In the human being through food and rest we consume, assimilate and store energy that is bound as energized matter in our flesh, organs and bones. It is in all physical substances. This is known as the Yin phase. Once a certain amount is stored, energy is expended and released to provide energy for the body and mind. In some cases, the energy is released in an aggressive and explosive manner. In Asian medicines related to China, this is known as the Yang phase. Health arises from the balance of these two phases.
Activity and rest are the balancing agents of life as is eating and not eating. We need a certain amount of mental and physical activity and a certain amount of rest to stay healthy. Likewise, we need a certain amount of food with time to eat and then to digest our food.
Too much activity in the form of work, exercise, stimulating the mind through screen time, study or stress can cause too much energy to leave the body without resources to rebuild it. The expression for this experience is burning the candle at both ends. Too much activity or stimulation can burn out the substance of the organs leading to overall depletion and sickness.
Unfortunately, in our modern industrial society where activity is valued, we have a lot of stress from work, economics, the environment and relationships. It is easy to burn out our candle. People either choose to be active socially and physically or have to because of finances. A lack of sleep or inactivity contributes to this burn out.
Food creates energy and activation of the body and mind (the Yang) as well as builds the body (the Yin). It is important to balance our foods between these tendencies. In modern society, people's diets are often lacking nutrients or are overly rich with poor quality fats, sugars and flour products. From eating this way eventually the digestive organs become overworked and lose the ability to assimilate nutrients to re-build body structures.
Many people are running on empty by consuming excessive amounts of stimulants like coffee, alcohol, refined sugars, some legal drugs, and now with increasing decriminalization a lot of marijuana. Excessive use of these stimulants along with using pharmaceutical drugs will deplete the body on a deep level burning out your important deep storage of energy in the body. In Chinese Medicine this valued high consolidation of energy is known as the essence or Jing in the body.
People on natural diets are often missing foods that build this deeper substance or Yin in the body due to emphasizing an overly light diet with an excess intake of raw vegetables and fruits. Foods missing from many natural diets include the moderate but regular use of natural meats and animal based products such as beef, lamb, organ meats, eggs, fish and grass fed dairy products, natural fats such as butter and coconut oil, whole and some processed grains, beans, seaweed, cooked dark leafy greens and adequate sea salt. These foods are known to build the deeper substance of your tissues, organs and bones as they are very concentrated in nutrients. A diet centered on cooked foods with elements that foster good digestion is also important for the assimilation of nutrition and energy from foods to build up the inner strength of the body and mind. Those who choose to be vegetarian or vegan have to be careful about their diet and lifestyle by also utilizing supplements and tonic herbs. This can work for some vegans but for others a modicum of at least fish, eggs and/ or dairy might be required.
Eating the above mentioned foods along with other balancing foods insure the Yin/Substance of the body is preserved and rebuilt. Along with adequate rest, sleep and other lifestyle practices I teach in my counseling and classes, special Qigong practices called Nei Gong are also beneficial to preserve the Yin or inner vitality.
Besides food, certain tonic herbs and formulas are important to preserve and develop our inner strength and vitality especially as we age. These include tonic herbs and substances such as goji berries, he shou wu, royal jelly, rehmannia, and the formulas Shou Wu Chih and Six Rehmannia tea. For creating longevity, herbs to activate the digestive system are sometimes added to help the assimilation of energy and nutrients to help build the Yin or inner substance of your body.
A deficiency of the Yin or inner strength can manifest as cancer, immune disorders, heart disease, diabetes and diseases associated with aging such as in the bones, joints, skin and teeth. It can result in hair loss, a lack of vitality and more. Protect your Yin with good diet and lifestyle practices.