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The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #15 - Linda Prout 

For more than three decades, Linda has been a teacher, consultant, speaker and author in the nutrition and health field.  She began her nutrition career at the Claremont Resort and Spa in Berkeley, CA, where she conducted workshops and consulted individually with guests and the community. She also worked with hotel chefs to create inspiring Spa cuisine. 

Linda has been speaker to organizations across the country, including Fortune 500 companies and medical professionals such as Kaiser Permanente, the American Nurses Association, UCSF Nurse Leadership Fellows, Johnson & Johnson, Baxter, and others. 

She received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of California at Davis, and Master of Science in Nutrition from University of Bridgeport, CT. Linda completed several Nutritional Therapy Seminars with Drs. Jonathan Wright and Alan Gaby, two well-known nutritional MD’s who teach doctors how to use nutrition to treat disease. She also mentored with orthomolecular medicine doctors in private medical practices. 

After seeing personal health benefits with a Chinese medicine doctor, Linda became fascinated with TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine. She attended Meiji College of Oriental Medicine in San Francisco, and then began studying alongside traditional Chinese OMD’s in their acupuncture practices. She traveled to China where she visited country clinics and urban hospitals, observing and discussing medical care with doctors and staff.

She also studied traditional Chinese nutrition with Paul Pitchford author of Healing with Whole foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. 

In 2002 Linda moved onto a sailboat in the Mediterranean where she spent 8 years traveling and studying the foods and health of this long-lived region. She ultimately landed in Turkey where she lived in an ancient Aegean village, learning from local elders how to wild craft plants for food and medicine.

Linda’s nutrition philosophy bridges east and west. This book shows readers how to apply the principles of time-tested eastern medicine in choosing western foods for balance and restoring health. 

Linda moved to Oregon in 2010 and lives on a river where she continues to study and provide healing plans to clients around the world via email and phone.  


LEARN MORE AT​:

www.lindaprout.com

SHOWNOTES

Get the new, updated Audible version of Linda Prout's Live in the Balance: The Ground-Breaking East-West Nutrition Program, narrated by Melanie, on Audible soon!!!

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The Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #14 - Stacy Toth

5:30 - INSIDE TRACKER: The Ultimate tool in Biohacking! start to finish blood tests With personalized, detailed, easy-to-understand analysis And recommendations for improving your health! Get $200 Off Their Ultimate Plan, or 25% Off Any Other Plan, At InsideTracker.com!

06:15 - LISTEN ON HIMALAYA!: Download the free Himalaya App (www.himalaya.fm) to FINALLY keep all your podcasts in one place, follow your favorites, make playlists, leave comments, and more! Follow The Melanie Avalon Podcast in Himalaya For Early Access 24 Hours In Advance! You Can Also Join Melanie's Exclusive Community For Exclusive Monthly Content, Episode Discussion, And Guest Requests! Use The Code MELANIE To Get Your First Month Free!

6:30 - Paleo OMAD Biohackers: Intermittent Fasting + Real Foods + Life: Join Melanie's Facebook group to discuss and learn About all things biohacking! All conversations welcome!

Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition (3rd Edition)

09:15 - Linda's Personal Health History And Path To TCM

13:40 - The Pulses in TCM

14:40 - TCM Food Qualities And Properties Vs.  Western "Numbers"

15:30 - Yin And Yang

19:15 - The Life Energy Of Qi 

21:35 - What Blocks Qi?

25:15 - TCM Constitutions (Dry, Damp, Cold, Hot, Wind)

32:20 - What Is The "Ideal" Balanced Body?

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38:30 - The Five Elements In TCM (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water)

43:40 - Are we born as one constitution?

47:10 - Is TCM "Scientific" ? 

49:10 -  Correcting Imbalances And Extreme Diary Approaches 

52:55 - The Role Of Elimination Diets And Carnivore

57:25 - Curing Epilepsy Via The Ketogenic Diet

1:03:10 - The Role Of Homeopathy 

1:04:10 - Rice And Grains In TCM

1:09:10 - Should We Eat Raw Fruits And Vegetables? 

1:18:00 - False Heat, Cooling Pork

1:19:40 - Using Seasonings To Balance Meals And Aid Circulation 

1:24:40 - Evolving Thoughts On Fats

Email One Free Question About TCM TO Linda@lindaprout.com

TRANSCRIPT

Melanie Avalon:
Hi friends. So, I am thrilled to be here today with a wonderful woman who I feel like I know very well. I've been working with her for quite a while recently, but that is Linda Prout. And she is the author of Live in the Balance, The Groundbreaking east-west Nutrition Program.

Melanie Avalon:
Linda, I don't think you actually know this, but I became really interested in traditional Chinese medicine about four years ago or so when I started experiencing digestive issues. And I turned to traditional Chinese medicine because I really appreciated the holistic approach that it took to help, especially when it comes to food and digestion and I'm sure we will get into the details of all of that.

Melanie Avalon:
But I of course found the bible, I would call it, of traditional Chinese medicine, which was Paul Pitchford's Healing With Whole Foods. And guys, I'm so excited because I just realized that you studied with him, Linda. I didn't know that. That's amazing.

Linda Prout:
I did. Yeah.

Melanie Avalon:
That's absolutely incredible. When was that that you worked with him or studied with him?

Linda Prout:
That was probably 10 years ago.

Melanie Avalon:
Wow. Was he just like a wealth of knowledge with TCM?

Linda Prout:
He definitely was a wealth of knowledge and a living example of someone that practices TCM.

Melanie Avalon:
That's so amazing. So, for listeners, if you're not familiar, his book, Healing With Whole Foods, it's this just massive, amazing reference that goes into so much detail about anything you could ever want to know about traditional Chinese medicine, food, the organs, everything, which we'll get a little bit into in this episode.

Melanie Avalon:
But about Linda's bio, so, she actually received her bachelor of science in dietetics from the University of California at Davis as well as a master of science in nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. And she completed several nutritional therapy seminars with Drs. Jonathan Wright and also Alan Gaby. And they are two very well-known nutritional MDs, who teach doctors on how to use nutrition to treat disease. And she's also mentored with orthomolecular medicine doctors and private medical practices.

Melanie Avalon:
So, Linda, to start things off, would you like to tell listeners a little bit about your personal health history and what led you to traditional Chinese medicine? And we'll get into more of this in detail, but what I really love is you truly bridge the gap, in my opinion, by bringing a comprehensive overview of the healing benefits of traditional Chinese medicine with the perspective of the western mindset and really making those come together and support the individual. But I know it didn't start out like that for you. So, would you like to tell listeners a little bit about your personal journey?

Linda Prout:
Sure and thanks for having me. So, my journey sounds like a little bit like yours. I came to Chinese medicine because I had digestive issues, but I probably had digestive issues because I had eating issues and in Chinese medicine, we look at that at all is one organ system imbalance.

Linda Prout:
So, I had pretty disordered eating through high school and college. I would overeat when things were stressful and binge eat when things were stressful and then not eat and diet when things calm down. And this is a pretty bad thing to do for your whole digestive system. And I could never seem to get things to normalize and went to a lot of western doctors with really not getting much help at all. No help, we'll just say no help.

Linda Prout:
And finally, after graduating with my bachelor of science degree in nutrition, I went to a Chinese medicine doctor who was incredibly helpful. So, it was a combination of telling me how I should change my diet with acupuncture. Diet is just a small piece. It's just one of the branches as they call them, of Chinese medicine. There's acupuncture and massage and movement and herbs.

Linda Prout:
So, as a result of this visit with this Chinese doctor, it really transformed my health. It helps my digestion. It helps my energy. It helped my moods. It really reverberated into every aspect of my life. And this inspired me to want to learn all I could about Chinese medicine.

Melanie Avalon:
So, with that journey and everything that you found with Chinese medicine and making the changes, like what did you experience with your digestive issues? Did you find things started improving radically or right away or what happened when you actually did discover this whole world of Chinese medicine and started making those changes?

