Springtime has arrived! It is a natural time for growth, renewal and regeneration. As green buds peak out, all of nature is coming alive to regenerate itself. Just as in nature, spring is a time renew and regenerate and restore your Qi after the cold winter. It is a time for us to reach outward, develop deeper roots and remain flexible in the wind.
In the body, that means paying attention to your spine, limbs and joints, as well as muscles, ligaments and tendons. It also means paying attention to your liver, which works to detoxify the blood and make bile to help metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
It is a healthy time to rid your system of the toxins that were stored in your body over the winter months. Our bodies are programmed to store fat along with toxins during the cold winter. When the weather changes, our bodies begin to metabolize more efficiently, making it a safer time to shed yourself of this toxic load.
In Chinese Medicine, spring is a time to support our liver and gallbladder. It is not only a time to release physical toxins, but also a time to release toxic emotions such as anger and frustration. This is why you may feel yourself becoming a bit more irritated this time of year.
Honour the Qi (vital energy) of spring and nourishing life by open up your heart, get rid of all stagnant energy, and encourage the budding Qi (of birth, life, and renewal) to flow.
In spring, eat less sour foods and increase one’s intake of mildly sweet foods to nourish spleen Qi. Avoid drinking a lot of alcohol and show some restraint with flour products, uncooked, frozen and fried foods should only be taken in moderation that have a tendency to weaken the spleen and stomach.
Spring is the perfect time to undertake a gentle detoxification program to help eliminate heavy metals and allergens from our food, as well as internal toxins such as bacteria, fungus and yeast that can inhabit the blood, internal organs and excess fat.
As cold winter keeps us indoors and tends to make us eat too much, people may develop a heat imbalance in the spring, which leads to dry throats, bad breath, constipation, and thick tongue coating.
Here are some foods recommended to eat throughout the season of spring.
1. Green Foods: During spring, it is recommended to eat foods green in colour and rich in chlorophyll that help accelerate rejuvenation of the liver. This includes things like spirulina, chlorella, parsley, wheat grass, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens, dandelion, arugula, baby lettuce, watercress, and bok choi.
Spring’s little powerhouses- sprouts possess all the energetic and nutrient potential of the plant they will become. Easy to digest, high in protein, vitamins and minerals, alfalfa, mung bean, and sunflower sprouts. The fibre contained in leaves also clears the Colon of excess phlegm that makes it hard for our bodies to regulate blood sugar, drop weight and clear toxins.
2. Radishes: Pungent in flavour, radishes are perfect for the spring time. They help move liver Qi and open up the liver meridian.
3. Sour Citrus Fruits: Foods like lemons, limes and grapefruit are all good choices that help cut fats that may have been stored up in the body during the winter months, while also keeping the liver Qi moving smoothly.
4. Bitter Leafy Greens: Spring is the appropriate time for liver cleansing, which is what the bitter flavour does. Adding things like dandelion greens, arugula, radicchio, mustard greens and spinach will help tremendously.
5. Meat: Chicken, turkey, rabbit meat, shrimp, eggs, and small fish
6. Vegetables, seaweeds, and mushrooms: Potatoes, onions, carrots, chives, scallions, radishes, daikon, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, cooked spinach, coriander, cauliflower, garlic, leeks, eggplants, Chinese cabbage, wax gourds, yams, sweet potatoes, celery, common mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, white wood ears, black wood ears.
7. Herbs, spices, condiments, oils: Perilla leaf, peppermint, dandelion, honeysuckle flower, basil, parsley, wolfberry, fleece-flower root, liquorice, astragalus, rhubarb, ginger, pepper, honey, sesame oil
In addition to diet and exercise, there are other ways to balance your wood element. Wood governs the early hours of the morning (1-3 am), when we first awake. Just as morning is a great time to plan the day ahead, spring is a great time to look at your life and where you want to be in the future.
Take a little time to write a new health/life plan, including goals for how you wish to feel and what you would like to do and manifest.
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