Nourishing the Spleen through Food

The Spleen likes to feel a satisfied glow of comfort after eating. An eating style that nourishes the Spleen is one that is homely and generous, one that gives attention to the ‘feel good factor’, generating a sense of abundance and care.

In Oriental medicine the Spleen is said to be nourished by sweet food. This does not mean sugar but rather the deep sweet taste of grains or root vegetables, as in rice pudding or pumpkin soup. Generally speaking, the Spleen likes well-cooked foods such as thick soups or stews which are easy on the digestion, it has more difficulty with cold and raw foods. The weaker the Spleen, the more it benefits from well-cooked meals.
The Spleen also dislikes being flooded with too much fluid so it is helpful to drink only a little fluid with meals and have most fluid intake between meals. It is helpful to separate fruit and other sweetened foods from the main meal, eating them instead as between meal snacks. This assists the Spleens function of sifting and sorting and help reduce digestive fermentation.
Chewing well helps the Spleen to digest, and warms chilled or raw food. We can assist the Spleen by sitting in a relaxed way with an open and untwisted posture. Sitting slumped or twisted will compress the digestive organs and hinder digestion.
Yellow/ orange foods such as butternut squash, sweet potato, pumpkin and red lentils or carrot are energetically resonant with the Spleen and supports its functions.
 How do we become Damp?
Dampness is a kind of congestion frequently resulting from an inability to transform food and drink. Many people with weak digestive systems will be prone to accumulate Dampness. The key word is ‘transformation’. A strong digestive system can transform most foods, provided we don’t chronically overeat. Much is also due to combining foods poorly, either by making meals too heavy or complex, or by combining foods that tend to ferment together.
Eating meals late in the evening will also create congestion, and overwhelming a meal by drinking too much fluid will also aggravate a tendency towards Dampness.
Western medicine is sometimes responsible for the establishment of Chronic Dampness in our systems, particularly the overuse of antibiotics.
There is also an emotional climate which helps to create an environment for Dampness to set in. Lingering feelings of guilt and shame, self disgust, are common accompaniments of Dampness, especially in the intestines. Worry is also known to knot the digestive system and it can interfere with the Spleens transformative process. Wherever there are feelings which fester and cannot be transformed, Dampness is laid.
Recognising Dampness

The symptoms of Dampness can vary widely according to which body part is most affected and whether it is in combination with Heat or Cold. The general symptoms are a feeling of fatigue, digestive issues and body/ head heaviness with weak muscles.

Dietary Approaches

Regular eating
No heavy meals, particularly in the evening
Reduce dampening foods such as dairy, fatty meats, fried foods, sugar, sweeteners, wheat, bread, beer and concentrated foods such as orange squash or tomato puree. Too many nuts can also be Dampening. Overloading the system with sugary drinks is a no no as the Spleen dislikes the too sweet taste inhibiting its function of transforming allowing Dampness to form. 

 