Linda Prout:
Well, to back up a little bit, in high school I decided to become a vegetarian. So, when I was maybe 14, 15, I just completely stopped eating all meat. There were periods of time where I was pretty close to vegan or vegan and then there were times when I would have eggs and dairy and over time, this really didn't serve me.

Linda Prout:
So, in Chinese medicine, you could say that my spleen qi was becoming more and more imbalanced. So, I became heavier. I gained weight. I developed a lot of stomach bloating and I was tired and retained fluids and felt sort of anxious and worried and irritable.

Linda Prout:
So, I went through four years of western education, which is a lot of additional reasons to worry and to get stressed out. Finals were stressful and it's a lot of premed classes. So, the classes are really challenging. And I really got worse during that time. So, here I am studying nutrition and wanting to understand health through college and I just got worse. My eating fluctuations became more intense, so more binge eating and more restrictive dieting and worse fatigue. And my blood pressure started going up.

Linda Prout:
And so, after graduating, I just realized I have to look somewhere else. I'm obviously not going to find the answers that I was looking for in a traditional western education. So, when I went to see this Chinese medicine doctor, he took my pulses. And I don't know if listeners know this, but in western medicine, if we check the pulse, we're looking for just beats per minute. It's one thing and it's a number, how many beats per minute. In Chinese medicine, and this is what was so amazing.

Linda Prout:
There are 12 pulses and none of them are beats per minute. They're all sort of a window into an organ in the body. So, with each different pulse, so there's different positions you can hold on the wrist and different depths you can press into to feel what's happening in all the different organ systems.

Linda Prout:
So, he checked my poles and he looked at my tongue and he asked me some questions. And I like to say he was a man of very few words. He was a man of very few words and he said, "You need meat." And I said, "Oh no, no. I just graduated with a degree in nutrition and I know how to get protein and I'm getting plenty of protein." Because I was eating seeds and nuts and legumes and eggs, which are very good source of protein. And he said, "No, you need meat." And he didn't explain much more than that. So, he kind of left it at that. And he did some acupuncture and sent me on my way.

Linda Prout:
And that's when I started exploring why would it be meat that I need? Like what is it about me that I need? And then I started understanding that in Chinese medicine, foods have qualities or properties. So, in western medicine, my whole training in western medicine is pretty much about numbers. So, we look at grams of protein and milligrams of sodium and grams of carbs and grams of fat. And then we look at our blood lipids and those are numbers and blood sugar, that's a number and blood pressure, that's a number.

Linda Prout:
And in Chinese medicine, it's really all about qualities or properties. So, instead of looking at three ounces of lamb has the same amount of protein as say three eggs. We would say lamb is warming and heating and it really stimulates and nourishes the spleen energy and spleen in Chinese medicine is very different from the organ that we think of in the west. It really is digestion, all of digestion.

Linda Prout:
So, what he was saying to me is you need this quality from meat. So, meat has a yang quality, so you've heard of probably yin and yang. So, yin is the compliment or in in some ways, it's an opposite, but it's really more of a compliment to yang. So, yin and yang, we need those in balance for health. And my diet was far too yin, so I was eating lots of dairy and fruit and grains and vegetables, and those are all fairly yin foods.

Linda Prout:
So, meat is yang and I wasn't getting any of that. It was really hard for me to start eating meat again. It had been maybe 15 years since I'd had any meat and it took me another year, if you would believe that to actually go to the store and buy about this little tiny piece of lamb that was probably an ounce. And I brought it home and I minced it into tiny, tiny little pieces. And then I mixed it with broccoli and carrots and ginger and garlic and rice and onions and all kinds of stuff. So, I would not really think I was detecting it.

Linda Prout:
And it really wasn't bad at all. I actually enjoyed it and it was a very invigorating meal. I mean, at the end of that meal, I really felt a different and deep sense of warmth and energy and I realized there was something in there that I needed and it was different than protein. I mean, all the nuts and beans in the world were not going to give me what this one little ounce of lamb gave me.

Linda Prout:
So, I still need a lot of red meat now, but I know when I need it. And when I need it, I go get it. And I make my little stir fry or my little beef patty and I have that and I can really feel that pickup in my energy and my resolve. And when I need to get things done, I need to write a book or I need to see a lot of extra clients, sometimes I just know I have to go get that meat. It's just important.

Melanie Avalon:
Oh, I love that story so much. And I know exactly what you mean about listening to your body's intuition and when you do take in that food that your body so desperately needs at that moment, and you just get that feeling of, it's just such an innate inner sense of, it feels like to me, like a sigh of relief. Like yes, this is what my body needed in that moment. I've definitely, definitely experienced that.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay, so you brought up so many topics in that introduction, so, excited to go into the details in some of it. And I meant to say this at the beginning, so we started talking about Paul Pitchford. That was how I got introduced to Chinese medicine, but then I wanted a more approachable overview to learn more and I did a lot of researching trying to find the book that was going to bring it all together for me and that's how I came across your work, Linda and found Live in the Balance.

Melanie Avalon:
And guys, listeners, you've got to get this book. Referencing it right now because I know Linda brought up a lot of topics just now for example like yin and yang, how different foods have different constitutions and heat patterns and cold patterns and we'll talk all about that.

Melanie Avalon:
But there definitely in her book, she has lists of these foods and how to address that in detail because we definitely won't be able to go into that much detail today. So, if you want the actual, the details, the specifics, the guide with the irony of no numbers and things like that, like you were saying Linda, but like a general overview, then definitely check out that book.

Melanie Avalon:
So, I thought we could clarify some concepts for listeners so we can get everybody on the same page. So, for example, something that you mentioned a lot in the book is the concept of qi. And for listeners, that's spelled Q-I but qi. So, what is qi?

Linda Prout:
Oh, great question. So, qi is pretty unique to eastern medicine. In western medicine because we can't measure it, yes, we can't get a number to ascribe to qi. It just might as well not exist. And there isn't really a great term that means qi. So, I'll just share some of the terms that are used and maybe through those, you can get a sense.

Linda Prout:
So, it's been called universal life or universal energy, energy flow, a form of energy, a life force, universal life force, universal life. So, it's an essence, a kind of energy. And I think that most of you have maybe even experienced qi flow. So, in the case of let's say you've got say digestive issues and you've got this bloated stuck feeling in your gut where it just feels like nothing is moving and it feels uncomfortable, maybe painful, that could be an example of qi, spleen qi being stuck.

Linda Prout:
So, we talk a lot in Chinese medicine about qi getting stuck different places. And actually just pain, a pain in your shoulder, a pain in your knees, a pain in your back or in your neck, that is probably qi that's stuck there. It is. In some form the qi that should be circulating freely and effortlessly through your body is getting stuck. So, that's how we look at it in the body.

Linda Prout:
There's also disciplines of decorating your living space or your office space called feng shui, which is designed to keep the flow of qi moving smoothly through your home or through your office. And qi is thought to exist and circulate through the entire planet, through the solar system, through the universe. So, it's a type of energy or movement or flow that keeps things in balance and harmonized. I hope that made sense.

Melanie Avalon:
No, that is a wonderful overview. That actually made me think of a really random question. So, you're talking about anytime you feel a pain or your digestion is slowed that that's qi getting blocked. So, because I know for a lot of people with digestive issues, they often feel like they have bloating or things are stuck. We often will revert to researching it being gut bacteria imbalances or parasites or things like that. So, if there is an actual blockage of some sort, be it related to parasites or just actual literal fiber.

Melanie Avalon:
So, is that still related to qi being blocked as well? I guess I'm trying to clarify the difference between this qi moving and then actual physical blockages or with pain, if it's from an actual tear in something. Does that make sense?

Linda Prout:
Yeah. Well, in the case of let's say the gut with maybe bacteria is an optimal or there's candida, it's hard to know in Chinese medicine what comes first. So, it could be that the qi starts slowing down or it gets stuck and then it sort of paves the way for undesirable bacteria to take hold. So, then your qi really gets stuck because there's all this mass of bacterial energy and qi can't really move through that very ... I don't know if this is exactly how a Chinese doctor would explain this because we are bridging east and west and usually, the Chinese doctors that I've studied with stay in the TCM or traditional Chinese medicine world with their terms and their explanations. But in essence both things are happening. So, you maybe are getting candida overgrowth and also qi is getting stagnant or stuck or blocked in that area.

