To Juice, or Not To Juice...
I love that that eating fresh, organic, and even local is becoming more popular these days. I love that the mention of eating greens and taking herbs is not so foreign to many of my patients. However, there is one popular trend that I am extremely cautious about, and that's juice.
Yes, it's true, juicing your produce can pack a lot of punch in one glass -- especially if it is fresh pressed, which means it's not pasteurized (a process that kills many of the essential enzymes necessary to digest and absorb the nutrients). But drinking juice is not for everyone.
In my clinic, talk a lot with my patients about the necessity of eating for their constitution. Every person is an individual with a different constitution, or body type. For example, some patients thrive off of drinking green juice every day, while many get bloated, feel gassy, or even experience stomach cramping and loose stools. Why is this? Well, it all stems from the health and vibrance of their spleen qi.
So let's talk about the the spleen.
When you eat a meal, your food is processed in your stomach, and sends the energy, or qi, from your food to your spleen. Your spleen is then in charge of separating it into usable energy and waste. The waste eventually makes it out through your excrement, and the usable energy is sent to all the other organs to energize your body. As you can imagine, your spleen has a big job to do, and it needs the best food sources it can get to do its job well.
When we eat the "wrong" foods for our body type, the spleen gets sluggish. I'm sure you've experienced eating a big greasy meal and needing to lounge on the couch for a while to digest. The spleen works best when it is given warm foods that stoke the fire of digestion. This includes, soups and broths, steamed vegetables, rice, and herbs like ginger and ginseng. What the spleen doesn't like is cold or raw foods. Cold and raw foods include things like raw juices, cold smoothies, and even dairy. If your digestive fire is already a bit low (which is the case for a lot of folks), and you eat foods that force the spleen to work a little bit harder, you are essentially causing the spleen to "give up" on filtering the qi and absorbing the nutrients from the food. This will lead to gas, bloating, and loose stools.
So I encourage you to take note of how your juice is making you feel after you drink it to determine if your spleen qi is strong enough to be drinking juice. Some folks find it helpful to add "warm" ingredients like ginger to their juice to stoke their digestive fire and help support the spleen. Sometimes, adding a small amount of ginger can be just enough fuel to your fire to support your body and give you the ability to absorb the nutrients from the juice, rather than sending it straight to excrement.
If your interested in learning more about the vitality of your spleen qi, and how you can support it, come in for a session! Acupuncture and herbal medicine are excellent tools to help revive your spleen qi and stoke your digestive fires!