How simple things like eating, sleeping, and pooping can make or break your health.
What does being healthy even mean?
In America we generally take "health" to mean you are not about to be dead in the very near future.
Everyone has a different idea of what health means to them, but for the most part there are major differences in the Chinese Medicine definition of health and the Western Medicine model of health. Generally in America "being healthy" means that you aren't immediately or in the very near future about to die. People are considered healthy up until he day they get a cancer diagnosis or have a heart attack or stroke. This view acts as if health is like we are walking on a flat plane until one day we step off a 1,000 foot cliff and plummet to the bottom and we call that disease. A little practical examination reveals that this is not how the body works. In reality health is more like walking on a hillside, and when health is deteriorating we are walking downhill slowly until one day we hit the realization that we are in a 1,000 foot deep valley and we don't realize how we got there to the diseased state.
In Chinese Medicine health means you eat, sleep, and poop normally. You have no pain and feel good.
Since the Black Plague in the 14th century when approximately 25 million, or 20% of Europe's population died - the primary focus of Western Medicine has been NOT DYING. Which is an excellent focus, and we are very grateful to have the tools today that Western Medicine has evolved. It's major shortcoming, however, is in detecting disease and dysfunction long before they begin. Most Western Medical testing standards find disease in a body system when it's in 70-80% system failure. An EKG stress test will not catch a coronary artery blockage that is blocking the artery unless it's more than 70% blocked. Kidney failure doesn't typically show up on lab results until your kidney function is 80% gone. In other words, it's focus is not on how to live a healthy life. Chinese Medicine, on the other hand, has been refining the art of health living and early disease detection for a continuous and well-documented 3,000 years.
Back to Basics: Eat, Sleep, Poop
So we need to define what is "normal" eating, sleeping, and pooping. Just because you have gotten used to the way you eat, sleep, and poop- that doesn't make it normal or necessarily healthy.
In Chinese Medicine, these three essential functions are normal and healthy as described below.
Eat: When you wake up, you are hungry and ready to eat within 15-20 minutes. You have good appetite, and can eat three meals a day. You do not have gas, bloating, pain, acid reflux, fatigue or discomfort after eating. You can eat most foods without any problems.
Sleep: You start to get sleepy when it's dark. You go to bed around 9-10 pm and fall asleep easily, within minutes. You sleep through the night and wake rested when it's light.
Poop: You have a bowel movement in the morning soon after waking. The stool comes once/day, is easy to pass, formed, large volume, wide (shaped like a sausage/banana/intestine), and not sticky. Sticky means have to wipe more than once or twice, or the stool sticks to the toilet bowl. You do not need laxatives or stimulants to go.
Any deviation from these basic functions means the body is not in perfect health.
Don't worry, most people are not in perfect health! But deviations from these normal functions means the body is on the downhill path where it could later develop into serious pathology. I don't care if you run 100 miles a week, eat the cleanest diet on the planet, if you have a 30 syllable latin disease diagnosis no one understands or has ever heard of, or have a recent Cancer diagnosis after thinking you have been perfectly healthy your entire life. We always start with the basics - and often that's all we need to do to restore health, even in serious illness.
If you're thinking:
- I've had sleep problems for 20 years. That's just how I am.
- I've had no appetite since I was a kid, that's just how it is.
- I haven't had normal, spontaneous bowel movements in decades. Yeah right!
Well you haven't met me, or been treated by a skilled Chinese Medicine practitioner. I hear that kind of thing ALL . THE . TIME . And then it changes. Sometimes it takes time! If you've had sleep problems for decades you probably shouldn't expect it to change in a few treatments, or even a few months. But we can change it, and changing these metrics in your life can have dramatic and far-reaching impacts on your health and future health.
Other Important Health Metrics
Eating, Sleeping, and Pooping are the first 3 we often start with correcting. But there are many other measures we use. Temperature, Sweating, Palpitations, Thirst, Urination, and Tongue and Pulse are all important measures of your health. If you feel cold all the time, or hot and red faced all the time - those are indicators that something is not right! And those are things that you want to correct now before they come crashing down in 10 years with thyroid disease or a heart attack, or something else.
The Tongue and Pulse are important indicators. For a long time the Western scientific community has scoffed at Traditional Chinese Tongue Diagnosis and Pulse Diagnosis. Now researchers are using tongue diagnosis to detect early markers for cancer, diabetes, and more. Cardiology researchers are studying Traditional Chinese Pulse Diagnosis to learn how to detect valve disorders, arterial obstruction, and more cardiovascular problems with pulse diagnosis because it actually can be more accurate than modern testing methods. Remember how scientists thought the Earth was the center of our solar system for a long, long time and ridiculed people for introducing the new theory that the Sun is the center of our solar system? Eventually new ideas percolate into science. Sometimes the new ideas are thousand year old ideas.
Tongue: If your tongue has a thick, greasy coat on it, or your tongue is dark red with areas where the coat has peeled off, or your tongue has deep cracks in it, or it's dusky purplish - these are all indications that something is not right and you'll feel better when you get that taken care of.
Pulse: you should have a healthy pulse that is easily palpable in all three wrist positions on the radial artery. If it's pounding so much your finger bounces - that's not ideal. If it's so weak you can barely feel it or not at all - it's showing something is not right with your body's blood circulation.
How do you correct deviations from these normal healthy functions?
Follow the blog, instragram, and Facebook page for Chinese Medicine lifestyle tips on eating, exercise, and more to benefit your health. Book a consultation at the clinic to get a tailored treatment plan that may include acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary and exercise guidelines to benefit your individual health. We have general guidelines for health that everyone can use, but everyone is also unique and presents different imbalances that need to be addressed in the right way to make progress with your health. You are not a cookie cut-out! So it doesn't make sense to approach your health with a cookie-cutter plan!