The key to true mind-body balance? Understanding your body’s natural needs—how to eat, cook, cleanse, and heal—through each season. In our new online course Ayurveda 101, Larissa Hall Carlson, former dean of Kripalu's School of Ayurveda, and John Douillard, founder of LifeSpa.com and best-selling author, demystify yoga's elemental sister science. Sign up now!
The first day of spring is still a few weeks away, but it's already time to start changing your diet for "nature's new year," says John Douillard, co-leader of Yoga Journal's new online course, Ayurveda 101.
"Spring is nature's new year. As the snow melts and the ground softens a little bit, the deer dig up rhizomes or surface roots of certain plants. These plants clean your liver and scrub the intestinal villi of the residue of the poorly digested heavy food you ate all winter," Douillard explains.
Eating foods harvested in the spring will also reset the body's ability to burn fat, Douillard adds. "Spring is a very austere time of year, a naturally occurring very low-fat season, which forces the body to burn fat—this is weight-loss season," he says. "The toxins stored in your fat cells, this is the time to burn them and get rid of them. People lose weight in the spring, because we naturally eat and crave less, which is why it's OK to gain weight during the winter, because in the spring we lose it." Other benefits of detoxing in the spring by eating in accordance with nature include longer lasting, more stable energy; better, more stable mood; better, deeper, more stable sleep; and stable blood sugar, he notes.
Ready to be lighter, more energetic, happier, and better rested this spring? Douillard recommends this 3-step seasonal cleanse.
3-Step Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse
1. Cleanse your liver and boost your digestion with bitter roots.
The first bitter roots of spring—including dandelion root, burdock root, goldenseal, turmeric root, ginger, Oregon grape, goldenseal, and barberry—scrub the intestinal mucosa and help your liver detox. These roots can be brewed into a tea, added to soups and stews, or taken as a supplement to boost your spring root intake. Every spring, the populations of beneficial bacteria in the soil surge around these roots. So by eating these roots in their whole, non-extracted form, you are inoculating your gut with a new stable of seasonal probiotics.
2. Fertilize your microbiome with spring greens.
In springtime, the valleys turn a fluorescent shade of green. These green sprouts are loaded with chlorophyll and sometimes have 400 times more nutrients than a full-grown plant. They also act as fertilizers for the new spring microbes that are trying to become your new spring microbiome. Make an effort to eat more sprouts, microgreens, and spring greens such as lettuces, spinach, chard, dandelions greens, and bok choy.
3. Flush your lymphatic system.
Be sure to eat cherries and berries as soon as they are harvested toward the end of spring. Most foods like berries and cherries that were traditionally used as dyes are natural lymphatic system cleansers. The antioxidants that abound in these foods work through the body's lymphatic system, which is the body's baseline delivery system for energy, a detox system, and a carrier for the immune system.