Linda Prout:
An interesting example is a growth. So, a tumor, a breast tumor, an ovarian growth, those stem from stuck qi. So, if you go to your Chinese doctor early on, he can, he or she can take your pulses and ask questions and look at your tongue and find out, oh, there's some stuck energy in the abdomen somewhere. So, let's get that moving.

Linda Prout:
So, in that case, you could prevent getting this growth or this tumor or this mass by getting the qi moving. And that's why exercise is so important because it helps us move our qi. So, you may notice after you go on a big bike ride or a walk or a jog or you dance, you feel really good because your qi or your energy is circulating through your body. And we know that it's harder for growths to happen, it's harder for cancer to take hold when we're exercising.

Linda Prout:
In the west, we would say, "Oh well, we're oxygenating the tissues and cancer doesn't like oxygen." So, that's another way of describing it from the west. But from the east, we'd say no, you're keeping your qi moving through exercise, through massage, through acupuncture, through proper diet and that's preventing a tumor or a mass or a pain from forming.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay, that makes so much sense. So, it sounds like it's very self-perpetuating either way, if you're keeping the qi moving, that would continue to fuel that, like fuel everything moving compared to if things start slowing down or getting blocked, that can also perpetuate the buildup and the slowing down of qi. That's what it sounds like.

Linda Prout:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Melanie Avalon:
Something that is discussed all throughout the book and in traditional Chinese medicine is this overall idea of one's "constitution" and then when a person understands their constitution or where they're at with that is when all these other factors can come into place. So, what exactly is meant by one's constitution?

Linda Prout:
Well, in Chinese medicine, there are nine different constitution types and I don't spell them out quite that way in the book. But in essence it's, you can either be a healthy type, so you are balanced or you can be what would be referred to as qi deficient. So, that would be where this energy just isn't flowing and a person can feel short of breath and fatigued and they catch colds easily and flus easily. They're really sensitive to the environment.

Linda Prout:
Then there's yang deficiency, which is similar, but the person feels probably more sensitive to cold. They're very uncomfortable after eating cold food. They dislike wind and cold and humidity. They tend to be puffy. I'm not going to go through each one of these types because they're sort of nuanced in their differences. But in essence, a person could have too much heat or too much cold or dampness or dryness or wind. That's another way of looking at the constitutional types. It is a different way of looking at it.

Linda Prout:
So, a good example of a person with excess heat or too much yang in the body, I'll just give a real big stereotype here. So, take a man or a woman you might know who is really robust and they tend to be loud and maybe they crack jokes a lot and they tend to have a red face and they maybe complain of headaches and their eyes tend to be red. So, heat rises. So, we can get headaches with heat and we can get red bloodshot eyes with heat. They tend to be the life of the party. They tend to have a temper. They might kind of blow their stack periodically and they crave cold things like cold beer or cold margaritas. They love that kind of thing. So, that's a very stereotypical example of too much heat all over the body. And that kind of person is vulnerable to heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure.

Linda Prout:
And then let's take the opposite type of constitution, a person that maybe has too much cold in the body. So, a person with cold tends to be cold all the time. So, they aren't hot all the time, they're cold. They're always putting on layers of sweaters and bundling up in a blanket, in the corner of the couch. They aren't extroverted. They tend to be introverted and shy and maybe depressed. They might even complain of feeling depressed. They want hot things. They want hot tea or hot coffee or hot soup. And they tend to get sick pretty easily. Yes. So, in western medicine we might say they have anemia, so they don't have enough iron.

Linda Prout:
And when you think about it, since meat is warming, lamb, beef, chicken, those are all warming, a person with a cold pattern might need more of those foods to kind of warm up. Whereas the person with the heat pattern might be, not necessarily, but might be overeating meats. They're having too much, too many burgers and too many lamb dishes and too much prime rib. It's possible.

Linda Prout:
And then you have a person with dryness. Now that can happen just with age. We tend to dry out. As we age, we produce less hormones and less secretions and less oils. So, as we age, we can develop a pattern of dryness or it can be living in a place that's really dry. And so, there's not much ambient moisture in the air. It can be our lifestyle, a lot of stress and worry can try us out and diet can contribute to that.

Linda Prout:
So, I went to college during the era when we were taught, oh, we shouldn't eat any fat. We should eat the lowest fat diet humanly possible. And as a good student, I did that. So, I was able to figure out how to get every last drop of oil or fat out of my diet and I became so dry. My hair is pretty sleek and straight, but it got frizzy and brittle. It just looked like different hair. My skin was really dry. My heels cracked. They were so dry, they cracked and actually bled. And yeah, so that was me being really, really dry. So, that's another possible constitutional type.

Linda Prout:
And then there is dampness, which we see a lot of in the states or in western culture. So, dampness is associated with the earth element. So, if you think of earth being saturated with water, being damp, being wet, that sort of gives you an idea of what dampness is like. It's the person is going to feel heavy. They're probably overweight. Anytime you see a person who is overweight or obese, they have dampness going on in their body. So, dampness is excess fat, excess flesh. It might be fluid retention and it can just be mucus. It could be that person's weight is normal, but they have mucus in their sinuses and phlegm and the chest, that's also dampness. There can be dampness in the GI tract. So, if there's mucus in the stools, that's dampness. So, those are all signs of dampness.

Linda Prout:
And then wind can also involve excess heat or cold or dampness. But wind is a little different kind of pattern. When a person has a wind pattern, they often have either pain or itching or a skin rash that moves around. So, one morning they've got itchiness on their chest and then two days later, their legs are itching and then a couple of days later, their back is itching. So, it's something that's moving around. It could be pain. So, one day your left ankle is aching and then the next day, it's your left knee or your right knee or your shoulder. So, that's an example of wind.

Linda Prout:
Seizure disorders, epilepsy, tics, funny movements, think of wind moves things around. So, in the body when things move around or the person moves around erratically that's considered wind. Strokes are an example of a wind condition. Certain colds and coughs and flus can be a wind condition. So, those are more acute. They're going to go away unlike something like epilepsy. So, those are really the constitutional types in a broader sense than these nine very specific nuance types.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. That was such a brilliant overview. Thank you. So, for listeners, if you identified with that, if something resonated with you, it's really wonderful because in looking more into TCM and with Linda's book Live in the Balance, you can learn more details about that specific pattern and then address it from there, especially with like dietary choices.

Melanie Avalon:
So, a few followup questions related to that specifically. So, you went over those five patterns which were cold, hot, damp, dry and wind in the "ideal body", like the balanced body. Would we not be any of those because we would be balanced? Do those only manifest as a sign of imbalance if you have a cold pattern or a hot pattern? So, what is a balanced pattern? Is it not any of those?

Linda Prout:
We can certainly be balanced and we can be balanced some of the time and then maybe have a heat pattern in the middle of August. We just feel burnt out by the hot sun and we're hot and we're tired. And so we can have sort of a transitory pattern of heat if you will. But we can be basically balanced. So, a balanced person feels good. They have good energy. They're accomplishing their goals. They're able to get up in the morning and get going and they're like you. They get out there and they do their job and they fulfill their mission and their destiny and they feel good. They're not getting sick all the time. If they do get sick, you can be healthy and balanced and get a cold or get a sore throat, but you get over it fairly quickly and then you're ready to go again.

Linda Prout:
So, a balanced person isn't walking around chilled all the time or perspiring all the time. They have good energy. They sleep well. A person that has insomnia, there's something imbalanced there. So, part of a healthy constitution is the person sleeps while they don't have wild dreams waking them up at all times of the night or waking up worrying. So, balance is achievable and that's kind of what we strive for.

