Winter can leave us feeling a bit lethargic, possibly suffering with low moods and lacking motivation. This is in part due to the lack of sunlight and vitamin D, but we also tend to engage in less physical activity and consume more comfort foods and sugar. Spring is therefore a great time to reboot your system with simple diet and lifestyle tweaks, in order to help you feel great again!
Traditionally, Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine view spring as a time for renewal. Chinese medicine also believes that Spring is the season of the wood element, which is connected to the liver. Our liver helps to filter our blood, eliminate toxins and store nutrients, among many other things, so we need to ensure that it is functioning optimally by providing the nutrients it needs.
There is no need for strict elimination diets, juice cleanses or detox’s for most of the population. Eliminating the processed foods, refined sugars, reducing alcohol and lowering caffeine intake, whilst simultaneously adding in a variety nutrient dense foods is enough to provide a massive benefit to your energy levels and vitality.
1. Acai Berry
Grown mainly in the Amazonian rainforest, these deep purple berries have impressive health benefits. The ORAC scale rates acai berries as one of the top foods on the list. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, which is a scale that measures the antioxidant properties of foods. Antioxidants protect our body by scavenging free radicals and preventing cellular damage. Free radicals are responsible for the “wear and tear” we attribute to aging, and this process is increased with a poor diet, chemical exposure, environmental pollution and high amounts of UV light exposure. This doesn’t just make us look older faster, but it also contributes to common issues like joint, skeletal and muscular pains. (1)
As mentioned before, liver health is important for energy production and our general feeling of wellbeing, as an overburdened liver can leave us feeling sluggish. Artichokes are one of the best foods you can consume for liver health! They are known as cholagogues, which are bitter plants that stimulate bile production from the liver and gallbladder, so that we can absorb fat soluble nutrients and keep our digestion running smoothly. Constipation and other digestive issues can also contribute to feelings of fatigue and low mood. Artichokes are rich in prebiotic fibre which helps to feed our gut bacteria, thus positively impacting our immune system, energy levels and brain function (amongst many other things!). (2)
This spring vegetable is rich in B6, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate, making it a great food to regularly add into your diet. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is used by the body on a daily basis as it is involved in major functions including movement, memory, energy expenditure and blood flow. Therefore, a vitamin B6 deficiency can show up as many non-specific symptoms throughout the body. Asparagus also acts as a mild, natural diuretic, helping to flush excess fluid and waste from the body. If you are prone to puffiness, swelling, water retention, high blood pressure or oedema, increasing your intake of asparagus may help to gently aid your body in releasing the excess fluid. (3)
4. Bee pollen
Bee pollen contains almost all the essential components of life. It is truly a superfood due to the wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phtochemicals present. Bee pollen is higher in protein, gram for gram, than any animal source. About half of its protein is in the form of free amino acids that are ready to be used directly by the body. Amino acids are needed for growth, repair and phase 2 liver detoxification, which is important for the ‘binding’ and removal of toxins from the body. Bee pollen is also rich in B vitamins, which are required on a daily basis for metabolism, nervous system support and energy production. (4)
5. Hemp seeds
These super seeds contain a perfect ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 essential fatty acids ‘EFA’s’ (3:1), which help to reduce inflammation in the body. These fats are ‘essential’ as our body is unable to create them itself. A low fat diet or consuming the wrong types of fat can lead to hormonal imbalances, immune system dysfunction and mental health issues, therefore consuming a serving of healthy fat at each meal can help to support these body systems, amongst others. Hemp seeds can help to stabilise our blood sugar, which is important for energy levels, as they contain good amounts of protein, fats and fibre, preventing spikes and crashes in our energy levels. Long term imbalances of our blood sugar levels can lead to type 2 diabetes and other chronic disease. (5)
Also known as the “Tree of Life” or “Miracle Tree’, due to its amazing nutrient profile. Moringa has more nutrition in the leaf than any other known plant and is often given as lifesaving support to malnourished children in third world countries. Moringa is one of only a few plant foods containing all 9 essential amino acids, making it a great food for vegans. Moringa also contains extremely high amounts of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and phosphorus, all of which act as cofactors in the body, helping to activate different enzymes and processes. Chlorophyll (which gives the green pigment in moringa) is almost identical to haemoglobin (human blood) except the central atom in our blood is iron and in plants it's magnesium Therefore consuming green vegetables on a daily basis will provide us with magnesium and chlorophyll, which support energy production and the cleansing of our blood. (6)
Consuming some of these 6 foods regularly will help to provide your body with the resources and nutrients it needs to produce energy and boost your feeling of vitality.
Getting out into the sunshine, going for a walk in nature, exercising regularly, optimising sleep and ensuring adequate down time are other lifestyle factors to engage in, for optimal health this year!.