An Ounce of Prevention Goes a Long Way

In preparation for upcoming changes to our health care system, it is more important than ever that we all think about preventative medicine. This means moving our focus away from treating illness and shifting it towards lifestyle practices that will keep us healthy. We all have different needs when it comes to how we prevent illness but most of us should be thinking about using dietary choices, exercise and stress management to stay healthy. If we haven’t helped you already, IHD is always ready to help you design your preventative medicine plan whether you can come to the office or meet on the phone.

A big question I often hear is, “How do I pay for services that are not covered by insurance?” Depending on where you live, preventative and holistic medicine professionals such as acupuncturists, naturopaths, chiropractors and massage therapists are likely not to be covered by insurance. A great option is to invest in a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account. This is a bank account where you can hold pre-taxed money that can be used to pay for preventative health services. While it may initially seem like an extra expense, it will save you money in the long run with less copays, medications and physician visits. In fact, visits to preventative medicine practitioners don’t even have to be all that frequent since you are still healthy, which keeps the cost lower. It can even keep your premiums from rising over time as you stay healthier and there is less need for more complex coverage. As stated by the Surgeon General , “Prevention can reduce the significant economic burden of disease in addition to improving the length and quality of people’s lives.”

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Balancing the Yang

Those of us who practice Chinese Medicine look at everything as being a balance between Yin and Yang. When we refer to Yang, we are speaking of things that are warming, active, outward focused, creative and energetic. Yin refers to things that are cooling, inward focused, calming, grounding, restorative. The balance between the two is essential to health in all aspects of our lives.

Chinese medicine also views the seasons as having Yin or Yang qualities. For example, Summer is a very Yang time of year when the weather is warm, we are more extroverted, we stay awake for more hours of the day. Winter, is certainly a more Yin time when the weather and daylight encourage us to sleep more and to spend less time at home instead of socializing.

It is important to remember that we can work to balance these seasonal influences when we feel symptoms arise. It is certainly possible for the Summer months to aggravate any Yang conditions like anxiety, skin rashes and insomnia. And while we may be feeling more energetic, it is possible to over exert that energy, leaving us exhausted and prone to colds or viral infections by the end of the season. The way we combat the heat and high Yang energy of the summer is with cooling Yin foods and calming Yin activities.

Some cooling Yin foods to combat the heat of the Yang Summer include cucumber, celery, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, tofu, yogurt, lemons and mung beans. A few of my favorite recipes are this Watermelon Salad and this Cucumber, Yogurt and Dill Cold Soup. 

Some calming activities to balance the high energy Yang activities of summer include yoga, walking, slow swimming, meditation and Qi Gong. Read more here about Yin Yoga and Qi Gong.

Hopefully you can include some of these to help you stay cool during this hot Yang season. Happy Summer!

Summer- The Fire Element

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we see the seasons as being highly influential in our health. We believe it is essential to use the diet to balance the environmental elements that may create illness or disease.

Summer is traditionally a warm, energetic time of year. We tend to be busier, more outgoing in our lives and be exposed to warmer temperatures. It is a period of growth, excitement and lightness. However, there is a chance that we can become too energetic, warm and extroverted to where it can create and imbalance in our system. That can look like insomnia, scattered thoughts, speech problems, memory loss, anxiety, feeling over heated or experiencing hot flashes and acid reflux.

Both food choices and how we prepare them can help support us through this exciting season. To combat over heating, fatigue and dehydration and to encourage growth, TCM recommends increasing the following foods:

Brown Rice, Oats and Millet

Mushrooms, Cucumbers, Celery, Lettuce, Apples, Lemons, Limes, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Berries, Avocados

Tofu, Tempeh, Chia Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Mung Beans

Dill, Basil, Cilantro, Chamomile, Lavender, Valarian

Examples: Include cucumber slices or strawberries in your water to give it an increased cooling effect.

(Remember, these are general guidelines and each person should take into account their own needs and ability to digest the foods listed here)*

Eating small amounts of these foods raw is beneficial (if your digestion tolerates it). Also, cooking for short periods over high heat or very lightly sautéing can keep the vegetables light and cooling. Use less salt and more water for sautéing. Keeping your cooking oils to a minimum will help maintain the light quality to the food as well.

Food is a powerful health tool and now is a great  time to re-evaluate what your body needs. Let IHD know if we can help!

*  To find out how you can personalize your plan with food, schedule an in person, online or phone consult so you can get the most benefit from your diet.