Spring has sprung and instead of waking up with the sun and feeling full of energy and promise, you feel sluggish, dull, and just a bit behind the eight ball. During the winter months the shorter days and longer nights tend to make us crave heavier, warm, comfort foods. Couple that with the cold temperatures making us want to snuggle under a blanket in front of the TV instead of heading to the gym, and you can understand why you may be feeling a bit bloated and blah by the time Spring rolls around.
Most ancient healing traditions, like the practice of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, advocate some form of detoxification in the Spring. In Traditional Chinese medicine it is said that Spring is the best time for cleansing. This is because they consider the predominant organ of springtime to be the liver. The liver is the organ considered to keep your Qi (life force) moving smoothly. In Springtime the earth’s Qi is awakened and a process of renewal begins as the ground thaws and new life pushes through. We have the same opportunity to hit refresh on our bodies, bringing forth a new vitality to take us through the rest of the year. Our livers do A LOT of work for us. The liver is the great detoxifier of the body. Whatever toxins we ingest through our food, the water we drink, the air we breathe, will inevitably be filtered through the liver. Our livers have an enormous burden on them, and occasionally they need some TLC. This is especially true if you hit the holiday party circuit particularly hard this winter. Our digestion also takes a hit during the winter months. These two work together in the sense that you can’t really detoxify your liver if your digestion isn’t up to par. That is because your channels of elimination need to be up to snuff in order to get rid of any toxins you might release from your liver. Capiche? Basically cleansing will lead to the liver dumping its excess toxic load into your bowel to get pooped out. There I said it. Happy? Good me too. So lets talk about some of the best ways to cleanse for Spring. I think the gentler the better. The liver is also an organ that rules emotions. According to TCM and Ayurveda when the liver is healthy the emotions are balanced. When the liver is unhappy there is a tendency towards depression, sadness, anxiety, and most commonly, anger. So my unprofessional opinion is that cleansing this awesome and “temperamental” organ should be gentle and easy. No need to add stress to an already stressed liver. Slow and steady wins the race in this instance. So here are a few gentle ways to start to unburden your liver this spring.
Foods to detox your liver
Greens, greens, greens. I cannot emphasize how important they are for your liver. Greens are full of chlorophyll which help to neutralize chemicals, heavy metals and pesticides. They are your liver’s best friend. Particularly the bitter greens like kale, collard, beet greens, and especially DANDELION greens. These bitter greens help increase the flow of bile which is responsible for removing waste from the organs and blood.
Beets contain the flavonoid betalain, which supports overall liver health. Also as stated above, the bitter green leaves and stalks of the beet are great too. Juice the beetroot and saute up the greens with a little olive oil and garlic for a one two punch.
Lemons and limes
Lemons and limes are loaded with vitamin C which aids the liver in detoxification and can also help stimulate bile production and keep digestion running “smoothly” if you know what I mean.
Garlic is rich in allicin and selenium, two powerhouse nutrients for your liver. Selenium is necessary for the production of glutathione, a major player in liver detoxification. Garlic is helpful in cleansing the blood, boosting immunity and in one study by the Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness, fresh garlic extract administered to mice that overdosed on acetaminophen reversed the oxidative stress causing liver toxicity. Fresh garlic contains high levels of antioxidants which are known to protect the liver from natural and environmental toxins.
Tumeric has been shown to decrease liver cholesterol and increase bile which improves digestion. It also is a potent anti-inflammatory and aids in detoxifying the body.
Avocados boost glutathione production, which we now know is one of the body’s master antioxidants that aids the liver in removing toxins from the body. Plus what’s more delish than an avocado? Enough said.
Green tea contains catechin which is a polyphenol that prevents inflammation in the liver. Matcha, a very pure and potent form of green tea is considered a superfood that boosts immunity, boosts metabolism, provides sustained energy and is a healthy liver friendly alternative to coffee. Matcha is what I recommend you swap your coffee for during this cleanse.
Water to detox your liver
Water is obviously essential to a healthy body seeing as it is what we are primarily made up of. Drinking enough water to keep hydrated and to flush your digestive system is essential.
Drink at least half your body weight in ounces per day.
So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking at least 75 ounces of water a day. This will help to flush toxins out of your body and will also help to keep you regular.
Drink warm water with lemon to start your day
Lemons enhance the body’s enzyme system and help detoxify the liver. Taken warm first thing in the morning, lemon water helps to stimulate digestion and helps to produce glutathione as well.
All forms of exercise will help to increase circulation, support detoxification and improve mood. Do whatever your fitness level allows, and remember that we are gently cleansing. Don’t do anything that feels too aggressive. Yoga and walking are two great choices.
Let’s do this together!
We will gently ease into our cleanse by cutting out excess sugar and caffeine, and replacing it with more fruits and vegetables. A simple and easy way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables (especially those Spring detox friendly dark leafy greens) is by making a green smoothie! They taste amazing and are a simple easy way to get more greens into your daily diet. Follow us in Instagram where starting this sunday night (April 10) Plum Joyful will post one liver friendly green smoothie recipe a day to be made the following morning. We will do this for one week allowing our bodies to acclimate to more phytonutrients and less sugar and caffeine. The following week we will go a little deeper into the cleanse where we will eliminate certain foods that are counter productive to detoxification. This is a gentle cleanse using whole foods. This is not a juice cleanse, though I have done my share of those and do believe in their healing properties. We want easy and gentle ways to cleanse as we head into Spring so we can feel more vibrant and alive. Let’s do this together and support each other! Follow along on instagram and here on the blog for more tips on cleansing. We will also be focusing on other ways to cleanse, such as tips for spring cleaning your home, simplifying your life and uplifting and inspiring your soul. Let us know how you’re doing and feeling in the comment section below or on Instagram!
Shopping List of things to have handy for our week of green smoothies:
Greens! – Including spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard, dandelion, arugula, romaine. You can use these interchangeably however you want.
Berries- Strawberries, rasberries, blueberries
Your choice of dairy free milk (coconut, almond, hemp, rice) I like a combo of full fat coconut milk mixed with the lower fat thinner coconut milk you can get in a carton at the market. Coconut Dream Unsweetened is my favorite brand.
Spices – cinnamon, tumeric, nutmeg, cloves, cardomom.
Superfood optionals – You can add these for a superfood boost or just leave them out. Goji berries, chia seeds, raw cacao, spirulina.