Summer: It's Time to Take Care of Your Stomach

July 2010

You know that you need to exercise to keep yourself fit, but do you know that the Stomach and the Spleen system provides you with the energy to go exercise? You are working hard to lose weight; do you know that if you protect your Stomach and Spleen systems, they will help you to achieve the goal? And you want to have more energy and strong immunity; do you know that your Spleen and Stomach can take care of that for you if you take good care of them?

Summer is the important season for paying attention to your Spleen and Stomach systems. If you don’t, it’s the season that you can easily further damage them. Poorly functioning Stomach and Spleen systems lead to symptoms such as poor digestion, easily having cold and flu, chronic infections, lack of energy, being overweight, muscle pain or atrophy, poor concentration, depression, anxiety, only to name a few. In this newsletter, I am going to show you some common pitfalls in summer that we compromise our Stomach and Spleen systems, and how to avoid them. Start taking care of your Stomach and Spleen systems and you make a solid foundation for your overall well beings.

In Chinese Medicine, Stomach and Spleen systems are the main systems in charge of digestion. The main purpose of digestion is to get energy from food we eat and then utilize this energy for the body. The Spleen system does exactly this. It transforms the food and drinks we take in into energy that the body is able to use, it also keeps the immune system strong based on the energy it produces. Now you get the picture of how important the Stomach and Spleen systems are. They take care of your digestion, energy and immunity. They form the center that creates the fuel to help the body run smooth and healthy. What will happen when these two systems don’t function properly? No matter how much good food you put in your body, you won’t be able to benefit from them. Because the factory that processes the food is not working properly to produce energy for you. You will lack energy, have poor digestion, gain weight, have low immunity and you may also develop some autoimmune conditions. Conditions such as chronic fatigue, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, low thyroid function, diabetes, chronic diarrhea, weight problem, depression, anxiety can all be caused by poor function of the Stomach and Spleen systems. Clinically, we use acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to balance or strengthen these two systems’ function to help the body to recover.

Of course, it is even better not to damage your Spleen and Stomach systems in the first place. Take a look at following examples; if any of them describes you, you know that your Stomach and Spleen systems are suffering.

1. You come home after work out and you feel very hot. You open the fridge and gulp down a big glass of cold water just before dinner.

Before dinner, your Stomach and Spleen are getting ready to do their work. In order to work properly, they need certain temperature just like an athlete needs to warm up before competition. You dump a large amount of cold liquid inside your body, which lowers the temperature of the digestive system. Sudden lowering of temperature prevents proper digestion, so the body will work hard to restore normal working temperature. This takes energy, which is produced by your Spleen and Stomach. If you do this regularly you will interfere with proper digestion, increase the workload for the Spleen and Stomach systems and waste a lot of energy. In long term, your Spleen and Stomach systems will stop working properly for you.

What you can do instead:

2. Summer time is so hot; you don’t tend to have appetite so you often skip meals. And then sometimes, when you are hungry, you eat a huge meal.

Eating irregularly is a no-no for the Stomach and Spleen systems. If you don’t put enough gas in your gas tank, how do you expect your car to run well? Then when your Stomach and Spleen systems are not having much energy to sustain their function, you suddenly give them a big load of work. The result will be a lot of improperly digested food piling up in your body. You may gain weight from this irregular eating because your digestive systems are weakened and not able to flush out waste. The waste that piles up can also become toxins that harm your whole body.

What you can do instead:

3. You love summer because it’s the time that you eat a lot of barbecued meat, ice creams, milk shakes, smoothies and other sweet drinks…

Your Spleen and Stomach are saying “Ouch” to this diet. Diary products, sugar and lots of meat are a disaster combination for your hard-working Spleen and Stomach systems. Diary products are heavy and cloying. They tend to produce a lot of dampness and phlegm, which the Stomach and Spleen systems hate. Think about walking through molasses, does that take more energy? Too much sugar weakens the systems, and large amount of meat adds a heavy workload for them. It’s like you filling up your beautiful car with worst system-clogging fuel, hitching up with a huge trailer with heavy load, and then driving it into a swamp. Don’t expect a smooth ride. You know what will happen to your car… sooner or later it will break down. It’s the same for your Spleen and Stomach systems.

What you can do instead:

If you don’t have any symptoms bothering you yet but you are doing things that are damaging your Stomach and Spleen, please consider doing it differently this summer. Your body will thank you for that.

If you already have symptoms like chronic abdominal pain, fatigue, poor digestion, irritable bowel syndrome and depression, please pay attention to these signs, which are showing you that your Spleen and Stomach systems need some help. Act now. Give Dr. Judy Zhu a call and help your Stomach and Spleen systems work better.