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Below is the transcript from this podcast.

The medical information on this podcast is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment.

Please consult your health care provider, or contact Changing Elements Acupuncture and Herbs, before making any healthcare decisions or purchases.

Hello, and welcome to Changing Health Acupuncture Radio where we talk about living healthy in today’s world. I am honored that you are giving your time today to learn more about your health, and I hope that I can provide some answers for you. My name is Erik Jackson, I am a licensed acupuncturist in Texas, and I look forward to presenting you with some information over our time here today.

I hope that all of you are staying safe and dry with all the rain that has been going on, or snow considering where some of you are. I know I was thinking that it might be time to invest in a boat considering how the streets have been looking—which is rather interesting because just two years ago I was living in a drought in my area.

So, today I want to address two topics which a number of people have been complaining about. Firstly I want to give some information on dietary planning and then I will speak a bit on insomnia. Now both of these topics tie into one of my focuses, which is fatigue; and, as I have stated before, fatigue can be caused by a dysfunction of bodily processes, or a failure to get adequate sleep. Your body depends on proper nutrition to run effectively yet good information about the right nutrition is had to come by.

For decades we have been brought up with the idea of the food pyramid which is founded on various grains. Of late there have been many discussions as to what grains are good, what is bad, how prevalent is gluten sensitivity in society—as well as other conditions which mimic it—such as celiac and even Lyme’s disease. Then there are those who are touting the paleo diet, and it seems new fads are coming out every couple of years. Finding reasonable, solid evidence one way or another on “diet” is difficult. Can someone just give me some solid answers and tell me what I can and can’t eat?!

I am not a nutritionist and I get just as overwhelmed as anyone else sometimes when trying to tweak my diet, but I do know a few things which I would like to share.

So why is diet so important? Well, the food you eat is fuel for the body, much like gas for a car. Depending on the quality of fuel your vehicle: runs better, can put in more miles, and requires less maintenance. The majority of your immune system is located in your gut, specifically your large intestine, and as such, its performance is directly related to the quality of the food you put in. Other organs, such as the pancreas and liver, provide substances to help with the breakdown of food particles. If these organs become overworked as a result of too much poor food, stress, or damage, then digestion—and thus immunity—become impaired. Your car stops working.

Now, why dietary advice gets complicated is due to the fact that everyone has different goals and desires for their diet. Some of you, like the guy who made Soylent—no, not the people chips from the movie—are very pragmatic with your diet. You want food which is nutritious and which you can eat quickly. Taste is not a big issue for you. If this sounds like you then, perhaps a diet protein shake is appropriate.

For some of you out there, you have specific health goals—such as losing weight or gaining muscle—and you know that your diet needs to support these goals. All the sit-ups in the world will not help me loose weight or get six pack abs if I eat McDonald’s every day. If this sounds like you then, you are looking at ways of getting the right amount of food and nutrients, while burning fat and gaining muscle mass.

Others out there may have certain dietary needs and restrictions based on health issues. Some foods are good for bones, others work better if you have diabetes. I know one woman who has significant dietary restrictions from having both Type II diabetes and Chron’s. A catch-all-diet may not work for you, and so, finding a specialist who can tailor your diet to your needs, desires, and lifestyle is extremely important.

So, back in the 1930s or so, a man named Weston A. Price, who was a dentist, went on a research study of many different indigenous cultures and found that the individuals in them who kept to their native diet had very good teeth and had robust health, while those who had started eating a Western diet had significantly poorer teeth and were less healthy and energetic. His work paved the way for the Paleo diet and programs like “Whole 30,” which emphasizes removing processed food from one’s diet. This diet is a great baseline and will often help one lose weight, gain energy, and strengthen the immune system because your body’s fuel is of better quality. You can look at a few links on my website to various paleo recipe ideas. Eating this way is rewarding, but it does require some creativity and discipline. If you take some ideas from the work of Dr. Price then this sort of diet will also help to retain bone density and prevent cavities.

