Oriental Dietary Therapy to Harmonise the Earth Element (Stomach and Spleen)

Nourishing Your Earth Element with Food

The basic principle in nourishing your centre, the earth element, is:

warm, soft and neutral

(easily digested)

            The spleen and stomach govern digestion in Traditional Chinese Medicine, transforming food and drink to blood and qi to sustain us. These organs function best receiving warm, easily digested foods with plenty of fluid content (porridge, stews, soups, casseroles, steamed and slow-cooked meals).

The colours of the earth element are orange and yellow, so any orange or yellow vegetables will support your earth. Carrot, Sweet potato, corn, pumpkin, button squash.

The flavour is sweet, however, at a subtle level such as the sweetness of pumpkin, rice or chicken, with sweet potato being the sweetest. I find it more helpful to seek a fairly neutral flavour, which is gentle on the palette and easy to digest.

Thought is another aspect of earth… when earth is in balance the mind is clear and thoughts are easily digested. Imbalance may be indicated by foggy thinking, lack of clarity or obsessive thought, worry and pensiveness (especially impacting sleep). It is good practice to consciously relax during meals, sitting and eating with a relaxed and receptive stomach. This benefits healthy absorption of nutrients and smooth digestion while promoting a calm and grounded spirit.


Foods To Avoid

Anything too greasy, spicy, hot, dry, hard, cold, sticky, stimulating or highly processed. Excessive dairy and wheat products can inhibit digestion. Goat milk products are warmer in nature than cow milk, and may be used moderately by some people. Concentrated sugar (even natural sources like honey, fruit juice and dates) injure the spleen qi and digestion if consumed too frequently or in large portions. Try to minimise sugar intake as much as possible. Fructose in fruit and honey raises blood sugar levels faster than cane sugar as it is a simple, fast release carbohydrate. Dried fruit is far more sweet than fresh fruit. It is preferable to eat fresh fruit where possible.

Basically if the food looks creamy, sticky, stodgy or dry and hard it is difficult to digest and strains your stomach and spleen qi.

Foods to Embrace

Grains: Millet, corn, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, spelt, oats, barley, brown rice.

Proteins: Chicken, fish, eggs, adzuki beans, kidney beans, mung beans (soak legumes well overnight and cook well. Some people cannot digest legumes easily).

Fruit and veg: All orange and yellow fruit and veg, greens and fluid rich veg such as eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, peas, beans, broccoli etc.

Dairy and oils: Goat feta and yoghurt, cow milk if digestion is strong, olive oil, raw coconut and sesame oil, rice bran oil.

Tea, herbs and spices: Fennel, fresh ginger, cardamon, nutmeg, basil, rooibos, white tea, oolong tea, vanilla bean, cumin, aniseed, star anise and dried mandarin or tangerine peel (a major Chinese herb for strengthening digestion). * Caffeinated tea and coffee will dry and heat the digestive tract.


Eat, Drink and be Merry!       Gateways Oriental Medicine          Fiona: 0425 064 655

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