Spring is coming! A time of birth and growth. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it's associated with the liver and the element wood. As we spring clean our homes, we should also spring clean our bodies. It's the perfect time to change from winter warming foods to those that help the body detox from those indulgent moments of festive food delights.
It is, I think, fair to say that we all eat differently, depending on the season. Soups in winter, salads in summer — but what should we be eating in spring?
I've come to realize firsthand just how significantly we're affected by what we put into our bodies at different times of the year. So to smoothly adjust to the new season, here are some tips on how and what to eat in spring.
1. Drink homemade juices.
This is a time for vegetable juices or broths, as the enzymes in fresh vegetable juices provide extra nutrients that help your body eliminate toxins.
Leafy green vegetables are particularly cleansing, especially those that are bitter such as dandelion, endive, parsley, beet, kale, chard, mustard greens, spinach, endive, bok choy, and arugula.
The advantage of making juice at home is that you have control over making sure it includes the highest quality ingredients.
2. Flush the system with water and herbal teas.
Drinking water and teas is a perfect way to cleanse and hydrate the system. When drinking clean water, add a dash of lemon to stimulate the liver.
Different teas have different cleansing properties. Some great examples are dandelion, burdock, ginger, licorice root, nettles, mint, fennel, and cardamom. I find mixing ginger and licorice with dandelion makes for a harmonious blend.
3. Manage your stress levels.
In TCM, the liver is the main organ associated with stress. The liver is responsible for the free flow of blood and energy throughout the body, and stress causes blockages. This can lead to problems such as IBS, bloating, heart burn, or palpitations, and headaches.
Furthermore, stress can cause inflammation. Breathe deep into your belly and get regular exercise, which can help to free the flow of the liver.
4. Stop bloating.
Bloating is caused by overeating, eating raw foods, or eating in a stressful environment. Make sure that you're not eating at your desk or in front of the TV, and eat mindfully, chewing and enjoying what you're eating. Warm and anti-inflammatory foods are often easier to digest too.
Foods that ease stomach and intestinal discomfort include:
- fennel seeds
While cruciferous vegetables are seasonally spring vegetables, be careful, as these contain sugars that can cause bloating. You can also add supplemental enzymes and probiotics to your diet to help with the breakdown of your food.
5. Shop at your local organic store or farmers market.
The local store or market are more likely to have local and therefore seasonal produce. As such, the fruits and vegetables should have been grown in organic rich soil, packed full of all the micronutrients we need.
Some vegetables to look for:
- beet greens
- string beans
- naturally fermented sauerkraut
- sea vegetables
According to TCM, the liver is sensitive to overheating, so steer clear of overly spicy foods. The flavor of the liver is sour, so feel free to add a dash of lemon or lime and make sure you prepare your food lightly sautéed or steamed.
Eliminating the toxins through the bowel is important; try adding roasted and ground flaxseed to dishes to help with lubrication.
Your health and well-being are in your hands — get out and enjoy the crisp spring air!