Category Archives: Nutrition

Hearty Soups to Boost Your Immune System

Last month we talked about different ways to boost your immune system. This month I focus on the food aspect, particularly how including soups helps boost your immune system.

First, let’s talk a little about the Chinese medicine way of looking at the immune system. “Wei qi” is the immune energy of your body. It is the outer most protective layer that helps to ward off those nasty pathogens. In order for this layer to work as intended, it needs to be warm. Many pathogens come into your body when it’s cold and windy outside, so it makes sense that you should keep yourself warm during the winter months to keep from getting sick. This is also where the “sweat it out” recommendation comes from to get rid of illness at early onset.

a person getting a bowl of hot soup
Photo by furkanfdemir on

Using foods like soups is a great way to warm your body from the inside out. With warm foods and liquids, you are building heat from the inside that will push it’s way out to the wei qi layer. A warmed wei qi layer can push out any pathogens.

Good sources of vitamins and nutrients

Boost your immune system further by giving it certain vitamins and other nutrients. For example, one study showed that chicken soup diminishes inflammation in upper respiratory conditions that often come along with colds and flu.

Bell peppers: Bell peppers are a great source of vitamin C and are a perfect addition for soups and stews. Vitamin C is critical for the immune system.

Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are a rich source of beta carotene, an antioxidant that is good for vision, eye health, a strong immune system and for healthy skin and mucous membranes. Cooked sweet potatoes are also easy to digest, so they provide a maximum amount of nutrition that your body can easily absorb.

Immune Boosting Chicken Soup

This simple and nourishing Immune Boosting Chicken soup is filled with natural antioxidants. It’s chocked full of carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms, garlic, greens and turmeric. The perfect soup to boost your immune system all winter long! You could also add sweet potatoes if you’d like.

Immune boosting chicken soup with carrots, greens and chicken

Servings: makes 6 servings


  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 large celery stalks chopped
  • 4 large carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 cups chicken bone broth or chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp.crushed red pepper if using
  • 3 cups cooked chicken shredded (a rotisserie chicken works great)
  • 2 cups baby spinach or other greens (kale, collards are great options)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces (optional)


  • In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil. When it is heated up, add in the onions, celery and carrots. With a wooden spoon, stir to combine. Onions should be translucent at about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add in the turmeric and black pepper. Add in the crushed red pepper, if using.
  • Add in the garlic and mushrooms and stir. You don’t want the garlic to brown. Just combine it with the onion mixture.
  • Add in the chicken broth, sweet potatoes (if using) and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the broth for about 20 minutes.
  • Stir in the shredded chicken. Add greens during the last 10 – 15 minutes of cooking keeping it on a low and gentle simmer (spinach will wilt quickly, kale may need to cook a bit longer). Keep it on a low simmer. You could simmer for 45 minutes total.
  • Taste soup for flavor. Discard bay leaves. Check seasoning. If needed, season with additional salt and pepper (and add any hot pepper that you like).
  • Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Best foods for Summer

close up photo of seafoods
Photo by Rachel Claire on

Most of us associate the summer season with heat, and rightfully so.

In Chinese Medicine, summer is the season of fire. The fire element is in charge of the heart and small intestines, and these organs are the ones that help us optimally digest our food.

In this season of sunshine and heat, it’s smart to find balance with cooling foods and foods with a salty taste.  

You’ll want to include ingredients from the sea like shrimp, and cooling fruits and vegetables like watermelon and cucumber. Shrimp and salmon are also rich in omega-3s and protein, and are low in calories. Watermelon cools you from the inside out and quenches thirst. In fact the rind of watermelon is even more powerful at relieving summer heat. So next time you are cutting up a watermelon, include some of the white rind with the red juicy flesh for some extra cooling.

Your body craves these foods in the summertime, and when you allow yourself the indulgences of the cool and salty foods, you will be able to combat the heat and improve your digestion during the summer months.

Acupuncture Helps with Digestive Issues

What digestive conditions can acupuncture help?

Acupuncture can help manage the symptoms of a number of different digestive conditions such as:

  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Celiac’s Disease
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Food Sensitivities
  • Acid Reflux

Those symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Digestive pain/cramping/discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • and more

Research suggests that acupuncture can help with “leaky gut syndrome,” by strengthening the mucosal barrier of the digestive tract. And a 2007 systematic review in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, found that acupuncture improved quality of life for IBS, Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis patients in each study they reviewed.

