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The Role of TCM and Nutrition in Preventative Care

by Alex A. Kecskes

An old Chinese medical proverb says--The best doctor treats the problem before the problem becomes the disease. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) uses herbs and medications, acupuncture, massage, and qi gong  (coordinating breathing patterns with various physical postures and body motions). TCM has been practiced in Asia for over 4,000 years. To underscore its importance in health care, the ancient Chinese upper class saw doctors only for preventative care; if they became sick, the doctors were not be paid.

A report from a recent survey of more than 23,000 adults nationwide found that more than one-third of adults use alternative medicine. Why are so many Americans spending more on alternative medicine?  Some say TCM and other alternative medicines fill a growing need in the current healthcare system. Others insist it's the growing number of uninsured individuals who are opting for less expensive alternatives.

TCM treats recurring symptoms of illness and draws on preventive care boost one's immunity against illness and disease. TCM's preventive care seeks to maintain the body's balance . In doing so, there are a number of foods you should avoid and several you should consider adding or retaining in a healthy diet.

Foods and drinks to avoid under TCM teachings included alcohol, coffee (regular & decaf), cheese, eggs, greasy, fatty, oily foods, red meat, and excessively spicy foods. Instead, TCM recommends you eat more sprouted grains, beans, fresh fruits vegetables, romaine lettuce, cucumber, rhubarb root, mushrooms, plums, tofu, radish and vinegar.

In general a nutritional TCM diet consists of warm, cooked foods one can easily digest. This would include cooked vegetables, soups, noodles, rice,  stews and small portions of meat. Opt for whole-wheat grains that are well cooked and easily digested. Try not to overeat in any one meal.  The Chinese say you should stop eating when you are 70 percent full. Choose instead to eat smaller meals spaced evenly throughout the day.

Above all, one should make it a point to shop for fresh food. Unlike the fast food choices made by many teens and young adults in Western societies, the Chinese select live seafood, fresh meats and seasonal fruits and vegetables from the local market to ensure freshness. In other words, rather than freeze dried fish or meat in a can or plastic wrap, the Chinese opt for swimming fish, snappy crabs, and squawking chickens.

Those concerned about bad (LDL) cholesterol in their blood, may find these results interesting. A study conducted in Finland showed that eating three apples a day for three months can help drop your cholesterol level by twenty points. The lutin in spinach and other green leafy vegetables may help prevent the buildup of cholesterol. The soluble fiber in whole grain oats can help reduce LDL cholesterol in your system. The orange rind in orange marmalade contains compounds known as polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs), which may lower LDL cholesterol without reducing the good cholesterol your body needs. Finally, there's green tea, which is not only good for a number of conditions and ailments, but can help reduce LDL cholesterol.

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