Finally, I am seeing some signs of Spring. The weather is getting warmer, buds are appearing on the trees, and the birds seem to be chirping louder. My body feels the seasonal change too. I feel less tired, less stiff, and ready to shed some of the winter layers that I put on. In the height of winter, I was craving warming foods — root vegetables, meats, and grains and beans — to keep my body warm. Now, I am starting to crave lighter foods, salads, and, especially, lots of greens — which will help detoxify the excesses accumulated in winter and, in my case, on a recent road trip. This is normal and good.
As the seasons change our bodies adjust by seeking foods that will help them prepare for the new season. Spring is a time when there is a bounty of greens that help cleanse and detoxify the body. Bitter greens help cleanse the liver because they stimulate the digestive system and help the liver detoxify the chemicals we are exposed to. Similarly, leafy greens aid in purifying the blood, strengthening your immune system, improving liver, gall bladder and kidney function, fighting depression, clearing congestion, and improving circulation. Here are some wonderful greens to incorporate into your diet:
- First, there are dandelion greens. In Greek, dandelion means “disorder remedy.” Dandelion is one of the best greens for liver detoxification. Dandelion stimulates the liver and gallbladder to increase the flow of bile, which helps with the digestion and absorption of fats, the detoxification of waste from the body, and is a natural diuretic. You can add dandelion greens to salads, soups or drink them as a tea.
- Nettles are a close runner-up to dandelion greens. They are considered urinary cleansers because they have a diuretic effect on the kidneys. Your kidneys catch wastes and toxins circulating in the blood and eliminate them. In short, nettles are another good herb to incorporate to “spring clean” your body. Similar to dandelion greens, nettles can be added to salads or soups, or steeped in hot water for a cleansing tea.
- Even though arugula is now available year-round, it is really a spring green. Arugula is another good bitter green to incorporate in your diet. It’s rich in vitamin A and C, and other phytonutrients (plant nutrients) that are considered antioxidants. Antioxidants are important because they help prevent oxidation of cells in the body, one
of the factors that has been shown to lead to cancer. Arugula is also rich in vitamin K, a vitamin which is important for healthy bones.
In addition to leafy greens, there are other spring vegetables that are delicious and healthy:
- While artichokes may be a bit of a pain to eat, they are a great liver-cleansing vegetable. Artichokes have a lot of silymarin, which helps support the liver, one of the organs that may suffer most from our excesses. In addition, eating artichokes helps stimulate bile production, which helps ease indigestion.
- Asparagus is another diuretic that helps eliminate waste from the body. Like arugula, asparagus are rich in vitamin K. I like to eat asparagus steamed and served with homemade mayonnaise or sauteed with other vegetables.
- Similar to asparagus, fiddlehead ferns are interesting and healthy spring vegetables. Fiddlehead ferns are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids – fatty acids that we don’t get nearly enough of – vitamins A and C, iron, fiber and antioxidants.
This month, I encourage you to incorporate some cleansing greens and other spring vegetables into your diet. Also, take the time to listen to your body and assess how you feel before and after you eat these foods. At the risk of sounding cliche and repetitive, your body is like your house and, if you don’t maintain it, it will fall into disrepair.
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The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
I am one of those people for whom college discussion courses were torture. These days, the prospect of attending large social gatherings makes me want to hide under a rock. Similarly, the anticipation of doing a public speaking engagement requires days of mental preparation and leaves me feeling completely drained. I am an introvert, so these types of situations are way out of my comfort zone. So, it was with great interest that I recently picked up Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Cain also has a Ted talk that is worth watching (www.ted.com/speakers/susan_cain).
In her book, Cain discusses how introverts can find their way in a society that tends to value extroversion. While introversion is usually an inborn trait, there are ways to overcome the overwhelm of being among large groups of people in both professional and social settings. Cain also discusses how introverts and extroverts can interact with partners and/or children of the opposite type. I found this discussion particularly useful, especially because my family is made up of introverts (with whom I can totally relate), extroverts (with whom I sometimes feel myself to be on a different wavelength), and everything in between.
As I read Cain’s book, I began to realize the ways in which my introversion affects the way I behave. Learning to understand myself better can allow me to adapt to situations that are outside of my comfort zone. In her conclusion, Cain writes the following about introverts, “Love is essential; gregariousness is optional. Cherish your nearest and dearest. Work with colleagues you like and respect. Scan new acquaintances for those who might fall into the former categories or whose company you enjoy for its own sake. And don’t worry about socializing with everyone else. Relationships make everyone happier, introverts included, but think quality over quantity. The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, insight, and sensitivity — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.” (p.264) This is a lesson that can be applied to both introverts and extroverts. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking can help you better understand yourself or those of the opposite type so that you may appreciate the positive aspects of each.