“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that nurture can be more powerful than nature. Even if an individual was born weak, sick, and underdeveloped (weak prenatal Jing), love and care will reverse that (Zang Fu Jing). With the right nutrition! (Gu Qi)
In conventional Western medicine, the same concept has been translated into the health of gastrointestinal tract (GIT, digestive tract) and appropriate diets/nutrition. Most recently, it is further defined with the terms of “epigenetic” and “microbiome/microbiota/gut flora.” We are well aware of the importance of a healthy gut, however, just as complicated and swiftly changing as the modern diets and lifestyles, the dynamic and relationships between our digestive tract and us are shifting constantly as well. Think of the GI tract as a deep ocean inside us. We know it is crucial in regulating the weather and providing sources of lives. With how deep and how complex it is though, the current technologies can only detect limited range and gather partial information.
Good news is, there are always new discoveries and evidence based research. We are learning about our bodies and what it means to live a healthful life more and more every single day!
Same with our pets. We have recognized the importance of nutrition, and thus we have demanded more options for our beloved pets. As a result, besides the traditional kibbles, canned food, now pet owners can make nutritionally balanced and species appropriate meals for the fur babies at home by following carefully formulated recipes. If fresh ingredients are desired but there’s no time to cook, there are commercially prepared options of dehydrated raw, fresh raw, freeze dried fresh, vacuum packed fresh, …etc.
Moreover, recent researches have established the correlations between the GIT health and the good bacteria living in the gut. If we are feeding the good bacteria, the body will be stronger and healthier, with less chance of chronic diseases, cancer, pain, and even emotional/behavioral issues. There are hundreds to thousands different types of bacteria living inside us and the animals, and we are just getting to know them! We know that the populations differ drastically from individuals to individuals, and we know that the different bacteria need different nutrients and conditions to thrive. As a result, it is important to offer varieties of high quality options to strengthen the good groups of bacteria.
Feed balanced and consistent meals to your pets, but don’t forget to change things up every so often! (For pets with specific medical conditions, please consult with your veterinarians before making any drastic adjustments on the meals and care regimen. )
How to decide when to change the feedings and what to change to? The answer is, based on the seasons! In a more modern perspective, fresh, natural and in-seasoned ingredients are always better. The nutrients are more complete, with less “against the nature” efforts (i.e. chemicals, growth hormones, artificially created environments, transportation,..etc) spent on the processes. Better for the individual’s health, as well as the environmental sustainability.
From the Traditional Chinese Wellness view, the food that is consumed should help maintain the “harmony” of the body. For example, the weather is getting cold, and therefore more “warming food” should be considered to keep the body balanced. Some of the “warming food” include beef, lamb, chicken, turmeric, ginger, lentils, oats,…etc. To make it more relatable if this is a new concept to you: What makes you feel good after walking in the snow for an hour, when it’s 10 degree outside? A cup of hot cocoa? Or a glass of watermelon juice? Vice versa. Do you feel like some fresh cucumber lemonade or mocha, after jogging for an hour, under 80 degree sunny weather? If you have chosen the hot cocoa and the lemonade, your body “gets” the basic Chinese Food Therapy concept!
Email us or leave a comment if you have any questions!
—Helen Chiu, DVM, CVA