On Saturday, October 21st, 2017, the Center hosted an East-West wellness seminar titled “Optimizing Daily Well-Being with East West Medicine” at the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital Auditorium. The speakers encouraged attendees to take charge of their health by learning about nutrition, happiness, well-being and pain management.
The first speaker Felicia Yu, MD spoke on the topic of Integrative East-West Nutrition and Diet. She pointed out that eating not only has physical and social aspects, but also emotional and spiritual components, which are crucial to health. Only when we eat in a calm and peaceful environment can our bodies truly relax into the “rest and digest” phase, at which our parasympathetic nervous system signals digestion to our organs. When we are under stress while consuming food, our bodies are in the “fight or flight” mode, which is synonymous to sympathetic nervous activation and is not conducive to digestion. Dr. Yu also mentions that contrary to popular belief, mealtime distractions actually cause us to overeat. Research has shown that 80% of subjects will eat more stale popcorn when occupied with a movie than those who are only given the popcorn.
Dr. Yu also introduced the idea food being “Yin” or “Yang” by nature, and suggested the audience to consume more Yin foods in the summer/springtime, and more Yang foods during winter/fall. Yin foods such as watermelon, berries, and leafy greens, are often identified by their cooling effect on the body. Contrarily, foods such as oranges, beets and most meats produce a more warming effect on the body. Consuming these foods in their respective seasons can help create a balance of energy in the body and promote overall well-being. To conclude, Dr. Yu shared some tips, such as, eating a variety of foods moderately and using healthier cooking methods like steaming and stir frying. She also encouraged the audience to attend their local farmers markets for seasonal foods.
Following the topic of nutrition, Justin Laube MD presented some of the keys well-being. According to Dr. Laube, there are six factors in well-being: health, relationships, security, purpose, community and environment. “Health” is the overarching theme between physical activity, diet, sleep, stress and emotions. Whereas “relationships” points to the interpersonal connections in life. Meanwhile, a sense of “security” can be reflected in one’s job, finances, home and satisfaction of basic needs. “Purpose” is the aim and direction in life. While “community” is the infrastructure, engagement and empowerment between a group of people. Lastly, “environment” refers to access to a clean and toxic-free environment. In order for a person to live a happy and healthy life, all six aspects have to be met. Well-being is much more than being disease-free. He pointed out to the audience that while social isolation increases the risk of mortality, even an emotional connection with a pet or a plant can help reduce this risk. Dr. Laube also reminded the audience that sitting is deemed the “new smoking” and that the positive effects of exercise on our health and longevity is beyond our imagination. Lastly, he encouraged the audience to make SMART Goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, result-focused and time-bound goals in life. To achieve optimal health and healing, making daily positive life changes can go a long way.
Our last speaker, Edward Hui MD spoke about an Integrative Approach to the Self-Management of Pain. He reminded the audience to take caution with pain medications and that the commonly used Tylenol is safe under 3g/day. Dr. Hui also educated the audience on the importance of the flow of Qi and the blood in the body, which can be accomplished through acupuncture using needles or acupressure using hands. He demonstrated how to locate the acupoints LI4 (Hegu) and GB20 (Fengchi) to the audience, which can release head and neck pain when stimulated. He recommended the audience to practice the mind-body exercise Tai Chi and aquatic exercises to achieve a balance between strength, endurance and flexibility.
Advances in technology and medicine have enabled us to live for longer. However, the amount of money spent on healthcare to treat preventable chronic diseases, which are associated with a longer lifespan, is unsustainable. We can actively take our health and well-being into our own hands by applying some of the simple lifestyle advice offered by our seminar speakers Dr. Yu, Dr. Laube and Dr. Hui.