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Acupuncture and Gut Health

Acupuncture and Gut Health

In a recent post, Trust Your Gut, we talked about the importance of gut health, and how a healthy gut is important to the immune system and balancing the gut-brain axis and nervous system. We have gotten so used to tummy troubles that a lot of people suffer daily, even without a diagnosed digestive disorder; at times, it can be hard to pinpoint the source of the discomfort. Americans are inundated with articles about food sensitivity, overconsumption, and other factors that lead to gastrointestinal problems. The good news is, acupuncture is a safe, effective approach to improving overall gut health, which has a positive impact throughout the body.

Acupuncture can help improve the performance of the different organs in the abdomen, as well as the nervous system, and balance hormonal imbalances – all of which impact gut health. An overactive nervous system alone decreases digestive function, which has a negative impact on how effectively our bodies absorb nutrients and process waste.

The Major Players

Generally, when we think about gut health, the stomach gets all of the attention. There’s more to how the digestive system works.

OrganFunction
MouthChewing, beginning of food breakdown through saliva
EsophagusPeristalsis – the movement of organ walls, allowing food and liquid to move through the GI tract
StomachWhere food and digestive juices meet
Small intestinePeristalsis
PancreasProduces digestive juices that help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
LiverProcesses nutrients absorbed by the small intestine
Large intestinePeristalsis

Recent studies show that acupuncture can help promote or decrease peristalsis and reduce certain acid outputs.

Some of the areas acupuncture can impact:

Acid Reflux

Colitis

Crohn’s Disease

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Constipation

Weight Fluctuation

Fatigue

Bloating

Diarrhea

Nausea

Sour Stomach

Cramping

Abdominal Pain

Acupuncture has been effective in treating areas of digestive distress for thousands of years. Your acupuncturist will look at the body as a system, rather than a sum of individual parts, in developing a treatment plan specific to you and your needs.

The Better to See You With, My Dear

Did you know that 1 c of cooked pumpkin contains 200% of the RDA of vitamin A for improved eye sight? 

Or:

  • Pumpkin is rich in fiber, and may help weight loss by allowing you to feel fuller for longer
  • Pumpkin seeds have heart-healthy phytosterols
  • Seeds also contain significant amounts of tryptophan, which may help boost your mood
  • Pumpkin meat is chock full of potassium, great for replenishing electrolytes after a workout and maintaining healthy, happy muscles
  • Pumpkin meat may also help reduce cancer risk (amino acids), ward off colds (vitamin C), and even help keep skin healthy. 

In order to get the benefits of pumpkin, though, you need to keep it as pure as possible. Look for recipes with minimal sugar and fat, and make sure it’s real pumpkin (pumpkin flavoring in the syrup added to a popular autumn treat doesn’t count – sorry). 

Is Your Tea Unhealthy?

A recent study in Food Research International showed alarming levels of pesticides and synthetic flourides in popular bagged teas.  

How Does This Happen?
Washing teas before they’re dried isn’t a common practice. This leads to pesticide residues on non-organic tea- even some that are marketed as organic and pesticide free.  Tea plants accumulate synthetic flouride (a toxic byproduct) as they grow, so older leaves have higher concentrations.  Many of the less expensive teas are made from older leaves with higher accumulations. Levels are even higher in decaffeinated teas. 

What Does This Mean?
Some of the pesticides found in these bagged teas are known carcinogens, and present in quantities higher than the US and EU limits.  Some brands have 7 ppm of synthetic flouride, almost 2x the allowed level of 4 ppm.  The flouride can lead to bone, tooth, kidney, and other problems. 

Is My Tea OK?
Many of the most popular brands were noted in the study, including Tazo, Lipton, Allegro, Celestial Seasonings, Twinings, Teavana, Bigelow Tea, Mighty Leaf, Trader Joe’s, Tetley, Yogi, and Tea Forte. 

Do I Have to Give up Tea? 
Absolutely not. There are health benefits of many teas out there, but it may be time to switch brands or methods. Brew your own loose leaf teas, and try to focus on organic and white teas. Many of the bagged teas are made from low quality leaves which contain more flouride.

Back to School – And Germs

Sending the kids back to school in August is bitter sweet.  Parents get some of their freedom back, and kids get to reconnect with friends – and their germs.  The likelihood of getting sick when kids get back to school increases significantly.  If you don’t have kids of your own, you probably have colleagues who do, and your body is vulnerable to colds, flu, etc. 

Getting sick is more likely, but not a foregone conclusion.  Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal supplements are powerful tools to keep your immune system strong and decrease your risk of illness.  Call us today to set up your next session. 615-939-2787.

Lighten Up

Looking for some easy substitutes to reduce fat and calories in your cooking? 

  • Creamed soup = Mashed potato flakes, pureed white beans, or pureed carrots (add until you get the desired consistency)
  • Frosting = Whipped cream or homemade pudding
  • Canola oil = Greek yogurt – ¾ c yogurt per 1 c oil
  • Mayo = Greek yogurt, mashed avocado, olive oil, hummus, pesto, mustard, cottacge cheese, or almond butter (equal to the amount of mayo)
  • Tortillas = Lettuce leaf
  • Sour Cream = Greek Yogurt (1:1 ratio)
  • Mashed Potatoes = Mashed cauliflower, celery root, parsnip, or carrot (1:1 ratio)
  • Pasta = Spaghetti squash, zucchini, shredded cabbage, eggplant ribbons, bean sprouts
  • White Flour = Black bean puree (1:1 ratio)
  • Chocolate Chips = Carob Chips (1:1 ratio)
  • White Sugar = Cinnamon (1t cinnamon per 1 T sugar)
  • Heavy Whipping Cream = Evaporated milk (1:1 ratio)
  • Sugar = ¾ c honey: 1 c sugar; in baking reduce liquids by ¼ and mix in 1/4t baking soda per c honey used
  • Butter/Shortening = Applesauce, mashed avocado, or mashed banana (1:1 ratio)