Herbs and Diet help too

Many times we will couple acupuncture with herbal medicine to address these conditions. We frequently recommend an herbal product called Microgard Plus that promotes a healthy and diverse microbiome. There are three main reasons:

1) It helps you break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates for easy digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

2) Microgard Plus also helps your body naturally produce more enzymes and gently assists with intestinal peristalsis to reduce bloating, fatigue, or cramping following a meal.

3) And, it also helps to eliminate food sensitivities.

If your gut is overloaded with the effects of chronic digestive problems, chances are that Microgard Plus will get you back on track.

We may also make some dietary recommendations as well to improve your digestive function. For example, if you frequently drink cold drinks with your meals, I suggest that you replace them with a warm tea or no drink at all. Because your digestive system requires heat to digest foods, we recommend that you not put cold into your stomach while it’s trying to do it’s thing. Simple changes like this can make a huge difference in the function of your gut.

If you’re struggling with digestive issues, acupuncture, herbal medicine and diet therapy may be able to help! Schedule your appointment by calling us at 678-871-9642 or schedule online.

In the meantime, be sure to check out past posts about Digestive Disorders and Tips to Improve Your Digestion.

Help for Autoimmune Disease

The incidence of autoimmune disease has skyrocketed over the past few decades. More than 700 million people around the world are now estimated to be affected, and sadly, conventional treatment has little to offer in most cases.

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body essentially attacks itself and the immune system stays on high alert, resulting in chronic inflammation. It is one of the top ten causes of death in women and the elderly, and now affects one in ten people worldwide.

Autoimmune diseases include things like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel disease and Parkinson’s disease. In fact, over a hundred distinct autoimmune diseases have been identified that affect almost every organ system and tissue in the body. Another forty diseases are suspected of being autoimmune related.

Unfortunately, there’s no sign of this trend slowing down with the prevalence of autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis increasing at an alarming rate. In just eight years, from 2001–2009, the incidence of type 1 diabetes increased by 23 percent!

This dramatic rise in autoimmune disease over the past fifty years, suggests that both environmental factors and genetics are at play. We think of this as the genetics setting the stage for autoimmunity and environmental factors activating autoimmunity. This suggests that environmental factors are the critical triggering factor that sets off the autoimmune response.

Some of these key environmental factors include:

  • Diet – The modern, western diet or Standard American Diet (SAD) is low in nutrient dense foods like vegetables and fruits, and high in sugars, salt, and high-calorie processed foods.
  • Infections – Viruses, parasites and other infections, along with the use of antibiotics and other drugs to address these infections affect the gut microbiota. All of this disturbs the balance of bacteria in our gut and profoundly affects our immune system. There is typically some kind of infection at the root of most autoimmune disease.
  • Environment toxins – pesticides, herbicides, exposure to chemicals, drugs, molds and other toxins can initiate autoimmunity by altering the expression of immune system genes or disrupting other immune system functions.
  • Stress – A BIG contributor. Stress may trigger autoimmunity by altering the gut microbiota and by dysregulating the body’s primary stress-response system that also influences immune function.
  • Lack of sleep – Chronic insomnia and sleep apnea are both associated with significantly increased risks of autoimmune disease. Similarly, a disruption in circadian rhythms, such as shift work, or frequent international travel has been associated with increased autoimmune disease.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help

There are a number of ways that we work with our patients to help with autoimmune disease. Some of these include:

  • Diet Therapy is key in addressing autoimmune issues. We want to remove foods that may trigger or exacerbate an immune response , and increase intake of nutrients that promote optimal immune function. Finally, we will increase intake of foods that support a healthy gut microbiota. We can help determine the best approach for your condition.
  • Acupuncture works by calming the body’s immune system and reversing the body’s sensitivity to the “trigger.” Acupuncture can reverse or stabilizes the progression of autoimmune disease for the majority of patients. Acupuncture is used to help the body restore balance, treating the root of the disorder, while specifically addressing the symptoms that are unique to each individual.
  • Lifestyle modification is also crucial for people with autoimmune disease. This includes exercise (the right kinds, and the right amount), sun exposure, stress management, sleep, and pleasure and social connection.

We will develop a treatment program specifically for you to manage your autoimmune disorder. This may involve a combination of therapies including acupuncture, stress-reducing exercises, moderate physical activity, herbal medicine, and nutritional support.

We are here to support you in your journey toward improved health. If you’d like more information or would like to schedule a consultation to understand how we can help, give us a call.

