This past weekend I had the pleasure of connecting with a couple older friends. The topic turned to health, aging and their complaints surrounding getting old. It got me thinking about healthy aging. What does it mean to age gracefully? What are some keystones in the healthy aging process?

Of course my first thought is diet. (Exercise too but that’s for another rant.) Just as they’ve done to everything else the boomers are changing the way we think about aging. They are searching for answers and solutions about their health. But this is fraught with controversy and conflicting information. From my perspective there is no right diet for everyone. Food sensitivities, organics, seasonality, locality, sustainability all need to be taken into consideration. As a general rule, less processed more whole foods are better. Being a foodie, of course I think it should taste delicious, but I’m not immune to the power of convenience either. I don’t believe the two to be mutually exclusive.  Eat from the farmer’s market people!! http://www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org/ Or consider having your produce delivered by one of the many Community Supported Agriculture programs. In Seattle there’s almost no excuse for not enjoying delicious, healthful eating.

Even my well educated friends I saw this weekend, who ARE diet conscious have trouble knowing what to focus on. Low fat? Low Carb? Weight watchers?(This one makes me cringe, but hey, it works and obesity isn’t healthy either.) Culturally we’ve become disconnected from our food, and we’ve certainly lost the idea of food as medicine.

Then there is the question of supplements. Which ones to take? How often to take them? Fish oil has hit mainstream awareness but other healthy heavy weights like fermented foods and beverages (Kombucha!!) are still on the fringe.(Though not for our wise readers!) Check out the book “Nourishing Traditions” for more info on the benefits of fermented foods.

I checked our Dr. Andrew Weil’s website. I’m not his biggest fan but he’s instituted a shift in the public awareness around alternative medicine which I think is good. He has created a new food pyramid which I think is useful in conceptualizing what foods to eat and in what ratios. Here’s the link. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02995/Dr-Weil-Anti-Inflammatory-Food-Pyramid.html Here’s what he has to say about it.

  • It is a practical eating guide that consumers of all ages can use, with tips on how to reduce risks of age-related diseases and improve overall health through diet.
  • It is an interactive educational graphic to help today’s families prevent disease while eating well.
  • It is a simple tool that promotes optimum health and healthy aging by providing dietary advice that addresses inflammation.

 What is hard for me to see is that in their quest for healthier happier lives consumers’ pill boxes are filling up. I feel that it’s easy to underestimate the power of food, to discount food as viable medicine. More and more we are seeing the interactions of various medicines having unwanted and unhealthy results. Why not try a diet change first or at least concurrently with medications? I believe this to be especially important in all chronic diseases with an inflammatory component. A good resource for this is the “Anti inflammatory diet and recipe book” which we carry at our office. It explains that MOST diseases have an inflammatory component, not just the obvious ones like a stiff, swollen knee or allergies. This is one reason that acupuncture can treat such a wide variety of illnesses as well. It reduces the inflammatory response.

I guess my point is, don’t underestimate the power of the foods you eat. While medications can take care of symptoms, they can also have nasty side effects and unwanted interactions. Your diet is the foundation of your health, and a simple way to give yourself the best chance to age gracefully and healthfully.

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Eli is just over 12 weeks now and things are looking up. He had quite the fussy belly there for awhile. He was waking from a dead sleep and crying out. The gas was truly impressive. I’d be in the other room, Eli would let one go and Joel would ask if it was me…It was Eli EVERY time ( I swear.) Who knew such a little guy could make so much noise. Then there was the three consecutive meals of lasagna I ate which caused an all out red rash all over his little tush. NOW every time he pooped he’d scream. Boy did I feel bad.

So I did  some research to find out what foods to avoid while breastfeeding. Now I’ve done almost every cleanse in the book, except for that maple syrup, cayenne pepper one. But I have done gluten free, no nightshades, no- sugar, alcohol, corn, citrus, soy, grains,eggs, salt, spices. The list goes on and on. This one was new to me though.

So-I’ve eliminated eggs, soy, beans (gas producing), cinnamon, spicy foods, anise, onions, garlic, wheat, nuts, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cucumbers, citrus, apples (sorbitol), bananas, chocolate, coffee, caffeine, dairy. I think I got everything… Oh yeah tomatoes. I eat lots of pork chops, fish, sweet potatoes, rice and quinoa. Pretty good really but I do miss yogurt and broccoli, AND cucumbers.

