Hooray for spring! In the past week, every morning I find myself combing the garden for signs of growth; bright red rhubarb muscling its way out of the dirt, strawberry leaves unfolding, miniature lilac buds promising to become flowers, and hundreds of little radish sprouts popping up randomly all over the garden from where my girls dropped their seeds a couple of weeks ago. Even our dog has the spirit, stopping every few feet along our walks to munch on whatever new green things are emerging in the fields around Golden.
Spring is such an easy time to be in tune with our bodies. Our senses tell us what we need. We feel the sun getting warmer, smell the new growth and the rain, see layers of green exploding from the ground and trees, and hear the sounds of birds returning. The world is telling our bodies to wake up! We bring the bikes and running shoes out from hibernation, begin to clean up the yard to prepare for the growth of summer, and start our outdoor lives again.
The seasonal theme for spring is “Sprouting”. We are preparing the body for the lush movement and growth of summertime by laying the groundwork now. In our gardens we turn over the soil, clear away the chaff from last year, trim unnecessary leaves and branches, and put in the appropriate fertilizer. Our bodies need a similar treatment at this time of year. This is the time to open up the channels of elimination while supporting and nourishing growth and renewal.
In naturopathic medicine, one of our fundamental philosophies of how we practice is called (in latin) the Vis Medicatrix Naturae, or the healing force of nature. This principle, similar to chi in chinese medicine or prana in ayurveda, states simply that there is an energetic force that sustains life in every living being. When this force is given appropriate nourishment and is free of obstacles, that being will exist in a state of optimal health. Spring is the optimal time to cleanse the body and improve our ability to put all of our nutritious food to its best use.
The basic principles of feeding your family during the springtime are:
- Support the channels of elimination
- Leafy greens, beets, horseradish and other bitter foods
- Large intestine
- High fiber, greens, flaxseed
- essential fatty acids, sweating, skin brushing
- keep hydrated through adequate water intake and avoiding dehydrating drinks such as coffee and soda
- Encourage optimal absorption
- stomach and small intestine
- avoid irritants such as coffee or anything you know gives you a tummyache
- licorice, marshmallow, and kuzu
- manage stress appropriately
- Small intestine
- remove allergens and inflammatory foods
- apertif/bitter foods such as lemon and bitter greens
- stomach and small intestine
Our seasonal foods can be a wonderful asset to this process. Keep checking back throughout the weeks to come to find out more about how to eat seasonally to support our bodies’ needs during the months of spring!