Top 10 Dietary Guidelines To Live By | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

Hands up if you’ve had it up to [—HERE—] with the mass dietary confusion that exists these days!  Many people have become so confused with what’s good, what’s bad, superfood this and cancer-causing that, that they’ve virtually given up on pursuing a healthy diet at all.

Here’s a few facts:

  1. Nutritional science, as it stands today, in the Western world is comparatively young (i.e. they don’t know it all) when compared to the traditional knowledge (nutritional wisdom passed down through generations in indigenous cultures around the world) of what is health-supporting or not.
  2. Also, keep in mind that the press loves a good health controversy (ex. the latest superfoods and super drugs) because it SELLS.

The combination of these facts is a recipe for the confusion that so many people experience in regards to trying to understand the “ideal diet.”

My target, as a natural healthcare provider, is to stay on top of the latest, science-based dietary information available and combine that information with what has been proven through generations of pristine health in the traditional cultures to be the optimum human diet.  By combining science with practical wisdom, I am able to help steer you towards the natural, un-processed diet of nutrient-dense whole foods that your body needs.

Let’s just think about this for a second, folks.  Doesn’t it make good logical sense that your body would thrive on foods that it is designed by nature to consume and utilize, and deteriorate on un-natural, toxin-laden foods that were no where in sight during the human body’s evolution?

The following top 10 guidelines are based on a general nutritional truths that include a return to the natural diet that our bodies were biologically designed to thrive on.

#10:  DON’T use refined, white, iodized salt but DO use un-refined natural sea salts.

Salt doesn’t deserve the bad rap it’s gotten these days!  The problem isn’t salt in general, it’s what they do to the salt…

Refined white table salt has been bleached and chemically stripped of the 84 valuable and essential trace minerals which are present in unrefined sea salt such as the Pink Himalayan and Celtic Grey salts.

In fact, during the chemical processing of salt, they actually strip out the natural iodine, then add synthetic iodine back in after all the processing and sell it to you as “new and improved iodized salt!”  Unbelievable…

A good rule of thumb is the “dirtier” the salt looks, the higher the mineral content is and the healthier it is for you.  If it’s stark white, even if it’s labeled as “sea salt,” it’s refined and bleached and should be avoided.

Check out “The Truth About Salt” to fully-unravel the salt myth.

#9:  Keep your caffeine consumption to a minimum and eliminate energy drinks and soft drinks from your diet.

A relatively small amount of caffeine-containing beverages is fine, such as a cup of coffee in the morning and a cup of green tea later in the day.  Once you start getting to 3+ caffeinated drinks throughout in the day, though, it’s becoming excessive.  Think about it this way- you’re drinking that much caffeine because you’re tired, right?  That’s like driving a car that’s having engine trouble and jamming your food down on the accelerator.  You keep pushing it like that and sooner or later, your engine is gonna burn out completely!  Start cutting back on the morning caffeine slowly and try switching to non-caffeinated herbal teas for daytime use.  One cup of organic black coffee per day is fine.  Research has shown that there are even possible health benefits associated with one daily cup of organic black coffee.  The problem is when it’s a) loaded with sugar and processed, chemical-laden creamers and b) too much of it.

NOTE: Organic is important when it comes to coffee! Most people don’t realize that coffee is one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops.  Always opt for organic coffee to avoid those dangerous toxins.

ANOTHER NOTE: Absolutely avoid all energy drinks and soft drinks!  I have 2 words for you: LIQUID POISON.  For the full skinny on that, check out “Why Soft Drinks Are Hazardous To Your Health”.

Free Range Chickens = Happy Chickens!

#8:  Regarding meats: Eat only naturally-raised (hormone and antibiotic-free, organic, free-range, grass-fed, wild-caught) meats.

Natural meats should, indeed, be part of your regular diet.  This includes fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, wild game, whole eggs, and organ meats.

The key here is NATURALLY RAISED.  As in, fed it’s natural diet and in it’s natural environment.  The source of your animal protein is VERY important!  There is a huge difference between, for example, 100% grass-fed beef, and factory-farmed, feed-lot beef – or what I like to call, “concentration camp cows.”   Meat from conventionally-raised, feed-lot animals of any species should be completely avoided in your diet.  These animals are given high doses of artificial hormones, antibiotics, tranquilizers, stimulants and up to 100 other drugs- many of which are directly transferable to you!  These poor animals are malnourished and chronically ill since they are being fed a completely unnatural diet.  Cows, for example, are physiologically designed to eat GRASS- not grain.  Feeding cows nothing but grain is like feeding humans nothing but McDonald’s french fries, and it does the same thing to their bodies- makes them get really FAT, really fast.  This is great for the beef industry, because it means they can send heavier cattle to market faster and thus, make more money; but results in an animal that is significantly malnourished, has very poor immune function and ultimately SICK – which is WHY they pump them full of drugs.  Without the drugs, the animals would literally drop dead in the feedlots.  I’m sure you can imagine now, that this beef, with it’s toxic chemical contaminants, parasites, and nutritional bankruptcy, will NOT be a good source of nutrition for you.  Grass-fed cattle, on the other hand, are eating the diet their bodies are designed for.  They have strong immune systems, normal growth patterns and will usually be raised chemical-free because they simply don’t NEED the drugs – they’re healthy enough on their own.  This meat will be safe to eat, nutritious and have a positive impact on your health.

The same concepts applies to poultry, eggs and fish.  You always want the food you eat to have been eating IT’S natural diet as well.

Farmed fish, including most Atlantic Salmon, are given antibiotics and fed unnatural diets lacking in the nutrients found in the wild food chain of the ocean.  Scavenger fish such as carp and catfish should be especially limited since they tend to accumulate pesticides and other toxins.

So you want to look for sources such as organic, grass-fed beef, lamb, etc.  “Pasture-raised” or “Pastured” pork, poultry and eggs.  Fish should be wild-caught, not farm-raised.

Regarding poultry and eggs: don’t be fooled by claims of “cage-free” or “free-range!”  Those are clever marketing words used to trick you into buying something that’s not as great as it sounds… and I’ll leave it at that.  Again, the word you want to look for when buying poultry and eggs is “pastured.”  Finally, don’t throw away the egg yolks!  The yolks are the most nutritious part of the egg!  The yolk is the part of the egg that nature designed to literally be able to grow a baby chicken.  Besides, egg-white omelets are gross.

Regarding fat content of meats: Remember back in the 80’s when lean proteins like boneless, skinless chicken breast and low-fat/nonfat milk became all the rage? This was based on the old and incorrect idea that fat is bad for us (see “Still Think Low-Fat Is Healthy? Think Again). As it turns out, not only is eating lean protein unnecessary, it’s potentially harmful because the critical vitamins A, D, E and K are what’s called “Fat-Soluble” and our body NEEDS fat from the animal protein we’re eating in order to absorb them. And guess what else? Fat-soluble vitamins are found almost exclusively in animal fats. Lean protein has very little fat, and thus, no fat soluble vitamins.  So what happens when you eat exclusively lean protein? Your body will  have to make “withdrawals” from stores of fat-soluble vitamins in your liver, and over time this will lead to a deficiency of those vitamins, and all of the significant health problems that go along with such a deficiency. It’s like ringing up a huge credit card bill when you don’t have a job. Eventually the creditors come calling and you go bankrupt. The solution, of course, is to eat fat with your protein. This means enjoying fattier cuts of meat (i.e. 15% fat ground beef instead of 3%), always eating eggs with the yolks, consuming full-fat butter (“pastured” or “grass-fed!”), milk and other dairy products (that are also preferably RAW) instead of low-fat or non-fat.  Not only do healthy-fat-laden foods taste better, they’re actually better for you.  Aren’t you happy to know that?

So where can you get all this naturally-raised stuff?  Often the freshest, healthiest, most cost effective sources for naturally raised meats, poultry, fish and eggs is your local farmers market.  Plus, you’re supporting your local farmer instead of the giant food corporations.  At my local farmer’s market, my “egg lady” literally greets me each week by name and with a big smile.  She knows my dog’s name.  Wouldn’t you like to have THAT kind of relationship with the person supplying your family’s food?!  Plus, as an added bonus, you’ll be shocked at how much you’ve been missing when you try farm-fresh, local eggs from the farmers market for the first time.

#7:  Eat plenty of fresh, organic produce, preferably local and in-season.

Vegetables should comprise roughly 2/3 of your daily diet.  Balance your vegetable intake between raw (provides valuable enzymes and nutrients lost during cooking, but requires large amounts of energy to digest) and cooked (enzymes are lost, but veggies are more easily digested and certain other nutrients may be unlocked).

If you have digestive problems, you may find that raw veggies are difficult to digest, in which case you should seek treatment (such as Acupuncture or Naturopathic medicine) to resolve your digestive disorders and stick to lightly cooked veggies for a while (steamed, boiled, etc.).

DID YOU KNOW?: Spinach, chard and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts, although highly nutritious, contain certain anti-nutrients in their raw state, and as such should always be at least lightly-cooked to in order to neutralize any negative effects.

In general, vegetables should always be consumed with a healthy fat.  Remember those fat-soluble vitamins -A, D, E and K – that I mentioned?  Well, they require FAT in order to be absorbed and used by the human body.  Failure to include a fat with veggie meals will restrict your absorption of these vital nutrients.  My suggestion is simple – put butter on it!

