Many people have heard of the term “Qi” (chi) in regards to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This term is often referred to as energy or spirit. Some people liken it to the “force” as described in the Star Wars movies. Qi is a very important concept in understanding the function of the human body. It is a concept more than an actual measurable force or energy. Like many of the terms used in TCM, Qi is a concept or a way of describing a relationship of functions within the body.
A subset type of energy concept in the body is described by the term jing. A thumbnail description of jing is that it is the energy of life. Jing is the spark of life that was passed to a person from their parents and ultimately is the driving force behind growth, reproduction and aging. It is said that jing is nourished in the body through the eating of foods that are high in jing as well as joy and happiness.
So what foods are said to be high in jing? The simple answer is food that is “close to the source”. Since jing is related to life, foods that are very fresh or come from sources that have a lot of life energy will impart more jing energy to the eater. This is most noticed when eating vegetables that are eaten the same day they are picked. There is a quality to the flavors that somehow feels more satisfying than other fresh vegetables that may have been stored or processed.
For people who are low on energy or are suffering from age or fertility related conditions the advice from TCM is to eat foods that are high in jing. Patients who shift to adding more jing foods to their diets often notice a slow improvement in energy and mood. Patients who are very aware of their bodies will eventually notice that the more foods are processed and further away from the ideal, the less satisfying those foods will be. For those that want to add more energy to their life, the idea is to add more foods that supply jing.
- Choose wild game and vegetables over domestic varieties.
- Choose fresh local foods over processed and transported foods
- Choose frozen vegetables and meats over other canned and processed varieties
- Make food from scratch as much as possible
- Eat foods that have bright colors and bright flavors
- Eat nuts and seeds, and fresh fruit
- Eat eggs, not only chicken, but look for other types of eggs like duck and fish roe
- Choose dark meats and organ meats over the lighter cuts of meat
- Use soup bones and bone marrow when making soup stock
Some would argue that there is no such thing as jing. What is more important is that a diet that is high in these types of foods is going to be more healthy than the usual junk food of many American diets. Thinking in terms of the amount of jing in a food is a way of helping people choose healthy foods to eat.