Linda Prout:
But life is so filled with challenges and ways to become out of balance that it's sort of a work in progress. I wouldn't say if you don't feel perfectly balanced all the time that you've got a big problem. But we know what we want to aim for and that is feeling good and feeling energetic and pursuing our dreams and our passions. That's really the ultimate health and that's what Chinese medicine really helps us achieve is that place, that balanced place.

Melanie Avalon:
So, is it kind of like the difference between, I'm just thinking about here. So, if a person was balanced, they could go into a snowstorm and they might get temporarily cold from that snowstorm, but they weather it out. They can battle it. They're cold but then they come inside, they're okay. Versus a person who is just in the snowstorm cold to the bone, can't function. It's like they become the coldness versus they are able to deal with the transitory changes that may happen from all the factors that we're hit with today.

Linda Prout:
Absolutely. No, that's very true. And a person who lives in a really cold environment or maybe their winters are cold, they really need those warming foods. You can't live ... I mean, I guess you can, especially if you've got a miracle constitution, but to live in a really arctic environment and to be, say a vegetarian, I think that's really asking for trouble and it's unlikely that person's ever going to feel truly warm and be able to fend off illness and stay well.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, that's such a good point to bring up. It makes me think about the different diets of people who live around the equator, like you were saying, versus the poles, the arctics and then even things like seasonal eating, things like that. And that was something else that you talk about in the book is how these are also all correlated to seasons and organs and emotions. So, listeners, if you thought it stopped there, it doesn't. There's so much. It goes on and on.

Linda Prout:
It's really a very elegant system. And if you want to kind of get the overview of the five elements and how it all kind of fits together, maybe this is a good time to sort of show that.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, that'd be great.

Linda Prout:
So, in Chinese medicine we say there are five elements or it's sometimes called the five element theory or the five element correspondences. So, the elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. And they each correspond, this is what's elegant about the system. They each corresponds to a yin and a yang organ. They correspond to a sense organ, like the eyes or the mouth or the nose or the ears. They correspond to an emotion, to a season, to one of those environmental influences, those constitutional types we just went through, to a color, to a flavor, a direction. And honestly, I think this might go on and on and on. It could really keep going.

Linda Prout:
But so, wood is an element and it corresponds to spring. And if you think about it, that's when there's growth. That's when wood grows the most is spring and it corresponds to the liver and the gallbladder and the sense organ are the eyes or sights and the color is green, which makes sense. Things are green in the spring. And the flavor is sour and the environmental influence is wind. So, spring is a time when you might, if you tend toward liver issues, you might see more liver issues in the spring. Like we see irritable people get a little more irritable in the spring. And there's more allergies in the spring, you might have itchy eyes in the spring. Yeah. So, that's kind of an idea of what wood is about.

Linda Prout:
Fire is the yin organ for the element. Fire is the heart and then it's also associated with the mind. So, kind of heart, mind, the small intestine and the sense organ is the tongue or speech. The emotion is happiness or joy. The color is red and the flavor is bitter.

Linda Prout:
The earth element is associated with the spleen or stomach. So, that's what we were talking about earlier. That can get so imbalanced. When we eat poorly, we make poor food choices. Or maybe we're a vegetarian when we shouldn't be a vegetarian. So, that's the earth element. It's associated with the mouth and taste and the emotion is worry and anxiety. So, that's another way you can really mess with your digestion is to worry a lot and get anxious about things.

Linda Prout:
So, when your spleen and digestion is imbalanced, it can feed worry and anxiety. But if you end up in situations that leave you worried and anxious, it can weaken the spleen function so it can weaken your digestion. And the color is yellow and the flavor is sweet and that's another way to imbalance your spleen or your digestive energy is too many sweets. Too many sweets tend to imbalance the spleen or digestion. And in western medicine, we can look at that as to any sweets, feed candida or feed fungal overgrowth or feed bad bacteria in the digestive system.

Linda Prout:
The metal element corresponds to lungs and the large intestine and the sense organ is the nose or the sense of smell. The emotion is grief and melancholy. And I don't know if you've ever heard this, but when someone has some problem with their lungs or they have lung cancer or lung disease, we often see that they have suffered a pretty tremendous sadness, a loss of some kind. So, they're suffering through grief. And I always ask if someone has lung issues and I've worked with clients with lung cancer and there tends to be a loss they remember. It was really hard for them to lose maybe a parent or a sibling. And the color associated with that is white and the flavor is pungent or spicy.

Linda Prout:
And then finally, we have the water element which is associated with ... Oh, metal was associated with autumn. And then, the water element is associated with winter. The organ is the kidneys and the bladder. And the emotion is fear or fright. And the color is black or darkness and the flavor is salty.

Linda Prout:
So, if you kind of digest all those associations, you'll see some interesting connection. Water, it's the element that's associated with winter. So, winter is when it rains and the environmental influence is cold. So, it's cold and winter. And it's interesting that black and darkness is the color. And then also it's interesting that the ears and hearing are the sense organ because when things go wrong with the kidneys, we sometimes see problems with hearing. And the bones are also associated with the water element, so, when things go wrong with the kidneys, we sometimes see problems with the bones.

Linda Prout:
So, in each of these categories, so you'll see these kinds of connections.

Melanie Avalon:
And so, within these categories and these connections just from baseline, are we as humans born embodying mostly one of these elements or multiple of these elements? Or is it like an internal thing?

Linda Prout:
Yes, we're born with a tendency and then our environment fuels that or feeds that further. And how we take care of herself contributes more. But each of these elements are considered archetypes. So, there's the wood archetype, that's the doer, the go-getter or the guy or the woman that loves to build things and it's the construction worker. And then the fire archetype is the passionate, the person that can get overly passionate and loves to party and be with other people and can get a fiery temper.

Linda Prout:
And then there's the earth element, you think of the mothering, comforting, nurturing type of person. That's the earth archetype. And then the metal archetype tends to be more of the philosopher, the scientist. A lot of our scientists and doctors are the metal archetype. You don't see them running out there being all passionate, solstice and tearing off their clothes. They're more philosophical. And then the water archetype is more of a cold flowing, a person that kind of goes with the flow tends to be a little more chilled. Those are just archetypes.

Linda Prout:
So, you could be born with a really strong tendency toward one of those archetypes or you could be born pretty balanced and then you move to the equator and you become maybe more of an earth archetype because you're around a lot of humidity and maybe you're eating more carbs or starch, so you can influence your general constitution in some way.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. That's really interesting. That's something I've been thinking about a lot because, when I was reading your book, I remember the first time, so many things would resonate with me and I was taking so many notes and I was like, "Oh, this makes so much sense." But when it comes to those archetypes, I mean I feel like, for me, looking at my life, I feel like my internal spirit, if that makes sense, which maybe that relates to the whole life force qi thing.

Melanie Avalon:
I feel like it hasn't really fluctuated much. But then looking at these elements and the associated patterns and seasons and organs and emotions, I feel like I've seen a huge shift in me from when I was growing up compared to now. And so, I was really curious about how that could change.

Linda Prout:
Did you move? Did you live in a very different place growing up?

Melanie Avalon:
A different place. My diet now was radically different than when I was growing up. I grew up doing like the standard American diet. And now I do a paleo whole foods approach. And then I also think when I did start experiencing digestive issues about five years ago, that also seemed to have created like, I don't want to say lasting changes, but it definitely, definitely has affected things really intensely and has further led to my passion, exploring all of this.

Melanie Avalon:
Something I did want to touch on just briefly because everything you just said, I mean so comprehensive. On the one hand, it's very literary. Like it sounds like, it's like a story and it's beautiful and these ideas and it can seem divergent in a way from science and medicine and what western society sees as "real". But I mean if you think about it, I was just thinking while you were talking, you were talking about how worry is attached to like digestive issues for example. And now we know that our neurotransmitters, like serotonin for example, is largely produced in the gut and massively affects digestion.

Melanie Avalon:
And we're learning more and more about how our state of mind on a very "scientific" level affects things like our digestion. I just think it's so fascinating that this timeless wisdom of TCM, it always knew, and now, and we thought we knew better with western medicine, but now I think we're kind of starting to realize how it all goes together. The science is supporting what they've known for ages.

