In Chinese Medicine we move through 5 seasons, according to the 5 phase theory…Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Late or Indian Summer. The Indian Summer time belongs to the Earth Element and connects to the Spleen and Stomach. It is a short time season wise, however it is a time of immense growth and change, both for us as well as nature. Summer is slowing down, the temperature is dropping, and as the Indian Summer rolls in, harvesting and grounding take place, preparation for the cooler seasons ensues, rooting down, connecting in community and setting new goals continues and in nature root vegetables begin to grow, everything is warm, rich, mature…our outward expansive energy from Spring and Summer begin to shift to an inward more yin energy of introspection and cultivation.
The Earth Element and the Organs that belong to it are all about Digestion…The Spleen is in charge of ‘Transforming and Transporting’and the Stomach is responsible for ‘Ripening and Rotting’, as we say in Chinese Medicine… so essentially, receiving the food we eat, assimilating, breaking down the nutrients, and sending it on its way, either to be used for energy by the body or to be released.
Our emotional life is closely linked to our ability to process and digest food. When we feel emotionally upset or overly stressed, especially worried and over-thinking, this will have an effect on appetite and nourishment, while feeling happy and calm promotes balanced hunger, heightened digestive ability, utilization, and enjoyment of foods. When we are very stressed, this targets our Liver, and this can negatively influence our Spleen and Stomach’s digestive function. So, it is imperative to maintain lower levels of stress, adopting practices of meditation, qigong, acupuncture, massage, baths, and anything that brings you joy will greatly help.
Foods to Support the Spleen and Stomach:
– brown rice, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat
– squash: butternut, kobocha, spaghetti, acorn, delicata, etc.
– legumes and lentils
– small amounts of seasonal fruits
– seasonal vegetables, especially mildly steamed, roasted, or baked
– sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds
– walnuts, pistachios
– small amounts of meat
– spices such as: black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, caraway, clove, tumeric, sage, cayenne, nutmeg
The Digestive System Loves to Be Warm…
– Yes, it’s true, when it becomes too cold down there, things slow down…we may feel bloated, or have sluggish bowels, or they may become excessively loose…by creating a balance of warm, hot, cool and cold foods, we support the digestive system in providing us energy and nutrients from our food. Too many cold foods such as dairy, ice cold beverages, too many raw foods, can upset a stomach that may require a little warmth. Each person is different so some of us may be able to tolerate more cool foods than others. If you do experience digestive issues, try adding more warming and Spleen nurturing habits to your practice and see how you feel. Need clarification? Ask your Chinese Medicine practitioner.. they’ll know:)