After being harvested, these food items are still “alive” and continue to ripen just as they did before being separated from their trees or soil. Ripening continues due to the action of certain enzymes and phytochemicals they contain. They also have many other enzymes that help in their digestion ( after being eaten ) as well as providing other health benefits for us . Some plant enzymes like SOD ( superoxide dismutase ) are powerful anti-oxidants that prevent disease and aging.
Fresh foods still have much of the qi or life force that was present before they were harvested. Whilst the calorific energy provided by the nutrient content remains stable, the qi-energy is slowly lost with time.
If left exposed to the elements, these food items will oxidize ( causing discoloration and possible loss of some nutritional value ), and will also rot and go bad due to the bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections.
If cooked, the enzymes are destroyed, the qi is lost, and some of the nutrients are also denatured and lost. Thus cooking instantly “kills” the food item, which is now enzymatically and energetically “dead”, though it retains its calorie value.
All living organisms depend on qi to drive their metabolic functions. This is especially true for reproduction.
In molecular biochemistry, we learn about physical energy packets or photons being stored and utilised in the form of ATP, synthesized in the cell’s energy production program ( the Kreb’s Cycle ). All cells use this energy to function.
However, much is still not understood about what triggers and drives dormant seeds to sprout and cells to divide, although we understand that all these require physical energy which they derive from the nutrients they contain. This is where the role of qi first comes in.
The dead seed or cell is devoid of qi, and therefore cannot initiate cellular division necessary for growth or multiplication, even though the physical energy source is available. The living cell utilizes qi to initiate the division. From here, every subsequent cell carries the qi, until its death. The whole organism, either plant or animal, carries this qi by virtue of the qi content of its component cells. In fact, cell lines can be kept alive and multiplying ( indefinitely for some cancer cell lines ) even after the parent organism is long dead. This is proven in many laboratories around the world.
Our qi content can be replenished not only by doing Qigong exercises, but also by eating qi-rich foods, which are fresh and raw foods.
Apart from fresh raw fruits and vegetables, there are two other qi-rich foods that deserve special mention.
Foods rich in friendly bacteria ( probiotics ) carry with them the inherent energy of these bacteria. Over the last century, numerous studies have been reported telling us the health benefits of probiotics, including being responsible for the longevity of certain Bulgarian communities who consumed much probiotic-laden yoghurt. These probiotics fight off pathogenic viruses, bacteria, fungi, yeasts and certain parasites; produce natural antibiotics as well as produce certain vitamins and nutrients. They also give “life” to the foodstuff ( yoghurt, tempeh, and other fermented foods ). However, to benefit from the probiotics, these foods must never be cooked.
Cryptomonadales is the most energetic nutritional plant – not in terms of its calorie value, but in terms of its qi content. With the enormous qi it has, it is able to multiply at a rate of 4 to 16 times daily! It is also the real king of green algae, being more nutrient-rich ( in variety and concentration ) than spirulina, which has long been recommended by health enthusiasts as a “complete” food supplement. However, since this finding is relatively new and its cultivation is recent, cryptomonadales supplements are presently more expensive than spirulina or chlorella.
QIGONG FOR GASTRO-INTESTINAL HEALTH
From the basic Qigong stance, slowly bring your palms to face each other ( without touching ) about 6 inches in front of you, at the level of the upper abdomen. This is the classical “Son Posture”. Next, slowly turn the palms to face your body. Breathe relaxedly while smiling and sending qi to your stomach, spleen, upper small intestines and liver. After a few minutes, gently lower your hands to the level of your navel and send qi to your small and large intestines.
Lastly, lower your hands to the lower abdomen and pelvic region, and send qi to your urinary bladder, reproductive organs and lowermost large bowel ( rectum and anal canal ). To help prevent piles, urinary incontinence, and female genital prolapse, tighten the pelvic muscles as you inhale, and relax as you exhale.
Another good exercise to prevent and treat diseases of the stomach and other abdominal organs is called “Plucking the Stars”, which will be described when discussing liver health.
Qi massage for the gastro-intestinal health is done by placing the palms ( right on left for men, and reverse for women ) on the upper abdomen ( Zhongwan acupoint, midway between sternum and navel ). Gently massage in 12 counterclockwise circles, and then repeat in clockwise manner.
It is good to end all Qigong exercise sessions with the stomach massage, as all the organs within the abdomen will benefit, before you finally store the qi in the lower Dantien.
The major qi meridians extend far beyond their principal organs to run close to and be connected with the other organs. Thus the stomach meridian is related to all the major meridians, and directly connected to the spleen and small intestines meridians. The stomach meridian runs from the root of the nose, the lower jaw, the side of the face, the forehead, the neck, the chest, down to the lower abdomen into the groin, and further down the leg to end in the second toe. It is not surprising that problems in the stomach give symptoms in so many varied ways. Keeping the stomach meridian well-charged with qi also ensures all the areas it traverses remain healthy.
HEALTHY EATING HABITS
Apart from knowing what to eat for health, it is equally important to know how to eat and when to eat.
Do not allow yourself to be too hungry before eating ( except when you are fasting ). However, do not eat unless you are hungry and stop eating before you are full. It is best to have small frequent meals than big ones that cause your glucose and insulin levels to go sky-high and risk developing insulin-resistance and the metabolic syndrome ( obesity, hypertension, lipid abnormalities and diabetes ). You will also feel sleepy and sluggish after every big meal due to the enormous energy diverted to digestive functions, and the low blood glucose which follows the glucose and insulin peaks ( until you become insulin-resistant and your glucose cannot even return to normal levels ).
Eat for nutrition first, and taste second. There are details about acidic versus alkaline, and “hot” versus “cold” foods that you can find out about if you want the maximum benefits. I feel it is enough to inculcate a habit of taking plenty of fruits and vegetables so that the nutrients get in first, leaving little room for the foods that you eat for their taste and not their nutritional value. Try to avoid the cakes and most desserts that are “empty” calories devoid of nutrients.
Chew your food well. Most of us are too lazy to chew and do not allow enough time for the salivary enzymes to do their work adequately.
Drink plenty of water, but preferably at least half-an-hour before or after a meal. Drinking immediately before or during a meal like we so are accustomed to actually dilutes all the digestive juices.
Lastly, don’t forget to thank GOD ( if you are a believer ) or Mother Nature for the pleasure and goodness of the food that you eat. The Sufis glorify GOD with every mouthful of food and every sip of drink. You will realize the value of being able to eat all the tasteful foods when you are not able to eat due to some illness later in life. Appreciate and give thanks while you can.