In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are actually 5 seasons: Winter, Spring, Early Summer, Late Summer and Fall.
Right now, we are in that Late Summer season.
That means we're starting to see:
Slightly cooler temps
Some root vegetables coming into season.
This is the time in Chinese Medicine to choose foods to strengthen the spleen meridian. You might find your food cravings shifting from cool fruits, vegetables and salads to more hearty meals like rice dishes, soups and stews. These hearty meals typically contain foods that are beneficial to the spleen.
While the spIeen is often overlooked in Western Medicine, it is one of the most important organ systems in the body from a TCM perspective! It is in charge of sorting out all of the beneficial nutrients from our food, and transforming them into our Qi and Blood (with the help of a few other organ systems along the way).
In fact, if you find yourself craving sweet flavors often, that is one of the key signs of "Spleen Qi Deficiency". Some other signs are gas and bloating, loose stools, fatigue, and brain fog.
What can you do to support your body during this season? 1. Food Therapy! Focus on eating healthy, spleen-nourishing foods such as sweet potato, chicken, lentils, quinoa, oats, rice, sauerkraut, avocados, salmon, and tangerine peel teas. Soups and stews with bone broth are also great options. Limit cold, raw vegetables and salads. Think of your digestive system as a campfire. Cold, wet leaves are going to put that campfire out! 2. Take inventory of your sleep quality.
A full night of restful sleep is absolutely essential to support your entire body. This is the time for your brain to refresh and reboot. Think of your body as an airport and your brain as the traffic control tower. Your major organ systems are the airplanes that rely on the controller in the tower to direct them. When you get on an airplane, do you want an air traffic controller that has been working for 48 hours straight, or do you want a well-rested air traffic controller to direct your plane? If your brain is too fatigued to properly balance hormones and process the different signals it receives throughout the day, then your organ systems can quickly get tangled up in the mess of traffic and not do their job properly! 3. Gentle Movement and Mindfulness Get out and move your body! This is an excellent time to incorporate gentle exercises like yoga, walking, and swimming. Mindfulness techniques such as meditating, journaling, reading, coloring, knitting, deep breathing, and intention-setting exercises (ask us about the Focus Wheel!) are also very helpful to calm your mind and let your body slow down for little bit. This can have a major positive effect on your stress hormones, which can improve your sleep, digestion, focus, and other hormone cycles!