Nutrition and Inflammation
By Dr. Robin N Myers DACM, LAc
Peaceful Spirit Massage and Wellness Centers
We often read about nutrition in
the context of weight loss, but often overlooked is how what we eat is closely
tied to gut health, and how gut health is tied to inflammation.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM) there is an entire treatise on the Spleen. If the Spleen is healthy, then
the prognosis of the current disease or condition is good… the body can
recover. If your Spleen is in poor health, then the prognosis of the current
disease or condition is poor. The body can’t recover if it lacks the ability to
assimilate the nutrition it needs for normal processes.
In TCM, when we talk about the
Spleen, we are talking about the digestive system that includes the pancreas
and its function of producing and releasing digestive enzymes, along with the
small intestine’s role in breaking down our foods and extracting the nutrients
from them. In essence, the Spleen system translates into what we now call the
Gut dysbiosis occurs when colonies
of “good” gut bacteria die off and opportunistic bacteria (often called “bad”
bacteria, such as Candida) take over. When this occurs:
Healthy foods such as vegetables and beans can
become difficult to digest, causing gas, bloating, acid reflux, and Gerd
The gut lining becomes compromised (A.K.A. leaky
gut) and we develop allergies to many foods that we historically had been able
to eat and tolerate.
The blood-brain barrier is compromised, allowing
toxins to reach the brain.
The body and brain become inflamed and
hypersensitive, sometimes developing into auto-immune disorders in which the
body comes under attack by its own immune system such as (but not limited to):
Crohn’s, rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, Irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis,
and more. It has also been closely linked to movement disorders and
neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.
So, what causes gut dysbiosis?
processed foods that quickly turn into glucose create a high-sugar environment
in the gut in which sugar-loving (“bad” or opportunistic) bacteria thrive and
the “good” bacteria die off.
herbicides (Round-Up), and fungicides sprayed on produce during growth and
after harvest (vegetables, fruits, and grains like wheat and corn) kill off
good gut flora. The root word of Pesticide is Cide, meaning “to kill”, and kill
it does. Not just the pests that are their targets. They kill off our gut flora
and interrupt our own natural digestive and nutrient uptake processes.
by design kill off bacteria in our systems. When we take antibiotics, they
don’t just target the bacterial infection but attack all bacteria in the body.
This can be devastating as our ability to digest and process foods is dependent
upon these diverse colonies in our gut.
Sadly, the opportunistic or “bad” bacteria are more likely to survive
antibiotic treatment, leaving us more open to Candida overgrowth and illness.
So which diet do I eat to support a
I have studied nutrition for years
and the many diets available that support good gut health: the Mediterranean
Diet, Ketogenic, Whole 30, GAPS, Paleo, and SOME whole food-based Vegetarian
diets. Some allow or disallow dairy, grains, starches, and other particular
foods based on their own sets of rules. What they all have in common with each
other (and with Traditional Chinese Medicine’s nutrition) is that they all
support a Whole Food dietary approach. So, choose the whole foods diet that
suit’s your lifestyle and preferences, one that you can enjoy. Choose one that
also allows for the foods that you tolerate well and disallows the foods that
you know (or suspect) that you have sensitivities to.
Basic guidelines for gut-healthy
Organic whenever possible, avoiding pesticides by choosing foods grown without
them can take a huge load of toxins out of the equation.
Whole foods in their natural forms like berries, brown rice, millet,
quinoa, and barley with the husks still on provide fiber and these forms have a much
lower glycemic index than their highly processed relatives.
lots of vegetables in a variety of colors: dark leafy greens and cruciferous
veggies, plus red, yellow, purple, and orange vegetables and fruits. These
colors represent their unique nutrient content. Make at least 1/3 to 1/2 of
your plate all vegetables. If you experience gas and bloating, cook your vegetables
low and slow to ease digestion. Eventually, the good bacteria will come back
and make these easy to digest.
to eat at least one serving of live, fermented foods a day. Sauerkraut is one
of the easiest foods to make and is delicious when added to breakfast meats and
eggs. Fermented foods can help to rebuild healthy gut flora much more quickly
than without them.
One last recommendation… if you are
unsure how to cook a particular dish, there is a wealth of how-to videos on
YouTube that cater to each of these diets to help you along your way. I also
highly recommend “Healing with Whole Foods” by Paul Pitchford. It has great
information on the nutritional value and healing actions of hundreds of whole
foods, as well as recipes and basic instructions on how to use and prepare them
for your own particular health concerns from a Chinese Nutrition approach.Dr. Robin N Myers DACM, LAc is available for appointments at
Peaceful Spirit Massage and Wellness Centers Country Club Rd location
Monday through Friday