Springtime is the time when nature calls to all dormant beings to awaken and bloom. All ancient healing systems hold the belief that, as we are a part of nature, we must live in sync with its rhythms and songs in order to be the healthiest we can be. One of the best ways to do so is to eat seasonally, enjoying the foods that are higher in nutrient content at the time of harvest and the ones that Mother nature has called upon to supply our bodies with the nourishment needed at that specific time. For example, summer is filled with rich, juicy, sweet fruits, which provide hydration, keep us safe from excessive sun exposure by supplying a truck load of antioxidants and lots of sweetness to build reserves for the colder months. In Fall we see more apples, pears and citrus, rich in phytochemicals that strengthen our immune system and keep our detoxification pathways clear, so we may enter winter strong, to survive the cold.
With our fast-paced western life, we have lost touch with those cycles and have all sorts of produce year round. We no longer know what is in season and what we should be eating for optimal wellbeing. One easy way to get back into the swing of things, is to visit a farmer’s market. There you will find the freshest foods, just harvested from your local fields. And guess what, eating locally also benefits your health, by providing the foods that your gut microbes enjoy and know how to digest. But that is a story for another post.
So, for spring, think of seeds that are starting to show their faces, through little sprouts, that are reaching for the sun’s warmth. Think of pea shoots, broccoli sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, microgreens, asparagus, arugula, artichokes, chard, dandelion greens, leeks, kale, peas and green beans. What do they all have in common? They are Green! And green is the color of the Liver, your main detoxification organ. That poor guy has been working hard all winter to keep up with the warming, rich, fatty foods we have ingested to get through the cold and dark. Hence, Mother nature, has supplied a ton of greens to give the Liver the raw materials to break down, encapsulate and release the load. Also, these foods are high in fiber, which is necessary for that load to keep moving down the digestive tract, efficiently, and avoiding the reabsorption of harmful toxins. Another quality most of these foods have, is the bitter taste, which is also related to the Liver function and stimulates digestion (digestive bitters) helping your body rid itself of toxins.
Did you know your ovaries have bitter taste receptors too? Well, they do, every time you consume something bitter, they are positively stimulated. It kind of makes sense when you think of it: spring, fertility, seeds, ovum… If you are planning on bringing a babe into the world this year, make sure to get your greens by eating a huge salad daily. And if you’re not, then do it for the pleasure of being the healthiest you ever!
Here are some of my favorite seasonal greens and their benefits, according to the Tao healing system:
- Asparagus: cool, sweet and bitter. Clears Heat (reduces inflammation), detoxifies, promotes blood circulation, supports the lungs.
- Arugula: bitter, pungent. Strengthens the bones and nourishes the blood, Heart and small intestine, detoxifies, clears Heat, helps lower fevers.
- Basil: warm, pungent. Induces sweating, harmonizes the stomach, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Might help ease food poisoning symptoms.
- Snap peas: Sweet and bitter. Promote urination and ease edema, ease indigestion and ease constipation. They nourish the blood and strengthen the bones.
- Artichokes: Sweet, bitter and cooling. Regulate Liver energy and support detoxification. Promotes digestion and urination. Clear Heat and pathogens form the digestive tract.
- Sprouts: Slightly bitter and cool. Nourishes the Spleen and stomach. Rich in Sulphoraphane, which potentiates detoxification and is cancer protective. Promotes urination and lubricates intestines for better elimination.
Did you notice a pattern? That’s Mother Nature giving us hints. Follow her advice and load up on one of our wonderful salads with one or all of our new seasonal wonders and then watch your health soar!