With Spring Equinox approaching quickly on Friday, March 20th, we are entirely excited to welcome the return of our lovely sun! Albeit a most mild winter, the emergence of those intoxicating Daphne and Cherry Blossoms reboots our psyche and that winter drudgery becomes a thing of the past. Vitamin D seeps through those extra-expansive and open skies and we, along with each living organism, experience a sharp rise in our energy. Our muscles feel more engaged, our sight becomes that much sharper, our voices grow with audacity and even our capacity to plan expands. Our bodies, drastically identical to our environment, experience an internal renaissance.
The green Spring season, with its windy climate and its feeling of growth and expansion through the process of birth, is a perfect time to “sweep house”, cleanse and detoxify our bodies! It’s a new year, everybody! It’s time to reclaim, root and rejuvinate!
We have all directly experienced our bodies being affected by seasonal change—the ever-occurring common cold, dry skin in the winter, or exhaustion or nausea from a sharp rise in heat and humidity. These physical symptoms are caused by the blockages or weaknesses of an internal organ. The functioning of our internal organs, as well as our emotional, psychological and spiritual harmony rests in a supportive, healthy lifestyle. Particularly, two organs associated with all organ health and functions running smoothly are the liver and its gall bladder assistant. In Eastern medical approach, these two organs are directly associated with Spring’s growth and supported expansion. Thus, by knowing a few key nutritional ingredients both Eastern and Western medicine understands to support liver and gall bladder vitality, detoxing and spring’s “sweeping house” is easy!
LIVER & GALL BLADDER SPRING DETOX / SUPPORT
The two principle functions of the liver are storing blood and helping all body functions run smoothly. This includes processing nutrients from food, making bile, removing toxins from the body and building proteins. The liver also releases blood to assist movement of tendons and ligaments during activity as well as nourish the eyes. The gall bladder stores and secretes bile, which aids digestion, especially of fats. Those with poor gall bladder function have difficulty digesting rich, fatty foods which ultimately manifests in temple headache, eye and ear pain, stiffness or pain in the jaw, shoulders, ribs, hips, or knee and ankle pain.
Foods to help cleanse the liver and gall bladder:
- Garlic- Just a small amount of this pungent white bulb has the ability to activate 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– High in both vitamin C and antioxidants, grapefruit increases the natural cleansing processes of the liver. A small glass of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice will help boost production of the liver detoxification enzymes that help flush out carcinogens and other toxins.
- Beets and Carrots– Both are extremely high in plant-flavonoids and beta-carotene; eating beets and carrots can help stimulate and improve overall liver function.
- Green Tea– This liver-loving beverage is full of plant antioxidants known as catechins, a compound known to assist liver function. Green tea is not only delicious, it’s also a great way to improve your overall diet. Learn more about the benefits of green tea.
- Leafy Green Vegetables– One of our most powerful allies in cleansing the liver, leafy greens can be eaten raw, cooked, or juiced. Extremely high in plant chlorophylls, greens suck up environmental toxins from the blood stream. With their distinct ability to neutralize heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides, these cleansing foods offer a powerful protective mechanism for the liver. Try incorporating leafy greens such as bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and chicory into your diet. This will help increase the creation and flow of bile, the substance that removes waste from the organs and blood.
- Avocados– This nutrient-dense super-food helps the body produce glutathione, a compound that is necessary for the liver to cleanse harmful toxins.
- Apples– High in pectin, apples hold the chemical constituents necessary for the body to cleanse and release toxins from the digestive tract. This, in turn, makes it easier for the liver to handle the toxic load during the cleansing process.
- Olive Oil– Cold-pressed organic oils such as olive, hemp and flax-seed are great for the liver, when used in moderation. They help the body by providing a lipid base that can suck up harmful toxins in the body. In this way, it takes some of the burden off the liver in terms of the toxic overload many of us suffer from.
- Alternative Grains– It’s not only that you need alternative grains like quinoa, millet and buckwheat in your diet, it’s that if you’ve got wheat, flour, or other whole grains in your diet, it’s time to make changes. Your liver is your body’s filter for toxins, and grains that contain gluten are full of them. A study last year found that persons who experienced gluten sensitivities also had abnormal liver enzyme test results, and that’s just one of many.
- Cruciferous Vegetables– Eating broccoli and cauliflower will increase the amount of glucosinolate in your system, adding to enzyme production in the liver. These natural enzymes help flush out carcinogens, and other toxins, out of our body which may significantly lower risks associated with cancer.
- Lemons & Limes– These citrus fruits contain very high amounts of vitamin C, which aids the body in synthesizing toxic materials into substances that can be absorbed by water. Drinking freshly-squeezed lemon or lime juice in the morning helps stimulate the liver.
- Walnuts– Holding high amounts of the amino acid arginine, walnuts aid the liver in detoxifying ammonia. Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which support normal liver cleansing actions. Make sure you chew the nuts well (until they are liquefied) before swallowing.
- Cabbage– Much like broccoli and cauliflower, eating cabbage helps stimulate the activation of two crucial liver detoxifying enzymes that help flush out toxins. Try eating more kimchi, coleslaw, cabbage soup and sauerkraut.
- Turmeric– The liver’s favorite spice! Try adding some of this detoxifying goodness into your next lentil stew or veggie dish for an instant liver pick-me-up. Turmeric helps boost liver detox, by assisting enzymes that actively flush out dietary carcinogens.
SPRING EMOTIONAL DETOX
During sleep, the liver is actually at its peak work hours storing blood. Therefore by engaging in healthy bedtime and late-night hour habits, our livers have the ability to support all of our organ and joint function. Thus, in order for our minds and bodies to truly “reboot”, we must learn to “unplug” and disconnect our overly-connected modern minds.
Yes, we all have busy lives, but no good will come from fooling ourselves into thinking four or five hours of sleep is enough. Don’t skimp on sleep because that’s when our bodies crank out important hormones that help repair cells and tissues, fight off infection and boost our immune system.
As a rule, unplugging all devices 30 mins to one hour before bedtime can create a healthy boundary with the world at large. Not only is the content of the device stimulating, but electronics emit a blue hue that mimics daylight and stops your body from producing the sleep hormone melatonin. In lieu of gadget distraction, just a few minutes of mindful breathing helps the brain’s ability to manage stress. The more practice at “watching” ones breath, ultimately the more stable the days and weeks to come!