Linda Prout:
It's true and it's been really fascinating too, I've kind of bounced back and forth between studying western medicine and nutrition and studying eastern. And it's so fun because you see like, oh, this is just the western way of explaining what they've always known in eastern medicine. And you're right, we call the gut now the second brain because there's this connection with the vagus nerve between the gut and the brain. And the gut connects and communicates with the brain.

Linda Prout:
And so, worry and anxiety is going to be just this massive two-way highway that goes from the brain to the gut, from the gut back up to the brain. Yeah. It's so fun to see the parallels and to just see the different verbiage. We obviously use different words in western medicine than we do in Chinese medicine.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah. No, I love it. I love it so much. So, coming back a little bit to the food aspect of things, so when a person does find themselves unbalanced and they are looking to correct and bring back this qi, this life force and bring themselves back into balance, does that ironically call for a temporarily unbalanced diet to correct the unbalance and then ultimately you would transition to a balanced diet? Because like if you're experiencing an excess of yang and heat, does that mean you need to revert to a cooling diet that would look unbalanced from TCM perspective, but it's because it's addressing the unbalance?

Linda Prout:
I hear what you're saying and I hadn't really thought of it in that way. But you could look at it that way or you could look at it like each one of us has a slightly different need in our diet in some ways. So, we have subtle differences. You and I might sit down to a dinner together and I have a little more of this dish over here and you have a little more of that dish over there because our constitutions are just a little bit different.

Linda Prout:
So, I wouldn't say that we're imbalanced. And for me, for example, when I went from no meat to meat, I wasn't really eating a lot of meat and I still to this day, so I've been eating meat for a lot of years now, I don't ever sit down to big plates of steak or I don't sit down to a big serving of meat ever, which is really ideal in Chinese medicine. Meat is a powerful food and you wouldn't want a big piece of it.

Linda Prout:
So, transitioning from my spleen qi deficient state to a healthy state just required me to put in the amount of meat that I still eat, really. So, I guess in kind of puzzling it through just out loud here, I'd say I never really had to overdo. But you will see this is kind of interesting to watch a lot of people that come into the heart disease program like Pritikin and Dean Ornish programs.

Linda Prout:
So, when they first transitioned from their pretty American diet, their sad diet, there are tons of meat and French fries and sugar, it's pretty radical change. They cut out all their fat, which is another story, not good. And they cut out all the sugar, which is pretty good because they've been eating too much and their weight carbs and they cut out all their meat, which isn't good. But because most of them are hot from overwork and stress and too many heating foods, it's good in the beginning.

Linda Prout:
So, they tend to report in the beginning they feel really good. And some of it may be because they're doing some meditation and movement and they have group support. I used to work at the Claremont Resort and Spa in Berkeley and Dean Ornish would bring his people there to do their retreats. So, I got to kind of hang out with them and talk to them. And I would end up seeing those patients after they said, "I cannot do this one more day."

Linda Prout:
So, in the beginning they would feel good because they did cut out all the things that were really imbalancing for them and it kind of brought them closer to balance. But then after a while being that radical with no fat and no meat and mostly raw foods, they started feeling poorly in other ways. And so, I guess that radical switch in their eating maybe was a kind of an instant balancer. Maybe it helped them right in the beginning, but then they needed to get back into a true balance where they had more oils, more good fats, a little bit of meat or animal products and not so many raw things. I mean that was what I saw with that kind of a group.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. Yeah, that makes so much sense. And I mean I think that could be such a helpful paradigm shift for so many people if we could start seeing these "extreme" dietary approaches, be it veganism, carnivore, things like that. I mean, I would even pause it seeing them as potentially therapeutically and feel free to disagree with me or give me your thoughts on this, as potentially therapeutic in the short term because they are, like you said, we're moving, maybe we're moving things that were causing problems or addressing an imbalance. But ultimately, I feel like the person would want to reach that balance state where their diet is as a comprehensive diet, providing balance in general rather than always being on this extreme version.

Melanie Avalon:
I was actually going to throw in like a curve ball. I was dying to know your thoughts on all the people who are experiencing radical health benefits from the carnivore diet for example. I don't really ever see that in TCM. I was wondering what your thoughts were on that. So, basically, I mean it's similar to the extreme low fat Pritikin type thing, I mean, an all meat diet. Yeah. So, how do you feel about people who seemingly are thriving on extreme diets?

Linda Prout:
Well, I think that it can be just the fact that they've taken out some really bad things. So, they've taken out all the sugar and the white flour and they're just living on like a carnivore diet where I'm thinking, okay, it's pretty much all meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Is that what you're saying? When you say carnivore diet, I mean that's what I think of.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah. So, are you familiar with the carnivore diet now? It's like a popular movement that it's becoming.

Linda Prout:
Gosh, I might have missed that, but when you say carnivore, I just think meat, meat, meat.

Melanie Avalon:
Oh, okay. Sorry. I just threw it out there with no context then. Actually my third episode of this podcast was all about it. Yeah. There's this whole movement called carnivore and people are ... It's basically all meat. Some people do dairy with it as well. Some people do like eggs. Some people just do like straight beef only. But people are seeing, I mean so many testimonials of people seeing radical changes, especially in like autoimmune conditions. I guess it's the most extreme of an elimination diet in all honesty. After you could do some Googling, it's really, really fascinating.

Linda Prout:
So, yeah. I mean when you say carnivore, that would be what I would envision. And you're right in that with autoimmune ... So, I'm going to put on the western hat here. There are some people that will be able to get over their autoimmune condition just by getting rid of gluten, sugar and maybe dairy, but for sure gluten and sugar. And then there are other people that maybe with like in the case of lupus. It doesn't go away. They've gotten rid of their gluten. They've got rid of their sugar. They still have this autoimmune condition.

Linda Prout:
They're finding now that when they cut out all grains, and this kind of lies in the face of Chinese medicine where your rice or some kind of grain should be the cornerstone, the foundation of your diet. So, from just a western perspective, cutting out all grains in a person that has an autoimmune disorder can completely eliminate it. And it's one of the only things that health officials have seen that has completely eliminated certain kinds of autoimmune disorders.

Linda Prout:
Now, I would do other things for people before suggesting they cut their diet back that much, or at least I would say, okay, we're going to switch to more animal products, but we're going to leave in say winter squashes and root vegetables, which are sources of carbohydrate. This is western thinking. They're not grains, but at least it gives you some carb, which I think you do need. And I think that overtime, people that are on strictly meat, unless maybe they live in the Arctic circle and they were born an Inuit, I think they're going to have trouble.

Melanie Avalon:
I mean, my current thoughts on it is that I think people are seeing radical changes in their health and I completely believe them that it's changed in their life for the better at this moment that they're practicing it. I do think people should be open to the idea that it might not be sustainable. And if it's not, that it is okay to reintroduce foods in the future.

Linda Prout:
Yes. You know what? I just thought of something. In all of nutrition, there's only one medical disorder that diet can actually cure. By that, I mean it can cure it, it can end it forever and then you can go back to your old poor eating choices again and not have it.

Melanie Avalon:
Wait, I am on the edge of my seat right now. Okay.

Linda Prout:
So, it's epilepsy.

Melanie Avalon:
Right.

Linda Prout:
So, we've known this for a number of years. So, if a person goes on a ketogenic diet, which is super restrictive imbalanced, it's almost all fat and meat and more fat than meat. Well, you couldn't possibly stay on a ketogenic diet and eat any kind of carbohydrate. It just wouldn't work. So, I worked with a man who was having five grand mal seizures a day and he had a family and a job. So, it was not working for him and he said, "I will do anything but I want to try this ketogenic diet."

Linda Prout:
So, we had to do a lot of math. It came back to the western. This is really western. I mean, if he had been willing to do acupuncture and Tai Chi, I bet he could have gotten rid of it. But he didn't want to do that. He just wanted to do the ketogenic diet because he'd read about it. So, we went on ketogenic diet, which again is mainly fat, a lot of protein and nonstarchy veggies. And I did the math for him. So, we kept his carb grams super low. So, if you overate lettuce, you would be out of ketosis and you would no longer be "on the diet."

