By Lauren Baca
Holistic Nutritionist, Herbalist & founder of Yerbas Y Tierra Skincare
Spring is speaking, are you listening?
Dandelion flowers are opening as the sun kisses their bright yellow blooms. Patches of double lobed chickweed flowers are growing in the damp spring soil. Food is all around us, and if you pay attention, the seasons change is eminent in the way the foliage transforms. In winter plants fall back focusing their energy towards their roots. In spring, plants get loud! Much like our plant allies, we too experience the colder months as a time to “root” our energies and in turn our bodies enjoyed a slow rest period. Spring on the other hand, is the beginning of the year so to speak for our digestive system. This is why around this time of year we hear a lot about cleansing. Our bodies ask for a gentle wakeup call as our metabolism resets to be able to maintain our health and immunity throughout the rest of the year.
Spring has our liver revving up to move out any accumulated winter congestion. Coincidently in Chinese Traditional Medicine spring time is ruled by the liver – a prime-time member of our body’s detoxification pathway. It’s not uncommon for many people to feel symptoms around this time, such as increased digestive, respiratory or skin disturbances. Our bodies are intelligent vehicles and as winter solstice comes and goes our liver wakes up from its slumber a bit erratic and unregulated. The increased load of work on the liver causes an increase in toxins wanting to escape our bodies and thus causing some discomforts.
My approach to spring time cleansing is much less focused on removing foods than it is in adding them. Here I will highlight how to welcome in springs abundant nourishment from foods found both in the supermarket and in your own garden. I will show you how to take in health-giving foods and herbs that build our bodies as well assist our liver in its many jobs – it is busy carrying out over 500 essential tasks!
Transition into Spring with Warm Foods.
As we transition into spring we want to be mindful of our changing diets and the stress that can put on our body. Beginning your day off with cold foods like the common morning smoothie can dampen your digestive fire. A plate of warm spring vegetables can coax your liver into motion, additionally foods harvested in spring have natural bile-acid producing gusto, which is essential for proper digestion, absorption and waste removal! Think cabbage, bell peppers, mustard greens, collards, kale, asparagus, bean sprouts, brussel sprouts, endive, mushrooms, celery, chicory, dandelion, parsley, chard, and watercress. Begin your day off with a warm plate of vegetables and an easily digestible protein like pasture raised hardboiled eggs.
Enjoy springs berries and cherries as indulgent snacks.
All berries from the blues to the goldens are some of nature’s more prized nutrient-dense foods. These berries have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant phytonutrients that are essential for moving and strengthening our lymphatic system. As a bonus, these phytonutrients help prime our skin for the summers coming sun and fight the natural oxidative stress of springs digestive rest.
Pay Mind To Your Liver
Like I mentioned above, the liver is the driving force for cleansing away excess toxins. Indulge in foods that assist your liver in its many jobs. Lemons, Bitter greens, delicious watercress, broccoli sprouts, beets, daikon radish, red radish, nettle and burdock tea, and apple cider vinegar are all great daily additions to ensure healthy liver function.
Avoid Heat Producing Foods
Spring is a time of increased sunshine and warmer body temperatures. While it’s fun to spend all day in the sun, too much heat can cause additional stress to the liver. Be mindful of decreasing “hot” foods (think heavy, spicy, greasy, fried foods and alcohol) and drinking lots of H20! Including cooling foods like cucumbers, celery, bok choy, melons, romaine lettuce, and herbs like peppermint, dill, cilantro and parsley will help keep your body and liver calm and cool. Even when these foods are cooked their energy still remains cooling.
Drink Herbal Infusions
This is probably one of my favorite practices and one that has changed my life for the better. Infusions hydrate us and anchor in minerals like calcium, magnesium and silica, which are cofactors for almost all processes in our body. I make daily infusions of either Nettle, Chickweed or Oatstraw by heating up a pot of water until it boils and pouring it over 1/3 a cup full of herbs (fresh or dried). Let it sit anywhere from 4-12 hours and you have a nutrient rich drink that you can enjoy iced.
Eat as much in season food as you can!
Shopping at a farmer’s market can help you become more in tune with what your body needs during this time. Spring is mostly a gluten and grain free season because these foods are harvested in Autumn. Limiting your consumption of grain-based foods like breads, pastas can be beneficial to your health. It’s worth mentioning that grain-based diets have been shown to increase inflammation in the summer leading to sun burned prone skin, another reason to be mindful. Eat at much fresh local and seasonal produce as you can!
Bio: Lauren Baca is a holistic nutritionist and herbalist with a food first approach. Her goal is to help bridge the gap between nutrition and herbalism by showing people how powerful and accessible it can be to mend these two crafts into one beautiful delicious life. She believes every day is an opportunity to nourish your body and that what you have in your kitchen has huge effects on your health. Additionally, Lauren runs Yerbas Y Tierra, a small batch skin-care company crafted with nourishing plants, bringing natures power to your skin. You can follow Lauren’s creative journeys through her Instagram pages, @planifullylauren and @yerbasytierra.