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Manage Glucose with an Oriental Medicine Diet
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM

While a sweet taste delights our taste buds, overindulgence can cause or worsen digestive problems and upset our metabolic and emotional balance. According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, when one or more of the organs responsible for digestion no longer functions properly, it potentially puts the other organs of the body in danger. There is even an entire philosophy of medical treatment based on this belief called the School of the Stomach and Spleen.

The brilliant acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) physician, Li Dong-Yuan lived, who during the Jin Dynasty in China, from 1180-1251, wrote his masterpiece, Pi Wei Lun (Treatise on the Stomach and Spleen) during a time of rampant epidemics. In his desire to heal his people, Dong-Yuan discovered the significance of a healthy digestive system. This old saying that originates from ancient China helps to summarizes Dong-Yuan’s philosophy: 'When the spleen is healthy it can generate all living things. If it becomes depleted, it can bring about the 100 diseases.'

Diabetes is one example of a disease that has a variety of health consequences which can sometimes result from a faulty digestive system. The onset of type 2 diabetes, also known as insulin-resistant diabetes, frequently affects the overweight adult population, although one may still suffer from the disease while being a normal weight.

According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, after taking a bite and swallowing your food, the stomach receives it and proceeds to 'cook,' 'steam' or 'ferment' it. The stomach is known as 'the sea of grain and water.' The 'cooking' extracts vital nutrients from the 'grain' and passes them on to the spleen for further processing. The spleen then distributes the nutrients accordingly throughout the body. Diet is significant for maintaining health or restoring it and can help stabilize blood glucose levels and curb sweet cravings by following   dietary recommendations.

Foods which represent the sweet flavor aid the stomach and spleen. It may surprise some to learn that acupuncture and Oriental medicine considers meats such as pork and chicken as sweet. Vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes, corn, snow peas, squash and even turnips are also considered sweet. If you wish to reduce your consumption of sweet foods and to curb your sweet tooth, eating a savory dish made with coconut milk can ease the need for a dessert afterward.

Anything heavily processed, greasy or high in sugar can injure the spleen and cause a condition known as internal phlegm.  This disorder represents a turbid, heavy condition interfering with digestion and can cause belching, bloating, pain and diarrhea.

If you are following a diabetic diet, even fruits are recommended only in moderate amounts due to their relatively high sugar content. Try pairing your fruit with a high-fiber grain like oatmeal. The fiber will slow down digestion and help keep blood sugar levels stable. Or you could consider a moderately sweet dessert comprised of a yam with butter and cinnamon. By following acupuncture and Oriental medicine guidelines for properties of food, you can easily find lower-sugar foods that are allowed, yet still provide a sweet flavor and can replace unhealthy desserts.

Contact an acupuncture practitioner near you to find out more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help enhance your health!

Read more about acupuncture and Oriental medicine for Diabetes!

About the Author:   Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.