In Chinese medicine the Spleen is seen to be the most important organ in the digestive system. The ancient Chinese attributed several characteristics to the Spleen. It helps to transform and transport foods around the body, taking in nourishment and support on both a physical and emotional level. If we can strengthen and maintain the health of the Spleen we can make better use of the foods we eat.
The Spleen governs over our ability to think clearly, to study to focus and to process information. It serves then to take in food and information and to convert it into something we can use. When we overthink we can crave sweet foods, when we worry we can feel our digestive system feeling tied in knots. These are examples of when the Spleen is out of balance.
Emotionally, the Spleen helps us to meet our needs, to give an receive emotional nourishment and to feel supported and cared for. When we don’t feel this way we can look to food for comfort and find ourselves eating in unhealthy ways. The healthy Spleen provides us with an inner sense of nourishment and support, which we can carry with us all the time.
The Spleen expresses itself through the muscles and fascia tissues, this provides strength and support to keep the body upright. Emotional tension can be felt within these tissues.
5 Top Tips to Care for Your Spleen
- Stretch Your Body.
2. Book in for a massage to detox your muscles.
3. Do some mental exercises (e.g. sudoku, crosswords, reading).
4. Be kind to yourself, practice saying nice things to yourself, find a supportive group of friends.
5. Connect to nature: gardening, walking in the forest.
Often it is not just what we eat which is important but also how we choose eat. Taking a positive attitude into our eating habits can help us to form healthy relationship with our food. A few simple things such as relaxing and chewing can ease our digestion and bring more joy into our experiences with food.
9 Healthy Eating Habits
1. Be positive: If you decide to eat something accept it and appreciate it as much as you can.
2. Relax: Make meal times a relaxing time and be with your food.
3. Chew: this will make it easier for your digestive sytem to process food
4. Stop before you get full: Overeating can cause stagnation in the digestive system leading to bloating, stopping before you’re full will help you to digest
5. Only have a small amount of liquid: too much fluid can weaken the disgestion.
6. Have plenty of warm food: the Spleen likes warmth, warm food will help it to process the food more efficiently
7. Have your main meal early: Eating too late will lead to food being in your system at bedtime, this can keep you awake too late
8. Choose whole foods: These foods are nutrient dense and will be easier to digest
9. Trust what your body tells you: Often we crave what is bad for us, listen to what your body needs rather than cravings.
The digestive system in Chinese medicine is seen to be a foundation of good health and well being which can energise us to have plentiful physical health and a clear, focused state of mind.
Leggett, D (2008) Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics. Meridian Press.