We also started giving him Gripe water, a homeopathic blend for colic, a Chamomile blend, baby acidophilus, and of course baby acupuncture. I do a special non needle technique for babies. It’s a Japanese style which is very gentle but effective. The whole process takes 10 min. and leaves him feeling really relaxed.

All and all I’d say it was pretty effective. Labor intensive yes but worth it. His little butt is snow-white and healthy looking and his cheeks are getting chubbier everyday. Lots of smiles and less thunder farts. I’ve started adding a few things back in that I know don’t bother him. Nuts seems ok, wheat (strangely enough.) Some spices like cinnamon seem ok too. Sunchokes ( which give ANYONE gas) are not a good idea. Good news though!!! hoppy beer actually improves things dramatically. Oh darn.

Lindsey Lawson MS L. Ac

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While the title of this post might seem disgusting to some, it’s an exciting breakthrough in perception of our immune systems. This Friday I will be attending the Pacific Symposium for the second year. It is one of the largest acupuncture and Oriental Medicine conferences in the country. World class, veteran practitioners and speakers attend and share information.

One of the highlights from last year was a lecture by Jean Giblette, the founder of Local Herbs. (localherbs.org) She talked about ecological production techniques that are now being used to farm Chinese herbs in the States. What does this mean? In her words, it means the following:

  • The ecosystem affects the medicinal properties of plants, a basic principle understood by ancient peoples of Asia and North America.
  • A more bio-diverse system, with higher levels of organization, supports a more complex expression of the plant’s capacities.
  • Biodiversity can be enhanced by the farmer;  small scale cropping systems are better suited to this goal.
  • No (or very few) amendments are added.  Fertility is maintained and enhanced through specific practices that recycle nutrients.
  • Wild-simulated medicinal plant cultivation involves a close approximation of natural conditions with minimal interference by the farmer.
  • Wild-harvesting on private rather than public lands is preferred.
  • Cooperative and local values support farmers, maintain the land, and build economies.
  • Sustainability, in localities all over the world, includes preservation of farmers’ knowledge.

In my words, she also talked in detail about the importance of bacteria for the health of a plant. Rather than using pesticides and herbicides to reduce the incidences of disease, adding in beneficial organisms to strengthen the plants immune system. We use to think of the five kingdoms plant, animal, monera, fungi and protista as fingers on the same hand. All are about the same size. We now know that a better model is that of a tree, where plants and animals are one small root and the vast majority of the rest of the tree is bacteria! We are literally swimming in them.

Beyond being exciting for the future of Chinese herb production in this country, I was excited about the parallels than I saw for human immune function. There is a concept in Chinese medicine of the Wei Qi. The Wei Qi is the bodies defensive qi (energy), which protects you from outside “evils” like colds and flu. We are starting to understand the importance of good bacteria such as acidophilusand bifidophilus on our gut and immune function. We add these into our diet as supplements as well as eating more fermented unpasteurized foods, and drinking Kombucha. (yum)

We also understand the role that “germs” plan on our skin as far as getting us sick.  We wash our hands with hot water and use antibacterial soap to kill the bad guys. Wait….isn’t that what the farmers are advocating against, adding in chemicals to kill the bad stuff? Won’t antibacterial soap kill good bacteria too? Interesting questions. Here’s an excerpt from an article “Is antibacterial soap any better than regular soap?” that offers some answers.

  • The antibacterial components of soaps (usually triclosan or, less commonly, triclocarbon) need to be left on a surface for about two minutes in order to work. Most people are not this patient, and end up washing off the soap before the antibacterial ingredients can do their job.
  • Some scientists theorize that bacteria may develop a resistance to bactericidal agents over time.
  • Some bacteria actually benefit us. The normal population of bacteria on our bodies not only eats our sweat, but also helps defend us against truly harmful, invasive bacteria.
  • Many common diseases are viral in nature, anyway, and are therefore not prevented by antibacterial products. http://www.howstuffworks.com/question692.htm

So by killing all the bacteria on you skin (or just partially wounding them) you could potentially weaken you immune system. I think I’ll stick to regular soap and hot water.

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