Constantly Sick in Colorado: What Can We Do? Part II. An Acupuncturist's Approach

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Constantly Sick in Colorado: What Can We Do? Part II. An Acupuncturist's Approach

If you read my article last week, then you know my focus over the next several weeks is going to be about the issue of the constant common sicknesses I see affecting people in Colorado, and what we can do to prevent this.
This week, I’m going to go into more detail on how vital it is to build our immune Qi or energy with the food we eat, why I suspect that even when we’re doing “everything right” it’s still not working. Lastly, I’m going to invite you on an adventure. :-)


We restore our Qi daily through food

Recall the concept of Wei Qi, or our immune Qi, from last week. I said that part of our body’s Qi circulates as our immune, or defensive Qi, to ward off infections. But in order for part of our Qi to circulate as defensive Qi, it needs to be abundant in the first place. And where we build abundant Qi is through the nutrients we get from our digestive system.

Let me repeat that: (apart from our breath,) the only way that on a daily basis we can build the Qi from which we build our immune system, is through the foods that we eat.

This means that if we are not eating foods that are rich in Qi (the right kinds of nutrients) on a very regular basis, then unless we’ve got great genetics with a naturally strong constitution, there’s not much else we can do but hope we won’t get sick.

Of course I don’t want to discredit the huge benefits of acupuncture treatment and herbal therapy for strengthening the immune system. But how they do that is by supporting and “securing” Qi.

The most ancient forms of Chinese medicine believed that the first course therapy should always be dietary. If that doesn’t work, only then do we turn towards medicine. Additionally, as I mentioned last week, usually anyone who is coming for treatment is already at the place of having advanced imbalances, so relying on the treatment and herbs alone to restore what needs the support of solid nutrition, is typically not sufficient.

Now none of this about boosting our Qi through our food and digestion is really new information for my patients. Most patients, if we’ve done a nutrition consultation, have gone home with lists of foods that will help build and balance their Qi.

But what is new – or at least different – for us in Colorado, is what I mentioned last week: our constantly changing weather patterns which set us up to be more susceptible to not being able to ward off common infectious pathogens.

This means, since we are more susceptible to getting sick than people who live in a more steady climate, it is even MORE important for us here to be getting the foods into our system that will supercharge our immune system and Qi.

Indeed Chinese medical literature confirms the increased propensity for common colds when weather changes dramatically. Perhaps in a more stable climate we could get away with more, but what I’m starting to wonder is if we just can’t let up here.

When you’re doing “everything right” and it’s still not working

Do you feel like you’re doing everything right and it’s still not working?

This quandary has been stumping me as well, making me wonder why so many people who are doing all these great things to improve their health are still getting sick so often.

In my search for an answer this week, I started pondering the nutrition aspect. I had to wonder how really good we all are with nutrition. And if maybe on closer inspection, we’re not really following the guidelines for boosting and balancing our Qi as much as we think we are.

I do want to address the supercharging immune boosting foods from a western perspective as well, but Chinese medical wisdom tells us that eating the basic foods to balance our system makes for very strong Qi. So are we really doing “everything right”…or, even close?

Now I’m no different than any of you reading this article.

I too struggle with busyness. I too go through phases where all I want to do is go home from work and plop onto the couch with a nice big healthy vat of the finest home-popped organic popcorn, drizzled in organic butter. :-) Mmmm…now THAT’S what I call a tired girl’s dinner.

(update: since going paleo, this has changed into Epic pork rinds) :-)

I get lazy, I lose inspiration, I start feeling really vibrant and then forget that I only felt that way because I was taking stellar care of myself, and I slack off and start feeling off. Then it’s back on the horse I go, taking my herbs, scheduling my acupuncture, making more of a commitment to put cooking at home at the top of my priority list.

Sure, my “out of balance” may be 5 or 10% of how far many people let themselves go, but the point is, we ALL need to practice the exact same things.

I said that this week I would talk about the foods that have been proven to boost our immune system from a western scientific perspective, but since this article has already gotten so long, until next week, I’m going to leave you with this: if you’re someone who has been getting sick frequently, then please ponder together with me how closely you are building your DAILY nutrients around the food lists we’ve already discussed.

Are you just eating soundly a couple meals a week, or is it more like 80% of the time? Where do you fall on that continuum?

And lastly, I’ll leave you with a question and invitation: are you willing to go on an immune boosting adventure with me? :-) Are you willing to really work for the next few months of the cold season to focus your meals predominately around the foods I’ve already given you, as well as the foods I will discuss in these articles over the coming weeks?

I’m considering this an experiment, one I’m going to do with all of you. I want to tackle this issue once and for all, but I can’t do it without some of you who have been getting sick frequently, being willing to travel the road with me.

So stay tuned again for a continuation of this topic, including the promised discussion around foods and supplements that will supercharge your immunity!

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