Staying Healthy This Fall

Even though it’s still hot outside, we are fast approaching the change of the seasons – summer into fall – and of all times of the year, this is the most susceptible for colds, flu and allergies. The weather should be cooling soon, school has started, and activities pick up so generally there’s more stress. And this year, “COVID stress” brings the usual fall stress to new levels.

Autumn is the season associated with the Lung and its partner, the Large Intestine. If you tend to catch colds or have allergies in the Fall, it’s important to take care of these organs! Together the lung and large intestines are related to immunity through the strength of the protective external layer of our skin. Generally, outside pathogens most easily enter through the respiratory and digestive systems, and the lung and colon are responsible for maintaining the function of these systems so that they are not penetrated by outside pathogens. According to Chinese medicine, the body’s defensive energy is directly dependent on the strength of the lung and colon. Incidentally, these are the two areas attacked by the Coronavirus.

So how do you stay well through this vulnerable time and keep your family well, too? The good news – there are many alternatives to support health through this time. The serious news – NOW is the time to act.


First of all, change your diet now to reflect the season to come. Cooler weather means ingesting warmer food and drinks.

Here’s what to eat:

  • Switch from salads to soups.
  • Eat cooked rather than raw fruit – consider crisps, cobblers or pies.
  • Use lots of spices such as ginger, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, and fennel.
  • Ingest root veggies and winter squash.
  • Increase protein intake.

Here’s what to avoid:

  • Cold, refrigerated or iced drinks
  • Dairy
  • Raw foods
  • Smoothies
  • Cold juices
  • Ice cream and other iced/cold foods


I recommend the following supplements to keep your immune system in top shape:

  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Vitamin C
  • Probiotics – select a formula with a variety of strains of bacteria
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids
  • Herbs prescribed by your Acupuncturist/Herbalist for your unique situation. This may include prevention from viruses and other pathogens.


It’s important to reduce stress and plan for the cooler season to come. Even though it may still be warm during the day, the evenings are beginning to be a little bit cooler, reflecting the weather to come. Thus, this is the time to dress warmer. Here are several ways to change lifestyle to support your immune system.

  • Carry a jacket or sweater as needed.
  • Wear a scarf or high collar to protect the back of your neck and protect immunity.
  • Go to bed earlier and get more sleep.
  • Eat regular meals, especially breakfast, even if it’s late morning (skipping meals lowers immunity).
  • Take rest breaks during the day.
  • Include daily meditation or contemplation time to manage stress.
  • Strengthen the Lungs by exercising, stretching, and moving your body.
  • Pay close attention to how you feel daily so you can act immediately if you feel something coming on.
  • Make sure you are having a regular bowel movement too. Here’s why.


What if you do begin to feel sick? Can you prevent it from taking hold? Yes – it is possible to prevent a pending virus or cold if at the first signs of it you do one or all of the following:

It’s HOT out there!

Most of us associate the summer season with heat, and rightfully so. In Chinese Medicine, summer is the season of Fire. The Fire element is in charge of the heart and small intestine, and these organs help us optimally digest our food.

Salad and Watermelon Smoothie

In this season of sunshine and heat, it’s smart to find balance with cooling foods and foods with a salty taste. Recipes that include ingredients from the sea like shrimp and cooling fruits and veggies like watermelon and cucumber are ideal. Your body craves these foods in the summertime, and when you allow yourself the indulgences of cool and salty foods, you’ll be able to combat the heat and improve your digestion during the dog days of August.

There is one caveat. I don’t typically recommend cold foods and drinks because they can be difficult to digest and dampen your digestive fire. So use these foods wisely, and don’t overdo it. Use them when it’s really hot out, and when you experience heat-like symptoms such as heavy sweating, hot flashes, dry skin, constipation, thirst or heart palpitations.

See my previous post for a wonderful Watermelon Smoothie Recipe that cools you from the inside out. Watermelon is especially good for improving hydration, recovering from heat stroke, quenching thirst and boosting energy.

Watermelon Smoothie with Goji Berries and Lime

From The Chinese Medicine Cookbook by Stacey Isaacs

This watermelon smoothie is truly refreshing during the dog days of summer!

Watermelon smoothie
Watermelon healthy juice in mug with lime and mint


4 cups seedless watermelon chunks
1 cup ice
1 tablespoon goji berries
Juice of 1/2 lime

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend. Pour into a glass and enjoy! Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

Watermelon is considered a Chinese herb(xi gua). It is the perfect answer when you are overheated on a hot day; it cools you from the inside out and quenches thirst. The rind of the watermelon is also a Chinese herb (xi gua pi), and it is even more powerful at relieving summer heat and generating fluids in the body. So the next time you are cutting up a beautiful fresh melon, don’t remove all of the white/light green rind. It will do your body good.