Fruit should be eaten only in moderation!  Yeah, I know you’ve been told eating LOTS and LOTS of fruit is healthy for you, but don’t forget- that’s a lot of sugar!!  Our ancestors didn’t eat fruit year-round, they only ate fruit during the few months out of the year that certain plants were fruiting!  And the fruit they had access to was MUCH LESS SWEET than what we eat now.  Our fruit has be selectively farmed for centuries and more recently, genetically modified, all for the purpose of making it much sweeter than it was naturally. Our bodies are simply not designed to handle as much sugar as we consume these days.  Fruit, then, should be eaten in small quantities, always organic, and preferably local and in-season.  Also, fruit should be consumed by itself or as part of a light meal.  Avoid eating fruit (or any other sweets, or deserts for that matter) after a large meal.

Check out your local farmer’s market for the best pickin’s.

#6:  Avoid all hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated fats: The “Good Fat vs Bad Fat” conversation.

This is a BIG one, folks.  Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats) found in all industrial seed oils (canola, vegetable, soy, corn, safflower, peanut, sunflower, or cottonseed oils, etc), shortening, margarine, and virtually all processed and fast foods should be avoided at all costs!  If they’re in your pantry, throw them away right now.  I’m not kidding.

During the industrial process, these oils are continually exposed to various chemicals (many of which are banned in other countries) as well as extreme high heat.  Anybody know what heat does to fat?  It causing it to OXIDIZE.  What’s that mean?  Let me put it this way, oxidation is what makes sliced apples turn brown when you leave them out; what makes silver tarnish; and what makes iron rust.  Got it?  It’s a bad thing.  But do you think the manufacturers of these oils don’t know that?  In order to cover up the fact that they are selling you oil that is literally RANCID by the time you pick them up off the supermarket shelves, the oils are first bleached, filtered and deodorized so that you can’t smell the rotten STANK that the oil would have had otherwise.  Yum!

What’s most important, though, is to realize that all of this processing results in partial or complete chemical breakdown of the natural fatty acids found in these oils, producing loads of unhealthy free radicals and destroying any healthy nutrients and antioxidants.  Consuming these types of fats throughout the course of your lifetime has a serious negative effect, eventually leading to rampant cell damage, systemic low-grade inflammation, and the slow and silent development of major chronic, degenerative diseases such as arthritis and coronary heart disease.

To learn what oils and fats you should be cooking with instead, read on…

Coconut Oil, a great source of healthy fats, is solid at room temperature.

#5: Increase your healthy-fat intake!

It’s not that fat is bad, it’s just that there’s good fats and bad fats.  We just talked about how important it is to avoid bad fats, but it’s equally important to make sure you’re getting enough of the good fats!

Fats from nutritional oils and other traditional sources are critical for the optimum functioning and maintenance of the human body.  Your brain, for example, is around 75% fat.  Fat is a critical component for maintaining the structural integrity of the cell wall of every single cell in your entire body.   It also acts as a major building block for the hormones that control your immune function, reproductive system, blood clotting, and cell growth. Fat is also the most efficient source of sustainable energy (as opposed to sugar/carbs which are fast-acting energy sources, but inefficient and burn out quickly, lead to blood sugar problems, overeating, weight gain and contribute to virtually every chronic, degenerative disease you can think of).

You should have more Omega 3′s in your diet than Omega 6′s.  The ratio is supposed to be 5:1, but in most people’s cases, their current intake ratio is a very unhealthy 1:25 because they’re eating so many of those unhealthy, processed oils that we just talked about, which contain only Omega 6’s, and not enough of the healthy, Omega 3-containing fats discussed here.

Good sources of healthy, Omega 3 fatty acids include:

    •  For cooking:  Nutritional oils that are fresh and nutrient rich such as extra-virgin olive oil (no-low heat), coconut oil (medium heat), avocado oil (medium-high heat), red palm oil and sesame oil.  Also very good are traditional fats such as pastured butter, goose/duck fat, tallow or lard.
    • Other sources of Omega 3’s: naturally-raised meats and fish; whole, organic, and preferably raw dairy and cheeses; whole pastured eggs; olives; nuts and nut butters; seeds; gelatins; avocados.  You can also use supplemental oils such as cod liver oil, flax oil, fish oil, krill oil, flax seeds, etc.

For more info, check out “Still think “low-fat” is healthy? Part 1” and “Still think “low-fat” is healthy? Part 2”

#4:  Avoid processed foods as much as possible!

A good rule of thumb is that if it comes in a box, a bag, a can or a drive thru window, and cannot be found out in nature, it’s probably highly processed.

Think of it this way: it’s relatively easy to look at a Twinkie and know that it’s not real food, but have you considered low-fat or skim milk in the same way?  Did it come out of the cow that way?  No, it didn’t.  I’m NOT saying you need to be churning your own butter, but you might want to take a good look at exactly how far away your food is from its original source, what has been done to it and how many ingredients have been added to it.

Most processed foods contain chemical additives, preservatives and various neurotoxic ingredients.  Of course, if you’re shopping at a health food store, you may be able to find certain items made by reliable brands that use minimal processing and no chemical preservatives, etc. Just educate yourself and learn to read the labels.

#3: Say NO! to GMO’s!

Despite the fact that Monsanto and other biotech companies claim that genetically modified (GM) crops have no impact on the environment and are perfectly safe to eat, the truth is that the Federal departments in charge of food safety in the US and Canada have NOT conducted the appropriate tests to affirm this alleged “safety.”  In other words, they’ve adopted the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” in regards to the question of safety with GMO’s.  Perhaps this is a great policy to to apply to the legal system, but it is certainly a very dangerous policy to apply to the question of safety in regards to our food supply. In contrast, owing to the very real concern about the dangers and risks posed by genetically engineered organisms, at least 26 world governments have instituted total or partial bans on GMO cultivation, importation, and field-testing (including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia). Significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.  If so many countries have instituted strict restrictions on GMO’s, why is there virtually none in the US?  Profit – that’s why.  It has absolutely nothing to do with your health or ending world hunger.

GMO foods, most commonly corn and soy (although there are many other GM crops, too, like sugar beets, papaya, crookneck squash and most recently, SALMON – yep, not even kidding about that), can now be found in the majority of processed foods in the US.  In other words, if you eat processed foods, you’re already eating GMO’s… and these crops are already being freely planted in the environment- contaminating non-GMO crops and potentially our entire food supply. But what if it turns out that Monsanto was wrong (or lying), and the GM crops aren’t actually safe?…

Here are some myths/truths regarding GMO’s:

Myth #1: No one has ever proven that GMOs are harmful to people

The truth is that studies of GM food have shown tumors, premature death, organ failure, gastric lesions, liver damage, kidney damage, allergic reactions, and more.

Myth #2: GM crops are the only way to solve world hunger

In truth, when it comes to solving world hunger, GMOs are a dangerous step in the wrong direction. Ending hunger will take political will and determination, not high-tech crops. Agriculture to feed the world must be universally accessible—low-input, low-tech, and fully sustainable. GMO agriculture is none of these things. The reality is that GM farming practices are not sustainable, which virtually guarantees future crop collapses and subsequent famine. Nor are farmers able to save their seeds due to patent infringement and poor fertility in the seeds. With GMO seeds, biotech companies are trying to add value to widely available crops and then patent them, which makes GMO seeds more expensive from the start. Additionally, these GMO varieties require high fertilizer and, in the case of Roundup Ready crops, expensive chemical additives. The only farmers that can afford the seeds and chemicals are those from first-world countries or the wealthy landowners from developing countries, who grow the crops for export, not to feed the poor.  Poor, starving Africans need the ability and tools to feed themselves. Expensive, input-dependent non-indigenous crops are the exact opposite of what is needed to relieve hunger.

What’s more, the production and spread of GMO crops carries unintended and unpredictable consequences that may wreak havoc on the environment and on human health.

Myth #3: GM crops need less pesticide spraying

The truth is that after the first couple of years, the use of pesticides and herbicides on GM crops has increased dramatically.

Myth #4: GM technology is comparable to the cross-breeding that our ancestors did to create hardier versions of heritage crops

Cross pollination of different varieties of the same plant (what our ancestors did) is low-tech and can occur naturally. Genetic modification of seeds is done in a lab and often crosses different biological kingdoms, such as crossing a bacteria with a plant the unintended adverse effects of which may be incalculably large and impossible to ascertain before they are released into the biosphere.

Myth #5: If the FDA and the USDA allow them, they must be safe

Monsanto has close ties with the US government, such that Monsanto executives have been given policy-making positions in Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations.  Anybody else spot this glaring conflict of interest?

Myth #6: There is no nutritional difference between GM food and non-GM food

A 2012 nutritional analysis of GM versus non-GM corn showed shocking differences in nutritional content. Non-GM corn contains 437 times more calcium, 56 times more magnesium, and 7 times more manganese than GM corn. GM corn was also found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, a pesticide so toxic that it may be carcinogenic in the parts-per-trillion range, compared to zero in non-GM corn.

Myth #7: GMOs are impossible to avoid

GM ingredients are found in more than 70 percent of processed foods, but you can largely avoid them by avoiding these processed foods. By switching to whole foods like vegetables, fruits, grass-fed meats and other basic staples, you can control the GM foods in your diet.

