Late Summer Seasonal Health

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), late summer correlates with the Earth element, and the Spleen/Stomach organ system, which (you guessed it) governs digestion, among other things. The season of late summer runs roughly between July and September in the UK.

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Physical Wellbeing

At this time, looking after our digestive system is really important, when the weather can be muggy, warm, and damp, it’s the perfect environment for bacteria in food, water, and our environment, to survive and multiply. 

Emotional Wellbeing

Worrying and overthinking things ‘injure’ the Spleen and causes Qi to become knotted. Think

“I have a knot in my stomach”, “I was sick with worry!”, “Tied in knots over this problem”, “You’ll worry yourself sick” or... “I’m sh***ing myself about this exam”

As we begin to move into the second half of the year, we are starting to wind down and prepare for the stillness and darkness of winter, it’s time to begin letting go of things we can’t control. Some useful ways I have found to help process worrying thoughts and ease stress-related digestive issues are; journaling, meditation, mindfulness, and gentle exercises such as qigong for the Stomach/Spleen and yoga for digestion. 

Signs your Spleen is in need of some TLC

Common symptoms of a Spleen in distress (and by Spleen we mean in the traditional Chinese medical sense, not the anatomical spleen, although they do share similar roles) are:

  • Fatigue, difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Poor appetite in the morning or feeling queasy
  • Urgency and diarrhoea in the morning 
  • Undigested food in stool
  • Weight gain
  • Loose bowels during menstruation
  • Bloating
  • Craving sugary foods
  • Easily bruising
  • Always a worrier or overthinking and catastrophising 

 

Diet & Lifestyle Choices that support the Spleen

We can support our digestive system mainly through our diet, but also with certain activities and lifestyle changes.

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Late Summer Lifestyle
  • Nurture yourself; rest more, make time for yourself, do things you enjoy more often
  • Nurture others; volunteering, community projects, or checking up on elderly loved ones a little more often
  • Spend time in nature

Late Summer Food
  • No phones or tv at the table (eat at a table!)
  • Make an effort to have meals at regular times 
  • Cut down on cold, raw foods
  • Watch the sweets
  • Eat plenty of root veggies and orange coloured veggies e.g. sweet potato, carrot, butternut squash, and pumpkin
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Meal Ideas

Breakfast ideas:
  • Porridge; with cinnamon, honey, nuts, seeds, berries
  • Warm tea (no cold fruit juices!)
  • Plain bioyoghurt with beneficial bacteria, with cinnamon, honey, nuts, seeds, etc
Lunch ideas:
  • Soup; butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin
  • Wholegrain pita 
  • Lightly cooked veggies
Dinner ideas:
  • Stew, stir fry, or rice dishes with; beef, root veggies, squash, leafy greens, ginger
Snacks:
  • Seeds, nuts, dried fruit (not in excess)
Sweets:
  • Stewed fruit with cinnamon
  • Oatmeal cookies
Drinks:
  • Ginger tea, fennel tea, orange peel tea
Cooking methods:
  • Steam
  • Stir-fry
  • Stew

I’m no chef - so I’m always looking for delicious recipes that nourish the Spleen using the foods and methods above! If you have any you’d like to share, please email them to [email protected]

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