Especially good for: improving hydration, recovering from heat stroke, quenching thirst, boosting energy.

Enjoy the Bounty of Summer

Summer is officially here and that brings a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Summer Fruits and Vegetables

By now everyone knows that eating more vegetables and fruits is beneficial for our health. Most “standard” dietary recommendations suggest at least five servings of vegetables and fruits daily, however many studies show that more is better. The benefits of eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits are many, including:

  • Reduced obesity and hypertension
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • Improved mental/cognitive performance
  • Improved lung function, particularly those with COPD
  • Reduced adverse effects of environmental pollutants
  • Reduced risk of cancer

Diet Suggestions for Summer

Summer is the time of heat and fire, and that equates to the heart and small intestine in Chinese Medicine. These organs help us optimally digest our food. During this time of sunshine and heat, it’s smart to find a balance of cooling foods and foods with a salty taste.

  • Seafoods and seaweeds can be a great addition to your diet during the summer to combat the heat and improve digestion.
  • Cooling foods include fruits like kiwi, citrus and watermelon, and veggies like cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, mint, and cilantro.
  • Drink lots of water and try watermelon juice to expel toxins and cool the heart fire. See the recipe below for Watermelon Smoothie with Goji Berries and Lime for a refreshing summer beverage on a hot day.
  • Avoid: Hot and dry foods such as coffee, excessively spicy foods, ice cold foods like ice cream since they cause the digestive system to slow down.

What to look for

It is best to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables; variety in color being one of the more important characteristics. The color of a fruit or vegetables can be a good indicator of the nutrients it contains, and therefore by eating a wide variety in color, you are getting a wide variety of nutrients.

Look for vegetables and fruits that are in season, fresh and ripe. We have a few local farmers markets in our area that are definitely worth a visit. We’ve mentioned before that attuning your body the the seasons is important to maintain balance in our health. While its nice that we can get a variety of fruits and vegetables from all over the world at the supermarket, it’s best to stick with those that would normally be found in your area and to pass on those that have been picked unripe and shipped across the world. It is best to eat fruit fully ripened to get the most antioxidants.

How to Make This a Great Thanksgiving

Even if you are by yourself

In past holiday newsletters, I’ve offered advice on how to have a less-stressed holiday season.  This year requires a different twist on that theme.

A long time ago, I had a boss who taught me how to take advantage of change/chaos. The secret is to figure out what the opportunity is. And I’d like to offer that in these times, the opportunity is to take time for yourself, find joy and gratitude. There is no doubt that these are stressful times, and honestly, adding a family gathering or holiday party to the mix at this time would add even more stress. Most times I’m giving advice on stress relieving techniques to cope with the chaos of holiday shopping, family gatherings, and work parties. But all of that is so last year!

How is stress affecting you now?
For some we turn to food to calm our nerves. How about looking at food preparation and eating as an opportunity to express thanks? Our mindset before eating or preparing foods has a big impact on how we digest food. I’ve taught classes on mindful eating and one thing that I always emphasize is practicing gratitude during preparation, cooking and eating what we have. That is the idea of preparing and eating meals with calmness and enjoyment so that the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged which, incidentally, helps with digestion. Taking time to appreciate the work that went into growing and harvesting the fruits and vegetables, is an example. Eating slowly and appreciating all of the flavors is so beneficial to your body and mind.

Bring in Gratitude and Joy

Did you know that you can’t experience two opposite emotions at the same time? So by expressing gratitude or joy, you can’t simultaneously feel sorrow or fear. So look for those opportunities to do the things you enjoy doing during the holidays, even if you are by yourself and can’t be with family members. Do you love to decorate for the holidays? Then do it, even if you are the only one who will see it!

How can you express gratitude during this time? What comes to mind when I ask “what are you thankful for?” Notice, I didn’t ask “what is missing from your life?” It’s all about how you frame things. While I’m missing my family this Thanksgiving, I am grateful that they are all healthy and safe. I’m also thankful that there will be less stress and I can cook whatever the heck I want to cook without having to worry about the special requests from everyone. I can take a deep breath for a few days! I’m looking forward to it. I’m also grateful to spend some quality time with my partner, David and my cute doggie, Jess!

This year, I am extremely grateful for you, my patients! You bring me great joy and I care about you all. Please see the special holiday offers below and take this opportunity to treat yourself, friends or family to the gift of wellness!

Happy Thanksgiving!