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Food Therapy for Better Health

Food therapy consists of either adding or avoiding specific foods in order to prevent or reverse an imbalance in the body or mind.  Chinese medicine has utilized food as medicine for thousands of years.  Chinese physicians identified nutritional deficiency diseases hundreds of years before European physicians understood them. 

At Barefoot Acupuncture, we provide food selection guidance for both specific conditions (imbalances) and general health.  Once we determine the nature of your imbalance, we will, if appropriate, recommend specific dietary changes to support the acupuncture or herbal medicine.  For example, people who have excess heat should avoid hot, spicy, greasy foods, people who have phlegm should avoid thick, rich foods high in protein and fat, and people who have cold conditions should eat more warming foods. 

In addition, for those interested in changing their body composition or preventing common degenerative diseases, we can provide, at your request, in a separate nutrition consultation, specific meal plans and recipes.  We help people to adopt a whole foods plant based diet.  You can learn a lot about this for free.  We have a Plant-Based Solution Facebook Group and materials available at our Plant-Based Solution website and Plant-Based Solution YT Channel.

Chinese Medicine, Asian Food and Health

Chinese medicine heavily influenced Asian cuisine, generally recommending a diet consisting primarily of starches (rice, noodles, and potatoes), legumes (soy and others), various green and other vegetables, and fresh fruits, with limited animal products. This preventive medicine food therapy has helped well-nourished Asians have superior resistance to chronic degenerative diseases and greater longevity compared to Western nations. 

People in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan who still follow traditional Asian diets rarely become overweight in comparison to Westerners.  For example, according to the OECD, only 3.2% of people in Japan or South Korea are obese, compared to 31% in the U.S., 24% in Mexico, and 23% in the U.K. . 1

Asians also have longer average lifespans than people in Western nations.  Japan and Hong Kong top the list with life expectancy of more than 82 years, compared to 78 years in the United States. 2

Within Japan, the Okinawans live longer than the typical Japanese, and the Okinawan Centenarian Study (3) found that Okinawa has the highest concentration of centenarians (people over 100 years of age) of any population.  

They also have much lower incidences of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.  Asian women have very low incidence of premenstrual disorder, menopausal symptoms, and reproductive cancers, and age very gracefully. Compared to North Americans, Okinawans have 80% less breast cancer and prostate cancer, and less than half the ovarian and colon cancers. Okinawans incorporate food therapy based on Chinese medicine principles in their daily diets.

Western Medical Food Therapy

The National Cancer Institute, the American Institute for Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the World Health Organization all have issued dietary guidelines that resemble those of traditional Chinese medicine food therapy and the traditional Asian diet.

The National Cancer Institute states:

"The American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research both have dietary guidelines that may help prevent cancer. Their guidelines are a lot alike and include the following:

*  Eat a plant-based diet, with at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Have several servings a day of beans and grain products (such as cereals, breads, and pasta). Eat less meat.

*  Eat foods low in fat.

*  Eat foods low in salt."

The American Heart Association guidelines are similar:

"A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet (foods low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars, and foods high in whole grain fiber, lean protein, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables) you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy– for life!"

Only animal foods naturally contain cholesterol and trans fats, and they are also the main sources of saturated fats in most people's diets.  Only plants contain fiber and plants (particularly legumes) also serve as the leanest protein sources lowest in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol. Research done by Dean Ornish, MD, and Caldwell Esselstyn, MD, has shown that a whole foods plant-based diet can reverse coronary artery disease.  That is powerful food therapy!

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine in the National Academy of Sciences has stated:

"Given the capability of all tissues to synthesize sufficient amounts of cholesterol for their metabolic and structural needs, there is no evidence for a biological requirement for dietary cholesterol....There is much evidence to indicate a positive linear trend between cholesterol intake and LDL cholesterol concentration...any incremental increase in cholesterol intake increases coronary heart disease risk."

Since cholesterol is present only in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, not in any plants, this means that the less animal food you eat, the lower your risk of heart disease.  This is an example of food avoidance as food therapy.

The World Cancer Research Fund states:

"At least 5 A DAY, every day. Vegetables and fruits are the building blocks of a healthy diet - we should aim for at least five portions a day. They are high in nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Most are also low in calories and are good sources of fibre, so they are filling and can help us avoid weight gain."<br><br>
"Fill 2/3 or more of your plate with plant foods. When preparing a meal, aim to fill at least two thirds of your plate with plant foods like vegetables, wholegrain rice, cereal and pasta, beans and lentils."

The World Health Organization states:

“Populations should consume nutritionally adequate and varied diets, based primarily on foods of plant origin with small amounts of added flesh foods. Households should select predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, pulses or legumes, and minimally processed starchy staple foods. The evidence that such diets will prevent or delay a significant proportion of non-communicable chronic diseases is consistent. A predominantly plant-based diet has a low energy density, which may protect against obesity.”

"Although two-thirds of the world’s population depends on cereal or tuber-based diets, the other one-third consumes significant amounts of animal food products. The latter group places an undue demand on land, water, and other resources required for intensive food production, which makes the typical Western diet not only undesirable from the standpoint of health but also environmentally unsustainable. If we balance energy intake with the expenditure required for basal metabolism, physical activity, growth, and repair, we will find that the dietary quality required for health is essentially the same across population groups."

So you can see, moving toward a plant-based diet is powerful food therapy; it can improve your health, reduce demands on land, water, and other resources, and reduce the amount of money you spend on food.   If you have any questions about food therapy, don't hesitate to ask, and please take time to visit our Plant-Based Solution Facebook Group , our Plant-Based Solution website and our Plant-Based Solution YT Channel.

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