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Eating in Harmony with Daily Energetics

Although much of modern research and discussion of ways to enhance our experience of Qi revolve around body­mind breathing disciplines such as Qigong and Taijiquan, traditional Chinese medicine recognizes dietary discipline as equally fundamental in this respect. Indeed, in the Spiritual Axis (Ling Shu Jing), it is said that "If no food is eaten for half a day, Qi is weakened, if no food is eaten for a whole day, Qi is depleted." This clearly emphasizes the importance of dietary discipline in a lifestyle that is designed to enhance personal experience of Qi.

Interestingly, traditional Chinese medicine maintains that human Qi originates with gu­Qi, which literally means "Qi of grains." Thus Chinese medicine recognizes grains­­ in particular, rice, but also all other grains­­ as the foundation of human vitality. In fact, according to Chinese herbology, the taste of grains is generally sweet, and this flavor tonifies the Spleen and Stomach, which together are the organs responsible for transforming gu­Qi into zhen­Qi, true human vitality.

The traditional Chinese diet reflects this understanding of the importance of grains, above all other foods, for the maintenance of human well­being. The Chinese have for centuries made grains ­­ in Chinese, fan ­­ the mainstays of their diet, and all other foods, whether vegetable or animal, are used as mere condiments, or sung, to enhance one's enjoyment of grain foods.

China Health Project

The wisdom of this grain­based diet style has recently been corroborated by the massive China Health Project, an ongoing study of current dietary patterns in China by staff from the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, and Oxford and Cornell Universities. The study has found that the health and nutritional status of the people of China is generally superior to that of the people of western industrialized nations. In particular, the incidence of heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative diseases­­ which from the standpoint of Chinese medicine are disorders of Blood and Qi­­ is far lower in China than in the United States. Researchers are concluding that this is largely due to the predominance of grains and minimal consumption of animal foods in the traditional Chinese diet, because the people who live in urban areas of China and eat a non­traditional diet with more animal foods and less grains have degenerative diseases at rates approaching those of western industrialized nations.

According to Cornell researcher T. Colin Campbell, one of the leaders of this study, the evidence is compelling enough that the World Health Organization has asked him to co­author a document addressed to developing nations titled "More Meat Does Not Mean Better Health," and the government of China is putting a hold on its previous plans to develop a large livestock and dairy food industry. Thus, modern nutritional epidemiology lends its support to the view of traditional Chinese medicine that grains are the essential source of humanity's Qi, health, vitality and longevity.


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