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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.

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?

1. Refined, 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.

2. Pesticides, 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.

3. Antibiotics- 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 healthy gut?

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 foods:

1. Eat Organic whenever possible, avoiding pesticides by choosing foods grown without them can take a huge load of toxins out of the equation.

2. Choose 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.

3. Eat 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.

4. Try 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