This post is inspired by Paul Pitchford’s Healing with Whole Foods. It is my intention to share his philosophy of nutritional health and the unique properties of individual fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, and more. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to personally explore nutrition.
During springtime, the diet should be the lightest of the year and contain foods which emphasize the qualities of spring. Sweet and pungent flavors are recommended. Young beets and carrots thinned from the garden, fresh greens, and sprouts are appropriate and delightful. We naturally eat less, or even fast to cleanse the body of the fats and heavy foods of winter. Heavy foods tend to create a clogged, stagnant liver resulting in spring fits, fevers, mental fogginess, and lethargy.
Pungent Herbs Recommended for Spring:
Basil, Fennel, Marjoram, Rosemary, Cayenne, Caraway, Dill, Bay Leaf, Mint, Onions, Mustard, Turmeric, Cardamom, Cumin, Ginger, Black Pepper, Horseradish, Lemon balm
Food preparation becomes simpler in the spring. (Save the energy usually spent cooking meals.) Raw and sprouted foods should be emphasized, as they cool and cleanse the system. Before the use of fire, man was extremely active physically, generating abundant heat; thus, early people found balance in the cooling effects of raw foods. Our genetic makeup has not changed, and experiencing primal biological states is necessary for rejuvenation.
During warmer climates, and in times of great physical activity, increase raw food consumption. Most people do well eating some raw food daily, with an increase in spring and summer. Nevertheless, moderation is recommended because uncooked foods eaten in excess can weaken digestion, trigger excessive cleansing reactions, and cause bowel inflammation. Raw foods should be used cautiously in individuals with weakness and deficiency.
Most people living in temperate climates, including the United States and Europe, need to cook the majority of their food in order to maintain climatic and digestive balance. In spring, food is best cooked for a shorter time at higher temperatures. A high temperature steam or quick sauté method is optimal because the food is not fully cooked.
The Liver in Harmony and Disease
Chemicals, intoxicants, denatured food, and too much fat disrupt the delicate biochemical processes of the liver, resulting in a myriad of physical and emotional problems. The liver stores and purifies blood. However, if the liver becomes stagnant, due to excessive toxic substances, blood purification may be inadequate. Traditional Chinese physiology tells us that a healthy liver establishes a smooth and soothing flow of energy through the whole person, body and mind. When the body is harmonious there is never stress, tension, anger, or agitation.
Dietary Principles for Healing the Liver
- Except in instances of malnutrition, eating less is the most helpful remedy. One should eliminate hydrogenated and poor quality fats (margarine, shortening, rancid oils), excessive nuts and seeds, chemicals in food and water, prescription drugs (with physician approval), all intoxicants, and highly processed, prepackaged foods.
- Foods that stimulate the liver out of stagnancy include the pungent herbs and spices listed above. Some anti-stagnancy foods that are not pungent are: beets, strawberries, peaches, cherries, chestnuts, pine nuts, cabbages, turnips, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
- Bitter and Sour foods detoxify the liver, removing harmful environmental toxins that build up over time. Vinegar flushes the toxins out of the liver, improving its natural blood filtration processes, and thus, amplifying energy levels. Choose quality vinegars such as apple-cider, brown-rice, and rice-wine. Lemons, limes, or grapefruits are also bitter/sour, cooling, and cleansing. Other helpful bitter foods are lettuce, kale, collard greens, radish, dandelion, and chamomile.
In Paleolithic times, most humans existed on animal meats and fats. They consumed very little carbohydrates, ate minimal amounts of fruits, nuts, and wild edibles that were available seasonally. When food wasn’t abundant, humans fasted. Except in cases of deficiency and malnutrition, most people will benefit from a brief, detoxifying, cleanse or fast.
Fasting doesn’t have to mean the absence of food The object is to allow the organs a chance to shed excess toxic accumulation, not to starve oneself, so be sure to eat when hungry. I recommend starting on the weekend or during time off. Before the cleanse, load up on iron, and eat a protein rich meal. Then, try a three day long cleanse, ingesting only chamomile or mint tea with honey, fruits and vegetables. Feed Your Vitality has a spring detox soup that would be helpful and ideal for the process. You may feel like you are eating and drinking all day, which is fine. Brisk walks, hot baths, massage, and yoga help the cleansing process. Some people may feel tired the first few days, but feel a surge of energy after the 3rd or 4th day. It depends on the individual. Some may only need a weekend, some a week, or longer. The renewal of energy and revitalization lets the person know that the fast can be ended, as the organs have had adequate time to heal. It is strongly recommended that any drastic change in diet be supervised by a physician, if you do not currently have one you can visit our website for a list of doctors dedicated to preventing disease before it manifests. http://www.feedyourvitality.com/Links.html
I hope this spring brings you a renewed sense of vitality and clarity of mind.