Wheat products have become less popular of late because some research has come out showing that a number of people are sensitive to the gluten in the wheat. Now, I want to make sure you understand this well: people have been living off grain products since the dawn of civilization. The research is not saying that all grain, or even necessarily all wheat, is bad; however since we as a culture consume a lot of wheat the likelihood of someone developing a sensitivity to wheat is higher as we do not vary our diet overly much. Furthermore, wheat sensitivity is dictated to some extent by your genetics. What has been found recently is that there are a number of the genes which process the wheat protein. Not everyone has a perfectly working set of genes and, as such, they react poorly to wheat—though there are levels of severity and tolerance. This is not like a peanut allergy where there is a violent reaction from a small amount, more like alcohol tolerance. Some people cannot even have a single drink, while others can have two or three, but the individual level will vary. This also plays into how well one processes B vitamins, especially B6 and 12, and those can impact mood stability as well. If this topic is of interest, check out the methylation cycle for more information.

So, cleaning up your diet will benefit your energy, your health, your weight, and bones. To do this, I recommend that you look not at the grains so much as the veggies, as these often have more calcium than even milk—if you go for the leafy greens—, and people, in general, do not seem to eat enough of them anyway. Get rid of the soda and the sugar, and expand your cooking repertoire.

Well, all of that is useful information for building your own proper diet and, hopefully, by doing so you prevent the next issue, which I promised to address today, and that is insomnia. We just covered how you can avoid fatigue by proper nutrition, but how about dealing with those restless nights? What can you do to improve your sleep?

A book recently came out in which one of the founders of the Huffington Post is to address insomnia. In her book, The Sleep Revolution, Arianna Huffington lays out a number of tips for addressing the chronic sleep deprivation epidemic in America. Now a lot of us have periodic nights where it is difficult to sleep. This could be caused by a number of things such as stress from the job or relationships, exposure to electronics, or eating too late, or even a physiological imbalance. This all ties back to fatigue and, Oriental Medicine can treat this. Now, I cannot treat your neighbor’s dog who feels compelled to bark at midnight, or get your spouse to stop snoring—unless they come in for their own session—but it is possible to change other factors with your sleep. The correct diet will help you get the nutrients you need to keep your mind calm and receptive to the sandman. Those B vitamins I mentioned are important for mood stability, and making sure your body has an adequate amount will result in better sleep. There are also some herbal products which can help as well. Something that may interest you as well is that, in addition to insomnia, I also treat nightmares.

Your sleep is dependent on your body’s ability to produce melatonin, which is disrupted by light—in particular, blue spectrum light which is emitted by electronics such as TVs, computers, cell phones, and street lights. To avoid this, you can turn off your electronics half an hour before bed and maybe read a book. You may think about switching one of your lights to an amber tinted light—which will still allow you to see, but does not work on the blue spectrum. This would be particularly useful if you want to read for a bit before going to sleep, or if you have to get up at night for some reason. Alternatively, you could purchase a set of amber tinted glasses for fairly cheap and continue your normal activities. These glasses can also be used to help train your body to avoid jet lag if you know you have a trip coming up. Setting a proper sleep schedule and sticking to it will also help as your body will adapt to that and sleep and wake all on its own after awhile.

So, as we are at the end of our talk today, I’d like to cover a few important details. Firstly, this is a national broadcast, but I do have a clinic in Denton Texas, which is located at 524 N. Locust St—right next to the post office and a restaurant, called The Greenhouse. I am available for phone consultations, and patient visits—both which you can schedule through my website, and chelements is all one word. If you go on there I have a few supplements for sale which treat for pain and fatigue among other things—though I do recommend that you call me for a consultation before you purchase. My number is 940-441-5404 (repeat). I would love to hear from you with suggestions or questions through my website or my Facebook page, Changing Elements Acupuncture and Herbs, or Twitter, @changingelement.

I am planning another broadcast around May 10th or so and I look forward to speaking with all of you then. For those of you in the Dallas area who would like to meet me in person, I will be at the Denton Community Market regularly through June. I also do a one-hour Qigong workshop at 2 PM the first Saturday of every month at Fred Moore Park in Denton. So, that will be May 7th, at 2 PM when that happens next, which will be after the Denton Community Market, which runs from 9 AM until 1 PM. As weather and time permit, I also attend the Oak Street Draft House run at 7 PM on Wednesday nights in Denton, so come out there and get your exercise and your alcohol all at one go. I hope you have a great day and ’til next time I am Erik Jackson, this is Changing Health Acupuncture Radio from Changing Elements Acupuncture and Herbs in Denton, Texas.

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