Myth #8: GMOs are here to stay

Biotech wants you to believe that GM crops are here to stay, but a war is being waged against GMOs, and the resistance is gaining significant ground. More and more countries across the world are banning GMO’s by the day!  Legislation is even being passed in several US states, successfully banning GMO’s on the state level.  By sharing information like this, we can fight back against biotech and the poisons they’re releasing into our environment.

#2: Reduce or eliminate refined sugar and carbohydrates in your diet!

While mainstream health authorities continue to insist that sugar is fine “in moderation,” and that grains, which are converted by your body into sugar, are an essential part of a healthy diet, they fail to take into consideration that sugar is the #1 source of calories in the US, meaning that it’s far from “moderate” -not that surprising when you consider that sugar, primarily in the form of cheap high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and refined carbohydrates, are added to just about EVERYTHING.

To put it in perspective, the current average American’s intake of sugar is close to 200 lbs per year. Compare that to 300 years ago, when the average human’s intake of sugar was just 4 lbs per year.  Our bodies are just flat-out NOT designed to handle the sugar load we’re imposing on them.

Here’s an abbreviated version of what all that sugar is doing to your body:

    • Triggers weight gain by turning off your body’s appetite-control system (interfering with the hormone Leptin), which screws up your metabolism, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels and leads to obesity and virtually every other chronic, inflammatory, degenerative disease.  Additionally, all that sugar triggers massive insulin spikes and you CANNOT burn fat in the presence of insulin. Period.  For those of you who feel like you are “eating right and exercising regularly, but still can’t lose weight,” this is likely the reason. (Check out What You Need To Know About Blood Sugar And Insulin to learn more.)
    • Contributes to chronic inflammation and significantly lowers your immune function
    • Directly interferes with vitamin and mineral absorption as well as weakens your digestive function which leads to even greater malabsorption of nutrients and eventually a massive nutrient deficiency and the resulting degeneration of the body!
    • Triggers a dramatic “peaks and valleys” effect in your insulin levels, which over time and with chronic use WILL lead to Reactive Hypoglycemia, then Insulin Resistance, then Metabolic Disease, then Type 2 Diabetes.  This chain of events is THE top cause of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, chronic inflammation, reduced immune function, hormonal disorders, liver disease, weight gain, premature aging and nearly every chronic disease we know about.

So, avoid all refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.  This includes white, brown and powdered sugar, Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), Neotame, Sucralose (Splenda), and Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low), Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One) and ESPECIALLY high fructose corn syrup.

NOTE: Stevia and Xylitol are natural sweeteners that do not trigger insulin- they are safe to use.

There’s a lot more to the blood sugar/Insulin story than I can include in this article, but this topic, above almost all others, is one I consider critical, need-to-know information.  For the full, eye-opening article, check out What You Need To Know About Blood Sugar And Insulin.

And the #1 dietary recommendation: Eliminate grain-based carbohydrates from your diet!   I can’t stress this one enough!!!

This is very closely related to the previous recommendation about sugar.

NO- you do NOT need grains in your diet.  This is a lie.  They are NOT good for your body, which is physiologically NOT designed to be able to process grains effectively.  In fact, you’ll want to avoid all foods made with grain-based carbohydrates for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that grains, once broken down by your body, are just converted into SUGAR, and you just read about the dangers of too much dietary sugar.  In fact, those 200lbs of sugar per year that most Americans are consuming comes mostly from the breads, pastas, crackers, and various other grain-based products that we’re gorging ourselves on, rather than sugary sweets (although, those obviously don’t help).

Ultimately, in regards to their effect on blood sugar and insulin levels, there’s not much difference between a piece of whole-grain toast and a Snickers bar.  The long-term consumption of grain-based carb products leads to a laundry list of physical disorders and diseases- especially including the ones listed in the previous section but also a number of others…

Why? Basically, grains themselves are naturally toxic to human digestion!  “Whaaaaaaaaaat?!?!?”  Yup, scientific evidence showing the human need for dietary grains is virtually non-existent.  On the other hand, there is a wealth of new research pointing to the dark side of grains and their negative effect on human bodies.  Think about it this way: grains, such as wheat, are essentially the seed of the plant.  Over the millennia ancient prairie grasses- the ancestors of what we know as the cereal grains- evolved alongside the big, grazing herbivores.   These grasses evolved in such a way as to use mammals to distribute their seeds.  The plants want their seeds eaten by the mammals, yes, but obviously, it was not in the plant’s best interest to have their seeds fully-digested.  Rather, the plant wants it’s seed pooped out somewhere else, intact, in order to make a new baby plant!  How does a plant accomplish this?  Well first, these grasses cleverly laced their seeds with with compounds now known as exorphins, which are morphine-like and highly addictive to mammals (this is why it’s sooooooo hard to NOT eat the delicious bread they put in front of you at the restaurant).  This is the way the plant ensures that it’s seeds will be desirable to it’s target audience.  But again, the plant doesn’t want it’s seed digested, just consumed, so they ALSO lace their seeds with potent phytotoxins – specifically designed to sabotage mammalian digestion!  Awesome.

The big grazing animals have somewhat countered this move by evolving looooooong digestive tracts and multiple-chambered stomachs, capable of semi-breaking down and neutralizing the toxins.  Humans, however, who were designed to be hunter-gatherers, not grazers, did NOT develop the complex gut that the herbivores did, and therefore are highly susceptible to systemic damage from long-term ingestion of grains.  Wonder why we’re seeing such a skyrocketing rate of food-sensitivities, digestive disorders, auto-immune disease, cancer, poor immune function, etc?  It’s in large part, due to all the grain we’re eating.

“But our ancestors have been farming for centuries and they didn’t have these problems!”  Yes, but the grains they were cultivating were nothing like the grains we have now – which I call “Franken-grains,” the freakish result of hundreds of years of selective farming and genetic modification which has ultimately caused the grains of today to contain unnaturally high levels of these phytotoxins.

Be aware that seeds, legumes and nuts also contain high levels of enzyme inhibitors, phytates (which block mineral absorption), intestinal irritants and other indigestible substances.  They should be eaten in only small quantities and ideally, soaked in water, fermented or sprouted in order to neutralize toxins and make them safe for ingestion.

Other highly toxic plant and food groups to avoid:

  • Corn. Corn is naturally toxic and the #1 most genetically modified thing on the planet.  Corn is NOT a vegetable- it’s a grain.
  • Anything made with Soy.  Soy is NOT a health food!  It is naturally toxic and the #2 most genetically modified thing on the planet.   Soy is loaded with toxins and systemic irritants; it can block your body’s ability to absorb nutrients; and it is a massive endocrine disruptor.  The only exception to this is when soy products are fermented (Miso and Tempeh), which neutralizes the toxins, but let’s be real here- who in the US is eating fermented soy?  It’s not part of our culture….and no, tofu is NOT fermented. It’s toxic….so is soy milk. Check out “Unravelling The Soy Myth” for even more information.

So what does a good diet look like?

Basically think, “If a caveman couldn’t find it, you shouldn’t be eating it.”  On average, the typical American diet is about…

  • 33% fat (19% saturated/monounsaturated, 14% polyunsaturated)
  • 52% carbs (mostly from grain)
  • 15% protein.

From the evidence showing what our bodies were biologically designed to thrive on, the optimal diet, by CALORIES, should be more like…

  • 50-70% fat (95% saturated/monounsaturated, 5% polyunsaturated from healthy oils, coconut, eggs, butter, meats, fish, whole dairy, etc.)
  • 20-30% carbs (mostly from veggies)
  • 10-20% protein

Keep in mind that meats and fats are more calorie dense than veggie carbs, so BY VOLUME on your plate, it looks like 2/3 plant foods and 1/3 animal foods and fats.

PS- Many organizations and publications are now available to inform the public about contents of various products.  See the links below.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.


The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of traditional, nonindustrialized peoples around the world established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets

The Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” Database of Cosmetic Ingredients


Phoenix Residents: Slowly Back Away From the Faucet. By , Guide.

Kresser L.Ac., Chris, “Why Eating Only Lean Protein Is A Bad Idea.”, “Why GMOs Can Never Be Safe,” Aug 6, 2013,

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Acupuncture Safe When In The Right Hands | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

When Westerners first saw Chinese physicians inserting small needles into their patients’ skin, they assumed that some form of Eastern voodoo medicine was being performed. They didn’t understand that they were witnessing a two-thousand year old, clinically proven, complex medical therapy: Acupuncture.

Since then, the perception of Acupuncture in the Western world has changed dramatically and has become far more mainstream than most people realize. Many medical doctors and respected scientists no longer dismiss Acupuncture as folk medicine and are now recognizing the rapidly growing body of scientific evidence and clinical success that supports it as a scientifically valid form of medical therapy.

Due to numerous scientific findings supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published a list of over 40 common diseases, symptoms, and conditions that acupuncture has been proven, through controlled trials, to be effective in treating- and this is just the list of disorders they’ve actually studied.  As acupuncturists, we know that we very frequently see clinical success in treating many other disorders that have yet to make the WHO’s list.

