Spring is the ideal season to embark on a “cleanse” or detoxification program for improved health. In my nutrition practice I promote a minimum of two weeks on a supervised detox program twice yearly, while a four- week program twice yearly (spring and fall) is optimal. Eating clean, lean protein and using a medical “cleanse” food filled with amino acids, B vitamins, cleansing botanicals and antioxidants will support the body’s detoxification efforts better than either juicing or fasting. Proper diet is also essential for gaining the maximum benefits from a detox program
Eating seasonally and locally is the key to health. According to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, spring is the season when Kapha (Earth element) is highest, so there is a general tendency to gain water weight, to feel heavy, bloated and tired. The liver is working extra hard in the spring to eliminate toxins (Ama) that have accumulated during the winter season, and weight loss efforts will be easiest if foods are chosen for their astringent, diuretic and cleansing properties. This is the time of year to lighten up by eating more raw plant foods, which are filled with healthy phytonutrients and to eat less animal protein, dairy and rich oily food.
Ideal protein choices for spring are low in fat. These include: egg whites, lean skinless poultry, white fish and protein drinks made with rice or pea protein powders. Ideal grains for the spring include the astringent (slightly bitter) gluten free ones, such as: amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, millet and corn. Raw fruits with natural astringent and diuretic qualities, such as: pomegranate, cranberry, apple, and grapefruit are ideal at this time. Vegetables should make up the majority of the diet and should be prepared lightly cooked or raw. Best choices are: beets, asparagus, arugula, parsley, dandelion, cilantro, daikon radish, watercress, sprouts, onions, celery, broccoli and lettuce. Although it is preferable in the spring to eat less fat, there are some fats which can aid detoxification. Coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter) flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans are ideal choices. These beneficial fats should of course be used in moderation. Ideally, fat intake during the spring season should be below 20% for optimum weight/ fat loss and detoxification.
One proven way to counteract the heaviness of spring and to aid weight loss and detoxification is to include many hot, pungent spices in the diet. Ginger, black pepper, cayenne, wasabi, cardamom and cinnamon are all good additions at this time. Hot water with juice of ½ of an organic lemon and a pinch of cayenne pepper is a great way to start the day while on a detoxification program. If dairy products are consumed, choose plain fermented low fat dairy such as: yogurt, kefir and buttermilk and add a pinch of freshly ground pepper, cardamom or ginger.
This spring, let the ancient wisdom of seasonal eating be your guide to choosing foods that will rock your detox and give you the greatest results. For more information, contact Alison at 203-263-0673, Extension 355.
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