My job is mostly detective work. I dedicate a lot of time and energy towards helping people figure out why they have the problem(s) they have. We also focus on solutions. Most people get caught up in the basics – they don’t drink enough water, or they have a poor diet, etc.
My running theory is that most patients have problems meeting these basic health needs because they don’t understand how meeting those needs will benefit them directly and tangibly.
I find that helping a person understand how their body works, how problems are interconnected, and how something will benefit them. Explaining this directly and tangibly goes a long way towards motivating that person towards change.
So, here I will cover some of the most common issues I see people struggling with. I will explain how taking care of yourself in these ways will benefit you.
I have to coach most of my patients on this. Not drinking enough water is akin to letting an engine run without enough oil. Think sludge and heat. NOT GOOD.
Also, water is one of our best mucolytics. “One of our best whats?” Basically, water helps break down mucus.
Do you have chronic sinus issues? Beside the fact that you probably have unaddressed digestive/food related issues, you probably don’t drink enough water. Water thins mucus.
If you find that drinking enough water is challenging because you forget, or you’re not thirsty, there may be something amiss with your body’s water metabolism. Meaning, it’s ability to process, circulate, and excrete fluids correctly.
Acupuncture, and especially Chinese herbs can help tune you up in this regard.
Eat Real Food
So much of the modern health epidemic relates to diet, and our over-reliance on sugary, refined foods, not to mention all the chemicals that we get exposed to by eating processed, or conventionally grown foods.
Many studies (that I’m not going to go into here) clearly demonstrate how the standard American diet leads to diabetes, and heart disease, makes us fat, and makes us feel terrible.
Other studies demonstrate that eating conventionally raised meats and conventionally grown vegetables allows the chemicals used by farms (arsenic, pesticides, antibiotics, fungicides) to accumulate in our bodies.
The long term effects of this type of exposure isn’t entirely understood. To give you a tangible motivation to avoid conventionally raised meat, did you know that farmers started feeding animals antibiotics back in the 50’s or 60’s because it helped them to gain weight? And that we get exposed to these same antibiotics when we eat meat raised that way? You do the math.
Eating a whole foods based diet (organic is best in many cases), with plenty of healthy fats (no PUFA’s or hydrogenated oils!), helps us feel good and get or stay healthy. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Fix Your Digestion
Most people think their digestion is fine, but don’t realize that getting bloated after eating, having loose stools, or low appetite (among other things) are signs of an unhealthy gut.
Did you know that having chronic digestive symptoms can contribute to other health problems? Particularly, conditions related to pain and mood can be rooted in digestive dysfunction. At Centered: Richmond we very frequently see headaches, joint pain, allergies/asthma, and various emotional disturbances which caused by unhealthy guts.
If you have chronic health issues, and digestive symptoms such as bloating, acid reflux, frequent belching or gas, constipation, loose stools, slow bowel transit time, small bowel movements, or abdominal pain, consider acupuncture & Chinese herbs as as option to achieve better health by addressing the root of the problem.
If you only have digestive symptoms, but no other complaints, consider addressing those symptoms now rather than in months or years. Down they road you may also have developed allergies/chronic pain/mood disturbances/fatigue/insomnia. Limited or poor digestive capacity will turn into other health problems eventually. So don’t let it get away from you.
Get Enough Rest
Burning the candle at both ends will deplete your body’s resources quickly, affect your powers of thinking, increase your stress levels, and make you more prone to getting sick.
Regular sleep schedules, and going to bed well before midnight are the best ways to recharge your batteries. I firmly believe that the hours of sleep before midnight are better for you. I would even say they are twice as valuable as the hours after midnight.
If you struggle with insomnia, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be very helpful. They can help your body regain its ability to charge its batteries by improving sleep.
Get Moving, Don’t Over Exercise
Most modern ills are the result of one of two things: stress, and stagnation. Stagnation is a breeding ground for disease, but what is stagnation? Stagnation is what happens when you’re sitting at a desk all day, and a couch all night.
Fluids stagnate in the tissues, which isn’t good! It is helpful to think of a river that isn’t flowing very well, maybe because of a drought or pollution. Visualize that river. Is the water clear and clean, or dirty and clogged up?
The opposite problem of stagnation is “over doing it.” Americans love to overdo things in general, which is rarely good for the health. Overdoing exercise is especially not good for you!
Overexerting yourself can be just as damaging to the cardiovascular system as not doing anything. Marathoners, and ultra-marthoners, take note.
Enjoy Life. Feel Good, Most of the Time
Someone recently asked me if they came to see me would I tell them to, “Stop drinking wine and eating chocolate.” I laughed and said no. I said that I believed as much as anything else, being able to enjoy your life is an important part of health.
We all have our little “vices” – things that in abundance aren’t so good for us, but in small amounts are fun. With some exceptions of course, I think those things are wonderful to have.
With that being said, I want to underline the concept of feeling good. It’s a big motivating force behind my work. I believe that you can feel good most of the time if you take care of yourself. For most people, doing the above is usually enough.
If you’re concerned about how much time self-care takes, consider adding years or decades on to your life during which you *feel good*.
Consider how much more you will be able to enjoy and accomplish in those years or decades if you feel good, versus if you aren’t well or struggle with chronic, life-style related illness.