learn how ayurvedic nutrition can prevent inflammation and digestive distress in our bodies
Springtime is magical, uplifting, and even sexy. As nature moves out of the dark, wet, chilly winter towards spring, flowers bloom, hearts race, and baby animals start stretching their legs for their first walk in the sunshine. Nature makes it look so smooth, but for us humans, it’s not nearly such a graceful transition. We often find ourselves feeling heavy, sluggish, and tired, like a grumpy bear coming out of his cave for the first time in months. We’d expect the opposite, given the warmer temperatures, longer days, and sunny skies. So why are we feeling so heavy, groggy, and damp inside?
It’s spring, and as the world erupts into bloom, so do our allergies. Our eyes and noses are itchy, our throats are dry, post-nasal drip and coughs become all too common, and we feel fatigued even though we should be reveling in the spring breeze. The presence of these symptoms is the environments way of showing us that we need to harmonize with nature. Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, the science of life, explains that the key in feeling in balance is to sync up with the world around us.
First, we need to understand the Kapha dosha and bring it into balance. Of the three doshas-Vata, Pitta, and Kapha-Kapha is characterized by the earth and water elements. Kapha provides lubrication for joints, as well as mucus to protect the sensitive tissues of the sinuses, lungs, and stomach. In springtime, when Kapha tends to be out of balance, we may experience excess phlegm in the lungs or sinuses, nausea, unhealthy weight gain, water retention, or heaviness in the limbs. Kapha accumulates during the winter months to keep us warm and grounded, but when spring arrives, we must shed this excess Kapha or we become vulnerable to seasonal allergies, colds, and illness.
Balance the excess Kapha by choosing light, easy-to-digest foods during spring. Try eating less of or completely eliminating foods that increase Kapha – dairy products, iced or cold food or drinks, and fried or oily food. Dairy and gluten are big inflammation triggers, creating mucous and allergic responses. Swap heavy foods for light, fresh fruits and vegetables that are local (if possible) and in season. See the Local Foods Wheel to help you identify what foods are grown in your region, and what is in season at various times of the year.
Eating seasonally is one of the best ways to be connected to nature and the region around us. As we begin to pay attention to what grows at certain times of year, we may notice that the earth provides fruits and veggies that support our needs for the season. This is why as fall and winter set in, we tend to add comforting root vegetables and hearty stews in our diet to keep us grounded and warm. In the spring and summer, we keep our body vibrant with brighter, lighter, and more astringent foods to support our constitution in the hotter environment. For example, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), spring is associated with the liver — one of the body’s primary detoxification organs. Synergistically, spring is also the time when dandelion and other bitter greens are fresh and available; these bitter greens support the liver and its function of cleansing the blood.
Availability will vary from region to region, but here’s a list of foods that make spring their season.
Spring Vegetables & Fruits
* Dandelion Greens
* Mustard Greens
* Swiss Chard
By choosing to eat seasonally, we support local farmers and local markets, which, in turn promote sustainability of the entire economy. Seasonal eating helps the environment by significantly reducing the number of food miles our food has to make before it reaches the table. The more local we eat, the less chances exist that we are consuming food that has been flown in from half way across the world, in effect consuming that much more fuel and creating that much more pollution, creating that much more allergic response.
Visit a local farmer’s market to find the season’s tastiest, most nutritious staples and best spring seasonings. To find a market near you, visit Local Harvest and enjoy spring’s bounty. Post a comment or question below — I’d love to hear about your spring eating habits and recipes you create using seasonal spring produce.
There is great wisdom in eating seasonally because our bodies require different nutrients at different times of the year. When we tap into this and become aware of this connection, we can prevent inflammation and digestive distress in our bodies. I believe we were designed very intricately and full of purpose.
Eat seasonally and you’ll not only feel healthier and lighter, but ready to revel in the glory of spring!