Nutrition is a key component in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The Chinese believe that one should not only eat for the seasons but also for one’s specific body type. Due to disease or one’s constitutional makeup, certain foods should be either avoided or encouraged. For example: persons who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should bypass hot, spicy foods and red meats along with alcohol and tobacco. These foods create heat in the body and build up toxins that accumulate in the joints which lead to overall inflammation in the body and severe pain in the joints. Every patient in my clinic receives nutritional counseling as lifestyle plays a crucial part in a person’s health – regardless of whether they are in the clinic for a sports injury, pregnancy, erectile dysfunction or any other pathology or condition.
Foods to Encourage
Fortunately, it is very easy to purchase watermelon during winter or lamb shish kebab in the middle of August here in New York City. Watermelon is cool in nature and has a cooling effect – thus, it should only be eaten during the hot summer months to cool the body. On the other hand, lamb is very warm in nature and should be eaten in wintertime when the climate is colder.
How have we ventured so far from eating for the seasons?
Conversely, the convenience of the modern world allows a patient undergoing chemotherapy to access certain foods that would have been geographically unavailable in the past. Chemotherapy patients are often encouraged to eat both berries (antioxidants) and watermelon to detoxify from chemotherapy drugs and to cool their bodies from the intense heat the chemo elicits internally. Clearly, there is both good and bad to having whatever you want to eat at your fingertips!
What is healthy for one person to eat might not be appropriate for the next patient walking through the door.
Personalized Treatment Strategy
Each patient under my care completes a comprehensive questionnaire during their initial visit. Based on the foods they eat on a regular basis, foods they crave and other ingestible habits (water, alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs) dietary and otherwise, I create a refined and personalized treatment strategy that will help an individual achieve their health goals quicker and easier.
I also take into account that none of us are angels – myself included- and we all will fall from the ‘healthy wagon’ every so often. Consequently, I work with a person’s lifestyle, and together we create a plan that is workable and effective for that person going forward.
Nutritional counseling is the final piece that completes the puzzle of a patient’s profile. It is equally as important for me to know what you eat for breakfast as it is to understand your urine output, daily digestive condition, aches, pains, menstrual cycles and sexual function.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is an all-encompassing system of treatment, and in today’s modern world, TCM should be considered integrative with the modern allopathic technologies we are fortunate to have (MRI, x-ray, blood work, etc.). There is a time and place for all modalities. And I believe that a true mélange of both Chinese and Western medicine can keep a person both happy and healthy, so they may live his/her life with joy and to the fullest.