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Every spring, nature makes some dramatic shifts as part of its New Year strategy for optimal health. After a long winter of a diet rich in heavy foods and hard-to-digest proteins and fats, we have likely packed on some needed winter insulation.
Come spring, it has got to go! If kept on for an extended period of time, this extra fat congests the lymph that drains digestion and bogs down the villi of the intestines, which are critical for absorbing vital nutrients and detoxification. From nature’s perspective, losing winter weight is not a vanity thing, it’s a functional thing!
This extra winter weight accumulates mostly around the belly. The belly is four times as likely to store fat from excess rich food compared to other areas of the body.
Nature’s Game Plan
As always, nature has a game plan – a strategy to remove winter weight come spring. This game plan involves a three-stage harvest of cleansing foods that work in a beautifully orchestrated sequence to get us back to our natural warm-weather weight.
1. Ancient humans, deer, and even some of our grandparents would dig up early spring roots like dandelion, burdock, chaparral, goldenseal and Oregon grape to eat. These bitter roots are loaded with liver-cleansing, bile-moving, intestinal-scrubbing alkaloids that cleanse all the boggy mucus off the villi, the congestion out of the liver and the excess fat off the intestinal wall. While it is no longer such a common practice to dig up roots and eat them, our ancestors survived on this practice. Perhaps they deserved the temporary spring name of hunter-diggers, as that was how they got the bulk of their food in this season.
2. Then, as if nature’s symphony starts building seasonal momentum, the valleys fill with the fluorescent green sprouts of mid-spring. These sprouts are loaded with nutrients and chlorophyll, which allow the new growth of your precious intestinal microbes. Without this step, our good bugs – which do the heavy lifting for our immunity, mood, energy, digestion, detox, blood sugar regulation, bone density and just about everything else – would not sufficiently populate the gut.
3. Finally, spring’s grand finale presents its first fruit to us in the form of berries and cherries. These polyphenol-rich antioxidants act as lymph-moving foods that flush any congestion built up around the gut. Remember that the lymph concentrates around the intestinal tract, and if it is not sufficiently cleansed in the springtime by these powerful lymph movers, then the intestinal bogginess of the villi and lymph can bake into the digestive tissues with the heat of summer.
Follow Spring’s Flow
Ayurveda is all about listening to and flowing in harmony with these natural cycles. The birds’ survival depends on it, the squirrels’ survival depends on it, and I believe our ability to thrive depends on it as well. Ayurveda has been suggesting cleansing strategies for thousands of years to help us lock into these powerful cycles of nature.