Updated: Dec 3, 2021
In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) proper diet is an important component of health. All foods are categorized by temperature and flavor.
Temperature : hot and cold Flavor: Spicy, Bitter, Sweet, Sour, Salty.
Different temperatures and flavors of food influence the body differently. The ideal is to try to include all flavors and a balance of temperatures every day. An imbalance of flavors or temperatures in food can result in an imbalance in the body. Too much of one type of food causes physical imbalance.
Chinese Medicine recognizes ,'Six Pernicious Influences', 6 harmful influences that can cause disturbances or disharmony in the body. These are Heat, Cold, Dampness, Dryness, Wind and Summer Heat.
Why does the spleen get out of balance?
For most of my practicing years I treated people from the United States. They generally live in a fast paced environments and most folks don't have good eating habits. Often they have a poor healthy relationships with food with very few traditional roots veggies intake. Many symptoms that brought them to my office were a result of poor spleen and stomach health.
These symptoms included:
fatigue, body heaviness, sluggishness excess weight cysts, tumors yeast infections bloating and gas pain unclear thinking prolonged uterine bleeding diabetes (and subsequent symptoms such as nerve pain, cloudy vision) hemorrhoids
Traditional Chinese medicine views the stomach and spleen as a cooking pot that breaks down the food and turns it into energy and blood for the body.
The stomach is the pot and the spleen is the digestive fire that warms up the pot.
The stomach cooks and breaks down the food, sending the pure part of the food to the spleen to be distributed to the rest of the body and eliminating the waste as feces, urine and sweat.
Too much cold, raw and sweet foods can put out the digestive fire, weakening and slowing the digestive system.
The TCM approach suggests that there are certain foods that make our internal systems "damp", or phlegmy, clammy, sluggish, swollen, groggy, or cold."These symptoms start in the digestive system and spleen, and then accumulate and bring stagnation to the rest of the body." Stagnation translates into things like unwanted weight gain, bloating, low energy, loose stools, and phlegm-y lungs, she says. She adds an excess of dampness is believed to contribute to yeast infections, joint inflammation, cystic acne, and sinus infections.
The digestive system is slowed down by foods that are damp in nature. According to certain opinion, the list of damp-inducing foods includes anything made with refined sugars or sugar substitutes, wheat products, baked goods and cereals, dairy products (especially milk, cream, and cheese), processed foods, and fatty meats. The way you cook your foods can also affect its dampness, and others add that foods served cold or raw are also very damp-inducing.
This dampness can slow down the transformation of clear energy and blood. With time, the lack of digestive energy, coupled with normal or excessive eating creates the environment for damp to form and cause the above physical symptoms.
How to keep the spleen happy? 4 tips You might want to compare the spleen to a child:
1. It likes routine - don't skip meals and eat at the same time each day.
2. It needs nutritious cooked foods - don't eat cold, raw, or on-the-go foods that need more energy to digest. Instead, eat cooked, warm foods.
3. It feels bad when it over eats - Too much food at once or close together sort to make the spleen give up. The food will come out as diarrhea, cause indigestion, or hang around until there is finally enough energy to burn it. Don't eat till it hurts!
4. Occasionally it does well with a sweet treat - The spleen is stimulated with small amounts of healthy sweet foods, but will be overwhelmed by too much.
What to Avoid or Limit
dairy – especially ice cream and milk shakes
refined flour, pastry, pasta, breads
cold raw foods (eat vegetable soups or stews rather than eating raw vegetable salads)
refined sugar and sugar substitutes
coffee, alcohol (in excess)
deep fried foods
Bananas and avocados (in excess)
What to Add
lightly cooked vegetables: corn, celery, turnip, pumpkin, alfalfa sprouts, mushrooms, radish, caper, broccoli, sweet potato etc.
brown rice, barley, amaranth, rye, oats
legumes, kidney beans, adzuki beans, lentils
small amount of lean meat, poultry, salmon and tuna
small amount of whole fruits - grapefruits are best. Apples and pears are good for phlegm and damp in lungs.
lemon in water,
sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
green tea, jasmine tea, raspberry leaf tea
Esther Hornstein LAc. Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Therapist
Esther Hornstein L.Ac. licensed by New York State to practice acupuncture and nationally board certified by the NCCAOM. Her private practice is in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.
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