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Choosing the right foods to eat has become extremely complex, controversial and confusing for most people. With promises coming from every angle of the food pyramid, from paleo to vegetarian to vegan to being gluten and dairy-free, making healthy food choices has become more confusing than ever!
In this article, similar to the Winter Edition, first I will describe the very simple and basic rules of eating according to nature’s harvest and your body type. Then, I will show you how to identify the superfoods that are right for your body type this spring.
Ayurvedic Eating Rule #1: Eat Foods That Are In Season
It is really very simple. Print out my free Seasonal Grocery Lists, or in my book, The 3-Season Diet, circle the seasonal foods you like and eat more of those foods during that season.
Spring is governed by earth and water, and is usually quite wet and muddy with rain or snow-melt. All body types should eat more light and dry foods such as berries, sprouts and greens found on the Spring Grocery List to combat the heaviness and congestion that spring can bring.
Summer is governed by fire, and is, generally, hot and fiery. All body types should eat more cooling foods such as salads, smoothies and fresh fruit found on the Summer Grocery List to stay cool, calm and hydrated in the heat of the summer.
Winter is governed by air, and is cold and dry. All body types should eat more nourishing and warming foods such as soups, grains and steamed veggies found on the Winter Grocery List. These foods are higher in proteins and fats, which have the purpose of insulating the body during the cold months.
Nature’s harvest of warming, higher protein and fatty foods in the winter help to balance its cold and dry extremes. After winter, nature harvests sprouts, berries and leafy greens to antidote the congestive tendencies of spring, and then cooling fruits and veggies in the summer to balance out the heat. Eating off of the seasonal grocery lists provides the perfect antidote for the extremes of each season to keep each body type balanced.
Ayurvedic Eating Rule #2: Adjusting For Your Predominant Body Type
While each body type should change their diet for all three growing seasons or harvest, they must also emphasize seasonal eating during the season of their predominant or primary body type. Vata types in the winter, pitta types in the summer and kapha types in the spring must pay more attention to eating seasonally. Here is why:
- During the spring, easygoing kapha types must strictly follow the decongesting Spring Grocery List to antidote the tendency to gain weight, hold onto water and become congested.
- During the summer, hot and fiery pitta types must be extra strict to eat off the Summer Grocery List to stay cool and calm.
- During the winter, cold and dry vata types must eat more strictly off the Winter Grocery List of warming and insulating foods to stay nourished and balanced.
Ayurvedic Eating Rule #3: Identify The Superfood Season For Your Body Type
When you are in the season that correlates with your primary body type, such as spring if you are primarily kapha, all the foods on the Spring Grocery List with an asterisk are going to be superfoods. The foods with asterisks on each of the grocery lists are the foods that are primarily grown in that season. The foods with asterisks will have more therapeutic qualities for the related body type during that season.
Note: We have two versions of our Free Seasonal Grocery Lists:
- The simplified, pretty and colorful rackcards that you might have received in packages from us and that are easy to take to the grocery store. These lists DO NOT have the asterisks we are discussing.
- The extensive, full page PDFs, below, and at the links under Rule #1 are the Grocery Lists with the asterisks.
Ayurvedic Eating Rule #4: Identify The Spring Superfoods For Your Body Type
Spring is a heavy, wet and warmer time of the year that encourages seeds that have weathered a long winter to germinate and sprout, offering an abundance of nutrient-dense foods so desperately needed after a long sparse winter. For our ancestors, early spring was always a tough time in nature to get nourished, as the winter stores have likely run out and the spring harvest is still in its infancy.
In Ayurveda, spring is classified as nature’s light and low-fat season, which encourages the body to burn its own stored fat as a source of fuel as well as detoxify any unwanted impurities stored in the winter fat.
The austere, low-fat harvest of spring forces the body to reset its ability to glean a good amount of its energy from fat metabolism, rather than sugar and starches. This results in natural weight loss, detoxification of fat soluble chemicals, rebuilding of long lasting energy and endurance reserves from fat burning, a reset of a calm nervous system and strengthened ability to handle stress.
To accomplish all of this and much more, all we really have to do is eat what nature intended: a naturally-occurring, low-fat diet exemplified on the Spring Grocery List. Certain foods on this list can be classified as superfoods for each unique body type. Let’s find out how to determine these special foods.
Superfoods for Kapha Body Types in the Spring
While all of the foods on the Spring Grocery List with an asterisk might be considered superfoods, here are some of my favorite nutrient-dense spring superfoods that we should all be seeking in our spring diet. For the kapha body types who carry more spring-like qualities, eating off the Spring Grocery List and more of these spring superfoods is highly recommended for optimal health.
- Turmeric is a spring-harvested bitter rhizome (surface root) that is a natural cleanser for the liver, as studies have shown it boosts detox enzymes like glutathione and superoxide dismutase. (1) According to Ayurveda, the primary taste in the spring is bitter, followed by pungent and astringent tastes. Bitter roots scrub the intestinal wall and boost liver function, bile flow and blood purification.
