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What is Qi?
Qi (pronounced “chee”) in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a vital substance that can be thought of as a measure of our life force. It describes the relative vitality in our bodies and in the world around us. The character (written word) for Qi in the Chinese language describes Qi as the steam that rises from a bowl of rice.
Qi has both energetic and material properties and can be found in many forms. Some Qi we are born with, and some we take in from the world around us by breathing, eating, and drinking.
When Qi is weak or lacking, it is said to be deficient. Qi deficiency can be caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, illness, environmental factors, or turbulent emotions. Compared to Blood deficiency, Qi deficiency is usually easier and faster to reverse.
Symptoms of Qi Deficiency
When a person is Qi deficient, they usually feel tired and appear depressed or listless. They have a weak voice, lack of appetite, loose stools or diarrhea, and even organ prolapse in extreme cases.
Foods You Should Eat to Nourish Qi
(We honor all diets and convictions so feel free to avoid any foods you do not eat.)
Plants and animals have their own Qi, so better quality foods will always contain better quality Qi. Foods that tonify Qi also tend to be sweet and warm. This includes foods like rice, shiitake mushrooms, lean beef, chicken, lentils, grapes, figs, cherries, sweet potatoes, whole grains, tofu, ham, dates, ginseng, royal jelly, squash, potatoes, yams, herring, or longan.
Foods You Should Avoid
Poor quality meats, vegetables, and fruits should always be avoided when possible. Greasy, fatty, and fried foods are hard to digest for people with Qi deficiency. Avoid foods with added sugars or those that are heavily processed.
Recipes to Help you Boost your Qi
- Basic rice congee – can be made sweet or savory as you desire
- Shiitake mushroom and dumpling soup
- Indian red lentil dal
- Paleo friendly beef and broccolini
- Cherry crisp (vegan/gf/paleo) – we recommend skipping the ice cream, sorry!
- Exercise, along with proper diet, is an excellent way to increase the quality of your Qi. According to the Huang Di Nei Jing: “Laziness damages Qi.”
- Raw foods should be avoided because they require extra energy for your body to digest.
- Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables (like from your local farmer’s market) are likely to be the best quality foods.
Eat Qi to Have Qi
Eating high quality, fresh foods will nourish your Qi. If food has more vitality, it will give you more vitality in return. If you are feeling tired and stressed, your favorite acupuncturists in Washington, DC are ready to nourish your Qi with acupuncture, a customized herbal formula, moxibustion, and dietary suggestions. You can schedule your appointment here.