Dampness in the Spleen

This may affect the whole digestive system, the muscles, and even the power of concentration. It is the strength of the Spleen and the power of Yang which transforms moisture in the body and prevent Dampnes accumulating
 Recipes for Self-healing by Daverick Leggett (1999)
Damp Phlegm transforming foods
Almond
Apple
Garlic
Grapefruit
Lemon
Mustard
Olive
Onion
Pear
Radishes
Seaweed
Celery
Cranberry
Green tea
Horseradish
Pumpkin
Butternut squash
Rye bread
Warming (Yang) foods
Coconut
Garlic
Lamb
Leek
Oats
Nutmeg
Cinnamon
Trout
Sweet potato
Wine
Turnip
Apple cider vinegar
Walnuts
Note: Eat well cooked meals such as Porridge with cinnamon/ nutmeg and stewed apple. Chicken, beef, lamb casseroles with cooked carrots, onions, garlic. Soups with Onion, garlic, leeks, sweet potato, butternut squash.
Snack on walnuts, almonds, apples.
Drink warm teas such as green, black, roobush tea and water at room temperature.
Particularly avoid iced, fizzy, sweet drinks especially with meals.
Instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners, choose Stevia a natural herb which has a natural sweet taste. It can be found in Tesco or Waitrose or order online and it looks and tastes like sugar. This can be added to low fat yogurt as a dessert, on porridge and in tea.
Avoid
Dairy products (phlegm forming)
Fatty meats
Concentrated juices, especially orange
Bananas
White refined wheat bread, pasta, yeast
Beer
Sugar and sweeteners
Iced drinks
Uncooked vegetables and salads
Oranges
Coca cola
The Anti-candida Plan
This is a stricter programme and it isbest to be prepared well in advance when you undertake this. Only required by those individuals who are chronically ill or who like to challenge themselves (like me). I did this for one month over three years ago and once I had completed it I felt so much clearer headed, energised and my digestive system has never been better since. 
General  considerations
The yeast known as Candida Albicans is found in the gastrointestinal tract of every individual. However this yeast is very opportunistic and will look to thrive and flourish if the conditions are right. In this case the yeast can overgrow and lead to significant disease, some health experts even blame this as the precursor to chronic diseases such as Cancer.
Preventing Candida overgrowth requires a healthy gut, with adequate levels of friendly bacteria, or flora, which takes up space on the gut wall and prevent the yeast getting a foothold.
As you can see from the list below the symptoms of candida overgrowth are many and wide ranging. This makes diagnosing candidiasis very difficult.
Typical symptoms
  • Generally affects the gastrointestinal, nervous, immune and endocrine (hormones) systems but can affect any system of the body.
  • General symptoms include chronic fatigue, loss of energy, general malaise, decreased libido.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms include oral thrush, bloating, gas, intestinal cramps, rectal itching and altered bowel function.
  • Genitourinary symtoms include vaginal thrush and frequent bladder infections.
  • Hormonal symptoms mainly include menstrual complaints.
  • Nervous system symptoms include depression, irritability and poor concentration.
  • Immune symptoms include allergies, chemical sensitivities and frequent colds and infections.
In severe cases of an overgrowth of the yeast Candida Albicans can manifest as any number of seemingly unrelated symptoms and can be difficult to clear up. Treating Candida can be viewed as a war against a very cunning enemy who will try to trick you along the way. The best way of killing the enemy for good is to follow the 4 point plan detailed below
1. Diet
The whole objective of the war is to first starve the candida and then, when it is weakened and its morale is low, move in with supplements that will kill it off and repopulate the gut with friendly troops in order to prevent re-invasion. Therefore it is your diet which must be altered to starve the candida. Most people find this the hardest thing to come to terms with in the anti Candida regimen because the diet is so strict, but overall victory is dependent on your ability to stick to it. The diet is detailed later on with a list of foods to avoid and foods to enjoy. Foods that will feed the Candida/yeast/fungus are all sugars (including fruit) yeast, alcohol, refined foods, malted foods, fermented food, dairy products, dried fruit, nuts, sweeteners, fungi (mushrooms) and preservatives. You must understand that even the smallest digression from the diet could result in the loss of weeks of hard work. Most people find after the first couple of weeks of working out what can and cannot be eaten it does get easer and begin to lose their sweet tooth. Small regular meals and regular snacks help with cravings and will help to maintain a balanced blood sugar level, try to eat a small amount of protein with each meal/ snack as this also helps with blood sugar levels
 2. Personal Supplement Programme
First of all, the anti Candida diet is not particularly healthy. No fruit and little variety is not ideal. Therefore it is not intended as a permanent diet. Also, the body will be placed under enormous strain by the Candida as it begins to die, with the liver working particularly hard to get rid of the unwanted toxins as this happens. Therefore it is important that the body is supported during this difficult time by supplements. As well as a multi vitamin and mineral it is recommended to include supplements such as milk thistle to support the Liver by aiding its detoxification. Immune system support is alos vital, so additional Vitamin C may be elpful. The supplements may be started for a couple of weeks before starting the diet but most people start them together. You are advised to undertake points 1 and 2 of the anti Candida regimen 4-6 weeks before moving onto stages 3 and 4.
3. Anti Fungal Supplements
Having weakened the Candida by starving it you are now ready to start the anti fungal supplements. Caprylic acid is the best supplement to use as it is quite specific to Candida Albicans in the gut. This should be introduced in very weak doses to begin with and increased very gradually up to a maximum level. Introducing these supplements too soon or increasing the dose too soon may lead to an effect known as die-off. See note on die-off symptoms later. Die off should not be a problem if the anti fungal supplements are introduced in the correct manner and symptoms are monitored carefully.