- Dandelion is also a spring-harvested bitter rhizome that offers antioxidant support for healthy liver function and natural detoxification support to the liver. (2) Dandelion is a cholagogue, clearing the liver and gallbladder while also removing cholesterol from the blood. Spring is a time where such bitter roots are harvested in an attempt to naturally encourage the liver to be active in fat metabolism. Dandelion has also been shown to support healthy liver function, detoxification and fat metabolism in the liver. (2)
- Watercress is a modern superfood most notable of its antioxidant properties and cellular and DNA-protective properties. (3) This is one of the most bitter and slightly pungent vegetables. In Ayurveda, the three tastes that predominate in the spring harvest are bitter, pungent and astringent. Watercress is a low-fat, low-calorie, nutrient-dense cleansing food. It is loaded with antioxidant vitamins C, K and A, as well as numerous minerals.
- Bean sprouts and microgreens are loaded with nutrients and play an important role in the spring harvest. While part of the spring harvest depends on bitter roots to scrub the intestines and boost liver function, sprouts and microgreens are loaded with chlorophyll, which is a naturally fertilizer for the growth of a healthy microbiome. In one study evaluating 25 different microgreens, microgreens were shown to possess a much higher concentration of nutrients compared to the full-grown versions of the plants. Red cabbage microgreens had a 6-fold higher nutrient profile of vitamin C, and 69 times higher concentration of vitamin K than the mature leaves. (4)
Superfoods for Pitta Body Types in the Spring
To find spring superfoods for pitta body types, circle the foods that are on BOTH the Spring Grocery List (with an asterisk) and also on the Summer Grocery List (with or without an asterisk). While the spring foods are fine for all types, the foods on both lists will offer more benefits for the pitta body type each spring.
The following superfoods are found on the Spring Grocery List with an asterisk, indicating these are the favored foods to eat in the spring. These foods are also found on the Summer Grocery List, which makes these superfoods for the pitta body type.
Spring foods naturally boost liver activity to reset natural fat metabolism and get the detox wheels turning. Certain spring-harvested foods have an increased bile acid-binding capacity, meaning that they attach to and escort toxic bile out of the body via the intestinal tract. Foods with a higher bile acid-binding capacity have been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels, less fat absorption, and cardiovascular health. Poor bile acid-binding foods and sluggish bowel function will allow toxins to be re-absorbed through the enteric cycle back to the liver. (6)
In one study, all of the above spring superfoods for the pitta type (cabbage greens, green bell peppers, mustard greens, collard greens and kale) were measured for their bile acid-binding capacity. While all of these foods have naturally high bile acid-binding capacity in their raw form, there was a significantly higher quantity of bile acid-binding capacity after the foods were steamed. (5)
This is in line with the Ayurvedic principle that foods should be eaten cooked. While baby greens and microgreens can be eaten raw, these more dense veggies become potent detoxifiers for the liver when they are steamed. Brussels sprouts and broccoli were also shown to increase their bile acid-binding capacity after steaming versus raw. (5)
- Parsley is another one of my favorites. Parsley offers great protection to the body against environmental chemicals and toxins. Eugenol is a potent volatile oil found in parsley – also one of the primary health-promoting constituents of tulsi (holy basil). Eugenol naturally fends off undesirable foreign bacteria in the gut, such as candida. The volatile oils in parsley can help to balance blood sugar, boost immunity and mental function, and protect against chemical damage in the liver, cells, gut and more. (12-14)
Superfoods for Vata Body Types in the Spring
Remember, all vata types should eat primarily off the Spring Grocery List each spring. These foods help the vata types glean body type benefits in addition to seasonal benefits each spring.
To find spring superfoods for vata body types, circle the foods that appear on BOTH the Spring Grocery List (with an asterisk) and also on the Winter Grocery List with or without an asterisk. These are the superfoods for the vata types in the spring.
- Saffron is taken from the crocus flower, and is considered in Ayurveda to be one of the most powerful and medicinal foods in nature’s harvest. It is said to be an ojas builder, which means it boosts vitality, skin radiance and immunity. Today, there are numerous studies suggesting that saffron offers powerful support for the nervous system, mood and emotionally stability. (7)
- Garlic is an astringent and pungent root that has been shown in numerous studies to boost immunity. (8) In the spring, when the earth is holding onto more water, our bodies will also have a tendency to hold more water. Increased exposure to environmental allergens can trigger a histamine response in sensitive individuals. Garlic is a natural remedy to boost spring immunity and support a balanced response to environmental allergens.
- Cardamom is one of Ayurveda’s classic digestive spices for gas, bloating and constipation. It supports the health of the intestinal tract and respiratory mucus membranes, as well as a healthy intestinal environment for the digestive microbes. (9) Cardamom is the perfect antidote to a heavy, boggy digestive tract which can be exacerbated in the spring. While the spring harvest of low-fat and light foods antidotes these tendencies, cardamom offers a digestive boost to the spring digestion process.
- Ginger is a pungent root best known for its digestive properties as well as support for healthy joint function – although it’s well-documented health benefits are abundant. (10) In the spring, pungent roots help the bitter roots scrub the intestinal mucosa. They increase circulation, which helps antidote the circulatory bogginess of spring. Ginger also supports the coordinated process of the digestive system to break down hard-to-digest foods like wheat, dairy and fatty foods, all the while supporting the environment for a healthy microbiome.
- Cinnamon is perhaps most well-known for its blood sugar-balancing properties. (11) Cinnamon is a perfect antidote to the wet and muddy properties of spring. According to Ayurveda, cinnamon is a stimulant to boost circulation, naturally warming the body to balance intestinal and respiratory mucus during the change of seasons.
Stay tuned for our Summer Edition of “Superfoods For Your Body Type” in July!