How Cold & Raw Foods Affect Digestion in Chinese Medicine:
If you have ever asked an acupuncturists for diet or nutritional advice, you more than likely have been told to eat more warm foods and decrease the amount of cold or raw foods. But, why? Shouldn’t raw vegetables be helpful for my overall health? Well, the answer is both yes and no.
The function of the Spleen in Chinese medicine is responsible for assisting in the breakdown of foods and their nutrients (in conjunction with the Stomach). The Spleen also is correlated to the production of blood, and is closely related to the Heart organ and meridian (which relates to the health of the Shen/Mind).
If we think of the Spleen like a car engine, it prefers some warmth to run more efficiently. Therefore, what we are eating as a direct connection to our digestion and the more cold foods beverages we consume, the more difficult it will become to digest.
So, what if my Spleen is weak or cold? What does that mean in terms of my health? Since Chinese medicine is not a one size fits all medicine, and is 100% tailored to the individual health and symptoms of the patient, it is hard to make a blanket statement for how exactly different people may be experiencing signs of a weak/cold Spleen - but here are some of the most common symptoms:
When digestion is impeded, it can create signs of ‘dampness’ in the body. In Chinese medicine dampness can be seen as foggy head, heavy limbs, post nasal drip, and even discharge of sputum or phlegm.
If we think of dampness as a muddy or brackish stream, it can become more difficult for water to freely travel. This same idea can be applied to our digestive system when dampness is involved. Many of the digestive functions will be slowed down, and symptoms such as the ones listed above with follow - and even increase over time in their severity.
When we are eating warm foods and drinking room temperature/warm beverages patients begin to notice a decrease in symptoms related to dampness over time. Patients will find that their energy level increases, they are mentally sharper, and even feel less bloated after meals. This is a result of the Spleen becoming stronger and more efficient in the breakdown of our foods.
Should I avoid cold or raw foods all together? For some patients, this might be helpful depending on the severity and chronicity of their symptoms. However, typically a balance of warm and cold foods are sufficient. For example, if you are eating a salad, you can offset the coolness of that meal with some warm tea or even some spicy dressing or herbs.
Other foods to consider in decreasing dampness in the body:
-Lower the amount of sugar and sweet foods
-Decreasing the amount of heavy/rich foods
-Lowering dairy consumption
-Avoidance of any sticky or greasy foods
Chinese medicine is all about harmony and finding a balance not only with the foods you eat, but the life you live! For help determining what diet is best for you and your individual digestive system, book an appointment below to take a deep dive into your health with Allison!