Start off with 1 tablet of caprylic acid once per day and build up in five-day intervals to 3 per day (1 after each meal). If at any stage die off symptoms occur go back down one level and try again in another 5 days. Repeat this process, building up the tablets to 2 with each meal, again being careful to heed any die-off symptoms. After 1 month at this level without nay die off reactions you may still feel there is some Candida left, in which case move up to 3 tablets three times a day. This should finish the job! It is possible at any stage of the process to experience a sudden die off reaction. In this case simply move down to your previous level of caprylic acid until you feel you are ready to continue. Other anti fungal products include the herb Goldenseal, which contains berberine, an active known to have potent anti fungal properties. Again, build up the dose slowly. Goldenseal is particularly important where the candida infection has become systemic – in other words it is not confined to the gut.
4. Probiotic Supplement
It is essential for your long term health that your colon and small intestines contain sufficient numbers of beneficial bacteria. With a healthy population of friendly flora it will be difficult for any future Candida yeast to get a foothold. Two strains are required, the Lactobacillus strain and the bifidobacteria strain. These can be taken by way of a supplement that will deliver billions of these strains right into the colon where they are needed. These friendly bacteria should be taken on an ongoing basis although the dosage may be reduced to a maintenance level after you regain control of your body.  
Die-off Reaction
Live Candida releases any thousands of toxins into your body which have to be dealt with by your liver. Dying Candida releases many times more. Your poor old liver may already be in a toxic condition and this extra load may simply be too much for it to cope with. The resulting symptoms vary from mild to very  unpleasant and are known as die-off symptoms. Some examples are given below:
  • Sore throat
  • Thrush
  • Joint pain
  • Eczema
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Oral thrush
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhoea
  • In fact, any of your old symptoms
Forewarned is forearmed. If you are unaware of this reaction you may be tricked into thinking that your condition is getting worse, not better. In fact it is simply that the Candida is dying too quickly. Simply take a step backwards, for example reduce your Caprylic acid to its previous level. This should allow your body time to get rid of the extra toxins.
Sources of Yeast and Fungi
When starting the Anti Candida regimen you will naturally concentrate very hard on eliminating foods and drinks which feed Candida. However there are some other factors to be aware of. Mould and damp of any kind will encourage Candida. Sources around the home and at work are common. Examples include airbourne moulds from the soil of houseplants and from damp areas of the house such as the bathroom and around window frames. Always ensure good ventilation of these areas and get someone else to look after your houseplants whilst you get well.
Some medications will also encourage Candida growth. Examples include antibiotics, steroids (including inhalers) and hormonal medications such as HRT and the contraceptive oil. These people more than most need to take probiotics everyday. Please note however that you should never discontinue use of any prescribed medications without consulting your Doctor first.
Anti – Candida Diet Guidelines Foods to Avoid
Sugar
All sugar and food containing sugar. This includes fruit! Other likely foods include molasses, syrup, honey, malt, chocolate, any other confectionary, icing, cakes, marzipan, ice-cream, desserts, puddings, biscuits, soft drinks (including apparently the sugar free ones) Check all packets! You will be amazed, look out for frozen/ tinned vegetables with sugar for example. Sugar is often written as fructose, maltose, lactose, sucrose, dextrose.
Sweeteners
Just as likely to feed candida. Avoid all sugar free products as these probably contain artificial sweeteners.
Yeast
Any foods containing it or derived from it. For example, bread, breadcrumbs, Marmite, Vecon, artex (Yeast pate), Bovril, stock cubes, citric acid, monosodium glutamate, pizza bases and some brands of vitamin unless stated Yeast free. Even sourdough or sprouted grain bread will contain some naturally occurring yeast.
Refined Grains
White rice, white flour, granary fliur, white pasta, corn flour, custard powder, and any oher foods which do not state wholemeal or wholegrain.
Malted Foods
Some cereals, some rye crisp breads, granary bread, Ovaltine, Horlicks
Fermented Foods
Soya sauce, sourdough bread, vinegar and foods containing vinegar (e.g. Salad cream, ketchup, baked beans etc) and alcoholic drinks, beer, cider and wine are the worst.
Cows milk
All dairy products e.g. cheese and cream, and any foods containing dairy. Watch out for milk powder and whey on packets.
Fruit
Of any kind including fresh, tinned or dried. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is ok in salad dressings and as a drink with mineral water.
Nuts
Unless freshly cracked, nuts are prone to mould.
Smoked or cured foods
Includes fish and meat, e.g. ham, bacon, smoked salmon or mackerel
Fungi
Includes mushrooms and truffles
Tea and Coffee
Yes, even decaffeinated! Also avoid hot chocolate and other sugary beverages.
Soft drinks
Cola and recovery type drinks are high in sugar (or sweetener) and also contain caffeine.
Medicinal drugs
Some may contain caffeine, sugar or sweeteners.
Preservatives
More chemicals for your poor old liver to cope with. Besides which many preservatives are derived from yeast. Always read the label.
Hot spices and curries
These destroy friendly bacteria in the gut.
Foods to Enjoy!
Despite the long list of foods to avoid there are still plenty of foods left to enjoy. You simply need an open mind and a good imagination. Many people find this diet bland and uninteresting  to begin with but after a while you should lose your sweet tooth and taste for strongly flavoured packaged foods. This list will give you a few pointers.
Avocado
Beverages
Barley syrup, herb teas.
Bread
Yeast free soda bread
Breakfasts
Porridge made from oats, millet, rice flakes, quinoa flakes with soya milk. Sugar free museli, shredded wheat if there is no allergy to wheat, puffed rice, puffed oats. Egg and grilled tomatoes on soda bread toast, boiled, scrambled, poached eggs, vegetable omelette.
Cold drinks
Mineral water, chilled tomoto juice, iced fruit teas, lemon water
Cold pressed oils
Sunflower, safflower, sesame, linseed, olive. All very useful for salad dressings and home made mayonnaise. Do not fry foods in oil except olive or grass fed butter (kerrygold butter is grassfed)
Cottage cheese
Fresh vegetables and salad
Herbs
Lemon
Organic meat and fish
Beans, pulses, lentils
Wholegrain rice
Potato
Buckwheat
Quinoa,
Wholewheat pasta
Mild spices such as cinnamon, cumin, turmeric
Milk alternatives, soya, oat, rice, goats and sheep milk.
Natural yogurt
Snacks
Rice cakes, oat cakes, rye crisp breads, wholewheat crisp breads, yogurt, yeast free pate, homemade cakes
An excellent reference book for all anti-Candida cooks is the ‘Anti-Candida Cookbook by Erica White.