Bloom Into Your Best Self

Posted by on Apr 26, 2012 in Detox, Digestion

Bloom Into Your Best Self

Spring flowers are popping bright colors into the landscape everywhere. Reawakened branches are unfurling their tiny buds into intensely green leaves. The long winter is finally over and spring is here! With the warmer temperatures and frequent bursts of sunshine, my body wants to bloom as well!! But there is this underlying feeling of stagnation that I’m experiencing. I think it’s time for a good spring cleaning!

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), both the liver and the season of spring are Wood Elements, which symbolize our bodies’ need to be flexible, yet strong, like wood.  This makes spring the season to focus on liver health as we emerge from months of winter hibernation and move into a more active time of year.

The liver filters all of the body’s blood 20 times a day. Among other things, our liver is important for the manufacturing of hormones, digestive enzymes, and bile. The liver assists in breaking down fats, converting glucose to glycogen, converting amino acids in the blood to uric acid and sending it on to the kidneys, as well as facilitating vitamin and mineral storage. Along with the heart, TCM says the liver is closely related to the emotions. If the liver is stagnant, it may cause depression, sadness, anger or tightness in the chest or throat. If the liver is overactive, it may cause restlessness, insomnia, dizziness and vertigo.

It’s time to get cleaning!

Diet is fundamental for a deep liver cleanse. If you are an experienced liver cleanser, you may be able to handle an exclusive juice/herbal tea fast for up to three days. However, first and second cleansers can support health by maintaining a diet of organic vegetables and fruits and avoiding packaged, processed foods, fast foods, added sugar, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and alcohol.

Photo by Clearly Ambiguous

 Did you know your liver is . . . GREEN! Green like spring! And as might follow, green vegetables are powerhouses at cleansing the liver. Chlorophyll (what makes vegetables green) helps to detoxify the liver by getting rid of heavy metals like mercury as well as protecting it from all sorts of other toxins we get from environmental pollution, pesticides, plastics, personal care and cleaning products, etc. When you eat green vegetables – especially kale, spinach, arugula, dandelion greens, sorrel, and mustard greens – smile and think about the healing power you are providing your liver.

Now, what can you put with those delicious greens that will also help keep your liver functioning well?

Avocados are a super-food that helps the body produce glutathione which is necessary for the liver to cleanse harmful toxins.

Beets and Carrots are high in plant flavonoids and beta-carotene which can help stimulate and improve overall liver function. They are easy to grate raw onto a bed of greens. Try roasting them with other root vegetables to serve as a side dish, or to have on hand to easily add in a salad.

Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, bok choy, horseradish, collard greens, etc.) increase the amount of glucosinolates in your system adding to enzyme production in the liver. These natural enzymes have been shown to significantly lower our risk of cancer by flushing carcinogens and other toxins out of the body. Eat 1-2 cups of cruciferous vegetables a day by mixing them in with salad greens or sautéing with onions and garlic and serving as a side dish. Try eating some Kimchi, coleslaw, cabbage soup or sauerkraut.

Garlic activates liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also holds high amounts of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.

Grapefruit (and most citrus), which is high in both vitamin C and antioxidants, increases the natural cleansing processes of the liver. A small glass of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice will help boost production of liver detoxification enzymes that flush out carcinogens and other toxins. Use some grapefruit segments and juice in a Kale Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado. Or try this detoxifying salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette with Spicy Greens.

Green Tea is a beverage your liver will love! It is full of plant antioxidants known as catechins which are known to assist the liver’s overall functions. There are many different tea blends containing green tea. Experiment and find the ones you enjoy most and aim to consume 3-5 cups a day. Other detoxifying herbs include burdock, stinging nettle, and milk thistle.

Lemons and limes aid the body in synthesizing toxic substances and allow them to be absorbed by water and flushed out of the body. Try a drizzle of olive or flax oil and freshly-squeezed lemon juice over a bed of greens or roasted vegetables like broccoli or asparagus. I also recommend drinking a large glass of filtered water first thing in the morning upon rising to stimulate the liver and bowel elimination as well as rehydrating the body after a night of repairing and detoxifying.

Turmeric promotes natural cleansing and protection of the liver and works to improve overall blood circulation. A little turmeric goes a long way. I include just a pinch as a boost to a salad dressing or marinade, or sprinkle it over roasted veggies or scrambled eggs. You can even add some to a mug of chia tea with a bit of cardamom, honey and coconut milk.

I’ve given you some easy ways to use foods to help keep your liver functioning well. Eating whole, real food and drinking half your body weight in ounces of filtered water a day will definitely help your liver do its job.

Photo by Maria Pontikis

Listen to your body. Eat sensibly when you’re hungry and try fasting (for several hours or a day) with green tea and fresh-squeezed juices to give your system a chance to rest and recalibrate.  Here are 13 smoothie and green juice recipes to try (but please avoid the soy milk and the other processed milks – hemp, rice, and almond – using organic coconut milk instead or skipping the milk all together).

 

Happy spring! I hope you’ll give yourself the opportunity to rejuvenate, to begin anew, to plant some seeds that will help you bloom into your best self ever!!