I used to wake up and go through my undergrad days with asthma, sinus congestion, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, and digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and constipation. Now, I am free of many of these symptoms. I’ve stopped using inhalers and antihistamines. I am able to stay alert and concentrate even in some of the most tedious situations. How did I overcome this?
Chinese medicine. Acupuncture, moxibustion, herbs, and diet turned my life around after my first year in grad school. I was able to do the things I love more effectively and easily like breathing, running, and eating.
How do all of these symptoms have to do with gut health? All of these manifested because of poor gut health.
Gut health is essential to how we digest, absorb food, and how we eliminate waste from our body. Chinese medicine and western thought on gut health are similar in how the gastrointestinal system functions. Where Chinese medicine takes gut health to another level is about the energetics of food and how the nutritional components are absorbed and eliminated from the body.
The steaming stone pot is your stomach holding the veggies and meat that you’ve just eaten. The fire pit represents your digestive function that transforms the food into something that can be absorbed easily by your body which is depicted with steam.
If you stop the fire, the digestive process quits, and this will create some interesting scenarios for the body called dis-ease. Therefore, the energetics of food which include temperature, taste, and function are important to how the body will digest, absorb, and eliminate its nutrients. The symptoms that arise from having cold gut can mean bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, congestion, excess mucus, coldness in the body, brain fog, and the list goes on. Your acupuncturist will ask you about what symptoms you experience to develop a pattern to make a diagnosis. Then she will pick acupoints and herbs that will help you rebuild and rebalance your gut and health.
Here are a few tips to consider when keeping your digestive fire happy:
Eat some ginger. This herb is great for digestion, as well as for respiratory health. It is spicy, warm, and dispersing which helps with boosting digesting, alleviating nausea, stopping coughs, and thinning out mucus. Add a little to steamed milk, food, and water. Also, avoid eating meals while on the go. This will help you prevent indigestion, bloating, and allow you to focus on what you are putting into your body.
Drink room temperature water. Ice water slows down the digestive process. It’s also best to drink water between meals rather than with a meal, as it can dilute the digestive enzymes in your gut.
Move. Go play your favorite sport, run around, or shake that booty in salsa class. Moving encourages peristalsis to happen, which aids in the digestion and elimination process. Say NO to constipation!
Breathe. Breathing helps the body reduce inflammation, as well as helps you relax and focus on the tasks you want to get done. Try a five-minute breathing exercise by inhaling through your nose for 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts, and exhale for 5 counts. Repeat.
Rest. Sleep. Take time for yourself. Do something fun. A break from the everyday stresses in life can help your gut!