Asian Medicine is based on the concept of balance. Diet, exercise, relaxation, relationships, and habits all play a part in the healthy flow of energy through the body. Our future depends on our health and well being and the foundation of that is good nutrition. Current research shows that improved nutrition has great potential for preventing and overcoming common health problems.
Guidelines for Balanced Healthy Eating
Every body is unique and there will always be variations from individual to individual depending on specific needs. There are, however, some very basic guidelines that are appropriate for anyone who seeks to have balance and harmony when it comes to eating and diet.
Chewing is a fundamental part of digestion. Digestion literally begins in the mouth. Without chewing properly, the entire system becomes burdened as it has to work that much harder to break it down.
Preparing foods properly is important to insure that vitamin and mineral content is not lost during the process of cooking. The best ways of preparing foods are steaming, stir frying in water, stewing (soups) or baking. Steaming leaves the food in it's most natural state, while baking enhances or adds heat to foods and is particularly good for those with cold conditions.
Foods should be eaten in their wholeness to get the most benefit from them. The peels on fruits and vegetables usually contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals. Only peel fruits and vegetables if the peel is hard to digest or if they have been sprayed or contaminated with chemicals. Consuming organically grown foods will help you avoid toxic chemical residues of commercial produce.
Use utensils and cookware that are glass, earthenware or stainless steel. Avoid cooking in aluminum, copper or Teflon coated pans. Metals can easily leach into foods and Teflon releases toxic particulates when heated to certain temperatures, including carcinogens, global pollutants and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans even at low doses.
If possible, diet should follow the seasons. Eat what grows locally and seasonal. Nature is perfect in her plan for providing us with foods appropriate for certain seasons. The fruits and vegetables available to us in the summer time often have cooling properties and winter foods tend to have more warming qualities. It's also important to eat a wide variety of foods for good balance. Even good foods can become toxic in our systems if they are overeaten. Eating a variety of different foods assures us a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
While raw foods have been promoted as healthy, they can be hard to digest for some people. Most vegetables can be lightly cooked for easier digestion. From an Eastern perspective, cold foods should strictly be avoided as it puts out the digestive fire. Chugging down a cold milk shake would be comparable to dumping a bucket of water on a fire. It puts out the flame. We need our digestive flame to be lit at all times for proper metabolism of foods. Consuming cold foods causes slowed metabolism and stagnation.
It is best to stop eating before you actually feel full. When you eat to the point of being full, you don't leave enough room for qi to begin the digestion process properly and you're left feeling lethargic and miserable. It's also best not to eat just before going to bed. Eating at least 3 hours before bed will result in better digestion and more restful sleep.
Eating a healthy breakfast is important. It sets your metabolism for the day and provides you with the necessary fuel to make it through your day.
Nuts and seeds contain high amounts of oils and should be eaten as fresh as possible and stored in the refrigerator to avoid becoming rancid as quickly.
Always avoid highly processed foods and keep meals as simple as possible. A balanced diet consists of the following:
Whole Grains such as rice, millet, barley, wheat, oats, corn, rye, quinoa, amaranth, etc. This group of foods should account for about 40% of the diet.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables including dark leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, squash, yams etc. and seasonal fruits should account for 40% of the diet.
Legumes/Seeds/Nuts including peas, beans, lentils, sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts etc. will account for about 10-20% of the vegetarian diet and less than that for those who eat meat.
Animal Products including dairy foods, meats fish, poultry, and eggs should occupy no more than 10% of the diet. These products should be organic as commercial animal products may contain growth hormones, antibiotics and steroids.
Seaweeds such as nori, wakame, dulse, kombu, hiziki, and arame are valuable sources of minerals and can be consumed in small amounts, added to soups and salads.
One should strictly avoid foods containing chemical preservatives, additives, colorings, flavorings, and MSG. One should limit their consumption of fried or greasy foods, coffee, ice-cream, refined sugar, and alcohol.
Research has shown that a diet high in fruits and vegetables which are rich in powerful antioxidants can reduce your chances of developing:
The bright colors of fruits and vegetables are actually nature's building blocks for healthy cells and systems in the human body. These colorful packages contain bioflavonoids, or molecules of nutrition that produce amazing effects in your body. Bioflavonoids act as antioxidants to protect the cells of your body from free radical damage. Free radical damage contributes to the inflammatory and aging processes in the body.
The current United States Recommended Daily Allowances (US RDA) for nutrition includes a diet that is abundant in fruits and vegetables. They recommend that you consume 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, a difficult benchmark to reach.
Being in the health care field I am approached by companies all the time to sponsor their products. Up until now I have not been very impressed by the products or the data until a patient of mine brought to my attention a product called JuicePLUS+®. I was a skeptic until I started looking at the research data, I was floored that something as simple as a synergistic combination of 17 fruits and vegetables that have been de-sugared, fiber removed and dehydrated at very cold temperatures to maintain the high vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content could do so much for a body. I continue to be impressed by what world renown physicians are saying about it. I was mentioning it to another patient of mine and she said she had just seen the physician for Channel 6 talking about its many benefits on the Sunday morning news.
If you are interested in learning more