Foods That Strengthen The Spleen

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, one of the easiest ways to support the spleen is by making dietary choices that are stabilizing and nourishing to the Earth element. By supporting our spleens, we can help restore balance and reduce other symptoms.  The spleen is associated with the the earth element.  It likes to be warm and enjoys sweet flavors and regularity.  It needs to be grounded and centered.   A qi deficient spleen is often cold, exhausted, and dampened, caused from a variety of factors from antibiotic use to stress and anxiety to improper diets with too many simple carbohydrates, an excess of animal products, and lot of sugars.  Traditional Chinese medicines runs on the basic idea that one should use “equal opposite” stimulus to treat a condition.  So, with that as the idea, you have to invigorate, dry, and warm that little spleen of yours back into shape.

Here are some general spleen strengthening pointers.  These are things that everyone should do, but especially those of us at higher risk for spleen qi deficiency.  Basically, if you’re stressed out, chronically ill, and have some digestive issues, you could probably use some spleen strengthening.

  • Eat slowly, chew well, and eat at regular times each day. 
  • Do not drink large amounts of liquid with meals. Not only does liquid dilute stomach acid and make it harder for your stomach to break down food, it also overwhelms the spleen qi.
  • Drink only enough water to take medications with meals, or a small cup of warm tea, soup, or broth.
    Include warm broths, soups, and stews in your diet regularly. Warm soups and cooked vegetables are easy for the body to digest, and the nutrition is easy to assimilate.  this is especially good if your digestion is severely compromised or you are very sick and weak.  
  • Try cooking vegetables together for a long time in a crock pot, and then puree using an immersion blender or blender.  Since the food will already be warm and pureed, it will give your body less work to do during digestion.
  • Focus on a vegetable-based diet.  Reduce or eliminate your intake of processed foods, sugar, wheat, and excessive animal products.  Make at least 50% of your plate vegetables at every meal, a mixture of cooked and raw.
  • Choose meals that are easy to digest. Only use food combining principles to ensure effective digestion, if your digestion is compromised.   There are lots of ways to approach food combining from very strict to very loose; you have to find what works for you.  Only eat fruit alone  on an empty stomach (if fruit is agreeing with me at all, that is), and do not eat too many starches in one meal
  • Do not eat an excess of raw or cold foods, as well as cold drinks and frozen treats. Raw-foodists will disagree with this philosophy, but too much raw food can deplete your digestive strength.  Despite the excellent enzymes available in raw and live foods, it is also harder for the body to break down, especially if you have weakened digestion due to illness, irritable bowel, or leaky gut.  Raw  foods force the body to work harder to literally heat up the food before it can be digested, using more digestive energy.  Cold drinks and frozen treats (like ice cream) are a shock to the digestive system, and can wreak havoc.  Like all things, it is a matter of balance and listening to your own body.

Apple, Turnip, and Cabbage Hash is a very spleen-friendly dish.  All foods – have an energetic component.  With that in mind, here are some foods that are energetically super beneficial for stabilizing the spleen.

  • Soaked and well-cooked whole grains: oat, sweet rice, quinoa.  Properly prepared whole grains are very stabilizing and grounding, and provide a good source of complex carbohydrates.  Complex carbohydrates are digested by the body more slowly, and provide a stable source of energy.
  • Cooked, starchy vegetables: parsnips, yams, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, rutabaga, turnips, pumpkin, winter squash. Root vegetables and winter squashes are especially important, as they grow in and on the earth, and are slow growing, sweet vegetables that have high amounts of concentrated energy.
  • Peas and legumes: peas, garbanzo beans, black beans, azuki beans.  Always be sure to soak your beans before cooking them for improved digestion.
  • Pungent vegetables and spices: fennel, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, leek, onion, garlic, nutmeg, chives.  These vegetables and spices are very stimulating and warming to the digestive system.
  • Small amounts of sweet foods (if tolerated only!): cooked apples, prunes, figs, cherries, dates, brown rice syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup.  The spleen likes sweet flavors, but use in moderation (if at all).

