How to Fuel Your Triple Burner

In Chinese medicine, you have three burners that work together to supply you with the chi that you need to sustain you throughout your life. For optimal health, each burner needs the proper fuel. The upper burner is equivalent to the thoracic cavity and includes the heart and lungs. The fuel for this burner is air. The middle burner is the abdominal cavity. This burner includes all the different digestive organs and it runs on food. The lower burner is the pelvic cavity and includes the kidney and bladder. As you may have guessed, this burner runs on water. It is important to understand that these three fuels not only power their respective burner, they are also what enables your burners to extract chi for your entire body. From simple cells, to more complex tissues and organs, to the synchronization of the organs in each burner, the Triple Burner represents the highest level of complexity - the coordination of all of our internal organ systems as they work together to mutually support and nourish each other.

Internal Organ Cavaties

Upper Burner - AIR Let's start with the upper burner. Since this burner runs on air, one of the best ways to fuel it is by doing aerobic exercise. This is the type of exercise that gets us moving, opens our lungs, and gets our hearts pumping. Examples of aerobic exercise include dancing, swimming, jogging, biking, and brisk walks. Low-impact exercises like these are considered ideal in Chinese medicine, especially when done regularly, because they keep our chi moving without putting us at too much risk for injury. Since all of your cells require oxygen to function, the confirmed medical benefits of aerobic exercise are many, including stronger lungs and heart, improved circulation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, an increase in red blood cells, a reduction of stress and depression, better cognition, higher energy levels, enhanced weight loss, and a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, blood clots, and stroke. Another way to fuel your upper burner is to go out and get some fresh air. Too many of us spend the majority of our time indoors where the air is stale. Whether this means enjoying a cup of tea on your front porch, laying on the beach, napping on a blanket in a field, or going into the woods for a picnic, there is a lot more chi in fresh air. Since plants produce the oxygen that we breathe, being immersed in a forest is one of the best ways to fuel your upper burner. Even when you're not getting exercise, the benefits of fresh air are many, including cleansing the lungs, improving mental focus, accelerating healing, boosting immunity, enhancing energy levels, lowering blood pressure and heart rate, and reducing the effects of stress.

Middle Burner - FOOD Since the middle burner runs on food, Chinese medicine puts a lot of emphasis on diet in health. To nourish your body, foods that are fresh, seasonal, organic, and whole are best. What are whole foods? They include unprocessed, single ingredients like fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, fish, meat, and eggs. These contain the highest levels of nutrients, especially chi, something that is only found in fresh foods. Foods that are dried, frozen, canned, or highly processed are not only nutritionally inferior, they have typically been dead for months or even years before we eat them, so they do not contain any of the vital life force that is chi. In addition to chi, a whole foods diet provides the highest levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and fatty acids, while being low in sugar and trans fats. Because every cell in your body requires nutrients, known medical benefits of this type of diet include stronger teeth and bones, a healthier intestinal microbiome, regular bowel movements, reductions in heart disease, diabetes, triglycerides, blood sugar, and inflammation, and benefits to our emotional health. Eating foods in season not only provides us with the freshest of foods by default, it also helps us adapt and adjust to changes in the weather, making us more resilient to illness and imbalance. For example, leafy greens and fruit, which mature in spring and summer, are lighter and juicer so they are best for keeping us cool and hydrated during that time of year, while squashes and root vegetables, which mature in fall and winter, are denser and heartier so they are better for keeping us warm and nourished when it is cold. We are extremely fortunate to be surrounded by an abundance of skilled and dedicated farmers, and I encourage you to support our local farmer's markets for the freshest seasonal foods.

Lower Burner - WATER The lower burner is the third and final burner. In ancient Chinese medicine, the best fuel for this burner would have been wild, naturally flowing water like springs and streams. Water that comes from a pure source and has found its own meandering pathway would be considered the ideal source for optimal chi. In fact, Chinese medicine often uses the metaphor of water as a way to describe the nature of chi and the way it flows within our bodies. For example, just like a stream will stagnate if it runs too low, we are more likely to become tired and less motivated when we are run down. Or, like a river after a landslide, the flow of the chi in the acupuncture channels can become blocked by injury, causing pain. There isn't a single tissue or organ that can perform optimally without water so the benefits of hydration are many and varied. Water helps us flush out metabolic toxins and regulate our body temperature. It is essential for keeping our mucosal membranes moist and our joints lubricated. It helps us digest food and absorb nutrients and can even boost energy and improve cognition. Adequate hydration also helps prevent heat stroke, constipation, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and hypertension. Fortunately, our municipal water reservoirs are fed by our abundant rains and local rivers. Perhaps even more so, we are lucky to have recreational access to multiple wild rivers and waterfalls. If you really want to refresh yourself and boost your chi, I highly recommend taking a plunge into one of these!

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