10 Daily Recommendations On How To Nourish and Cleanse the Spleen and Liver
The Spleen and Liver: two of our most amazing and vital organs. In good working order together they are responsible for good digestive function, good immunity against bugs, good energy levels, reducing fluid retention and eliminating toxins from the body. What would we do without them.. so heres some health care recommendations on how to best take care of these two beauties.
10 ways to keep your Spleen happy every day:
Your spleen is used to filter blood, produce red blood cells and provide lymphocytes and antibodies for your immune system.
The spleen is located in the left upper quadrant of your abdomen, below your heart.
It filters your blood, removing old red blood cells, immune cells and debris. Although your bone marrow produces most of your red blood cells, your spleen produces some and actually stores a reserve of blood in case of hemorrhagic shock brought on by heavy bleeding.
Your spleen also recycles iron by breaking down hemoglobin, synthesizes antibodies and white blood cells, removes bacteria, and filters lymph fluid. In fact, your spleen is much like a large lymph node.
When your spleen is functioning optimally you will experience a good immune system, good energy, regular well formed stool motions, healthy appetite, no fluid retention, clear skin.
Some daily recommendations for nourishing and cleansing the spleen:
1. Eat warm, cooked meals: Food that is warm and cooked decreases the work of the digestion system, which must warm up food and break it down. Precooked and warmed foods, such as soups, stews, daal and curries, are more easily absorbed and create less work for the Spleen.
2. Avoid raw, cold foods, which are more difficult to digest.
3. Promote digestive fire: Having some raw ginger before or during meals or adding warming spices such as black pepper, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon to food helps increase the Spleen's ability to digest food properly.
Eating pungent foods such as onions, leeks, fennel and garlic also help increase the body's digestive fire.
4. Eat slowly and mindfully: Taking the time to relax during meal times and properly chewing food reduces the amount of work that the digestion organs must do in order to break down food. Relaxing the mind and body during meal times activates the "rest and digest" parasympathetic nervous system, which optimizes the body's ability to properly digest food.
5. Eat frequent meals: Small, frequent meals are more easily digested than large, heavy ones. Proving the body with energy in the form of food every few hours or so prevents blood sugar crashes and weakness.
6. Eat carbohydrate-rich vegetables: Seasonal, well-cooked root vegetables such as winter squash, carrot, rutabaga, parsnip, turnip, sweet potato, yam, pumpkin, and legumes such as garbanzo beans, black beans and peas are easily digested and nurturing to the digestive system.
7. Stimulate the Spleen: The TCM Spleen is stimulated by sweet taste, as is the pancreas, which is stimulated to release insulin by rising blood glucose levels. However, too much sweet taste will damage the Spleen over time (consider how elevated blood sugar can cause insulin resistance). Small amounts of sweeteners and cooked fruits can provide a little bit of stimulation and energy to the Spleen, aiding in digestion and mental power. Add some rice syrup, barley malt, molasses, stewed cherries and dates to your snacks or for small desserts after meals.
8. Eat small amounts of protein: If Spleen Qi deficiency is already present, eating small amounts of protein frequently can help regenerate the Spleen's ability to digest and absorb food and provide energy and strength to the body.
9. Eat fatty fish, beef, chicken, turkey or lamb. Try to avoid dairy products except for organic butter (ghee) and raw goat's milk. Vegetarians can add more legumes, grains and non-animal sources of protein to their diet.
10. Practice mindfulness and other centering exercises: The Earth time of year (late summer) is a time of centering, unity and harmony. Practicing mindful meditation or deep breathing exercises (breathing slowly and intentionally into the abdomen) help relax the body, reduce stress, mental exhaustion and burn-out, which are common at this time of year.
10 ways to keep your Liver happy every day:
The liver is your second largest organ (behind the skin) and acts as a filter to neutralize toxins in everything you eat, drink, breathe, and apply to your skin.
When it’s functioning optimally, you’ll enjoy good energy levels, good hormone balance, good sleep, good moods and clear skin.
If you suffer from PMS, weight gain, acne, joint pain, skin rashes, high cholesterol, depression or irritability, fatigue, or just generally feeling puffy or inflamed, a congested and overworked liver could be the culprit.
While it's true that the liver is the body's own self cleaning device, it can become easily overwhelmed by toxins from our food supply, too much alcohol, over the counter and recreational drugs, birth control pills, cosmetics and body care products, and pollution.
All of it must be detoxed by the liver and excreted via urine, digestive tract, or skin. So if you don’t poop regularly, sweat enough, or drink enough water, you can add to your toxic load. And if you take in more toxins than your liver can process, it becomes sluggish, and symptoms result.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is the seat of emotions, which is why irritability, anxiety and depression are associated with liver stagnation.
I recommend cleansing twice yearly-–ideally in the spring and Autumn, and for 14 days. There are many ways to cleanse, some more effective and safer than others, but generally, removing inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, sugar, alcohol and coffee while taking a tincture or supplement with liver supportive herbs, such as milk thistle, will suffice.
To support your liver on a daily basis, adapt some every day cleansing practices into your life.
1. Start your morning off with hot water and the juice of a fresh lemon with a pinch of cayenne. Very cleansing and alkalinizing.
2. Before you get into the shower, do two minutes of dry skin brushing from toe up to neck to stimulate the lymphatic system.
3. In the warmer months; For breakfast, have a cleansing smoothie made with spirulina and chlorella, berries, chia seeds, and hemp protein. Enjoy green veggie juices during the day.
4. Incorporate the cruciferous veggies into at least one meal daily. They contain phytonutrients that support liver detox pathways. e.g.. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts and similar green leaf vegetables.
5. Eat fermented foods such as raw kraut with meals. They are a rich source of probiotics enzymes to support digestion. e.g. sauerkraut, miso, kombucha
6. Drink herbal detox tea blends between meals.
7. Have some curry! The turmeric in curry powder is anti-inflammatory and contributes to the production of glutathione, a potent liver-protective antioxidant. Avocados are also a rich source of glutathione.
8. Get enough fiber-rich foods to bind up toxins in the gut and help promote regularity. If you're constipated, toxins from the bowel can be reabsorbed into your system. Try legumes (especially lentils), raspberries, root vegetables, apples, pears, avocados and almonds. Avoid gluten and dairy, which can be constipating.
9. Get out there and sweat! Exercise or sit in a sauna. Sweating liberates toxins.
10. Take an epsom salt bath before bed. Not only will magnesium-rich epsom salts help you sleep, they also help draw toxins out of the body. Use 2-4 cups of epsom salts and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Lavender promotes relaxation, for example.