I’ve written a lot about the benefits of seasonal cleansing, but it being spring, I want to go into a little more depth about the importance of getting your system detoxified and cleaned out after a long winter. Basically, if you’re only going to do one cleanse a year, this is the time to do it. If you’re up to doing a more intensive cleanse, check out my article on how to detox and cleanse the right way. For those who aren’t quite ready to go all out, you can reap a lot of the benefits of a detox just by consciously incorporating cleansing, seasonal spring foods into our diets to reverse the effects of winter.
In the winter months, our bodies naturally crave more warming, protein-rich, heavier foods that insulate us (physically and even psychologically) against the cold, comfort us, and provide an additional boost to our immunity to keep us healthy. Often times, those foods cause us to gain a bit of winter weight (which is totally normal, and can even be healthy!)… However, come spring, our bodies have an innate need to shed that weight, detoxify the organs from the heavier winter diet, and get light and healthy for spring. Spring’s harvest provides us with all of the foods to start making this happen: astringent bitter greens and roots, antioxidant berries, and super nutrient-rich sprouts, which all serve as an antidote to the heavier vegetables, grains, and in some cases meat and diary that we’ve been consuming all winter. The spring is a time of rejuvenation and cleansing in nature, and it has the same purpose for the human body: to detoxify the system and to reset our ability to burn fat.
In early spring, animals are naturally drawn to eating more bitter roots that serve to cleanse the intestines of built up mucus from our winter diets. We, too, should focus on incorporating spring’s root vegetables into our diets for this same purpose. As we transition out of the the colder months, we should eat more celeriac, beets, new potatoes, radishes, turnips, jicama, and fennel, which are all super cleansing and break down our intestinal mucosa. You can supplement and intensify this effect with dandelion root tea, which also has a detoxifying effect, particularly on the liver. Make sure to up your water intake during this period, and cut down (if not completely eliminate) heavy foods rich in mucous like dairy, oily or fried foods, processed sugars or artificial sweeteners, and anything overly salty. In addition to gently cleaning out your intestines and detoxifying your organs, you will also be eliminating excess water weight from winter.
Once you’ve begun to clean out your intestines, the next step is to fertilize your gut with healthy bacteria. Having the proper balance of intestinal flora is vital for proper digestion (and elimination), which is what keeps old, stagnating food from getting stuck in your system and causing bloating, weight gain, and a whole mess of other unpleasant digestive issues. Luckily, mid-spring provides us with a bounty of delicious and astringent leafy greens and sprouts that refertilize your gut and also make up a perfect light, low-fat seasonal diet. As you move into April/early May, try to comprise as much of your diet as possible of watercress, baby spinach, dandelion greens, chicory and endive, as well as bean and alfalfa sprouts which are all super high in nutrients and full of healthy flora. These light, fresh and springy foods are the perfect antidote to slow, heavy and cold winter foods, and will do remarkable things to your body and your energy levels.
The last step to a super effective, spring detox is to flush out the lymphatic system. Lymphatic stagnation is something that effects most of us year round, but can have the most profoundly negative effects as we come out of the winter months. Chronic colds, weak immunity, sore joints, weight gain, headaches, depression, and low energy are all symptoms many experience during the winter months, and a lot of them are due to our impaired ability to flush out toxins and fat through our lymphatic system. Late spring provides us with the perfect harvest of berries to get our lymphatic system moving again, and flush out all the toxins we have dislodged from our intestines and internal organs. Once the weather begins to warm and the berry season starts, we can start eating tons of seasonal cherries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries to flush out our newly balanced intestines destagnate our lymphatic system. As this flushing occurs, energy levels soar, immunity is boosted, and we can say goodbye to sniffles, sore joints, aches and pains.
The seasons provide us with ways to cleanse our system, maintain healthy weight, and be in our best health possible.. all it takes is some intuition to eat what is seasonally available at the time when it is offered by nature. By taking the time to reset our digestion and metabolism in the spring months, we are able to recharge our ability to burn fat and detoxify our organs naturally, without having to take extreme measures or go on difficult deprivation diets. Spring’s harvest features the year’s most potent toolkit of foods to get our bodies on track for maximum health. It is the most vital time for cleansing and gives us the easiest set of directions to follow to lose weight, gain energy, and clean out our bodies.. Just by eating what the season gives us!
For a convenient chart of spring’s seasonal foods, see Dr. John Douillard’s Spring Grocery List.