Eating for Immunity: Late Summer
At our Toronto acupuncture clinic, we consider food (intake, quality and energetics) seriously. We know that the entire body's energy comes from the food we eat and the air we breath. 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. The spleen/stomach axis plays a central role in generating enough qi energy to fortify our immune system, increasing our vitality, producing warmth for the colder months ahead and ensuring peak mental functions. 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 and Stomach.
Late summer is the fifth season in Chinese Medicine. Ruled by the earth element, this is a transitional time around the fall equinox, which is typically a pleasant and flourishing season. It is about harmony and balance between the extremes of summer and winter. Those who are in balance with the season are generally hardworking and practical people. They are active, strong and stable with healthy appetites and rich imaginations.
According to the five elements in TCM, late summer 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. As we move into fall, with colder temperatures, shorter daylight hours & changes to our schedules, we should also adapt how we eat. Fortifying your Spleen can help manage the transitional 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!
Yours in health,
2 Carlton (yonge and college)