Although scientific evidence regarding the efficacy of acupuncture abound, the ancient Chinese therapy has not yet freed itself from criticisms. Although adverse side-effects from Acupuncture treatment are extremely rare, when they do occur, they are most often the result of Acupuncture being performed by under-qualified practitioners.

Patients should avoid seeking acupuncture treatments from non-licensed medical acupuncture practitioners such as medical doctors or chiropractors who, in many cases, only have 300 credit hours of training. These non-licensed practitioners of acupuncture, often called “certified acupuncturists,” may not have enough experience to ensure the safety of patients.

In other words, not all Acupuncturists are created equal.  There is an very big and very important difference between a “Licensed Acupuncturist” (L.Ac.) and a physician or other health care provider who is a “Certified Acupuncturist” or some equivalent.

Acupuncture in the hands of a qualified practitioner with a hard-earned license has a long and proven history of being extremely safe. It’s a therapy which is totally natural, drug-free, and yielding virtually no side-effects except for the feeling of relaxation and well-being.  In order to eliminate the risk of disease transmission or infection, and to ensure the safety of their patients, Licensed Acupuncturists use only sterile, single-use, disposable needles and are required to be certified in Clean Needle Technique protocols.

Before an Acupuncturist can become licensed, most states require that they graduate from a state accredited school of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, including between 3 and 5 years of graduate level education in both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and have achieved at least a Master’s Degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAOM or equivalent).  This includes approximately 3000 classroom hours and 1000-2000 hours of supervised clinical internship.  They are also required to successfully pass a number of difficult written and practical examinations including National Board Exams (NCCAOM) and continue to fulfill rigorous requirements, including many hours of continuing education, to maintain licensure.

“Certification,” on the other hand, is significantly less rigorous in terms of its requirements to insert needles. It is basically an easier way for some health  care providers to call themselves Acupuncturists. In many cases, they become “certified acupuncturists” with only 300 hours of classroom training, much of which consists of watching videos.  There are usually no certification exams, and in many cases, 0 hours of clinical experience.

This level of training is simply not adequate for understanding an extremely complex science that is literally thousands of years old, and with over a thousand herbs and over 361 Acupuncture points.  Understanding the philosophy of the medicine and how to use the tools safely and effectively takes years of dedication and experience.

I’m sure that you would agree that every form of medicine should be done by a specialist. Western Medicine would not be considered safe if it was performed by non-licensed doctors.  Likewise, acupuncture should only be performed by Licensed Acupuncturists who can offer maximum safety and treatment efficacy to patients.

Check out How To Choose An Acupuncturist for more information.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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What Do Acupuncture Needles Feel Like? | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

By far, the most common question I hear when chatting with people about Acupuncture is “Does Acupuncture hurt?”  With, “what do the needles feel like?” as a close second.  Not surprisingly, when most people think of needles, they think back to all of their experiences since childhood of vaccinations and having blood drawn. Yeah- those shots hurt!  Rest assured, though, that Acupuncture needles, are nothing like hypodermic needles.

Acupuncture needles are designed for one purpose- comfort.  Their unique shape allows them to glide very easily through tissue with little disruption and thus little to no ‘pointy needle sensation’.  This is vastly different from the effect of hypodermic needles, which are primarily designed to be good fluid delivery systems and not necessarily to be comfortable.

The needles that Acupuncturists use these days are pre-packed, sterile, single-use, and disposable. They are extremely thin and smooth, and only slightly thicker than the width of a human eyelash. They are so thin, in fact, that they can literally be curled like a ribbon with just your fingertips- my personal favorite parlor trick to ease the minds of nervous new patients.


What does Acupuncture feel like?

During treatment, the Acupuncture needles will be placed at precise points on your body, limbs, scalp, ears or anywhere else appropriate to your condition being treated.

At the moment the needle is first “tapped” in, most people feel only a very slight pinch or nothing at all.  An ant bite is much worse than an acupuncture needle insertion.  If you do feel any sharpness, it typically only lasts fractions of a second.  After that, most people feel nothing as the needle is being manipulated to the proper depth, at which point you might feel some additional sensations.  These sensations could range between numbness, tingling, heat, pressure, a very mild, dull ache, and in some cases, an electrical sensation, affectionately referred to in my practice as “the ZING,” which sometimes travels to another part of your body.

Did’ja notice that “pain” is not on that list? All of the aforementioned sensations are generally very tolerable by even the most sensitive people and are considered totally normal and good signs, prognostically, that your body is responding well to the treatment.

Once the needles are all in place, they will be retained for a period of time- usually 25-35 minutes, in order for your body to fully integrate the treatment.  During that time, you might feel mild, strange (but not painful) sensations at and around the needles as well as in parts of your body that do not have needles in them.  Many people feel nothing at all.  Note: this is not the appropriate time to work on your dance moves.  As impressive as I’m sure they are, if you start moving around on the table, you might feel the needles.  So just don’t move.  Use the time to take a nice power-nap, do some meditation, or otherwise just relax and enjoy the good-quality you time.

On that note, I’d like to reiterate something that I emphasize with my own patients.  While the needles are being retained, it’s a good time for you to take a moment from your busy life to actually allow yourself relax!  Seriously, take a nap!  Most of us are so far removed from what it’s like to actually be 100% mentally and physically relaxed that we don’t even recognize it anymore.  I’ve had patients tell me after their treatment that they feel, “so tired…” When I ask them, “Really?  Are you tired or are you relaxed?”  They inevitably realize that they’re actually totally relaxed for the first time in a long time!

Most patients report that acupuncture treatments are not only relatively painless, but also extremely relaxing and it is very common for even the high-anxiety patients to fall asleep during treatments.  This is because Acupuncture treatments have a dramatic affect on regulating your nervous system.  By stimulating your brain to release massive amounts of endorphins, your body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, Acupuncture helps to calm your overactive Sympathetic Nervous System- that insidious, high-stress “fight-or-flight” mode- and returns you to a nice, peaceful, Parasympathetic Nervous System- that mysterious and otherwise hard to achieve “rest-and-heal” mode.  This often occurs within minutes of starting the acupuncture treatment.

Feel free to check out my recent article What To Expect At Your First Acupuncture Treatment for a full run-down of what will happen from the moment you walk in the door.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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The Primary Dietary Keys To Weight Loss | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

According to the 2011 annual Obesity Report issued by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations, over the past year, not one US state has seen a reduction in obesity rates.  The results, which are sobering to say the least, show instead that the incidence of obesity has actually risen in 16 states in the last year, and that since 1980, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled.

While many people consider obesity and being overweight to be simply an aesthetic problem, the truth is that rising obesity rates have significant health consequences, contributing to increased rates of more than 30 serious diseases.

“It should be quite clear to everyone that the agricultural policies, public health policies, and dietary recommendations we’ve employed in the US so far have been and still are severely flawed, because they’re not making even the slightest dent in this epidemic.” Direct quote from the 2011 Obesity Report

Fat doesn’t make you fat; carbohydrates make you fat.

So there are obviously common public misconceptions that need to be changed in order to begin to make a dent in our country’s weight issues.  One major misconception is that contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat; carbohydrates make you fat.

If we can divorce ourselves from the prejudice about dietary fat, it’s really quite simple. Your body controls fat building, and hormones are used to set the controls. The hormone that controls fat is insulin; and how much insulin do you secrete in response to a fat-laden meal? ZERO.

Insulin is secreted in response to sugar, i.e. carbohydrates, NOT fat.  Eat more carbohydrates, in particular refined carbohydrates, and your body will quickly convert them into sugar, which will then trigger an insulin surge, and your body will store more fat (not to mention set the stage for a slew of other health problems).

Two primary keys for supporting weight-loss.

Myself and many health care providers committed to staying on the cutting-edge of nutritional research believe that there are, at minimum, two primary dietary recommendations that could make all the difference in the world in transforming the obesity epidemic, as well as dramatically transforming virtually everybody’s overall health and well-being.

These two primary keys are:

  1. Significantly restricting the intake of sugar and carbohydrates, especially refined, white carbohydrates (vegetable carbs are ok)) and
  2. Increasing our consumption of high-quality, healthy fats

Note: Obviously, exercise is a critical component of overall health and weight reduction.  However, all the exercise in the world won’t undo or prevent the detrimental effects of long-term over-consumption of sugar.  So, for the purposes of this article, we’ll be discussing dietary methods of reducing weight, and leave the exercise stuff for another day.

The problem is, they put it in everything.

While mainstream health authorities continue to insist that sugar is fine “in moderation,” and that grains, which are converted by your body into sugar, are an essential part of a healthy diet, they fail to take into consideration that sugar, including that which is converted by your body from carbohydrates, is the #1 source of calories in the US.

This means that it’s far from “moderate” -not that surprising when you consider that sugar, primarily in the form of cheap high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and refined carbohydrates, are added to just about everything—even food items you’d never expect to contain them, including diet foods and ‘enhanced’ water products.  Even ketchup!  Betcha didn’t think ketchup had HFCS in it, did ya?!?!

