What is blood tonification and why would I do it? Tonify is another way to say supplement, support, or nourish. Blood loss can be obvious, like from an injury, surgery, or giving birth, or more subtle, like from menstruation, or simply having a constitution that tends to blood deficiency. Blood deficiency is a little different than the Western diagnosis of anemia, though they share some similarities. Blood deficient people tend to be tired, spacey, and have thin hair and/or nails, though signs may be more subtle than these.
The number one blood tonifying food is red meat, with a serving size about the size of your palm, about 3-5 days a week in more acute cases. This includes beef, buffalo, goat, lamb, and venison.
Don’t eat red meat? Any meat makes it easier to replace blood than none.
Don’t eat meat at all? High iron veggies are your friend: spinach, kale, collards… Dark leafy greens’ iron is best absorbed with Vitamin C, so add a splash of lemon juice as you finish cooking them. Calcium slows iron absorption, so separate these as much as possible.
Other great veggie sources include legumes and beans: lentils, red and black beans (kidney beans, adzuki beans, black garbanzos), and other veggies like carrots and beets. Dark foods in particular are better at nourishing the blood, especially red and black foods. In general, darker fruits and veggies are more nutritious across the board, with the exceptions of peaches and nectarines. The white varieties of those are more nourishing.
Fruit can help nourish the blood too, like red cherries, dried apricots (especially Turkish apricots), currants, and dates. These are a good snack with a handful of nuts for protein (bonus: walnuts and almonds tonify yang and can help moisten the intestine for smoother bowel movements).
Other blood nourishing foods: black sesame, eggs, molasses (especially blackstrap), oats (steel-cut are best and also have a lower glycemic index and are higher in fiber than rolled oats, with instant oats being the least nourishing and highest sugar), other whole grains, and Brewer’s yeast (aka nutritional yeast).
Blood being a fluid, it is also good to supplement the blood by increasing your liquids: nettle tea, dark beers (stouts, like Guinness, though you may not want to drink the whole can at once—too much alcohol can damage the qi). Not just drinks but soups, especially when made from bone broth.
Some things to avoid which can be detrimental to replenishing the blood: sugar (especially refined), too much alcohol, and stimulants (which are drying).
Not sure if this applies to you? Schedule an appointment and I am always happy to discuss any questions or concerns.