Linda Prout:
So, we got the level of carbs that he needed to stick to and as long as he stuck to that, he had no seizures, no seizures at all, zero. He went from five a day to no seizures. And one day he said, "Well, I had a couple of seizures." And I said, "Well, did you change your diet? Did you add something back?" He goes, "Yeah, I put a cherry tomato on my salad."

Melanie Avalon:
Oh my goodness.

Linda Prout:
So, just that little tiny bit of carbohydrate in that cherry tomato was enough to flip him out of ketosis, which is if your fat and protein levels high enough and your carbs are low enough, you produce what are called ketone bodies. And somehow these go to work to repair the brain. And if you can hang in there, and he did it, if you can hang in there, it's different for everybody. But at least a year eating like this, you can fix the problem in your brain. You can actually turn off whatever's causing these seizures.

Linda Prout:
And so, he was able to go back to, he ate healthy sensing because he said, "Look, when I eat more meat and fat and the leafy greens, I feel better. I feel better in every way." So, it's not just I'm not having seizures but I really feel good. So, he's eating more that way. He didn't go back to a complete junk food diet, but he can eat cherry tomatoes now and he doesn't have seizures. But there is a great example that supports what you are saying that maybe a really restrictive extreme diet could fix something.

Melanie Avalon:
That is fascinating. Because I knew about using the ketogenic diet to address epilepsy and things like that, I hadn't actually considered or researched what you were saying about actually curing it and then it not coming back. So, huge question. So, for example, he had that cherry tomato and had seizures from that. So, if a person is doing a ketogenic diet to address epilepsy for example, so an extreme case, if they've been doing it successfully for five months and then they have this slip up, does it set them back? Do they feel like start over a whole year or is it like ...

Linda Prout:
No. He didn't have to. And it's hard to find research on it because too few people are willing. It's so odd, isn't it? Like they'd rather have epilepsy than cut out all their carbs. And with little kids, how do you explain that? I mean, it's a lot of times we see seizure disorders in little kids and it's really hard to get them to follow. Nowadays, it isn't as hard. But back when they were just starting to research this, ketogenic diets were formulaic chemical diets that were really disgusting. Like you drank these fatty solutions with fake sugar and chemicals.

Linda Prout:
And people probably didn't feel very good on them and then they tasted awful. So, it was hard for them to stay with it. But no, you can stay as pretty close and hang in there for the amount of time varies from person to person. So, it's hard to say, "Oh yeah, one year and you're good." Maybe it's a year and a half, maybe it's nine months, maybe it's two years. I think it's hard to know depending on how much damage has happened in the brain.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, that's so fascinating. Because I've actually also been recently wondering a ton about people addressing autoimmune conditions with diet and just wondering if they're doing really well for like three months, seeing a lot of improvements and then have some sort of exposure to the type of food that was causing the autoimmune problems. I was just wondering like does it set you back to ground zero or?

Linda Prout:
Yeah. I think it can. I think it can. That's where the interesting thing comes in and with epilepsy and the brain getting actually repaired by this diet. So, this is a tangent we won't have to go down, but I have been studying homeopathy for the last 10 to 12 years and there are remedies you can take that will fix that problem, that we'll fix that. So, yes, you get off the food that's causing the gluten, especially with autoimmune and sometimes that's all the grains. And sometimes people are just sensitive to so many things. And I got really frustrated over the years telling people like, "Okay, here's the list of foods you can't eat." It would be long. Okay. Don't eat this, don't eat this, don't eat this. You can't eat this, you can't eat this. And finally I said, "I have to find some other way to help people. This is crazy. Not everybody's going to go to acupuncture and take Tai Chi classes and get massage."

Linda Prout:
So, I started studying homeopathy, which interestingly takes into consideration all the things that we look at in Chinese medicine. Does this person tend to be cold all the time? Does this person tend to be hot all the time? Are there fluids building up in this person's legs or their digestive system? And there are remedies that are based on the person. And you can actually turn around an autoimmune condition. You can turn around allergies. I've been working with people that have horrible seasonal allergies and it's so great to connect with them the next spring like, "Hey, how are you doing? Are you still having those allergies?" "No, this year I don't have any." We work through these remedies the season before and now it's the next year and they're still good to go.

Melanie Avalon:
That is so motivating, so motivating.

Linda Prout:
Yes. Doing a homeopathy interview with someone that's been doing it for longer than 10 years would be great, a podcast on homeopathy.

Melanie Avalon:
Oh, I will, to-do list. Okay. Writing that down right now. Okay. So, actually something you brought up and I do want to touch on it really briefly. You brought up, for example, rice and rice is considered, like you said in TCM, it's one of the most balanced food. And so, honestly in looking at TCM, the one thing that was always kind of like, because I'm so onboard with it and I read all the stuff, I'm like, "Oh this makes so much sense," except, and you brought this up, the one thing that I'm like, "Oh, but ugh," is because there is a lot of talk about different grains and the healing properties of them and healing the body with grains.

Melanie Avalon:
And that's what I've been struggling with, with TCM. Because at least I know for me I do not do all with grains. And I know like there's the whole thing about modern grains in America are vastly different from traditionally prepared grains. And so, yeah. What are your thoughts on grains and TCM? And then also, I know rice being the ... Is it according to TCM, like the most like balanced healing food?

Linda Prout:
It's neutral. So, it's not cold, it's not warm, it's not damp or dry. It's neutral. And so, it should be the foundation or in Chinese medicine, it's the foundation of all meals. And I think one of the reasons they could get away with this in traditional, I mean, remember this is a system that's been evolving over the last three, it's hard to know, 3000 years, at least 3000 years.

Linda Prout:
So, a thousand years ago or 2000 or 3000 years ago, people were much more physical and there was no junk food to tempt us, right? There was no little almond joy bars at the store and jawbreakers and jelly bellies and all those things. So, it was hard to really throw yourself out of balance with those things. So, you didn't have to give up your rice and you were active. You chopped your wood and you carried your water and you cooked and you led the animals all around and you build things. So, you could very easily eat rice at all three meals and it was a nonissue.

Linda Prout:
I think part of what's happening in today, a couple of things are happening in today's day and age, people overdo carbs. We love carbs. We love our breads and our bagels and our muffins and our cookies and our candy and our ice cream. And so, rice kind of gets lumped in and it gets sort of tainted even though it's not the rice. It's all these carbs that we tend to overdo. I think if we simplified the carb intake and just ate more like someone might have a couple hundred years ago without all the processed foods thrown in on top of that, I think you could get away with the rice.

Linda Prout:
The other thing, and this is so sad to say, but rice nowadays is grown, especially in the Southern United States, it's grown where we used to grow cotton and they used a lot of arsenic-based pesticides on the cotton. So now, the soils are saturated with arsenic. And so, a lot of people when they're eating rice, especially brown rice, which is what you eat when you're trying to be health conscious, that's got a lot of arsenic in it. And I think over time, people can feel poorly from that. And I wonder if sometimes people are not reacting so much to the grain itself, but to the arsenic in it. So, people, when they eat gluten free, they're usually eating more rice and they're tending to get arsenic buildup in their bodies.

Linda Prout:
So, the key would be always get white and the Chinese eat white rice too. Brown rice, it doesn't have a magic special health property. So, I would just get white rice, rinse it and get organic and get it hopefully from California and rinse it over and over and over and over again before you cook it. And you should be able to really reduce the amount of arsenic in there. But that's I think maybe a potential issue.

Melanie Avalon:
I love that you do have this perspective of everything and this realization of our modern diet and grains and what we're eating and how things are affecting things so that when people read your book, they get all of the information from TCM, but knowing it's coming from somebody who understands these factors that I think weren't necessarily in play historically with TCM. So, I think that's so important, so valid.