Here’s what all that sugar is doing to your body:

  • Triggers weight gain by turning off your body’s appetite-control system, which screws up your metabolism.  Fructose, in particular, inappropriately stimulates insulin, which does not suppress ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and doesn’t stimulate leptin (the “satiety hormone”), which together result in your eating more and developing insulin resistance.
  • Rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity (“beer belly”), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure—i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.
  • Contributes to chronic inflammation and lowers your immune function by reducing the ability of white blood cells to ingest and destroy bacteria.
  • When consumed, trigger a massive spike in your insulin levels, which over time and with chronic use can lead to ‘insuline resistance,’ which is one of the top underlying factors for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, chronic inflammation, reduced immune function, liver disease, weight gain, premature aging and nearly every chronic disease we know about.

So with all of this information, why are fats still widely assumed to be the pinnacle of dietary villains?  If you want to know why, check out Still Think Low-Fat Is Healthy?  Till then, what’s more important is that saturated fats, particularly from animal and vegetable sources (such as naturally-raised meat and whole, raw dairy, certain oils, and tropical plants like coconut) are actually good for you!  They provide the building blocks for the creation of healthy cell membranes; they’re the precursors for a many of your hormones and hormone like substances that are essential to and your health.

Healthy fats also provide a concentrated source of energy—a source of energy that is far more ideal than carbohydrates.  So, if you’re wanting to lower your insulin levels and reduce body fat accumulation, consider cutting the amount of carbs and sugars you eat, but don’t forget that you DO need energy, and this is where the fat comes in.  Saturated fat is actually the preferred fuel for your heart, and it’s also used as a source of fuel during energy expenditure. Fats also slows down absorption of your meal so that you feel satiated longer, which in and of itself, can help you shed some pounds.

Not all fats are created equal.

The Atkins Diet is one popular example of the theory that you can lose weight on a low-carb, high-fat diet. Unfortunately, Dr. Atkins did not pay much attention to the QUALITY of the fats so, although his recommendations worked, they had long-term problems.  The quality of the fats absolutely matters.

Good sources of high-quality, healthy fats include:

Coconut oil is solid at cool room temperature

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Coconut Oil, Palm Oil and unheated, organic nut oils
  • High-quality, supplemental Krill Oil (my favorite) or Fish Oil
  • Butter made from raw, grass-fed, organic milk
  • Raw nuts such as almonds and pecans (use nuts in moderation- about a handful only)
  • Egg yolk, from free-range hens (with all those egg-white omelets your throwing away the best part!)
  • Avacados
  • Grass-fed, naturally-raised meats

Don’t use common, low-quality vegetable oils.

Like other processed foods, the more processed a fat is, the more dangerous it is to the body.  The problem with the common vegetable oils like corn, soy, safflower, canola, etc. is that they’re heavily processed. They are NOT fresh oils. Basically, to produce them, they have to heat the ingredients to such a high temperature it causes the oil to go rancid. The problem for the manufacturers, though, is that you’d smell that rancidity, so they further process the oils using chemical deodorizers which, once ingested, introduce an enormous amount of free radicals into your system, causing massive amounts of damage over time.

So fat is crucial to your body, but the types/quality of the fats you eat are very important.  Fat is what is used to create your cell membranes — if you eat a lot of unstable, damaged oils like vegetable oils, your cells are more prone to damage and faster aging.

So here is a simplified plan for healthy eating.

  • Make quality protein the centerpiece of most meals. This should include non-contaminated sources of fish such as wild salmon, sardines, or young tuna, as well as grass-fed and naturally-raised sources of meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, and beans.
  • Eat a wide variety of organic herbs, leafy greens, and vegetables every day, and a small amount of organic fruit.
  • Eat plenty of healthy fats and avoid over-processed vegetable oils.
  • Avoid processed, refined carbohydrates and sugar!  Avoid all processed food for that matter- if it comes in a box or a bag, it’s probably processed.  A good rule of thumb is that if a caveman couldn’t find it, you shouldn’t be eating it.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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Probiotics- Essential For Optimal Health | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

Optimal digestion is the first critical step for your body to absorb – and thus, subsequently utilize – all vital nutrition. The act of digestion requires that your body has the proper balance of quality food, enzymes and a healthy population of beneficial microorganisms that live in your gut, known as Probiotics or “the friendly bacteria.”

Understandably, the idea of tossing down a few billion bacteria a day for your health might seem—literally and figuratively—hard to swallow.  But it is now clear, through a growing body of scientific evidence, that you can treat and prevent many illnesses with Probiotic supplementation; and with 70% of the immune system residing in the digestive tract, it’s obvious that optimal digestion is a critical factor in your overall health and wellness.

What are Probiotics and what do they do?

Like it or not, your intestines are home to 100 trillion individual microbial organisms, comprised of an estimated 500-1000 different species of bacteria, some health-supporting and some health-obliterating.  Over the course of time, humans have developed a symbiotic relationship with the “friendly,” health-supporting bacterial species we call Probiotics, which means “for life.”  The deal is, we provide them with a steady stream of food and a warm, wet, dark environment to live and reproduce in.  In return, probiotics balance our internal environments and provide vital support for our bodies in many ways.

When present and in optimum strength and numbers, probiotics provide the following benefits:

  • Support and enhance the function of your entire gastrointestinal tract by keeping your intestinal lining healthy
  • Promote the assimilation of nutrients and elimination of toxins
  • By competing for food and space, Probiotics balance out the populations of the harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that also live in your body, preventing their overgrowth.
  • Play a critical role in regulating a healthy immune system
  • Reduce systemic inflammation and maintain normal cholesterol levels for cardiovascular support
  • Production of essential micro-nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, natural detoxifying chemicals, short-chain fatty acids and other organic acids which are absorbed by your body and utilized system-wide for many of your body’s critical functions

What are the signs of Probiotic deficiency?

The most common signs of probiotic deficiency are digestive disorders such as IBS, gas, bloating, nausea, constipation, diarrhea and stomach pain.  But some signs may be less obvious, like frequent allergies, hyper-sensitivites and a poor immune function; chronic eczema, asthma and skin rashes; frequent bladder infections, urinary tract infections, yeast infections, Candida overgrowth, and athletes foot.  There is even current research that suggests that probiotic deficiency may play a significant role in ADD and hyperactivity in children.

Why do I need to take Probiotic supplements?

Well, in an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to… Although Probiotics live in our gut, we aquire them (either naturally or from supplementation) from the world beyond our body.  In the balanced ecological environment of the past, beneficial microorganisms were abundant in the soil and water, and our ancestors ingested these friendly microbes along  with the food they ate, and by interacting with the bacteria present in their environment during their daily activities.  Also, on the way through the birth canal during normal childbirth, a newborn gets dosed with bacteria from the mother. This event starts the initial colonization in the infant’s gastrointestinal tract of ‘good’ bacteria. Compelling new research now shows that the sharp rise in Caesarean births (C-Section rates rose by 53% from 1996 to 2007, reaching 32%, the highest rate ever reported in the United States) has resulted in a significant increase in infants with less-than-optimal health after birth. This is most likely because they are not exposed to the mother’s healthy bacteria in the birth canal which would then serve to populate its own GI tract.

In today’s world, however, the delicate probiotics live a precarious existence.  Society as a whole has opened up a full-scale “war on bacteria” with antibiotic drugs, chlorinated and fluoridated water, antibacterial soaps and gels, alcohol and pollutants from our modern lives.  All of these medications and chemicals have dramatically reduced the population of not just the dangerous microbes, but also the much needed beneficial microbes naturally found in the environment.  Some scientists and health advocates are now suggesting that we are “too clean for our own good.”

Specifically, if you’ve ever taken antibiotics, its virtually guaranteed that damage has been done to the population of your gut flora.  Every course of antibiotics you’ve ever taken not only wiped out the infection you had, but also the beneficial bacteria in your gut.  Don’t forget too that unless you’re eating only organic, grass-fed, free-range meats, even the food you eat is tainted with antibiotics.

Traditional sources of Probiotics and why yogurt isn’t really enough

For centuries, people in traditional cultures around the world have been getting all of the probiotics they required from eating lacto-fermented foods containing live cultures which they know to support digestive and overall health.

Lacto-fermented foods are a phenomenal source of beneficial microbes and highly recommended.  Sources of traditional, lacto-fermented foods include kimchi (a traditional Korean dish- yum!), lacto-fermented sauerkraut (careful, most sauerkraut is now made with vinegar, not lacto-fermentated), tempeh, and miso.

Lacto-fermented beverages like kefir and kombucha tea (my favorite!  A delightfully fizzy and delicious drink), are excellent Probiotic sources and are becoming more popular these days, making them easier to find at local health-food stores.

“What about ‘cultured yogurt’?  Why can’t I just go to the store and buy a $1 cup of yogurt to get my daily probiotic dose?”

It’s true, traditionally, fermented foods such as yogurts were phenomenal sources of beneficial bacteria when in their raw and unpasteurized state. Unfortunately, almost all commercial yogurts these days are a poor source of probiotics because they are almost always produced using heat-pasteurization in order to prevent the spread of pathogenic bacteria.  While this may be helpful in controlling certain dangerous bacterial species, the pasteurization process also kills or sterilizes most of the beneficial bacteria in the yogurt!

So, as great-tasting as many of them are, don’t be fooled by commercial yogurt products advertising live cultures beneficial to your digestive system, they’re dead or reduced to a measly few at best.  If you are able to find or make your own cultured yogurt from raw, unpasteurized milks, that’s a different story!  Unfortunately though, it can be difficult in many states to find raw milk products, hence the importance of using other fermented foods and beverages and/or probiotic supplements.

