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Food Bites with Dr. Hyman – Spring Cleaning!

Food Bites with Dr. Hyman – Spring Cleaning!

Gillian C. asks: Spring makes me want to cleanse and lighten up. What are your top tips?

Dear Gillian –

In Five Element Acupuncture, wisdom points to nature as the source of understanding the rhythmic ebb and flow of life.  Spring is a time of rebirth, inspiration, and hope in this philosophy.  It is also a time to gather energy for assertive and courageous growth.

Nature has always brought me comfort in terms of recognizing how the body finds optimum balance and a natural return to health.   There is no better time than now to begin your very own spring cleaning.  Here are my favorite tips to help you get inspired and on your way!

  1. Consider the energy of food.

Most of us think about what we are craving in terms of flavor, the potential of a food to make us feel a certain way, or an emotional yearning we have for a particular food.  But there is another way to view the food we seek out: does it expand or contract our energy?

Coming out of winter, it’s common to feel a heavy weightiness from overindulging in sugar, coffee, starches, and convenient comfort foods.  These foods bring balance to the cold, dreary days of winter.  However, it might be helpful to shift your focus to foods that may contract your energy (and your waistlines!) now that the weather is heating up.  Consider eating more poultry, wild meat, eggs, and fermented foods, which help power you through new growth and new beginnings.

At the same time, choose foods to help expand your mental energy and fuel your courage to dream about the potential for making important, meaningful changes in your health.  Leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables that hydrate your cells provide you the nutrition your body needs right now.  Fill your plate with 3/4 vegetables to flood your cells with rejuvenating phytonutrients.  Check out The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook for fresh ideas on delicious, easy meals.

  1. Eat seasonally.

As budding leaves blossom, flowers bloom, and life begins waking up outside, I’m tend to pay closer attention to the natural world around me.  I find that enjoying food that is available seasonally helps ground and connect us to nature, which has a very therapeutic effect on how our bodies function.

A hundred years ago all food was organic, local, seasonal, fresh, or naturally preserved by ancient methods. All food was food. Now less than 3 percent of our agricultural land is used to grow fruits and vegetables, which should make up 80 percent of our diet.

Sourcing seasonal produce, meat, and seafood actually saves you money while increasing your nutrient intake.  I know a lot of people often become confused about why eating real, whole food is more affordable than eating fast food, so I wrote this article.  In it I discuss why you pay a much higher price for choosing boxed, preservative-laden foods.

Here are the foods in season early spring based on US regions:

Pacific Northwest:

Veggies & Fruits:
Asparagus
Artichokes
Beet greens
Cauliflower
Cherries
Fava beans
Herbs
Lettuces
Fiddleheads
Mushrooms
Nettles
Radishes
Rhubarb
Strawberries

Fish:
Dover Sole
Shrimp
Halibut
Oysters
Salmon (late spring)

Midwest:

Veggies & Fruits:
Asparagus
Broccoli
Cabbage
Greens (chard, collards, kale)
Herbs
Lettuces
Mushrooms
Onions
Rhubarb
Spinach

Meats & Fish:
Buffalo
Lamb
Rainbow Trout

Southwest:

Veggies & Fruits:
Asparagus
Arugula
Broccoli
Carrots
Cucumbers
Herbs
Kale
Mushrooms
Radishes
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Summer Squash

Meats & Fish:
Buffalo
Chicken
Grass-fed beef
Lamb
Rainbow trout

Southeast:

Veggies & Fruits:
Arugula
Beans
Blueberries
Broccoli
Catfish
Cabbage
Celery
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Lettuces
Mushrooms
Nettles
Onions
Radishes
Snap peas
Tomatoes

Meats & Fish:
Chicken
Flounder
Grass-fed beef
Gulf shrimp
Oysters
Snapper

Northeast:

Veggies & Fruits:
Arugula
Asparagus
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Fava beans
Fiddleheads
Greens (chard, collards, kale)
Herbs
Lettuces
Mushrooms
Nettles
Radishes
Rhubarb
Spinach

Meats & Fish:
Chicken
Clams
Cod
Fluke
Grass-fed beef
Lamb
Oysters

For more info about seasonal food by month please visit sustainable table.

  1. Give your kitchen a cleaning!
  • Take everything out of the refrigerator and freezer, clean the shelves and drawers, and then examine each item’s expiration date and toss expired and highly processed items.  Make a list of new items to get the next time you go to the store. (Same for supplements: toss any that are outdated or that are no longer part of your supplement regimen.)
  • Rearrange your refrigerator to feature freshly cut vegetables within easy reach for snacking.
  • If you aren’t used to buying flowers or picking fresh cut herbs this spring, try keeping a plant, flowers, or herbs nicely arranged on your kitchen or dining room table. The natural beauty will invigorate your senses and remind you that true nourishment comes from the simple, basic pleasures of fresh plants and real food.
  1. Eat more phytonutrient-rich plant foods. So many of our favorite herbs, spices, vegetables, and fruits are loaded with phytonutrients, which help our bodies naturally detoxify from everyday toxins.  Try to eat a couple of these phytonutrients with every meal for the ultimate spring cleanse:

Allicin: Garlic
Anthocyanidins: Berries and Black Rice
Betasitosterols: Avocado
Capsaicin: Chili
Catechins: Tea (white is highest in antioxidants, green is a great option too) Isoflavones: Soy (stick with whole, fermented soy like miso or tempeh)
Cinnamic Acid: Cinnamon and aloe
Curcumin: Turmeric
DIM: Broccoli family
Ellagic Acid: Walnuts and berries
Gingerole: Ginger
Glucosinolates: Broccoli
Kaempferol: Strawberries and broccoli
Lignans: Flax seed, sesame seed and broccoli
Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids: Sea vegetables, borage oil, flax seeds
Phytosterols: Nuts and seeds
Prebiotic:Jerusalem artichoke, onion
Probiotic:kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir
Quercetin: Onion and apple
Resveratrol: Grape skin
Rutin: Parsley and lemon
Salycylic Acid: peppermint
Saponins: Beans and quinoa
Silymarin: Artichokes and milk thistle
Sulfides: Garlic, onion and shallots
Tocopherols: Vitamin E

  1. Come together and detox with my community and me!

There is no better way to show your commitment to yourself than investing your time and energy towards achieving your health goals.  I would be honored if you joined us for a fun, supportive, and positive experience.  Our next 10-Day Detox Diet Challenge is June 18, click here to register.

Wishing you a healthy and happy spring,
Mark Hyman, MD.

Mark Hyman MD is the Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.