Are you feeling a bit sluggish after the Christmas/New Year festivities?
Summer is a wonderful time to connect with friends and family, and enjoy one of the best things in life- eating! But, over-eating rich and sugary foods can leave you feeling a bit heavier, and tired.
Digestion according to Chinese Medicine
In Chinese Medicine, the digestive function is controlled by the spleen* and the stomach. When food enters the gastrointestinal tract, it is processed by the stomach which ‘ripens’ the food and separates the nutrients from the waste. The pure nutrients are sent to the spleen, which continue to process the food into energy or ‘qi’. It is important for the spleen to receive good quality, easily digested foods so that it can convert the nutrients into energy for us to use.
However, over Christmas and into the New Year we tend to indulge in a lot of rich, heavy, greasy and sugary foods that can impair the spleen’s function of digestion, resulting in:
• Irregular bowel movements
• Abdominal pain
After indulging in unhealthy foods, a lot of people feel that the new year is a time to detox. But is raw eating the best way for you to detox?
Raw foods such as salads and smoothies contain a high amount of nutrients and vitamins, but if your digestion is compromised then you may feel bloated after eating raw food.
According to Chinese medicine, the spleen prefers foods that are cooked: cold and raw foods can put out the digestive fire. Beneficial foods for the spleen include root vegetables and grains such as:
• sweet potato
• cooked oats
• brown rice
Cooked foods are easier on the digestive system because they are pre-digested, so the spleen and stomach do not need to need to work as hard to convert them to energy.
If our digestion isn’t working well, we cannot absorb the nutrients that raw foods provide. Overloading on cold, raw foods such as smoothies and salads can cause a condition known in Chinese medicine as ‘cold-damp in the middle burner’ which can lead to sluggishness. So, what should we eat for maintaining healthy digestion?
Suggestions for eating throughout summer
• Lightly steam or stir-fry vegetables instead of eating them raw, and combine them with good quality protein.
• Ensure you are eating a good amount of leafy green vegetables such as: bok choi, silverbeet, English spinach, chicory, kale, rainbow chard.
• If you are preparing a salad, thaw out the raw vegetables and add in some cooked vegetables such as roasted pumpkin or sweet potato.
• Add cooked quinoa to your meals. Quinoa supports the spleen function, and it is a good source of plant-based protein.
• Add warming ingredients to your meals: black pepper, garlic, parsley, paprika, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg.
• Include ingredients that help promote digestive function such as: apple cider vinegar and sauerkraut/kimchi.
• Stay hydrated by ensuring you take a bottle of water with you.
If you can’t live without smoothies in summer:
• Drink them at room temperature
• Add in warming spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and turmeric
• Be mindful that bananas are ‘cold’ and ‘damp’ according to Chinese medicine, so eat them in moderation
• Drink the smoothie in small sips rather than guzzling it down in one go
• Do not add ice or frozen fruits.
If you would like further help to work on your digestive issues, contact me to book a consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org
*The spleen has a digestive function in Chinese medicine.