Probiotic supplements are important, but are not all created equal!

With beneficial bacteria now less available in our food, it’s important  to consider supplementation with high-quality probiotics. This is arguably the the easiest and most effective option for getting your daily probiotics, but be aware, the key word here is ‘high-quality.”

In general, don’t be fooled by very low-priced, or even by very high-priced supplements. Many supplements claim to provide great benefits at very low prices, but when you dig deeper you often find out that cheap, synthetic ingredients were used.  At the other end of the spectrum, the producers of more expensive supplements try to convince you a special process or hard-to-find ingredient is needed to justify the higher cost.  In my opinion, often times this is simply a marketing ploy.  My best suggestion is to contact a qualified healthcare provider to recommend a formula with proven results.

Make sure your Probiotic supplement:

  • Contains the strain Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1, considered a Probiotic “super-strain” which is one of the most effective, sturdy and adaptable Probiotic strains
  • Is broad-spectrum, meaning it contains many different species of Probiotic bacterial strains in addition to DDS-1, (between 8-14 or more, usually)
  • Is non-dairy, free from soy, corn, wheat, and gluten, and is non-GMO
  • Contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients
  • Comes available in vegetable-based capsules
  • Be aware that most Probiotic supplements must be refrigerated at all times!

When’s the Best Time to Take a Probiotic Supplement?

This is a confusing issue.  Recommendations vary, but my recommended timing for taking a probiotic supplement is to take it at least 15-30min. prior to eating breakfast with a glass of pure water.  Taking Probiotics with a meal could interfere with the survivability rate since the increase of stomach acid from your meal could destroy 5-10% of the bacteria.  Also, avoid taking them within 3 hours of taking any antibiotic.

What about the importance of “Enteric-Coating?”

Many people believe that a special type of coating on the Probiotic capsules, called enteric-coating, is necessary for the beneficial bacteria to survive the harsh stomach acids and make it, alive, to your intestines where they’re supposed to be. Basically, enteric coating is a type of double-layer put on the capsule itself to supposedly ensure survival of the beneficial bacteria in your GI tract.

In my experience it is both unnecessary, expensive and possibly even unsafe. For one, it’s an expensive process.   The cost you pay for an enteric coated probiotic supplement becomes highly inflated due to the expensive enteric coating process.  Second, in my opinion these enteric coatings are unnecessary for GI survival since for centuries, people have been getting their probiotics from raw yogurts and fermented foods – none of which had enteric coating.  In fact, the process of enteric coating, which involves heat, could potentially reduce the viability of live beneficial bacteria anyways!  Finally, most enteric coatings use synthetic plastic polymers- aren’t we ingesting enough toxins and plastics in our daily life?  Why would we want to voluntarily ingest them with our nutritional supplements?

So, in summary, in light of the current state of our environment, what can we do to maintain our health and build a strong immune system?  Begin by including lacto-fermented foods in your diet and consider taking a high-quality probiotic supplement.  Maintain a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and the occasional whole-grains and especially low in refined processed foods.  The bacteria in your gastrointestinal system can only provide you with optimum health if their proper balance is maintained in your gut.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.


Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, “Recent Trends in Cesarean Delivery in the United States, ”, March 2010

Dr. Mercola, “The Benefits of Probiotics,”, September 29, 2004

Terri L. Saunders, “ProBiotics: Friendly Bacteria That Are Essential to Health,”

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What Is Cupping? |Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

In the summer of 2008, a picture appeared in the newspapers of a Chinese swimmer preparing for the Olympic Games with huge, circular blotches all over her back.  This photo sparked a question throughout the West of, “What is this Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy called Cupping?”

History of Cupping

Cupping is an ancient medical treatment that utilizes a suction to invigorate and improve blood flow in the local body treatment area in order to promote healing.   It is most famously used by Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners in conjunction with Acupuncture therapy and other Asian bodywork techniques.

Believe it or not, the use of Cupping therapy has actually been a part of most traditional cultures of the world. There is reason to believe the practice dates from as early as 4000 B.C.; the earliest record of cupping is in the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world. It describes Egyptians using cupping in 1,550 B.C. Archaeologists have found evidence in China of cupping dating back to 1,000 B.C. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates (c. 400 B.C.) used cupping for internal disease and structural problems.

What Conditions Can Cupping Treat?

Here in the US, cupping is most commonly used to treat acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions such as neck, shoulder and back pain and tightness, as well as conditions related to muscle tension such as migraine and tension headaches.  In my Acupuncture practice, I have even found it useful for my patients who are also undergoing chiropractic treatment, who report that they have more effective chiropractic adjustments after having cupping therapy done.

Cupping is also known to be very beneficial in improving circulation, treating respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, and congestion, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, certain other types of pain,  and for overall improving general physical and psychological well-being.  Of course, you should only receive cupping therapy from qualified practitioners.

How Does It Work?

Cupping works by similar principles to deep-tissue massage.  By ever-so-slightly separating some of the tissue layers, such as the skin, muscles and connective fascia, it allows for increased circulation and decreased inflammation up to 4 inches deep into the body tissues.  It also can drain excess fluids and toxins; stimulate the peripheral nervous system; bring blood flow to stagnant muscles and skin; and loosen adhesions in the connective tissue and stubborn knots in soft tissue

The traditional method used is known as “Fire Cupping.”  Basically, a qualified practitioner soaks a cotton ball with alcohol and lights it on fire.  The flaming cotton ball is then quickly placed inside a glass cup just long enough to heat the interior of the cup.  The cotton ball is then removed and the cup is quickly placed over the area on the patient’s body needing treatment.  As the air inside the cup rapidly cools, it contracts, forming a vacuum inside the cup and resulting in a moderate-strong suction which pulls at the soft tissue.  Old, stagnated blood acting like a dam in a river, is stimulated to begin flowing properly and new, fresh blood flow rushes to the area to re-initiate the healing process.

Some practitioners use a more modern “Pump” method. Instead of the flame, air is manually hand-pumped out of specially designed plastic cups after the cup is placed on the skin of the patient.

Depending on the condition being treated, the cups can be left in place for 5-10 minutes or the practitioner may use a lubricating oil tincture and “slide” the cups around the body area being treated. Multiple cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time.

In China, cupping is used primarily to Some practitioners also use cupping to treat depression and reduce swelling. Fleshy sites on the body, such as the back and stomach (and, to a lesser extent, the arms and legs), are the preferred sites for treatment.

Therapy can be repeated as many times as necessary until the disorder is relieved.  The skin marks themselves usually last between 3-5 days initially and, in the case of stationary cupping, sort of look like you got a hug from a giant octopus.  What’s interesting, though, is that the more the therapy is done, the less the marks will appear and the longer-lasting the benefits will be.

Is Cupping Safe? Does It Hurt?

While cupping is considered relatively safe when performed by a qualified professional, it can cause minor, temporary bruising and swelling on the skin.  As the skin under a cup is drawn up, the minute, superficial capillaries at the surface of the skin expand. This results in the notorious circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. These bruises, affectionately referred to in my clinic as “hugs from a giant octopus,” are benign, usually painless, and will disappear within 3-5 days of treatment.

There are several instances, though, where cupping should not be performed. Patients with inflamed skin; cases of high fever or convulsions; and patients who bleed easily, are not suitable candidates for cupping. Pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back.

Does it hurt?  If you’ve never had it done before, you might think that it looks like complete torture!  Most of my patients, though, report that they really enjoy the treatments, describing the sensation to be something like an inside-out deep-tissue massage; a little achy and “weird” at times, but not terribly uncomfortable.  That’s pretty normal- the cups will feel tight and possibly achy, but usually not painful.

But Does Cupping Actually Work?

Proponents swear by it, even celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Gwyneth Paltrow (pictured left).  Western Medicine tends to downplay its effectiveness, yet the seemingly brightest minds of Western Medicine once believed, not so long ago, that anesthesia was pure quackery.  In my own Acupuncture clinic, I use cupping therapy daily.  It has proven itself, day after day, to be one of the most effective adjunct therapies I’ve ever seen, especially in the case of chronic or acute musculoskeletal pain, often relieving pain instantaneously after just the first treatment.  It continues to be one of my favorite treatment modalities and is by far the most requested  adjunct therapy asked for repeatedly by my existing patients.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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Relieving Menopause Symptoms Naturally |Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

Menopause: the dreaded curse of aging!  Or is it? Although most women consider it a time in which they can look forward only to miserable hot flashes and whacked-out hormonal mood swings, the truth is that menopause can actually mark the beginning of a woman’s most sexually passionate, creatively inspired, and professionally productive phase of life.

I know, I know…sounds like crazy talk, right?  “Wishful thinking,” you say…But I’m here to tell you that with the right diet, attitude, and a little Oriental Medicine, women can actually look forward to a resurgence of energy and a revolutionary opportunity for personal growth–one that rivals the hormonally driven period of adolescence.

So, what is Menopause?

Menopause is a totally natural, normal, necessary transitional period marking the cessation of monthly ovulation in a woman’s body.  The transition could last a few months to several years and if all systems are in order, from a holistic standpoint, there shouldn’t be any ‘negative symptoms’ (I know what you’re thinking, “Oh gee, wouldn’t THAT be nice?!”)