Melanie Avalon:
Something else I wanted to ask you about, which you talk about a lot in the book is because it kind of reminds me about, you're talking about the difference between white rice versus brown rice, how the Chinese actually eat mostly like white rice, which we tend to see in modern western society is, no, but you need the whole grain. You need the brown rice kind of reminds me of speaking of like fruits and vegetables, you talk about how raw fruits and vegetables are actually, and I hadn't really considered this until I read it in your book, but how salads for example, as a huge part of our diet or it's pretty unique to the US.

Linda Prout:
Yes. It's true.

Melanie Avalon:
I read that and I was like, "Oh, I hadn't really thought about that." So, I was wondering if you could touch briefly on TCM's view of raw fruits and vegetables and why that might be problematic, but at the same time the overall super healing potential of vegetables. I know you talk about like the color green being the master color, so the those two little things.

Linda Prout:
So, the spleen, which again isn't the organ spleen in Chinese medicine or TCM, it's the whole digestive process and organs involving digestion. So, the spleen includes everything from your mouth and tasting food to elimination and everything in between. That's the spleen. So, when we say spleen, we really mean spleen, pancreas, stomach, intestines. We kind of are seeing all those things and all the activities that happen therein.

Linda Prout:
So, the spleen in Chinese medicine, we would say the spleen really likes warmth and hates cold. The spleen wants warmth, so the spleen or you can look at it like the stomach, sometimes we were taught in my Chinese nutrition classes that the stomach is like this cauldron of simmering like a stew happening in your body. And so, if you dump in raw like salads or cold water, iced water, cold water, cold iced tea, ice cream, it puts out the fire, so it can because some of this stagnation, this qi stagnation we talked about. So, it's really hard on our digestion. Our digestion doesn't want this cold drinks to either temperature wise or raw produce wise.

Linda Prout:
So, raw vegetables and fruits are for the most part, there's some exceptions, but for the most part, they're cooling. So, lettuce is really cooling, spinach really, really cooling. Most fruits, especially summer fruits like melon are really cooling. So, we don't want a lot of those foods. So, we don't want to belly up to a salad every lunch and dinner. We want more soups and stews, cooked things, stir fried things, things that even just lightly cooked.

Linda Prout:
Now in the summer when it's hot and cooked hot things don't sound good, I mean, interestingly if you go to a really hot place in the world, like you go to Vietnam or you go to Southern China, people are eating hot soups and spicy with chili peppers and they're steaming hot bowls of soup or stew and with hot tea. So, there are reasons for this. But those actually ultimately if you have chili peppers in them that cools you because the chilies dilate your capillaries and cool you off. But it's interesting that even there, you'll see more warm things than cold.

Linda Prout:
But in the summertime here in our country or in other countries, if it's hot and you're unpleasantly warm and it's the middle of July or August, having a piece of melon is not considered unhealthy. So, a raw piece of watermelon or honeydew or cantaloupe or a peach or an apple, those are not considered unhealthy. The unhealthy part comes in when, and I was guilty of this for many years, I'll just step up to the plate and say, "Hey, I did this and it didn't work out." Having salads for lunch and dinner, lunch and dinner, over and over in any season isn't a great.

Linda Prout:
Having a little bit of raw greens with your warm meal is probably fine. Having fermented cabbage like kimchi or sauerkraut is not considered raw even though we haven't cooked those things. They're fermented and those are fine. But the stomach and the spleen want warmth. So, again, just the raw foodies, those people, I see a lot of them get into trouble. They get really cold and sort of debilitated and weak and they start getting sick really easily and they have digestive trouble.

Linda Prout:
So, it could work for them in the beginning. And I'll talk to raw foodies who will say, "Hey, I feel great." "And how long have you been doing this?" "I've been doing it almost six months." So, they might do great in the beginning, especially if they just came out of a really heavy duty meat, processed diet. But in the long term, it's not going to serve them.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay, gotcha. Speaking of the salads, one of the things I learned in your book that was fascinating, you mentioned like a waxy substance on leaves that actually-

Linda Prout:
Yeah.

Melanie Avalon:
I was like, what? I had not heard of this before.

Linda Prout:
So, this is a great example of knowing western doctors. So, there was a doctor in San Francisco when I was living there, Richard Kunin. If anybody's really into health and medicine, they've probably run across his name. He's really an eccentric, interesting MD that had this huge mansion on Pacific in San Francisco, And he would have these gatherings of physicians that would come over. It was one night a month, maybe it's two nights a month, and we would talk about all kinds of things.

Linda Prout:
I mean one time he had a schizophrenic patient there who talked about how diet would pull him out of his hallucinations. And one night, he talked about how he had all these patients come in, most of them women who are tired and sluggish and draggy and bloaty and they couldn't lose weight and they were eating salads all the time. And he started doing blood work on them. And he found that when they were eating lots of salads, especially other kinds of leafy greens that were raw, like you know how everybody's into raw kale now?

Melanie Avalon:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Linda Prout:
Like kale smoothies and massaged kale salads, especially that kind of green that's a more coarse hardy green. When you eat those raw, nature actually provides a waxy coating on the outside layer of those types of leaves to protect it in nature from bugs and elements and cooking dissolves that wax. So, if you think of wax melts when you cook it, so it's not a wax that you can like scrape off and make a candle out of it. There's a kind of wax coating on there and it's broken down when you cook it, but not when it's raw.

Linda Prout:
So, these women, he said, "I'm seeing high, high levels of this wax and the only place we see it in nature is on the coatings of leaves." Don't even ask me how he figured all this out, but he says, as soon as I get them off all their salads and onto cooked things and just not raw greens, they feel better and they lose their weight because this wax actually prevents fat from getting into the mitochondria where it's burned. And so, you don't get energy. You don't get warmth. You don't get heat. You don't get to burn your fat off.

Linda Prout:
So, it was contributing to sort of all the things we complain about. I think as a society, I'm overweight and I'm tired. I don't have any energy. I can't burn fat no matter what kind of diet I go on. It was so perfect because in Chinese medicine, I remember one of my Chinese doctors, mentors said to me, I would ask them over and over, "Why are Americans so fat? Why are Americans so heavy?" He didn't really like to answer questions, but one day he said, "Because they eat too many salads."

Melanie Avalon:
Oh my goodness. Wow.

Linda Prout:
So, then putting this together with what Dr. Kunin said, it was just like this huge aha. Like oh, oh, I get that now.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah. That is so fascinating. And I'm so glad that I got more details on that because I read that and I was like, that is so fascinating. And I was wondering if the waxy substance was something that was added, but you're saying it's like something intrinsic to the plant?

Linda Prout:
Yes.

Melanie Avalon:
Wow.

Linda Prout:
Yes.

Melanie Avalon:
Wow. Okay. So, I could literally talk to you for hours. I do want to let listeners know, so in Linda's book, Live in the Balance, she does have lists of all the foods and what foods address all these different types, all these different patterns. So, you can really find how to tweak your diet and really find something that does work for you.

Melanie Avalon:
So, things for example that I was really focusing on was I learned that blueberries and grapes are good for dampness for example. And then carbs often because dampness but some carbs can help reduce dampness. So, that's things like cooked pumpkin and turnip and rye. And then, I mean there's just so many details. So, definitely check out that book.

Melanie Avalon:
I was wondering Linda, if I could just rapid fire just hit you with a few really quick super random questions that have just been haunting me.

Linda Prout:
Yeah.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. Number one, I really gravitate towards meat. I always have. I feel like I really thrive on it. I don't even know if blood type is important. I am a blood type O, but I'm fascinated.

Linda Prout:
There is a connection.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. Okay.

Linda Prout:
There's a connection.

Melanie Avalon:
I'll stop there because I feel like we could talk about that for a long time. But recently I feel like I've been experiencing symptoms and this is something that we discuss in the book as well, false heat, feeling hot, but feeling like I also really identify with the cold pattern and needing-

Linda Prout:
Inefficiency maybe.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah. So, I need to go see like an acupuncturist now that I've moved to Atlanta, but I was wondering, so when it comes to the meats because the meats are typically warming, why is pork not warming? Like pork seems to be the one cooling meat. Do you know why that is?

