Spring Cleaning Our Bodies with Food
As I start spring cleaning my home and wardrobe, I also feel it’s the perfect occasion to do a little reboot or spring cleaning of my body and eating regime! Winter with its lack of sunshine, cold weather, home heating, comfort foods, lack of exercise and fresh produce, takes a toll on our bodies and health. So out with the heavier, braised, comforting, winter foods and meals, and in with the fresher, lighter, crunchy and bright colored foods and of course all the wonderful seasonal spring produce that we will soon start to see pop up at the market and in grocery stores. It’s really quite simple; here are the different categories of food you want to focus on daily to help your body reboot and smoothly transition from winter into summer!
Unfortunately, our winter months may have included one too many processed or refined foods, heavier meals, being sick and perhaps even needing antibiotics, all of which are triggers for inflammation. For optimal health and to prevent disease it is important for us to put a special focus on foods that are rich in antioxidants as well as foods rich in healthy omega 3 fats.
Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in antioxidants. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to optimize the benefits of these natural health boosting agents. My rule of thumb is to “eat the rainbow” or make sure you get red, purple/blue, orange/yellow, green and white/brown fruits and vegetables in your diet as each color carries its own set of health boosting agents.
Coffee, tea, dark chocolate (minimum 75% cacao), herbs and spices also provide interesting amounts of antioxidants.
Omega 3 fats have numerous science-backed benefits, helping to strengthen our immune system and fighting inflammation being two of them. The best source of these anti-inflammatory fats is wild-caught fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines and anchovies. You also want to include more plant-based sources of omega-3 fats to your diet like pecans, walnuts, chia, flax and pumpkin seeds.
After a long winter of being stuck indoors, fighting off germs and colds and reaching for one too many comfort foods, our gut needs a refresh and we need to replenish its good bacteria. Probiotics are the good bacteria that help maintain our digestive health and boost our immune system. We can take them in a dietary supplement or get them from fermented foods, such as kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi or any other unpasteurized fermented vegetables.
The dietary benefits of fiber have long been studied and demonstrated; think of it like nature’s broom, it literally sweeps clean our digestive system. Many fiber-rich foods are also natural sources of prebiotics. Probiotics rely on prebiotics for food in order to help them thrive and survive. So an important step in spring cleaning our bodies involves adding prebiotic-rich foods to our diets and how fitting that many spring vegetables that are about to come into season are actually vegetables that are prebiotics: asparagus, leeks, chicory, dandelion greens, fennel, rhubarb, radishes, spring onions, garlic, garlic scapes, to name a few.
Make water and water filled foods your top priority, they hydrate, flush toxins and help with digestion. Try to aim for at least 8 glasses (8 ounces) of water a day, the colder the better to help boost your metabolism which may have been a little sluggish during the colder season. Milk, soups, broths, mineral or coconut water, lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, tomatoes, zucchini, watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe are also great sources.