By Kevin Joubert, Licensed Acupuncturist
As we move into fall, one of the best ways that we can support our immune system is to eat warm and nourishing foods.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Spleen is responsible for receiving and extracting all the nutrients from the foods that we eat.
By eating foods that are slow cooked, energetically warming or spiced with flavor, we will be helping to maintain our digestive fire and support the function of the Spleen.
According to the five elements in TCM, the fall season is dominated by the action of the Spleen. It is the time of harvesting foods and preparing for the cold winter.
It’s during this season that individuals with weak digestions may suffer the most. Colder temperatures, shorter daylight hours, change to schedules and responsibilities usually result in changes to how we eat. Fortifying your Spleen can help manage the stressful fall season.
A few guidelines for choosing healthy fall foods to support the Spleen:
- Foods that grow slow are energetically warming: Veggies that take a long time to grow in the earth gather a lot of warm energy. Choose veggies like carrots, yams, cabbage and winter squash.
- Choose red, orange and yellow colored foods: These bright, warm colors act to nourish and regulate the function of the Spleen. Cherries, strawberries, pumpkin, chickpeas and red meat are warming and great for the Spleen.
- Spice it up: Garlic, ginger, onions, cinnamon, black pepper and cloves are just a few spices that are wonderful in colder seasons.
- Limit raw foods: raw foods like salads and smoothies can reduce our digestive fires. Limit your intake of these foods to 25% of your daily diet.
Along with the Lungs, the Spleen produces all the energy (Qi) for the body. This includes our defensive Qi. Keeping our Spleen happy and strong strengthens our immune system, boosts our energy and supports the functions of all our organs.
When the Spleen is not functioning properly, a few common symptoms include: lack of appetite, abdominal bloating, loose stools and fatigue. We can support the Spleen by:
- Eat simple meals (the fewer the ingredients, the easier to digest)
- Eat smaller meals
- Enjoy hearty soups and stews
- Chew your food mindfully.
On your next visit with your acupuncturist, ask about which foods can keep you healthy and strong all season long!