Healthy Tips & Tricks
Season change...it's the way of the world. Most people seek out an acupuncturist when they are dealing with pain - since acupuncture is great at decreasing pain levels. But, where traditional Chinese medicine can really shine, is by helping keep people healthy and educating them on how to avoid both acute and chronic disease.
Keeping warm doesn't just mean wearing enough layers when you go outside. It means you should keep two specific parts of your body from being exposed to the cold as the temperature dips: your neck and your digestive system.
Your neck: Chinese medicine believes that the key to a strong immune system (otherwise known as your defensive qi) is to keep the body warm and closed off to the dry, fall winds that help spread disease. The back of your neck has several acupuncture points related to wind. Leaving this part of your body exposed to the cool fall wind can lower your immunity and be the breaking point when your body decides if its defensive qi is strong enough to fight off the cold your co-worker brought to the office. So, dig out a scarf from your pile of winter clothes, or use this tip as an excuse to go out and buy yourself some cute new neck-wear. Your lungs will thank you.
Your digestive system: Just as the harvest seasons change on crops, so does your body's requirement for nutrients. For instance, as the weather gets cooler, the raw juices, giant salads, and fresh fruit that we feast on in the summer aren't as appropriate for our digestive systems in cold weather. Cold, raw foods are harder to digest and take too much energy to transform into energy and blood. Since most of our immune system cells reside within our gut, it's important to eat foods that will bolster your immunity as the season for colds and flus arrives. Soups and stews are warmer and easier to digest, and eating them will help lead your body to a stronger defense against encroaching pathogens.
Good advice for any season, but people typically tend to neglect hydration in cool or cold climate. The crisp, fall or winter air has much less humidity in it than the hot, sticky days of summer. Our respiratory systems are covered in mucus membranes which act as a first line of defense against dust, mold, viruses, and bacteria. Those mucus membranes hate being dry, so it's important that you do your best to keep them hydrated. You can accomplish this by drinking enough water throughout the day, using a humidifier in your home or office, and flushing your sinuses with a neti pot.
Our skin is another important protective barrier that dislikes dryness. Skin irritations and dry rashes tend to flare up in the fall. Keep your skin hydrated and healthy by drinking lots of water, eating omega-3 fatty acids (think cold water fish, flax seeds, walnuts), and using a moisturizer that doesn't contain alcohol (alcohol dries out skin).
Dry coughs are all too common. Chinese Medicine teaches that stone fruits such as peaches, plums, and cherries are moisturizing for the lung. Eating these fruits warm, with a small amount of sweetener such as honey or molasses, can help resolve a dry cough.
The long and expansive days of work can be particularly taxing, no matter the season. Take the time to rest and allow for our bodies to conserve energy. Restorative work such as acupuncture, massages, yoga, and good old fashion stretching are always beneficial. Additionally, adequate rest and sleep will allow your body and immune system to function at its best and keep you strong and healthy.