If you have a hard time with carbohydrates or sugars, you may be raising an eyebrow at the suggestion of cooked grains, starchy vegetables, sweeteners, or fruits. Like anything, dietary recommendations must be approached moderation. Even for the healthiest individual, too much of any one kind of food can further upset the balance, and throw things off in another direction! For those of us with additional sensitivities, we need to use our intuition to make wise choices, and cautious moderation is key. The spleen likes regularity and balance, after all!  I know, for example, that in theory, figs and prunes and baked apples will strengthen the spleen. But I also know that the simple sugars will throw Candida into a tailspin.  So, if necessary, avoid the fruit and instead opt for sweet flavors of squash and beets, which my body handles better.  

For those of us dealing with that tricky dampness, there are a few other foods that can help reduce restore balance.  Some of these have naturally antimicrobial qualities, and can help dry up that dampness.

  • Grains: Amaranth, rye, corn, millet
  • Beans: azuki beans, mung beans
  • Vegetables: celery, lettuce, pumpkin, scallion, alfalfa, turnip, kohlrabi
  • Herbs, spices, condiments: pepper, raw honey, bitter herbs, chamomile, and pau d’arco (use for tea), thyme, turmeric

Nutrition Therapy for Spleen

Recipes for the Spleen

Cooking can be hard if you don’t feel well, so focus on things that are simply prepared and don’t involve a lot of work.  Here’s a few very simple recipes to get you started.  These recipes are nothing fancy, but provide basic ideas for incorporating spleen-strengthening foods into your diet.  Since many of these are starchy, sweet vegetables, use them in moderation if you are on antibiotics or following an anti-Candida Albicans diet protocol.  If eaten in excess, these foods may aggravate your condition.  But used in moderate amounts, these are powerful foods for supporting the spleen and strengthening the digestive system.  However, I’m not a doctor, and if you have concerns, you should consult with your care provider about any significant changes in your diet.

Here are some interesting recipes  below for vegans try these recipes which can be found on this website

  • Simple Steamed Carrots
  • Carrot Mash
  • Parsnip-Carrot Mash
  • Rutabaga-Carrot Mash
  • Parsnip Fries
  • Easy Baked Winter Squash
  • Apple, Turnip & Cabbage Hash (GF, vegan, ACD)
  • Tarragon Roasted Turnips (GF, vegan, ACD)
  • Pan-Fried Parsnips & Leeks (GF, vegan, ACD)
  • Roasted Root Vegetables
  • Quick Roasted Vegetable Mash
  • Quick Roasted Vegetable Soup
  • Roasted Fennel
  • Turnip & Kale Soup (GF, vegan, ACD)
  • Warming Azuki Vegetable Stew (GF, vegan, ACD)
  • Mexican Azuki Beans with Epazote (GF, vegan, ACD)
  • Split Pea Spearmint Soup (GF, vegan, ACD)
  • Easy Hummus
  • Beet Hummus (GF, vegan, ACD)

Other food recipes that will support the spleen are:

Other food & drink suggestions for strengthening the spleen:

  • split pea soup, black bean soup, chickpea soup
  • vegetable curries
  • pumpkin or squash soup
  • baked sweet potato
  • well-cooked amaranth, sweet rice, or quinoa pilafs or puddings
  • anything with warming spices: nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, allspice, anise, cinnamon
  • baked apples (in moderation, if you tolerate fruit)
  • stewed prunes and figs (in moderation, if you tolerate fruit)
  • ginger root tea
  • licorice tea (use in moderation – it can raise blood pressure if used daily for more than 3-4 weeks at a time, and it can contribute to water retention)
  • caffeine-free chai tea
  • fennel seed tea (boil 1/2 tsp fennel seeds with 1 cup water for 5 minutes while keeping pan covered, strain, cool slightly, and drink)

The great thing about food therapy is that you can make these choices for yourself at home, cheaply and easily. You can experiment with dietary principles without any harsh side effects, assuming that you avoid foods you are allergic or intolerant to. And you have to eat anyway, so you might as well make it worth your while and get some medicinal effect out of it! By supporting your spleen with grounding, stabilizing food choices, you just may help reduce other symptoms too. I know I have found principles of Chinese dietary therapy to be helpful when making food choices in my own healing journey, and I hope you do to!

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Throughout this process, we include the use of IMMUNOClean™ as a vital component towards the success of one’s health.  Before beginning any program, be sure you have consulted your DBM Physician / Practitioner.

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Warning: Do not undergo any program if you are pregnant, without first consulting your DBM Physician / Primary Care Physician