Why am I so tired? Pt.3 – The food paradox

March 2nd, 2015







The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.

– George Miller







This week in part three of this short series on energy and the body (click on parts one and two if you missed them) we travel down from the rarefied atmosphere of the ‘upper heater’ to the more equatorial climate of the middle heater.



The Middle Heater and the Earth element


The Middle Heater is the home of the digestive process – a warm, moist compost where food is said to ‘rot and ripen’ – that’s to ‘digest and be absorbed’ to rest of us. It is then distributed from this centre to ‘the four sides’ of the body. It is controlled by the Earth element, that Mother Earth nurturer of our earth body (for a primer on the Earth element click here).[1]



Mother Earth


The organs of digestion located by traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine in this middle heater/burning space are the stomach and ‘spleen'(pancreas). In turn they rule over further digestion in the small and large intestine.


The stomach meridian runs through the nipple and is (usually) our first contact with earthly nutrition via our earth mother. From the digestion of her food and absorption into the blood she creates milk to feed her child.


Our relationship to the earth (both externally and internally) is bound to our consumption of the products of the earth: food. Our body (itself part of the earth remember) is in a constant state of renewal through consuming food – which of course also comes from the earth. Eventually everything of the earth returns to it like compost to create more earthly forms of life.


Earth Globe


An interesting cosmic view of life on earth would be a very long time lapse camera perspective looking down from space. What we would most likely see are forms emerging from and being absorbed back into the earth over and over again. Mother earth, it seems, is an equal opportunity recycler.




Tethered to the earth through our grazing habits






Probably the biggest paradox concerning energy in the body is food. Actually there are a number of paradoxes. Let’s look at them:


  • Most (but not all) people agree that if we do not eat we die.[2] However, when we do eat the process of digestion causes oxidization and the subsequent release of free radicals that speeds our aging and eventual death.
  • Depending on the kinds and amount of food we eat we can stress our digestive organs – and the mucosa of the intestines in particular – to secrete too much mucus and inhibit our absorption which sabotages our energy.
  • A diet and lifestyle that creates acidity (and the above mucus reactions to protect us from it) and can lead to chronic inflammation both in the intestines and the arterial walls. (click here for more on that.)


  • The act of digestion itself takes energy long before it gives any back to us – unless of course you call an energy drink or gel ‘food’. Think back to any large meals you have eaten and your energy levels afterwards. More than likely your next destination was the couch, not the running track.




“I can’t get no satisfaction” – fed in the gut but not in the blood




When we eat, our stomach walls stretch and send a signal to the satiety centre in our brain that we are ‘full’. Technically that is true but full of what exactly? Carbohydrate based foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes all give the stomach that full feeling – especially when combined with liquids.


The resulting starchy, glue ball stretches our stomach walls and tells us we are satisfied – or are we?[3] The problem with this form of satisfaction is that the blood hasn’t been allowed to vote on the matter yet.



 ‘Damp’ and digestion


We discussed last week the role that what TCM calls ‘damp’ plays in digestion  – and its many negative effects on our health. We saw that damp could take many forms from mucus to arterial plaque.


From the point of view of digestion, food and drink themselves are a form of damp. The slop we shovel in and swallow dampens our digestive fires in the middle heater – like throwing damp wood on a fire. They slowly but surely must transform that into useable energy. In the meantime we feel sluggish.


That is why many people crave a little ‘pick me up’ of sweet and or stimulants after a heavy meal like coffee/cake/chocolate and the like. In Italy they have combined both in a sugar and caffeine laced confection called ‘tira-mi-su’ – literally translated as ‘pick me up’ cake.


tiramisu cake


Like a fire overburdened with either too much or inappropriate fuel it gives off a lot of polluting by-products. In TCM the Earth element distributes the results of digestion to the rest of the body.


Some of us might now begin to see where things can go wrong with an overburdened digestive system. For a start, it is no longer just a digestive problem. The smoky pollution of the struggling fires of the middle heater are spread throughout our body.


humans and waste



Waste not, want not


In part one we saw how a damp digestion could give poor service to the lungs resulting in a phlegmy blockage and a compromised immune system. In part two we saw how our eating habits could contribute to the formation of arterial plaque in heart disease. In the digestion itself it inhibits absorption of vital nutrients into the blood via the small intestine in particular.


Remember that glue ball, full feeling from those starchy carbohydrates? While it’s good for profits of cafés and fast food chains (it’s cheap to make so the mark-up is high) it is low on nutrition.[4]


Furthermore, what little nutrition exists is stuck in a gluey, damp, fly trap of starch and the mucus reaction to it from the intestinal walls. The result? We are fooled into thinking we are full when actually our body is starving in a sea of plenty. That in turn sets us up for the ‘quick hit’ of sugar and stimulants mentioned above.


Source: armourbeauty

Source: armourbeauty


To make matters worse we blame ourselves for our ‘lack of discipline’ in not being able to stay away from sugary foods when actually it is because our body is clogged and starving!


The cycle continues as we ‘eat to get energy’ but our overloaded system just gets more and more tired as it drowns in its own waste. Like an alcoholic, we need to ‘dry out’ this chronic damp condition.



Not yet leaving the earth






In a first for this blog we will continue next week with a part within a part of this series by looking further into our relationship with our Earth element and how we make or break the flow of energy within our own body. One thing is for sure: It is not ‘bad luck’ or ‘just my body type’ that we are tired and struggling with related issues like weight gain and disease.


There are very definite cause and effect chains that produce the subjectively positive and negative results we experience in the body every day – including Mondays.



Till another Monday gives us something to chew over,



[1] It might be helpful to think of our physical body as ‘flesh suit interface’ that we rent for our time here on the planet. It is not really ours but a vehicle that will eventually be recycled back into the earth. If one is still under the illusion that we are our body just tell yourself to stop aging. Good luck with that by the way.

[2]  There are those that propose it is possible to live on air and sunlight alone. The modern name for such people are ‘breatharians’. There are others…

[3] Try this experiment: Next time you eat any starch and carbohydrate based foods like those listed above, chew a mouthful for a while then spit it out onto your plate. A ‘starchy, glue ball’ is not an exaggerated description. Now do the same with fruit, vegetables or even meat. They just look like a slight mangled version of what they were. More on this significant difference and what it means to our body a little later in this blog.

[4] Just empty the contents of a typical café sandwich out onto a plate. Does that look like a satisfying meal? The ‘satisfaction’ is coming from the all that doughy bread which not only doesn’t contain much nutrition but is full of gluten which inflames our intestinal walls creating even more mucus than the starchy, glue ball of the sandwich itself



© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation: info@jeremyhalpin.com

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