Of course, in most women’s cases, there is some element of fundamental imbalance and symptoms vary from mild to severe, being brought on as a result of a woman’s body trying to adapt to decreasing amounts of estrogen. The most common symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, memory loss, vaginal dryness, headaches, joint pain, and weight gain.

Why does Menopause occur?

I’ll discuss it here from a super simplified Chinese Medical point of view… You’ve all heard of Yin and Yang, right?  If you were to compare the human body to a car’s engine, think of Yin as the coolant and Yang as the gasoline.  It’s not a matter of good or bad- they’re both equally required for a properly functioning car.  The Yin-Coolant in a woman’s body takes the form of blood and various body fluids.  Now, consider that throughout a woman’s reproductive life, she experiences a significant amount of regular blood and fluid loss on a monthly basis.  Over time, and without the nourishment of a proper diet and a restful,  relatively stress-free lifestyle, it’s like there’s a slow, continuous coolant leak!  So, by the time a woman’s body is headed down menopause lane, she’s basically ready to over-heat…

According to Chinese Medical theory, menopause occurs when a woman’s body recognizes the need to begin preserving blood and energy in order to sustain her vitality and the available nourishment for her body throughout the rest of the aging process.  Her body, in its natural wisdom, begins to reserve the flow of a particular meridian in the center of the body which sends blood and energy down to the uterus. Instead, this blood and energy are conserved and cycled through the rest of the body to nourish the woman’s spirit and extend her longevity. Thus, in the Chinese Medicine, menopause is seen as both a necessary and blessed change to facilitate a longer, happier, healthier life-  It’s not the dreaded, miserable phase that it tends to get labeled as in the western world, and with the help of a little Acupuncture and herbs, it doesn’t have to be.

Treatment of Menopause

Few areas of women’s health stir up as much confusion and debate as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which is normally started when the first symptoms of menopause appear. While HRT may alleviate hot flashes and prevent osteoporosis, it unfortunately has many potential side-effects, including (but not limited to) an increased risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial carcinoma, malignant neoplasm, gallbladder disease, thromboembolitic disease and photosensitivity.  Progesterone is often prescribed with estrogen to minimize the risk of endometrial cancer, but it can cause side-effects like an increase in cholesterol levels, edema, weight gain and bleeding.  Not cool…but the good news is, HRT isn’t the only solution.

Menopause is truly an area in which Oriental Medicine absolutely shines.  Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have demonstrated via numerous in vivo and in vitro studies to have a marked effect on the endocrine, nervous and circulatory systems, effectively and quickly alleviating hot flashes, vasomotor instability, mood swings, and the other symptoms associated with menopause. Most importantly, Chinese Medicine is much gentler and safer on the body- there are literally ZERO negative side effects.

Lifestyle and Dietary Instructions

Chinese Medicine is first and foremost a holistic medicine.  It’s important to remember that you are not a mind walking around in a meat-suit.  Your mind and body function together as an integrated whole, and your choice to take care of your own body through a wellness-centered lifestyle and diet greatly impacts your health (or lack thereof). In particular, Menopause patients are encouraged to follow a diet with a high content of fresh, raw and preferably organic foods, fruits and vegetables to stabilize blood sugar. Some foods, such as dairy products, red meats, alcohol, sugar, spicy foods, and caffeine, promote hot flashes and can aggravate mood swings and should be avoided. Cigarette smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke should be avoided as they may dry up that Yin-coolant. Lastly, stress, tension and anxiety should be avoided as much as possible.

This issue of the safe, effective treatment of Menopause symptoms is becoming increasing important now because as most baby-boomers approach menopause at age 50, they are expected to spend more than 1/3 of their life in post-menopause since the life expectancy is now over 85 years.   When performed by a qualified, licensed Acupuncturist, Traditional Chinese medicine is extremely safe and effective therapy in treating menopause and related conditions through it’s powerful regulatory effect on the nervous, circulatory and endocrine systems.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.


John Chen, PhD, PharmD, OMD, LAc, Acupuncture Today, “Menopause: Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspectives, Part I and II,” May 2002,

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6 Strategies to Help Promote Healthy Joints | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

I’m sure you all could agree that to fully appreciate all of the joys that life has to offer, it helps to feel good and be able to move comfortably, right?  Healthy joints that are comfortable and flexible are a big part of enjoying the fun stuff of which memories are made!  So what about when stiff, achey joints start to interfere with your fun-ablity?  Here are 6 basic lifestyle strategies can you use to promote healthy and flexible joints throughout your life:

1)  Get Acupuncture treatments!  Acupuncture is extremely effective at alleviating the pain, swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in the fingers, elbows, knees, feet, wrists, shoulders, hips and spine that typically accompany all types of arthritis, sports injuries and chronic pain. The best part is that it’s a totally natural, relatively painless therapy for joint pain with no adverse side effects that addresses and corrects the root-cause of the pain, not just the symptoms, and can be used to get off all those pain meds and restore your active lifestyle.

2) Exercise. It’s an urban myth that exercise is bad for your joints. Woman Stretching to promote Healthy JointVigorous, low-impact exercise is actually very beneficial for your joints, as well as for cardiovascular, pulmonary, and other systems in your body. It’s simply a myth that you can ‘wear down’ your knees just from average levels of exercise or normal activity. In fact, its actually inactivity that causes your muscles to become weaker and actually works against optimal joint flexibility and comfort.One caution when using this valuable tool is that you need to start slowly if you have not been exercising regularly, and build up to higher activity levels.  Otherwise, you risk incurring an injury that could really set you back.  Also, if typical vigorous exercise is not easy for you, try walking, swimming, Tai Chi and Yoga as awesome additions to a healthy exercise routine.  Not only are they very low impact, they are also excellent for supporting good joint health, flexibility, mind-body connection, stress-relief and offer many other health benefits.

3) Achieve your optimal weight.  This will help you really improve your bio-mechanic function! One of the greatest benefits of a regular exercise routine is its ability to help you achieve and maintain your ideal weight which is highly beneficial to your joints.  Overweight and obese people compromise joint comfort more than those who are carrying their ideal load. Think about it: each additional pound of body mass increases the compressive load over your knees by roughly 4 pounds- it adds up…Research shows that a weight loss of as little as 11 pounds can have a positive effect on joint function.  So it’s a positive feedback loop: losing weight reduces the load on your joints and makes it easier to exercise, and exercising helps you lose weight and supports your joint health!

4) Eat a high quality diet.  Eliminate sugar and starchy carbs from your diet- seriously, I can’t emphasize this one enough. And definitely stop drinking soda! (Not sure why?  Check out Why Soft Drinks Are Hazardous To Your Health)  These foods do absolutely nothing to support healthy joints or a healthy body, in fact, their potential for system-wide inflammatory damage is well documented.
So what are some general dietary guidelines to maximize and optimize your overall health and well-being?

  • Eat whole, natural foods (this means preservative-free, not processed stuff you could find in nature)
  • Eat naturally-raised, grass-fed, hormone-free meats including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.  If possible, get them from local sources such as your local farmers market.
  • Use only traditional fats and oils such as real butter and other animal fats (NOT margarine or shortening), extra virgin olive oil, Virgin Coconut oil, and expeller-pressed flax oil.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, local and in-season.
  • Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
  • Use unrefined and natural salts, such as Celtic or Himalayan sea salt instead of refined, white table salt.  Why? Check out The Truth About Salt.
  • Don’t use refined sugars or artificial sweeteners.  Instead, use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, agave nectar and stevia.
  • Use only natural supplements from whole-food sources. Avoid or reduce the amounts of medications you take by choosing a healthy lifestyle and utilizing natural therapies such as Acupuncture to get off all those meds!

5) Optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D also supports a healthy immune response.  Age-old theories about the role of sunlight in causing skin cancers are being called into question now.  The use of sunscreens and UV avoidance has led to a massive country-wide deficiency in Vitamin D- which, interestingly enough, is now being connected to an increase in cancer rates!  If you’re deficient in Vit D, which most people are, you lose the support this vitamin offers for your joints and your entire body system. Check out More Vitamin D Can Prevent Cancer for more information.

6) Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids that are considered crucial for normal growth and development.  They reduce inflammation to support your joint health as well as promote healthy cognitive function, mood balancing, Heart health, and immune function.  These EFA’s cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained from your diet.  The best sources are Krill Oil or a high quality fish oil, but you can also get them from eating raw nuts and seeds.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

Sources:, “New Breakthrough for Joint Discomfort,”

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Acupuncture for the Natural Relief of Seasonal Allergies | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

Sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, headaches, sinus drainage the hallmark signs of seasonal allergies.  Prescription and over-the-counter medications are widely available, but do nothing to actually improve one’s overall health or support the immune system in the prevention of allergies, plus they come with a laundry list of negative side effects.  Natural remedies such as Acupuncture, however, not only relieve the symptoms of allergies, but they also help enhance and restore balance to the body’s immune system: clearing the underlying condition causing allergies and improving overall health.

