Spleen Qi Diet

AN INTRO TO SPLEEN QI

The spleen has a fundamental role in Chinese medicine. The spleen, paired with the stomach, are the main organs of digestion and are responsible for digestion and distribution of food and nutrients throughout the body. The spleen extracts qi from the food we eat that is used by the body to build immunity (wei qi), keep things within the body moving freely and helps promote the proper functioning of other organs and helps to regulate mental functions and emotions.

The Spleen also has a major role in healthy fertility – menstrual flow, the condition of the uterus, the endometrium. Once Pregnant, the blood and qi have a vital role in growing and creating a new human being and the healthy development of the placenta and fetus.

Nutrition is the easiest way for a person to strengthen their Spleen. As part of a Spleen Qi Diet, eat according to:

  • Season – fresh, whole organic foods

  • Temperature – warm foods in cold weather, cooler foods in warmer weather

  • Drinks at room temperature or warm (no cold drinks with ice)

  • No cold foods right from the refrigerator

  • Foods to avoid if a lot of digestive, gas, bloating problems: raw, cold, citrus fruits, sprouts, tomatoes, spinach, tofu, seaweeds, excessive sweets, dairy

  • Warming foods to include if digestive issues: quinoa, carrots, string beans, chickpeas, yams, lentils, rice, oats, chicken (in small quantities)

By the Season

  • SUMMER

    • Eat more cooling, lighter foods

    • Multicolored salads and vegetables

    • Some seeds, nuts and grains

    • Limited dairy products and meat

    • Foods: bitter greens, watermelon

  • LATE SUMMER

    • Eat more building, toning foods

    • Whole grains, some beans, seeds, sprout

    • Increase fish, poultry, limited red meat

    • Fresh, steamed seasonal vegetables

  • FALL

    • Eat more sour flavored foods: sourdough bread, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, leeks, aduki beans, vinegar, some cheese, lemons, limes, grapefruit

    • Cook with less water and at lower heat, for longer periods of time

  • WINTER

    • Eat more salty and bitter foods.

    • Bitter foods: lettuce, watercress, endive, escarole, turnip, celery, asparagus, alfalfa, rye, oats, quinoa, amaranth

    • Salty foods: miso, soy sauce, seaweeds, salt, millet, barley. Use salt in moderation!

    • If cold, add more warming foods: cloves, fennel seeds, ginger, walnuts, black beans, garlic, onions, chives, scallions, quinoa, chicken, lamb, salmon

  • SPRING

    • Eat less or even fast to cleanse the body C

    • Eat more young plants, fresh greens, sprouts, cereal grasses

    • Limit salty foods and meat

    • Pungent cooking herbs: basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf

    • Grains, legumes and seeds

    • Young beets, carrots and other sweet starchy vegetables

    • Cook food for a shorter period of time but at higher temperatures

    • Spring corresponds to the "Wood" element, which in turn is conceptually related to the liver and gallbladder organs. According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. So, for optimum health during spring, move your Qi!

    Other tips for maintaining optimal Spleen Qi

    • Stretch - The liver controls the tendons. According to Chinese medicine, the liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons in times of activity, maintaining tendon health and flexibility. Incorporate a morning stretch into your routine. Try yoga or tai qi.

    • Eye Exercises - The liver opens into the eyes. Although all the organs have some connection to the health of the eyes, the liver is connected to proper eye function. Remember to take breaks when looking at a computer monitor for extended periods of time and do eye exercises.

    • Eat Green - Green is the color of the liver and of springtime. Eating young plants - fresh, leafy greens, sprouts, and immature cereal grasses - can improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of qi.

    • Taste Sour - Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate the liver's qi. Put lemon slices in your drinking water, use vinegar and olive oil for your salad dressing. Garnish your sandwich with a slice of dill pickle.

    • Do more outdoor activities - Outside air helps liver qi flow. If you have been feeling irritable, find an outdoor activity to smooth out that liver qi stagnation.

    • Enjoy milk thistle tea - Milk thistle helps protect liver cells from incoming toxins and encourages the liver to cleanse itself of damaging substances, such as alcohol, medications, pesticides, environmental toxins, and even heavy metals such as mercury.

    • Get Acupuncture treatments- Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help improve the overall health of your liver as well as treat stress, anger and frustration, which are often associated with liver qi disharmony. Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year can serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems!

Katherine Anderson