Foods we should eat during the spring
Foods with sour, sweet and pungent properties should be eaten during the spring. According to Chinese medicine, the sour flavour activates and increases the function of both the Liver and the Gall-Bladder, the sweet flavour nourishes us and the pungent flavour creates an expansive action in the body. These foods have nourishing, expansive and cleansing properties that purify the blood, the Liver and the digestive tract of the many impurities that we may have accumulated over the dark, cold and damp winter months. The spring is the time of year when all vegetation gets a particular boost of energy, considering that intestinal flora is a vegetal species; our goal is to nourish ourselves and promote the good flora and flush out the bad flora all the while promoting the spring movement within us. Drink plenty of room temperature spring and/or filtered water help flush toxins away.
1) Sour foods such as;
– Room temperature water with freshly squeezed Lemon or Lime (especially in the morning).
– High quality organic vinegars (not white) and Olive or Flax seed oil as salad dressing or add Dill pickles.
– Crisp Apples (preferably green and sour), Persimmon (kaki fruit), Peach, Strawberry, and Cherry (to be eaten before 1pm).
2) Young springtime food such as;
– Juice of Wheat or Barley grass, or your favourite sprouted foods.
– Early spring greens such as Dandelion greens as well as Milk Thistle.
– Green vegetables like Artichoke, Asparagus, Cabbage, Broccoli, Turnip and Brussel-Sprouts, Leafy ones such as, Collard, Kale, Water Cress, Parsley and Spinach.
– Seaweeds such as Spirulina, Chlorella, Wild Blue-Green algae, Wakame or Combu.
3) Pungent, aromatic herbs such as;
– Basil, Balm, Cardamom, Cumin, Turmeric, Mint, Laurel, Dill, Horseradish, Marjoram, Rosemary, Caraway, Ginger, Black pepper, Fennel and Bay Leaf.
4) Anti-parasitic and anti-fungal foods such as;
– Raw onions and garlic (especially wild garlic). Eaten raw daily for a week can purge the digestive tract and mind of parasites and fungi as well as negative unproductive thoughts.
-Honey, Molasses, unrefined; Maple syrup, Cane sugar, or Rice syrup in small quantities is considered to be an excellent sweetener among the glycemic increasing category.
– To avoid increasing blood sugar levels, Green Stevia is excellent, it contains no glycemic index, it’s simply a sweet plant.
6) Foods that calm an over exuberant Liver;
Brown rice, Buckwheat, Quinoa, Amaranth, Lentils, seeds and beans (especially Mung beans).
During the early part of the spring, before the first herbs and plants have sprouted we should still eat these foods cooked, though only lightly steamed or boiled to the point of blanching. If we prefer to stir-fry our meals we should use high quality oils such as organic clarified butter, coconut oil or sesame oil. The spring being a time of intensity we should cook our foods intensely at high temperatures though not all the way through. As the weather becomes warm enough to support new vegetation in our surrounding environment it we can begin to eat these foods raw, this is the way of nature. Until this time is upon us, a wonderful way to begin is to eat cooked brown rice and Mung beans daily, the rice nourishes the digestive organs and calm the spirit, while the Mung beans cleanse and revitalize the Liver.
Foods that we should avoid in the spring
Foods that are heavy (such as meats), fried, rich, salty foods as well as alcohol should be avoided in the spring. Heavy foods and salty foods tend to sink our energy engendering a contrary movement to the spring. Rich, fatty and fried foods tend to clog up the Liver impairing its ability to cleanse us and give us that “second wind”, especially in the afternoon. They also creates stagnation and pathological heat in our bodies which can give rise to all sorts of problems such as fevers, irritability, temper tantrums, sluggishness, headaches, difficult menstruation, impulsiveness, impetuousness and a myriad of skin disorders.
1) White sugar, white rice, white pasta, and white bread; (always avoid processed and denatured foods).
– These foods raise our blood sugar level and over tax the Spleen-Pancreas.
– They also create pathological heat and dampness within our bodies.
– Promoting unnecessary weight gain and toxins.
– Slow down the circulation of blood and energy.
2) Alcohol; Spirits create too much heat, beer causes dampness, red wine in warming and white wine is cooling.
-Our bodies consider alcohol to be sugar once digested, even small amounts of alcohol is very difficult for the
-Liver to digest, and can be very compromising.
– Alcohol also creates pathological Heat (and dampness), this heat creates a temporary expansive movement
and a feeling of euphoria which in turn dissipates our energy causing fatigue, and can lead to irritability.
– Hangovers are a good example of the lack of clarity that a compromised Liver creates.
3) Salty and Heavy foods;
– These foods sink the energy which negates our creativity, vision, planning, perspective and determination.
4) Fried and greasy, fatty foods;
– Nuts (maximum of 10 daily), eggs, cream, cheese, and mammal meats (keep meat at 3 oz portions only once a day).
– Chicken, although normally a good animal product to, chicken is particularly contraindicated in the spring.
– Bog down the Liver and Gall-Bladder, creating lethargy and stagnation which gives rise to heat.
– Being bogged down, discourages our ability to face any and all challenges that come our way.
– Discourage our complete honesty with ourselves and from allowing our true nature to arise from our depths.
– Discourage our natural ability to spring into action.
These lists of foods are by no means exhaustive, and are not meant to promote self medication; they are simply intended as a guideline to how we eat in the spring in order nourish and detoxify the Liver and Gall Bladder all the while promoting the healthy spring movement within us. It is also a guide to better understanding and appreciating seasonal foods from the perspective of Chinese medicine. One must always take many other important factors into consideration namely, innate and acquired energetic constitution
Healing with Whole Foods; Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, Paul Pitchford, 1993
Class notes – Collège de Rosemont – Acupuncture Department: 2006 – 2009
Class notes – Institute of Traditional Medicine: 2005 – 2006
Class notes – Ontario College of Traditional Chinese Medicine: 2004 – 2005
Class notes – Natural Health Consultant: 2002-2004