Diet Guidelines for Spleen Qi Deficiency

Spleen Qi Deficiency Diet Recommendations

The Ultimate Guide to Managing Spleen Qi Deficiency Through Diet, Recipes, and Lifestyle

What is Spleen Qi Deficiency?

Spleen Qi Deficiency is a term from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that describes a weakened state of the spleen’s ability to transform food into Qi (life energy) and blood. This imbalance can lead to a variety of health issues, both physical and emotional, such as chronic fatigue, digestive issues, and susceptibility to infections.

Understanding the Digestive Process

In TCM theory, the digestive process can be likened to a pot of soup over a fire. Your metabolic “fire” cooks the food you eat, making it easier to extract nutrients and convert them into energy. When you have a spleen Qi deficiency, this fire isn’t as strong as it should be.

The Importance of Diet in Spleen Qi Deficiency

According to TCM theory and as elaborated in the book “Chinese Nutrition Therapy,” the spleen is a crucial source of acquired Qi and responds well to dietary treatment. The spleen network is sensitive to the types of foods and flavours you consume. The mainstay of every meal should be the sweet flavour, which belongs to the Earth phase in TCM. All other flavours should serve as supplements.

Symptoms of Spleen Qi Deficiency

If you’re dealing with Spleen Qi Deficiency, you might experience:

  1. Fatigue or low energy
  2. Digestive issues like bloating or loose stools
  3. Poor appetite
  4. Weak limbs
  5. Feeling of heaviness
  6. Brain fog or poor concentration
  7. Pale complexion

General Nutrition Guidelines

To prevent Qi deficiency, consider these general practices:

  • Eat Smaller Meals: Overloading your system can weaken your spleen Qi.
  • Eat More Frequently: This keeps your metabolic fire going.
  • Relaxed Eating: Sit down and enjoy your meal without distractions like work or TV.
  • Chew Thoroughly: This not only helps with digestion but also allows you to savor the flavors.

Ideal Food Group Ratios

  • Complex Carbohydrates: 40-60% (e.g., grains, root vegetables)
  • Cooked Vegetables: 30-40%
  • Protein: 10-20%

Key Points from “Chinese Nutrition Therapy”

  • Sweet Foods: Grains, poultry, vegetables, certain fruits, and dried fruits strengthen Qi and moisten body fluids. They are essential for reinforcing our “centre.”
  • Caution with Sweeteners: Excessive consumption of refined sugar and even “healthy” sweeteners like honey can cause fluctuations in blood glucose levels and deplete nutrients.
  • Mental Strain: Extended periods of mental activity and stress can lead to spleen Qi vacuity, which should be compensated with appropriate foods of the sweet flavour.
  • Dampness and Phlegm: Spleen vacuity can cause dampness and phlegm. If present, dietary measures should be included in the treatment.
  • Western Diagnosis: Symptoms of spleen Qi deficiency can overlap with conditions like gastroenteritis, indigestion, malabsorption syndrome, and anemia.

Factors Weakening the Spleen

  1. Diet: Bad eating habits, such as irregular meals, eating too late, and excessive consumption of cold and raw foods, weaken the spleen.
  2. Mental Strain: Stress and excessive mental activity produce spleen Qi vacuity.
  3. Climate: Damp living environments and wet weather weaken the spleen.
  4. Chronic Illness: Long-term illnesses can progressively weaken the spleen and other organ networks

Comment on Treatment Duration

Spleen syndromes are a domain of Chinese dietetics. The treatment duration is typically two to three months, and it’s crucial to eat regularly.

Foods to Benefit Spleen Qi

  • Meat: Poultry (chicken), lamb, beef, quail, goose, rabbit
  • Fish: Trout, salmon, tuna
  • Fruit: Sweet apples, apricots, dates, figs, cherries, stewed fruit
  • Vegetables: Fennel, cabbage, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, yams, parsnips, corn, peas, onions, leeks, garlic, turnip, mushrooms
  • Beverages: Fennel tea, spiced tea with cinnamon, ginger tea
  • Grains: Cooked whole grains, rice, oats, roasted barley, sweet rice, spelt, millet, amaranth
  • Nuts and Seeds: Peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, fava beans, walnuts
  • Sweeteners: Maple syrup, barley malt, raw honey (small amounts), molasses, rice syrup
  • Spices: Black pepper, fresh ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel,

Foods to Avoid

  • Fruits: Pineapples, oranges, bananas
  • Vegetables: Cucumbers, raw foods, salads
  • Beverages: Cold or iced drinks, too much mineral water
  • Dairy Products: Cottage cheese, milk, yogurt

Recipes to Boost Spleen Qi

Breakfast Recipe: Millet Porridge with Raisins, Cinnamon, Nuts, and Warming Fruits


  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups water or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts)
  • Warming fruits like dates or dried apricots, chopped


  1. Rinse the millet and add it to a pot with water or almond milk.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add raisins, cinnamon, and nuts.
  4. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until millet is soft.
  5. Add warming fruits and serve warm.

Spelt and Vegetable Stir-Fry


  • 1 cup cooked spelt
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, onions)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a pan and add ginger.
  2. Add vegetables and stir-fry until tender.
  3. Add cooked spelt and mix well.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

Chicken and Walnut Stew


  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Heat oil in a pot and sauté onions until translucent.
  2. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink.
  3. Add walnuts and broth.
  4. Simmer until chicken is cooked through.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.

Pumpkin Soup

  • 1 small pumpkin, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Heat olive oil in a pot.
  2. Add onion and garlic, sauté until soft.
  3. Add pumpkin and broth.
  4. Bring to a boil, then simmer until pumpkin is soft.
  5. Blend until smooth.
  6. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  1. Heat oil in a pan.
  2. Add ginger and sauté for a minute.
  3. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink.
  4. Add vegetables and stir-fry until soft.
  5. Add soy sauce and mix well.

Qi Gong Exercise for Spleen Qi Deficiency

The Spleen-Stomach Exercise: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your lower abdomen, with your right hand over your left. Inhale deeply and rotate your hands around your abdomen, moving in a clockwise direction. Do this for a few minutes.

Chinese Medicine Treatment

Getting regular acupuncture and Chinese herbs can also help boost your Spleen Qi. It’s a good idea to consult a professional for the best results.

With the right diet, lifestyle changes, acupuncture and herbs, you can get your spleen qi back on track.


  1. Maciocia, G. (2015). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text. Elsevier Health Sciences.
  2. Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. North Atlantic Books.
  3. Kastner, J. (2009). Chinese Nutrition Therapy: Dietetics in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
  4. Walraven, J. (no date) Nutrition guidelines for spleen Qi deficiency, Acupuncture & Herbs Craniosacral Therapy. Available at: (Accessed: 29 August 2023).
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