The weather has warmed up, flowers and willows have bloomed, nature’s regenerative cycle is beginning once more. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) holds that the body also experiences these seasonal changes; so spring is the season to flush toxins out of the body and feel light and alive like the spring birds.
The main organs for detoxification are the lungs and liver. In the spring, our liver especially may require a little push to wash away the wastes and toxins accumulated over the long, inactive winter. A sleepy and sluggish liver can result in frustration, headaches and depression.
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural "detox" foods we can integrate simply into a healthy diet to boost the liver’s function. Here are 5 of them to get you started.
Chive （jiucai 韭菜）
Although chives are available in the supermarket almost all year around, this seasonal veggie is best to be eaten in the spring. According to TCM, chives can boost the yang energy in our body and relieve stagnation in the liver caused by alcohol and greasy foods. How to eat it as a veggie instead of a garnish? Read our previous blog Seasonal Eats: 5 Different Ways to Enjoy Chives.
Kelp (haidai 海带)
Despite the slightly fishy taste, sea vegetables like kelp are powerful antioxidants to clean the body and enhance the liver with a dose of sea water. It also contains various minerals from the ocean that are needed in our body.
Chinese wolfberry （gouqi 枸杞）
Wolfberries are one of the most well known herbal medicine for improving the health of liver and eyes. TCM believes that the liver is corresponding to the health of our eyes, and a weak liver may result in eye disorders such as blurry vision and dry eyes. Check out the local pharmacies or supermarket for wolfberry and infuse them in your favorite tea.
Bean Sprout (douya 豆芽)
You body might already have the thirst for lighter and healthier foods in spring. Bean sprouts are high in fiber and low in calories, and function to calm the liver by removing fire and heat elements. Here are five reasons to add the tender bean sprout to your salad.
Garlic （dasuan 大蒜）
No detoxification plan is complete without garlic. The sulfur-containing compounds, although an unpleasant aroma to many, make garlic an essential detoxifier and natural antibiotic to help the liver release toxins from the body.
When produce is available year-round at Beijing’s farms and greenhouses, it’s easy to forget that each fruit and vegetable has its own sowing and harvesting cycle. Eating seasonally not only ensures the best-quality produce, it also helps maintain our body’s yin and yang balance, according to TCM. The Seasonal Eats series on beijingkids introduces foods best eaten this month.
Photos: courtesy of Julie Facine, Horia Vavlan, Charles Haynes, avlxyz and Janet Hudson (Flickr).