The Problem With Antihistamines

The main way most people deal with allergies is with antihistamines.  Even though they might turn us into drowsy, dizzy, irritable, dry-mouth’ed zombies, it’s preferable to sneezing our heads off, right?  And it’s much better than the itchy, watery eyes, headaches and the itchy roof of the mouth, right? However, there are some pretty nasty side-effects from taking antihistamines – especially if you’re taking them regularly over the long-term.  As outlined by Javed Sheikh, M.D., Clinical Director of Allergy research and full-time faculty at Harvard Medical School, the long-term use of antihistamines can lead to a number of lesser-known side effects such as:

  • Impairment of cognitive capabilities
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Altered taste and smell
  • Lowered libido
  • Increased appetite
  • Female infertility
  • Decreased growth rate in kids
  • Increased chance of developing cataracts, osteoporosis and diabetes (from the use of steroid-based creams and allergy medications).

Acupuncture Can Help

Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, was a firm believer in the body’s ability to heal itself, saying, “the natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.” But long before Hippocrates, the ancient Chinese were already practicing what he would later preach, through the art of Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

We know that seasonal allergies occur when, as a result of a over-stressed, hyper-reactive immune system, your body freaks out when exposed to otherwise harmless substances like pollen, dust, pet dander, or certain foods.  What most people don’t get is that the problem is NOT the allergen the problem is your stressed-out, over-worked, exhausted immune system.  They key in creating a curative possibility in the relief of allergies is not in further suppressing the immune system with drugs (hellooooooo?  Anyone else see a problem with that?), it’s in identifying and removing the underlying cause of the over-worked immune system, and then strengthening and re-balancing the system to its optimum state. Acupuncture does exactly that.

Acupuncture can successfully prevent and treat allergies by supporting the body’s ability to heal in general and by re-balancing and improving it’s natural immune function. This is done by stimulating biologically significant points on the body.  When the body is functioning from a harmonious, balanced state, health is restored and ALL symptoms disappear the allergies, and many other seemingly unrelated problems you might be experiencing.  This is the main benefit of acupuncture: bringing a person into balance so that the body may heal itself of any ailment physically, mentally or emotionally.

So How Does It Work?

Successful Acupuncturists always use a two-pronged approach in treating and preventing your allergies.  During the allergy season, when you come in with the typical symptoms- runny nose, watery eyes, and uncontrollable sneezing- the focus of the Acupuncture and/or Chinese Herbal Medicine will be on relieving the symptoms and helping your body recover by guiding you through dietary and lifestyle changes to remove any factors that are making it harder for your body to defend itself.  In between allergy seasons, you would continue to receive Acupuncture and herbal treatments, but this time the emphasis is on treating the root cause of the problem by strengthening the immune system.

Your diagnosis and treatment using Traditional Chinese Medicine is also far more individualized than it would be with Western medicine.  When you first and Acupuncturist, he or she will go through a very extensive consultation with you in which you’ll be asked about every aspect of your mental, emotional and physical health.  You may find it odd that you’re looking for allergy relief, and yet he/she asking you all about your sleep patterns and bowel movements., but all of that extensive information gathered during your consultation will be used by your Acupuncturist to identify an underlying pattern of disharmony in your body.  Seemingly unrelated symptoms and conditions, when looked at holistically, will point to an underlying “root condition,” the correction and re-balancing of which will ultimately be the target of your treatments and lead to the relief of your allergies.

Every person on the planet is different, and we all have a unique reaction to the environment we live in. The beauty of Chinese Medicine as that it treats every person as a unique individual and as a “whole person,” not just a walking meat suit.  Acupuncturists aim to help each person restore balance in their body and their life, and since every person is unique, treatment is modified for the right person at the right time.

Check out my recently published article, What To Expect At Your First Acupuncture Treatment.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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Redefining the word “HEALTH” | Turning Point Wellness | Acupuncture in the Leander, Cedar Park Area

What does “health” mean to you? Does your idea of being healthy include taking a dozen medications or more?

Hopefully not…

But it seems that the modern medical community has convinced the mass majority of people to consider health to be the “suppression of symptoms of disease.”

Call me crazy, but that’s NOT health!  That’s simply Band-Aid’ing the problem!

The Miriam-Webster Dictionary defines health as the condition of being sound in body, mind, and spirit and especially (yes, it uses the word especially) the freedom from physical disease or pain.  Ok NOW we’re talkin’!

True health, from my point of view, means having a body that actually functions as it has been designed to.  It has the ability to repair, restore and renew itself when problems arise, and it generally functions from a state of perfect balance within itself and is in harmony with your mind and emotions.  It includes the absence of disease and dysfunction and the current state of mental, physical and emotional wellness!

In other words, you love your body, your body loves you and the two of you get to enjoy this life to it’s fullest potential together, as a team.  Cool hu’?!

Even the World Health Organization defined health, in the constitution of 1948 as “a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity…it is a resource for everyday life, not the object of living.”

If you choose make drugs, surgeries and other expensive, invasive, and side-effect-inducing methods a last-resort option instead of a first, you will have taken a major step in the right direction towards the possibility of true health and wellness, and the only way to get there is by addressing the root causes of any health problems you may be having—not covering them up with a drugs, etc, and by choosing a diet, lifestyle and healthcare system which includes a focus on the prevention of health problems in the future.

The only “difficulty” with this mindset, is that the medical and pharmaceutical industries can’t make any money through this strategy.  If you were to heal or correct the underlying cause of a disease, you effectively cure it and all accompanying and related symptoms go away. If you have no symptoms, there’s no reason to take medications to suppress those symptoms.  The pharmaceutical industry doesn’t like that very much.

I know, I know, this may sound obvious to you, but believe me, most people still don’t “get” it.  Instead, they take drugs in the misguided belief that they’re doing something beneficial for their health when in fact there are shockingly FEW drugs on the market that are honestly designed to cure anything. The only thing the vast majority of drugs can do is address a particular symptom or set of symptoms.  Unfortunately, it seems the target of most modern medical drug therapy is the maintenance of disease, not the root-cause cure of it.

Here’s the deal:  If you don’t address the root cause, the real source of your problems never goes away!  I mean that in regards to physical, emotional and mental issues (for example, the act of taking anti-depressants without doing some introspection into the self-limiting belief patterns, conscious and subconscious, that are creating the depression).  With meer symptom control, the imbalance might change, transform, or manifest itself differently, but either way, it’s still there in some fashion, ready to rear it’s ugly head again down the road.

This is where the greatest gift of Traditional Chinese Medicine comes in.  In this ancient system of medicine, the mind and entire body are considered an integrated whole.  This is is stark contrast to the Western view of medicine, for example, in which the mind and the body are viewed and treated as a series of separate parts and pieces.  Hellooooo?  You are not a mind encapsulated in a walking meat suit!  You are a person and everything about who you are and how you feel contributes to and integrates with everything else about who you are and how you feel.

TCM practitioners consider all of the signs and symptoms you are presenting with as clues to identifying an underlying pattern of disharmony in your body and/or your emotions and mental state.  Seemingly unrelated symptoms and conditions, when looked at holistically, will point to an underlying “root condition,” the correction of which will ultimately be the target of your Acupuncture treatments.

To clarify, if you think of your body as a tree, with all of the different, apparently unrelated symptoms that you’re experiencing as the branches of that tree,  in many cases, western medical practitioners would look at the branches of that tree as if they were different plants- each getting a different diagnosis, medication, or treatment to address them.

Acupuncturists, on the other hand, would take into consideration all the different branches and ask, “OK, what kind of tree is this?”  And then go all the way down to the roots and treat your pattern from there.  Additionally, by taking your core, constitutional condition into consideration, they are able to identify and correct what would become a health problem in the future before it manifests- preventative medicine at it’s best.

So what if, rather than taking a pill for this, a tablet for that, surgery for this, painkillers for that…all of which will eventually lead to the continued degradation of your heath as time goes on…what if you could receive a natural, holistic, side-effect-free treatment for all of it simultaneously?  In most cases, it’s not an overnight fix, but hopefully by now it’s becoming clear to you why it’s a far better option. (And sometimes it IS an overnight fix- bonus!)

It’s important to remember that, with everything previously mentioned, there is certainly a time and a place for the modern medical practices.  If I get into a car accident and break my leg, please don’t rush me to an Acupuncturist’s office!  I will likely require surgery, and would probably appreciate some serious pain medication for a short time.  After which, though, I’d begin visiting an Acupuncturist or other holistic healthcare provider to help my body heal faster and more correctly so that I can avoid any future complications from the injury.  That’s just one example.

One final thought: Keep in mind that health encompasses much more than just the optimal physical functioning of your body.  It also involves being willing to acknowledge the sensory decadence of life.  Pleasure is a key to health! Without huge amounts of joy, love and fun, we don’t often feel radiantly healthy, right?  From my point of view, if we’re not having fun, loving our life, and sharing that joy with the world, what’s the point?!?! We’re here to enjoy this gift we call life to the fullest. Choosing to acknowledge the center-stage role our bodies have in allowing us to smell the flowers, enjoy the sunshine on our skin, feel the breeze, experience the joy of movement and nature and the taste of fine, dark, German chocolate mousse should be reason enough to have such gratitude for our bodies, that we would do anything to give them the greatest care and support we can.

Everybody together now: “Thaaaaaank you bodyyyyyyyyy!”

More FAQs about how Acupuncture can help you achieve that state of joy in your body and your life.

This information brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness.  For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being.  Feel free to visit my website, for more details and direct contact information.

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