By Salvador Cefalu, M.S., L.Ac.
The Fall season is upon us and we’re currently in the transitional period, called Doyo. “Do” is a Japanese term for earth suggesting these seasonal transitions relate to the Earth Energy.
The Doyo period takes place nine days before the Fall Equinox and continues through the nine days after the equinox. In 2018, the Doyo period runs through October 1st.
According to Japanese tradition, during this time it’s important not to disturb the earth too much with activities such as excavation or gardening as it can impact your health. With this said, farmers, landscapers and similar professionals should take extra care of themselves during Doyo periods at each equinox and solstice to avoid health problems from developing.
In terms of your body, it’s especially important to pay extra attention to supporting the function of your Spleen and Stomach organs during this time because they are the two organs that correspond with the Earth elemental energy.
The Spleen and Stomach are the cornerstones of the digestion system in Chinese Medicine and thereby govern the transformation of food and drink into energy, or Qi.
Boosting your Qi in any way be it through exercise, rest or diet will enhance your immunity and protect you from getting sick as we enter the new season.
Transforming food and drink into energy also requires energy. With this in mind, supporting the digestive process with enzymes is often imperative to improve overall energy production.
Most individuals since childhood have been raised with poor food choices and poor eating habits.
Eating refined, packaged foods, foods high in sugar, eating in a rush or while distracted watching TV or reading are common habits that over time weaken the power and efficiency of our digestive systems.
The Spleen is considered the key transformative organ and producer of Qi energy in Chinese Medicine and in modern terms we relate its function to the pancreas.
The pancreas is the great producer of digestive enzymes to break down fats, sugars and proteins. It also produces insulin to help move sugar into the cells to produce energy in the form of ATP, Adenosine Triphosphate, within every cell of the body.
Some signs that your Spleen needs support to improve its function of energy production include: bloating and gas after meals, stools that are too soft or quickly pass through the colon following a meal, poor appetite, general fatigue and tiredness, bruising easily and cold hands.
If you can identify with any of these signs, then it’s likely that taking digestive enzymes such as lipase, protease, amylase, lactase, etc. with each meal can be supportive.
Keep in mind that all of these enzymes except lactase are pancreatic enzymes and relate to the Spleen Qi of the body. Lactase, though produced in the Small Intestine, is still related to the Spleen’s Qi as well.
The Small Intestine is the organ that helps ‘separate the pure and turbid’ from the digested food and this process is still supported by the Spleen’s Qi in its function of transformation throughout the body.
Below are five tips to support your transformation to ensure strong digestion and assimilation so that you can produce sufficient energy for healthy immunity and an easy transition into the Fall season.
3 Keys to Support Your Transformation Into the Fall Season
Eat warm, cooked foods that are easily digestible. Soups such as congee (rice soup) and stews will allow the Spleen to extract energy from food to more easily transform into fuel and raw material to build up the body. Cooking allows the body to assimilate the nutrients more easily for improved absorption and transformation of food into energy.
Eat orange and yellow colored foods such as carrots, parsnips, and squashes like pumpkin, butternut or Kabocha squash and sweet potatoes. Just as hues of orange relate to the season of Fall, the foods with these colors support the Earth energy and nourish the Spleen Qi.
Add more spice to your diet. If you have a weak appetite, drink a little apple cider vinegar in water before meals to stimulate your stomach acid add Black Pepper, Ginger, Turmeric and Coriander to your food. If you have bloating, enjoy spices like Cumin, Fennel, Cardamom, and Anise to reduce gas and flatulence.
Implementing these tips during the change of seasons will support your health throughout the year.