The spleen filters blood and removes abnormal blood cells, as well as making disease-fighting components of the immune system. Since the spleen is involved in so many bodily functions, it is vulnerable to a range of disorders including splenomegaly, hypersplenism and splenic rupture.
The spleen is located on the left side of the abdomen and weighs around 200 g in the average healthy adult. The spleen can be considered as two organs in one. It filters the blood and removes abnormal cells (such as old and defective red blood cells), and it makes disease-fighting components of the immune system (including antibodies and lymphocytes). Since the spleen is involved in so many bodily functions, it is vulnerable to a wide range of disorders. People who have had their spleen removed or have a spleen disorder are at increased risk of infection, most commonly pneumococcal infection.
The Liver and spleen work in conjunction with each other and form the body’s filtration system, and the spleen and the lymphatic system protect the body, clearing worn-out red blood cells and other foreign bodies from the bloodstream to help fight off infection.
This system's main function is to keep poisons from entering the body, which includes environmental chemicals and food source chemicals.
In order to have a healthy filtration system, we have to keep it free of products that clog it. When the filtration system is clogged, you may feel very tired. You may have rashes that come out through the skin because the body will use the skin as a filtration system when the liver and spleen are stuck.
A clogged liver and/or spleen can create a feeling of exhaustion as well as a feeling of flu-like symptoms. Another symptom of an unhealthy filtration system can be recognized as inability to think and focus. Pains and infections can also be a part of liver/spleen issues including headaches and sinus infections.
Things to avoid to provide additional support to the Spleen.
- Avoid water that is treated with any chemical (this includes almost all public water systems). Make certain that your well is healthy. Water is our most important resource and we should drink four to six cups daily.
- All fizzy drinks / sodas should also be avoided.
- Artificial sweeteners
- Other artificial ingredients should also be avoided like colours and preservatives in food. They serve no purpose except to aggravate our filtration system.
- Environmental chemicals should be limited. These include poisons, chemical fertilizers, polishers, chemical cleaners, and harsh perfumes. Basically, anything that has a chemical smell can do damage to an already over-burdened liver and spleen.
- Processed foods
- Processed fruit juices
- Refined flours, pastries, pasta, breads,
- Deep fried foods
- Peanuts and peanut butter
If the liver/spleen is very toxic, as you begin the cleansing program, you may feel ill for a day or two. If this should happen, make sure that you keep well hydrated, by drinking hot ginger tea to support the body’s ability to clear toxins.
Physical symptoms of Spleen imbalances
This includes conditions such as “cloudy” thought, the inability to focus properly, exhaustion – along with the flu-like symptoms, skin rashes, allergies, headaches, mucous membrane issues. Other signs that your spleen needs some attention are winds, bloating, constantly loose and runny stools (i.e. no stool has formed).
Our spleen stores our resentment and bitterness. The spleen is directly connected to our lymphatic system which in turn connects us to our mucus membranes. Hence, resentments eventually manifest in the sinus/bronchial areas of the body. So in order to heal a chronic spleen condition, you must also heal your old resentments and bitterness.
Foods to support the spleen
Ginger is vital for spleen support (the compound gingerol helps to relax blood vessels and stimulate blood flow). Given that the spleen is so important to our blood, providing the body with sufficient gingerol, will effectively lower blood pressure and reduce blood clotting. Keep fresh ginger on hand at all times and use it freely in juices, salads, stir-fry, soups and dressings.
Other foods that support the spleen are:
- Organic lightly cooked vegetables, celery, watercress, turnip, pumpkin, alfalfa sprouts, button mushrooms, radishes, capers.
- Brown rice, barley, amaranth, rye, spelt and rolled oats
- Legumes, kidney beans, adzuki beans and lentils
- Small amounts of whole fruits, lemons
- Non GMO seeds – Sesame, pumpkin and sunflower
- Seaweed, kelp
- Teas: green tea, jasmine, raspberry leaf, home-made chai (using almond milk)
- Fruits (make sure they are organic): raspberry, peach, strawberry, cherry
- Nuts: (make sure they are well soaked and properly dehydrated thereafter) walnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, pistachios.
- Spices: black pepper, cinnamon, clove, dill. Fennel, garlic, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, sage, turmeric, thyme, horseradish (fresh), cayenne, nutmeg.
For more detailed information on Foods That Strengthen and Support The Spleen, follow the link.
The most important step you can take to encourage a healthy spleen is adopting a healthful diet. By avoiding foods that cause the spleen to work, you free the spleen to work on self-repair and cleansing. Whole grains, whole fruits, and vegetables require very little from the lymphatic system. By sticking to a diet of these healthful, unprocessed ingredients, you allow your spleen the time and energy it requires to purge itself.
In general, avoid foods that are highly processed and difficult to break down, including processed sugars, meat in general but especially red meat and white flour products like white bread and white pasta.
Fast foods and high-sugar foods of any kind are extremely taxing to the spleen and should not be eaten during a process of spleen cleansing. Be sure patients drink plenty of water during any cleansing process.
The enzymes and acids in raw fruit are powerful lymph cleansers, particularly when eaten on an empty stomach. Add more raw fruits, vegetables, salads and fresh juices to your diet and your lymph will have the tools it needs to do some serious deep cleansing. The simplest and easiest way to do this is to follow our Whole Food Plant Based diet and make use of the Eat To Live Recipes provided on this website.
Flavonoids, malic acid, citric acid, quinic acid and enzymes in cranberries and cranberry juice help emulsify stubborn fat in the lymphatic system. Be sure to drink only pure, unsweetened cranberry juice free of sweeteners — pasteurized bottled cranberry juice doesn’t have the same benefits. Keeping your lymphatic system is important to the optimal functioning of the spleen, as is ensuring that your liver is healthy and working 'top-knotch'.
Dilute the juice at a ratio of about 4:1, water to cranberry juice. If you prefer a less tart juice, dilute 1 part unsweetened cranberry juice with 2 parts pure apple juice and 2 parts water. Make sure you use only pure apple juice devoid of sweeteners or preservatives.
Eat plenty of green vegetables to provide chlorophyll (the green color in plants) and loads of vitamins and minerals to assist in lymph cleansing.
Foods high in essential fatty acids are critical to ensure a properly functioning lymph system. Some of these foods include flaxseeds and cold-pressed flax oil; fresh, raw nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds; avocados; and cold-pressed oils, such as walnut and pumpkin seed. Be sure to purchase fresh, raw nuts and seeds from the refrigerated section of your local health-food or grocery store. The essential fatty acids found in nuts and seeds go rancid easily.