Linda Prout:
I have to say that there's not necessarily a reason for things in Chinese medicine. Some things just are, you have to just accept them as at face value. So, all I can see is this an interesting observation that in really hot tropical places they eat a lot of pork. And they don't eat a lot of lamb. Because lamb is warming and you wouldn't want to be eating a lot of lamb when it's a really high heat and humidity outside. So, I can only look at things as making interesting observations. But yeah, pork and duck are two examples of things that aren't warming. Whereas beef and lamb are really warming meats.

Melanie Avalon:
So, duck as well is more cooling?

Linda Prout:
It's more neutral.

Melanie Avalon:
More neutral? But pork is actually, is it neutral or is it cooling by TCM?

Linda Prout:
It's pretty centered in between both of those. It's between cooling and neutral. And then what people do when they prepare it is they might add some warmth and some cool, like you might put, say mint is really cooling, so you might put a little mint. And then ginger is warming and garlic is warming, so, you might do ginger, mint and garlic and use seasonings like that where you're now getting different polarities pulled into that pork. So, you've got something warming in there, you've got something more cooling in there.

Linda Prout:
And so, you're sort of keeping with the neutral undertone. But you're balancing out things by adding both warming and cooling seasonings, which really helps get the qi moving. It's interesting to watch, especially older people when their doctors tell them, "No, your circulation's really not doing well and your heart's just not able to get that blood going through your legs." And then they add ginger and garlic and onions and maybe just a teeny bit of chili. I mean, I would say don't run out and buy a bunch of chilies and add it to your food. But it just a tiny bit can really get that qi moving. So, you start out with something neutral like pork and then you zing it up a little bit with some flavorings, that have some zing to them and you can help your circulation. I kind of detoured with that answer. Sorry.

Melanie Avalon:
No, no, no. You didn't detour it all. I was going to say we are on the same wavelength because my second question was actually just that, and maybe this is looking at it from too much of a black and white perspective, but I was dying to know your thoughts on, okay, so comparing, because you talk about how you can make in the book and like you just said warming meats, you can make them more cooling. Or for example, you could make a cooling foundation of vegetables, you could make it more warming with warming spices.

Melanie Avalon:
So, in comparing the two, does the foundational element of the meal predominate or does the added spice predominate? I guess my question is, so if you're choosing between a meal of warming meat with cooling spices compared to cooling vegetables with warming spices, do you think one is going to be more warming regardless or more cooling regardless? I know that's very black and white, but I ...

Linda Prout:
Yeah. If you have a cold pattern, you tend to be cold or it's winter, let's say you're perfectly balanced and it's dead of winter and it's sleeting outside, I would pick the beef-centered meal and then use a little bit of those accents, spices, seasonings, flavorings, so balance it. So you wouldn't take meat, which is warming and then only put on more warming spices, like only put on garlic, ginger, pepper. You would want to do a little something with a cooling.

Linda Prout:
You know how the yin-yang symbol has that yin side and a yang side and then on either side there's a little dot of the opposite, so you would want to use a little bit of the opposite. I think it's really interesting that, I don't know if it's so much the case today, but historically in this country, whenever we see lamb on a menu in a restaurant, they always have like a mint sauce.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, yeah.

Linda Prout:
So, there's an example of a really heating, warming food, but then mint is very cooling, so you just put a little bit on. So, if you had a cold pattern, you would have that lamb and just a very small amount of the mint sauce. And if you tended toward more heat in your body, you might use a lot of it. I don't know if that makes sense. You might use a lot more and then have more vegetables with that lamb if you had to heat pattern.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. Yeah. No, that's so fascinating. Okay. Well, there's so much here. I could honestly talk to you for like another five hours, but instead I will refer listeners again to the book, and I didn't even mention this yet, but I was so passionate about this book that I reached out to Linda about actually how long ago was it that I first reached out to you? It was probably-

Linda Prout:
It was a while back. I think I was kind of busy and I kept putting you off and it was-

Melanie Avalon:
A year and a half?

Linda Prout:
Yes.

Melanie Avalon:
Basically guys, I reached out to Linda and I was like, "Can I record the audio book for your book because I'm obsessed with it." And the timeline was crazy. And then I ended up doing some other projects but finally, the universe came together and we are, well right now, we're wrapping it up, the audio book version of Live in the Balance. And by the time this podcast airs, it will be up on Audible, which is super duper exciting and I am narrating it.

Melanie Avalon:
It's also super excited because it's updated. So, Linda went through and made some updates and I think that's something I wanted to point out as well is that, you're not locked into any one idea, which I think so many people, especially in the dietary world, they get locked into these ideas and then they won't change. But Linda for example, has been talking with me and she updated the book about her evolving thoughts on things like the role of fats and diet. So, this book, the audio book version is updated. She completely rewrote the chapter on fats. The foundation is the same, but I don't know if you want to talk about that or briefly just how your thoughts had evolved a little bit with fats and diet.

Linda Prout:
Yeah. My thoughts have evolved a lot since I wrote the book on fat. So, I went through and changed a lot of things throughout the book where I was sort of nudging people toward eating lower fat, which was really the paradigm at the time in the west. And since this was an east-west book, I wanted to make sure I covered the try to eat on the lower end of low-fat, try to eat lower fat, but I honestly don't believe that anymore. And I've incorporated a lot of changes on fat and then totally rewrote the chapter that was on fat.

Linda Prout:
So, if you have the book, I definitely recommend tuning in to the audio so you can really get sort of the latest, what we really know about fats, but with a little bit of the TCM lens in there.

Melanie Avalon:
Definitely check out the audio book for the latest and greatest. And just want to tell you I learned something so I didn't know at all, Linda, in the new fat chapter, you were talking about, I didn't realize what canola stood for.

Linda Prout:
Yeah, that's interesting. It's a scary oil. I would try to avoid that and read up on it before you do choose to eat any of it.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah. So, I won't even tell you, listeners, what it stands for, but you should check out the fat chapter in the new audio book to learn about the history. Because that was really fascinating. But thank you Linda so much. So, I do have one last question and it's the question that I ask every single guest on this podcast as the final question. And it's just because I've realized how completely important our mindset is in our health and our wellbeing and just our life as a whole. So, I was just wondering what is something that you are grateful for? It doesn't have to be the most grateful, but just what is something that you're grateful for?

Linda Prout:
Oh, there's so many things. I'm grateful for where I live now, which is on a beautiful river. And I'm grateful for the path that I've chosen, that I can understand life and health and in the way that I do. And I'm grateful for my many mentors and teachers and I've had some of the most amazing teachers and mentors. So, I'm grateful for them and I could go on and on, but I'm a grateful person.

Melanie Avalon:
It's funny, once you start thinking of things you're grateful for, you want to just keep going on and on. It's the way, but thank you so much. I am honestly, I'm so grateful for you. I'm grateful for your work, for Chinese medicine in general, all of it. So, thank you for what you're doing and this has been-

Linda Prout:
Thank you, Melanie. This has been great.

Melanie Avalon:
Oh yeah, this conversation has been absolutely wonderful and Linda is offering for our listeners something which is so wonderful because she's an amazing resource. She's offering listeners to email her. You can email her one free question, not like some ... She can't provide like a complete medical diagnosis. So, please, please do not overwhelm her. She'll be like what have you done Melanie? But if you have a very simple question about TCM, you can email her and she will answer you.

Melanie Avalon:
So, you can send those questions to linda@lindaprout.com and I will put all of this information in the show notes. The show notes for today's episode will be at melanieavalon.com/TCM. So, thank you so much for that, Linda. I'm sure a lot of listeners will take you up on that and listeners, please-

Linda Prout:
Good.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, like I said, keep it pretty simple questions, so super, super excited for that. I will also put links in the show notes to Linda's book, the print version, of course, as well as the new audio book on Audible and all the information will be there.

Melanie Avalon:
So, this has been absolutely wonderful and Linda, I hope that I'm just looking forward to our future collaborations and our friendship and working together, and thank you so much for everything that you're doing.

Linda Prout:
Likewise. Thank you, Melanie. Thank you so much.

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