Spring is a time of reset and rebirth; it is when we shed our winter layers, transition from nesting and resting to spending more time outdoors being active and enjoying the extra hours of sunlight. In order to achieve and maintain optimal health during this transitional season, it is important to align ourselves with the changing climate by making the appropriate shifts in diet and lifestyle.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, each season corresponds with specific organs. During the spring, the Liver is more active. The Liver is our master detoxifier and is responsible for purifying the body, ridding it of toxicity so that we remain free of imbalance and disease. It is also involved in bile production - bile helps our bodies breakdown the fats we consume. Because of the increased requirements on the Liver during this transitional season, it is important to support its function.
Here are my top eight recommendations to support your Liver as we move through spring:
Avoid alcohol: Alcohol increases stress on the Liver. Decrease alcohol consumption or challenge yourself to an extended period of elimination during the spring season to give your Liver a rest.
Begin your day with 2 large glasses of warm lemon water: Steep one sliced organic lemon in filtered water overnight; upon waking, combine with filtered, boiled water in 1:1 ratio and consume at least 15 minutes prior to breakfast.
Be mindful of dietary fats: Avoid saturated and poor quality fats for the seasonal transition — eliminate red meat, pork, dairy, fried foods, margarine, vegetable and canola oil. It is also worthwhile to avoid nuts temporarily during this seasonal transition. Instead, focus on high quality fats found in wild-caught and organic fish, flax oil, and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax and chia).
Consume largest meals earlier in the day: Eating lighter meals later in the day provides the Liver with the space it needs to adequately detoxify as we sleep. Ensure dinner is your lightest meal of the day and is eaten at least 3 hours prior to bedtime.
Organic foods: Organic foods do not contain as many harsh chemicals or hormones as conventional foods do; these toxins must be processed by the Liver and exert more stress on this organ as a result. Organic foods are also found to have higher nutrient density, which will nourish the system to a greater degree than conventional foods.
Refined sugar: Sugar is a major stressor on the body as a whole. Avoid all sweets including baked goods, candy, chocolate, cookies. Read all labels to ensure there are no added or hidden sugars (including cane juice, sweeteners, or any ingredients ending in -ol).
Sleep: Seep is when we heal and restore balance. Ensure you are getting 8-9 hours of sleep to support optimal Liver detoxification — ideally as many of these hours as possible are occurring before midnight, as these are very important in regulating hormones. If you have difficulty with sleep, now is the time to seek assistance from your healthcare providers.
Up your greens: Foods rich in chlorophyll (the pigment that makes vegetables green) are excellent Liver supporters. Increase consumption of cooked brassica vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts) and leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard, dandelion, and mustard greens, watercress, wheatgrass). Also include organic seaweeds and Spirulina regularly.
Choose the one or two recommendations that resonate with you most and begin implementing them today and maintain them through until the Summer Solstice on June 21st. This commitment will contribute to achieving optimal health through the spring season.
Dr. Melissa Cugliari, Naturopath ND, Sport Medicine Clinic