Updated: Nov 13, 2020
You are what you eat. No, really. (I know, I know, I don't like to hear this truth either. I'd love to believe that Twinkies are the magic ingredient to give me a flat tummy!)
Let me give you a practical example: If I hand you a remote control, a tire, a chair, and a tennis ball and then ask you to make me a lasagne out of what I just gave you, could you? Of course not. I didn't give you any of the ingredients that go into a lasagne. I hate to tell you, but this is exactly how your body feels when you eat processed foods.
Your body is amazing and it is BUSY. Keeping things copacetic 24/7/365 is a lot of work. Your body is replacing worn out cells and essentially reconstructing you all day and night. I'm tired just thinking about it. It needs very specific things to rebuild you. If what your body really needs is contained in a baked sweet potato, some green beans, and a roasted chicken breast but you give it McDonald's instead, it's thinking, "Um, okay. I guess I can do something with this. Maybe I can squeeze some nutrients out of this stuff but it's going to take a lot of work to get rid of the garbage parts." Your body feels, in the immortal words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that!"
So here's my tip/challenge to you: spend 1 day this week eating nothing that came out of a box. Sure, meat is wrapped so are mushrooms, but you know what I mean. Fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and meat if you eat it. Just one day. See how you feel. Besides the awesome energy, the fabulous feeling of self-righteousness is pretty glorious ;)
Drink water in between your meals but not with your meals or just before or after. Your body needs that certain acidity to process your food, pull the nutrients out, and make you feel nourished and satisfied. Stop diluting your stomach acid! THIS is often the cause of people having GERD.....You've diluted your stomach acid, and the sheer volume of consumed liquid pushes the acid and the food up to the top of your stomach. Also, when the body doesn't get to digest food well due to low acid, it turns into a lot of sludge. That sludge, full of undigested food, has nowhere to go but into your intestine. That intestine is expecting a well broken down soup (called chyme), and it is NOT happy that it got sludge instead. So what do you experience as a result? Gas, bloating, pain and abdominal distention----AKA "Food baby"
If you'd like to have a drink with your meals, take small sips of room temperature water. That's one of the biggest secrets I can share with you: room temperature or warm drinks. When you drink icy cold water, that cold causes the blood vessels in your stomach to constrict. Your stomach is very busy trying to digest food and needs the blood flow to contract the smooth muscle tissue (since we do actually churn our food a bit) AND it needs the physical warmth that blood flow brings. Your body is trying to bring that food up to a certain temperature so that it can be used by the body. Drinking icy cold drinks are like pouring a bucket of icy cold water on your BBQ grill while you're grilling a steak----that steak is not going to cook as you planned. Icy cold drinks put our your digestive fire. Yes, there are those studies that show that you can create a "calorie deficit" by drinking cold water. What you didn't know is that we're talking about 5 calories. Definitely not worth it when you consider what's at stake.
Chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, and then chew some more. The other reason you should not really need to drink with your meals is that your chewing should be so thorough that your saliva and its digestive enzymes should have turned your food quite moist or even liquid. Remember how the intestine above had an expectation of what it was about to receive? So does your stomach. It is not expecting large chunks of barely chewed food. It is depending on the amylase/ptyalin (which breaks down sugars), lipase (which breaks down fats), lysozymes (breaking down bacteria), and Kallikrein which breaks down proteins. These only really get flowing when you've chewed adequately.
What does this have to do with losing weight? In TCM, when you have poor digestion, the Spleen (our digestion) becomes Damp. Being overweight is a Damp Accumulation. So when you think about all the times you make poor food choices and then barely chew them AND wash them down with a soft drink, you see how we do truly accumulate Damp. All the tips above can help you feel nourished and satisfied, which helps cut down on impulsive eating, cravings, and feelings of deprivation. See other posts regarding dietary therapy and how to prevent Dampness and schedule an appointment to address weight loss with acupuncture, ear seeds, and herbal medicine.
As far as GERD goes, you can see how optimal digestion can lessen the burden on the stomach, as well as the confusion created from diluting stomach acid. While many, many patients are put on Prilosec, Nexium, etc., this is rarely the answer for the long-term. (Indeed, if you see the prescribing information for these medications, the initial course of treatment is 4 weeks, with an extension of another 4 weeks in specific cases. It is rare that this is indicated for long term use---and that's a drug company talking!) These medicines inhibit stomach acid and are often given because there is a misconception that someone has too much stomach acid when they actually have too little. You can see where this cycle could go. Inhibition of stomach acid affects how much nutrition the body can pull out of food, setting you up for long-term problems. There are some cases where acid rise must be stopped immediately...in the situation of an ulcer or chronic problems such as "Barrett's esophagus" to give the mucosal lining a chance to heal, but after that a long-term solution must be sought. Chinese medicine is excellent at this. Schedule an appointment to get started. We will use acupuncture and Chinese botanical medicine to repair your gut lining. In these cases where we are working to discontinue medication use, I am happy to work with your doctor to make a collaborative plan.
I love treating digestive disorders. Schedule an appointment so we can get you on the road to health! Most digestive disorders resolve fairly quickly, whereas some need some detective work, but you can count on feeling better almost immediately, and having continued improvement within 4-8
For more information on how digestive organs work, try: http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/your-digestive-system