How Chinese Medicine views weight-gain
In Chinese Medicine the role of digestion is performed by two functional organ-systems called the Spleen & Stomach. They are responsible for breaking up chewed food particles and transforming them for usable energy (Qi) that our body uses to nourish our cells, organs and tissues.
The Spleen also separates the nutrients from the waste via elimination through our intestines. When this process is hindered, food can either pass through the body partially (so some is still stuck in your intestines) or fully undigested (diarrhoea).
As a result of this process, the Spleen/Stomach’s transporting and transforming function produces a by-product from the accumulated food-qi and toxic waste. This by-product is called Dampness. Dampness has the consistency of a mucus-like substance that can be deposited around the body. Dampness has many manifestations such as phlegm, mucus in stools, cysts, etc.
One way it is presented is as excess body fat. This Dampness slows down and blocks the flow of Qi through the channels, therefore interfering with organ function. This is how weight-gain can cause other health complications: asthma, cardiovascular disease, depression, negative body image, diabetes, gallbladder and liver conditions, cancers and more.
A further explanation can be found here.
What can you do about this?
Our job as Chinese Medicine practitioners is to unveil the process in which this occurred. Each patient’s digestion is specific and individualised, so taking into account the effect of other systems in this process is essential.
Our 21st century lifestyles are making it harder to sustain a healthy weight. There are a number of environmental influences: radioactivity and pollution, preservatives, additives and colourings in packaged foods, our stressful go-go lifestyles, the sugar content in many consumer products and even the expense of buying healthy food (its cheaper to eat junk food).
The factors behind over-weight and obesity are many, as we’ve written about previously in this article.
Despite all these factors there are a few simple ways you can take control of your weight.
5 simple weight-loss hacks
This sounds like the most basic tip for weight-loss but there is a reason you have heard it so many times.
Our bodies need water to function; for cell division, temperature regulation and to maintain auto-nomic bodily functions. Breathing, sweating and digestion consume water, so it is vital to rehydrate by maintaining water consumption throughout the day.
Staying hydrated additionally aids to avoid overeating. Your body sends the same signal to the brain about hunger and thirst without distinguishing between the two. Drinking a glass of water before you eat may prevent over-eating and tell your brain how much quantity you really need.
Your urination colour is an indication of how hydrated you are. Yellow urine in the morning is normal. But if you are well hydrated, the colour of your urine will change throughout the day to a clear colour. Yellow colour will indicate that you need to drink more!
2 litres per day is ideal and that includes all liquids drunk and the food you eat. However it is also relative to your physical and mental activity levels.
The most important being that sleep is nutrition for the mind, the centre of all weight management.
During the REM phases of sleep, the part of brain responsible for decision making and impulsion control (frontal lobe) is at rest.
The importance of frontal lobe restoration is that the hormones gherkin and leptin are regulated. These two hunger hormones signal your brain when its time to eat, and when its time to put down the cutlery. When you are not getting enough sleep, gherkin and leptin levels soar, signalling your brain to eat more food.
Additionally, blood floods to the brain and vital organs for restoration during sleep (your blood pressure and temperature drops).
The liver cleanses the blood during sleep. In Chinese Medicine, it also promotes the free-flow of Qi. It is essential for eliminating Dampness and regulating digestive function. On top of all this, sleep also burns calories from all these above processes.
If you wake up feeling refreshed and your energy is sustainable throughout the day, you know that you have had enough sleep. Adequate sleep ultimately allows your output (exercise, activity) versus input (food, water) ratio to be balanced during the day.
Goodbye to the Damp-producing foods
- sugary foods
The goodbye list sounds like an extensive overwhelming amount of foods to cut out of your diet, but did you know that eating a balance of vegetables, legumes, nuts, grains, seeds and meats/poultry are just everything your body needs. Weight-gain in the 21st century is highly attributable to this overconsumption of greasy, fried, spicy, sugary and cold/raw foods.
Too much of these foods damage the environment of the Spleen (see above). It likes to be dry. Foods that impair digestive function contribute to the development of Dampness. This impairs flow through the gastrointestinal tract and water metabolism, and leads to malnourishment.
With all the impairment of the digestive function, it gives rise to weight gain through lipid deposition and fluid retention around the body. This is why you get that heavy, sluggish, fatigue-like sensation when you are overweight, on top of your other gastrointestinal symptoms.
DAMP-PRODUCING FOODS TO STAY CLEAR OF:
- Dairy products: yoghurt, cheeses, milk
- Greasy/fried foods: deep fried food in oil, pastries, cakes, baked goods
- Soy: oestrogenic factor
- Wheat flour, refined starch, processed starches
- Excess raw fruits and vegetables
- Excess fungi, cold beverages
- Packaged/preservative dense foods, Sugar – even in fruits
Eat and chew consciously
What does it mean to “eat consciously”?
Do you remember that time when you were overly hungry? There was a desperate urge to your hunger where you chewed and swallowed without being very aware of it, or your surroundings, just to fill that void. Besides the immediate relief, what you got from that experience was a full, uncomfortable and lethargic feeling.
Eating consciously is vital to incorporate into your daily life to prevent overeating, which will hamper the transforming and transporting function of digestion.
Furthermore, overeating leads to food stagnation, the obstruction of the Gastro-Intestinal Tract, contributing to weight gain and lethargy. You’ll know this as bloating, abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea/constipation or reflux.
Additionally, overthinking is a common precursor for depleting spleen energy. If we eat without awareness, we are disconnecting the signal between mind and Digestive system. This can lead to emotional eating. As stated before, the regulation of the hunger hormones are integral part of maintaning a healthy weight.
Eating consciously means having a date with your plate.
- Sit down to eat at a table, no distractions
- Smell and observe the food before anything (allowing yourself to salivate)
- Slow medium bites, take small bites and chew slowly 10-20 chews be aware of the texture of food/the bolus that forms and swallowing into your stomach
- One mouthful at a time
- Listen to your body and ask yourself: Do I need more? Am I satisfied? Will this meet my energy demands?
Get a Chinese Medicine treatment
Underlying imbalances and disharmonies in the physiological systems can be present. This requires treatment.
There are perhaps parts of your diet that need to be altered according to your body constitution. Chinese Medicine and acupuncture work to restore the imbalance of this.
A large part of Chinese Medicine is processing underlying emotional stresses. Stress is one example. The stress hormone cortisol is released during stressful times, and acts a protective mechanism for the body in ‘fight-flight response’. This can turn your overeating into a habit. Increased levels of the cortisol fatigue the adrenal glands, triggering higher insulin blood levels, resulting in lower blood glucose. The lower the blood glucose level the more the body craves sugar to balance your body’s glucose levels.
How Chinese Medicine will help with your weight management
- Dietary advice tailored to your body constitution
- Herbal Medicine & supplementation for functional imbalances
- Treats the root of the disorder, and works to prevent further dysfunction
- Cut cravings and regulate appetite
- Letting go of emotions and living with clarity
- Balances the digestive energy and the free flow of qi and blood
- Speeds up detoxification
- Increases energy levels and vitality
Are you ready to finally manage what’s happening with your body weight?
Call us now 9486 4111 and speak with one of our practitioners to see what you need to do to become healthy again. And make an enquiry about our upcoming holistic weight management fitness program.