Spleen Diet

Aligning with the energy of the Late Summer season: eating to nourish the Spleen.



According to the Five Element theory in Chinese Medicine, the energy of the Late Summer season corresponds to the Earth element, and its associated Yin organ is the Spleen (which includes the pancreas).

The Spleen, together with its Yang partner the Stomach, are key players in healthy digestion and therefore crucial for overall well-being. The Spleen is responsible for transformation and transportation of food and fluids, as well as the production of Qi (vital energy) and Blood. For this reason, diet is an incredibly important factor in maintaining spleen harmony. By adjusting our diet to the energy of the Spleen at this time of the year, we attune to the energy of late summer for a smooth and healthy transition into Autumn.

How do we adjust our diet so that it is aligned with the energy of the Spleen? Let’s have a look at the characteristics of the Spleen from a TCM viewpoint:

  • Its colour is yellow
  • Its taste is sweet
  • Its temperature is warm
  • It’s affected by humidity and dampness
  • It’s damaged by the emotions of worry and pensiveness

This list serves as a simple guideline for a diet that will nourish the spleen-pancreas system and by extension the whole body.



Its temperature is warm

One key principle in TCM is that the Spleen prefers warm foods, while cold foods are detrimental to its function. This perspective aligns with the understanding from a Western point of view, where digestive enzymes have an optimal temperature range for efficient digestion.

When we talk about warmth in terms of food, it’s not just about the temperature but also about the energy they provide. Therefore, it’s recommended to include foods that are not only warm in temperature but also possess warm energy. All foods can be classified as warm (or hot) or cool (or cold). For instance, meats, especially red meat, and most spices are considered warm foods, while raw foods like salads, most fruits, and certain vegetables are classified as cold foods.

Foods that are considered warm in both temperature and energy include beef, chicken, shrimp, freshwater fish, coconut, sesame seeds, raspberries, coffee, wine, cinnamon, and black beans. These foods are believed to nourish the Spleen’s warmth and promote balanced digestion.

It’s affected by humidity and dampness

Excessive consumption of cold foods impairs the Spleen’s transformation and transportation function, leading to digestive problems and the accumulation of interior Dampness. Dampness is characterized by a heavy and sluggish feeling in the body. Internal dampness can interfere with the Spleen’s function and lead to obstructions, causing various issues such as mucus accumulation (which can worsen respiratory illnesses), nodules (such as cysts and fibroids), and even skin problems like pimples.

Food that promote dampness include dairy, sugar, raw fruits and vegetables, alcohol, and fatty, greasy fried foods. To counteract dampness focus on eliminating or reducing these and eat foods with a more drying quality.

Its colour is yellow

The colour associated with the Spleen energy is yellow. Thus, incorporating yellow or orange foods like millet, yams, squash, and oatmeal will support the Spleen.

Its taste is sweet

As for the taste, it is said that the Spleen likes sweet foods. Now, there is an important distinction to make. Foods that are naturally sweet can be nourishing and strengthening for the Spleen. Artificially and excessively sweeten foods are, however, damaging to the Spleen and promote Dampness. Naturally sweet foods include tofu, squash, eggs, chicken, beef, fish, most grains, nuts, and seeds. Honey would be the preferred sweetener in a diet following these principles.

According to the principle that “like supports like,” consuming foods that resemble the organ you want to benefit can enhance its health. As the Spleen is associated with the Earth element, incorporating grounding and nourishing foods would be beneficial.

It’s damaged by the emotions of worry and pensiveness

Eating habits also play a significant role in maintaining a healthy Spleen.

It’s important to eat mindfully, chewing food thoroughly and avoiding eating on the go, while working, or in a negative emotional state, like being worried.

Consuming a variety of foods that are in season and locally available can help provide the necessary nutrients. Moderation is also important; it’s advisable to cease eating before reaching full satiety.

Regular eating times are recommended, with the Spleen’s peak energy time being from 9am to 11am. It’s advised to have a light dinner and avoid eating late at night, as the Spleen’s energy is weakest around 12 hours after its peak time.

A core tenet of Traditional Chinese Medicine revolves around the concept of keeping a balance approach in all facets of life. When it pertains to diet, this principle becomes particularly pivotal in maintaining the Spleen’s harmony.


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