Spring wind brings summer heat. Now is the time to awaken our senses and combat colds and allergies by choosing foods that support the lymphatic system. Lymph is the colorless fluid containing white blood cells, which bathes the tissues and releases toxins. Just as the sap in trees flows each spring to renew the tree, so do our body’s fluids need increased circulation. Mother Earth News explains that ‘loving your lymph’ offers renewal for your whole being.
Lymphatic circulation enhances immunity by draining waste from metabolism and reducing inflammation caused by build-up in connective tissues. Simplifying your diet and increasing your intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables will support lymphatic renewal. Spices and vegetables that cleanse the lymphatic system include fennel, coriander, fenugreek, kelp seaweed, burdock, turnips, mustard, and horseradish.
In his New York Times article, chef and cookbook author Mark Bittman explains, “both a person’s health — as well as the environment’s — will improve with a simple shift in eating habits away from animal products and highly processed foods to plant products and what might be called ‘real food’. The more we pay attention to how we feel after eating, the more we notice our body’s cues for balance.
The healing properties of ingredients in the recipes below derive from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a centuries-old healing modality that persists today. Once we start choosing foods for their healing properties and specific flavors, we can better attune our bodies to the seasons. TCM elucidates five food flavors: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, and bitter.
The five flavors correspond to five elements: Earth is sweet, Metal is pungent, Water is salty, Wood is sour, and Fire is bitter. These flavors also match the seasons: sweet for late summer, sour for fall, salty for winter, pungent for spring, and bitter for summer.
The sour flavor, which corresponds to spring and the wood element, influences the liver and gall bladder. Sour foods are astringent in nature and include: sauerkraut, horseradish, vinegar, lemon, chicken, tomatoes, sourdough rye bread.
Before you choose which recipe to cook, read about the healing properties of each ingredient. Ask yourself: is this what I need today? Proceed from there! All these dishes helps us align with the sour flavor of spring, cleanse the lymphatic system, and renew your whole being.
Artichokes: help the liver metabolize fat, flush the gall bladder, and cleanse the palate of excess mucus.
Lemon: awakens the pungent flavor in the body, detoxifies the lymphatic system and provides vitamin C.
Olive oil: anti-inflammatory; rich in Vitamin E and monounsaturated fats, which enhance colon health. Choose the best olive oil possible, preferably one whose label lists an acidity of less than 0.5%.
Eggs: each one contains 6 grams of protein, 9 essential amino acids, and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat; rich in lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts; improve human lipid profile, thereby balancing cholesterol; contain naturally occurring vitamin D.
Dandelion greens: these iron-rich, fiber-filled spring greens stimulate the bitter flavor on the palate, which encourages bile production, thereby strengthening digestion and aiding liver rejuvenation.
Leeks: strengthen lungs; anti-microbial; anti-bacterial; offer rich source of fructo-oligosaccharides, which stimulate growth of healthy bifidobacteria and suppress the growth of potentially harmful bacteria in the colon.
Parsnips: parsley family members that provide folate, fiber, and phenolic acids, which may help reduce production of cancerous cells. They contain ample amounts of soluble fiber, which moderates fat and cholesterol absorption in the intestines while diluting bile acids to prevent reflux.
Thyme: contains thymol, an anti-microbial volatile oil that can help prevent colds; rich in flavonoids whose anti-oxidant activity keeps blood pH in balance.