Potato and digestion

Potato and digestion

The potato is originally from South America, but now everywhere in the world people plant potatoes. However, different countries give them different names, depending on their shape and colour of the potatoes. Now, potato is one of the most popular vegetables in the world. Potatoes contain high amounts of nutrients and vitamins which are needed in the human body. This is why nutritionists call the potato the ‘perfect’ vegetable. From ancient to modern, from eastern to western, potatoes are highly recommended for this reason.

1. So what does Chinese Medicine think of potatoes?

1) Functioning of the Spleen & Stomach

Before we talk about potatoes, I want to introduce the function of the Spleen and Stomach first.  The Spleen and Stomach are both organs which assist in digestion and transportation of food and absorption of nutrients.  The Spleen function is very important for growth of the body, the immune system and energy.  During treatment and recovery, Chinese Medicine has a very famous saying: “you will survive if your Stomach energy is good, otherwise you will die”, meaning that the function of Stomach and Spleen is very important for treatment.

There are many cases in the clinic where Spleen function is weaker and the body suffers the following symptoms: bloating of the stomach especially after eating, burping, sluggish bowel movements, lack of energy, tired and heavy or puffy limbs, some cases with underactive thyroid.  For these cases, I will always balance and strengthen the Spleen and Stomach, which not only clears the symptoms but also improves thyroid function.

If you are experiencing indigestion, I suggest (in conjunction with your regular treatment) you can also have some foods to help the indigestion.  Potato is one of these foods.

2) Potato can help balance digestion

Chinese medicine considers potato as tasting sweet, and having moderate characteristics, not very cold nor hot. Potatoes help to improve the Stomach, Spleen and digestion, especially to tonify Spleen Qi and energy and also balance the Stomach.  Potatoes are beneficial for those who suffer from weak digestion. For example: chronic stomach pain, stomach and intestinal ulcers, heart burn and acid reflux, constipation, and sluggish bowl movement as well as bloating after eating. Many Chinese medicine books suggest that if you are to have two teaspoons of potato juice in the morning with a little bit of honey, it can help heal the ulcer in the stomach and large intestine. This will also help to improve sluggish bowl movement.
Please note, if you do have stomach ulcers, it is best to avoid eating chili, garlic, onion as well as other hot food.

2. Recipes

1) Stir Fry Potato with carrots
This is a very popular common dish for Chinese families.

1 medium size potato
1 medium size carrot
Remove skins of potato and carrot, slice then chop into very thin sticks

Stir fry both the potato and carrot sticks with 1tsp oil for 10 minutes on medium heat, or until the vegetables are soft and ready to eat.  While they’re cooking, you can add a small amount of water to avoid burning the dish.  Once cooked, you can add salt or soy sauce for taste.

Effects of the dish: Balance digestion, increase energy and strengthen the Spleen and Stomach.

4. Precautions

1) Best to avoid eating potato if you have diarrhoea.

2)If you are not sure of your constitution, ask your experienced Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner.

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Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.