What Should We Eat to be Healthy?

by Ann Zimmerman, L.Ac.

This simple answer is: EAT FOOD. However, this recommendation is not quite as simple as it sounds. It used to be food that was all you could eat, but today there are thousands of edible food-like substances in the supermarket. This is where it gets very confusing and overwhelming for those on the quest to have a “healthy diet.”

This confusion about food has fueled the perceived notion that it’s necessary to consult many resources on how to conduct this most basic question of survival. Michael Pollen, author of many books about food asks, “What other animal needs professional help in deciding what it should eat?”

This fairly bold statement rings true for the present day disagreement on largely guided by our culture. Our ancestors knew what, when, and how much to eat by observing and being taught by their families, specifically their mothers. In the last few decades we have lost this valuable guidance from our culture and have begun to rely on the scientists, nutritionist, governments, and ever-shifting dietary guidelines. This has led to present day meals that faintly resemble what our grandmothers served.

Diet tends to be a very tricky subject to speak on, ranking closely to other taboo subjects like politics and religion. That’s not so in Chinese medicine, where one of the main principles is that food is your first medicine. This belief puts a strong importance on the content of what you put in your mouth, but what should that be. As Americans, we are bombarded by loads of conflicting information, colorful advertising, neighborly advice, proper/improper body images, ect. We invest our money in a wide range of products (vitamins, minerals, superfoods, and diet pills, ect.) Our stomachs, eyes, convenience and pocket books often pull us in different directions. And, through all this, Americans continue to be some of the least healthy individuals in the developed world.

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Hot Enough For You?

by Clark Zimmerman, L.Ac.

It seems that everyone is talking about the weather these days. We all know that summer is the season of heat. This is great if you want to go swimming, or play in the river, but it can be quite distracting if you are doing most other outdoor activities. Chinese medicine focuses a lot of attention on the internal body temperature. Unlike the western approach of using a thermometer to determine the body temperature, Chinese medicine pays greater attention to how a person feels subjectively about their temperature. In other words, does a patient feel hot or cold, or are they generally comfortable. Temperature is such an important subject in Chinese medical treatment, that it is one of the primary 8 principles used to diagnose and treat any illness.

On hot days, it is natural to feel warmer in response to the temperature of our surrounding. It is also expected that when the weather turns cooler our bodies would feel cooler as well. But these tendencies can be influenced by our internal balance. If we are cold internally, than colder weather can exacerbate cold symptoms, leading to a feeling of chilliness, nasal discharge, frequent colds, diarrhea, frequent urination, or digestive problems. If we have “internal heat” in the body, then the warm days may effect us more intensely, leading to symptoms of headaches, increased sweating, red eyes, irritability, dryness, skin rashes/itchiness, constipation, urinary difficulty, digestive complaints, or bleeding problems.

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Dymystifying Clark Zimmerman

by Barbara J. Stankus

For eight weeks, a group of OLLI students settled into their chairs in Room D in anticipation of Clark Zimmerman’s lively discussions of some of the fundamental ideas behind the mysteries of Chinese medicine. Clark’s exuberance and enthusiasm lit up the room as he led us through the fundamentals of Qi, Yin and Yang, Chinese herbs, tongue and pulse diagnosis, acupuncture, moxibustion, and the 5 phases/elements. He explained why an acupuncture is placed in the foot to treat a headache, but he really got our attention when he told us that one of Qi’s functions is to protect us from “evil pernicious influences.” Who among us does not need such protection?

Just who is this spirited, dynamic, and playful individual? Clark and his 5 siblings grew up in a loving and supportive environment in Indianapolis. Interestingly, his parents and stepfather were Western medicine practitioners! Following in his parents’ footsteps, Clark was a pre-Med student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio until his senior year when he switched majors to English Literature.

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