Integrative Medicine and Your New Year’s Health Resolutions
We all view change as difficult and time consuming, but if you’ve committed to making long-term health changes this year, integrative medicine might be the means toward helping you be successful in making changes for good.
Common New Year’s resolutions I hear from my patients include quitting smoking, losing weight or just eating healthier. I can’t tell you enough how I have seen small changes add up in patients' lives. Usually these changes are lifestyle changes.
At the time, taking action and making changes might not seem like an easy task, but once you do, it gives you a new sense of control in going down a path toward better health and well-being. You are the one who has to take action for change. Your providers cannot do it for you. They can only walk with you on the journey and be there to support you.
Do you want to quit smoking?
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. Smoking is known to cause damage to virtually every major organ. It’s a leading contributor to cancer as well as heart disease and other chronic conditions, including COPD.
Yet quitting is hard. Many people try many times to quit smoking before they are finally successful. If you want to quit, your medical provider can help you with various strategies.
Acupuncture is one strategy that people often don’t consider. Yet systematic reviews show that acupuncture substantially improves long-term quit rates. Acupuncture done in accordance with the principles of traditional Chinese medicine gave a 3.5 fold increase in quit rates.
How does acupuncture work? Acupuncture, particularly ear or “auricular acupuncture,” helps reduce cravings for nicotine by stimulating receptors in our brains that nicotine usually binds to, creating a break from the cravings. Acupuncture also helps relieve any withdrawal symptoms you might be having.
Acupuncture for smoking cessation can take place in individual or group sessions. Group acupuncture is about half the cost of a clinic visit. Ear needling is easy and only takes 30 minutes per session. Group sessions also provide peer support, education, and the experiences of mind-body movement, meditation and breath work for relaxation.
Do you want to lose weight?
Ideal Living at Avera is a diet approach that follows a scientifically designed protocol that focuses on burning fat while maintaining muscle. On average, while following the weight loss protocol, women lose 2 to 3 pounds per week and men lose 3 to 5 pounds per week.
As you start down the track toward a new you, you learn to eat smarter and live a healthier lifestyle, and take back control of the foods you put into your body.
Education is an important part of this weight loss program. Rather than just following the rules of what you “can” and “can’t” eat, you understand how body fat is utilized as fuel, the relationship between insulin and weight gain, which foods are best suited for healthy weight management, and the role of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the diet.
Do you want to eat healthier?
Sometimes the littlest steps can start you on a path toward healthier living. Dr. Joel Fuhrman says, “A properly fueled body is a miraculous self-healing machine.” He recommends GOMBBS. Try incorporating any and all of these foods into your day for better health and optimum nutrition.
- G = Greens – leafy greens
- O = Onions, raw
- M = Mushrooms
- B = Beans
- B = Berries
- S = Seeds (sesame, sunflower, hemp, chia, pumpkin – all raw, unsalted)
Do you want to simply slow down a little?
If you ever feel like you’re too busy, you’re not alone. Multitasking has become a way of life. Our busy lives even tend to creep into our meal times – a time of day that’s supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable.
Research shows it’s important for stress reduction as well as metabolism to relax before and during a meal. The importance of being “present” during our day is especially important when we eat. Try to add these quick and effective tools to slow down and increase your metabolism every day:
- Move away from your computer and electronic gadgets.
- Sit in front of your meal and give thanks before eating.
- Calm your mind and relax your stomach muscles.
- Take a deep breath for 5 seconds – hold for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds.
- Try to do this at least five times before eating, work your way up to 1 minute.
Enjoy your meal and be present – your digestive system will thank you.
These are just a few examples of how the principles of integrative medicine can help you be successful in your New Year’s goals.