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Dr. Mark Hyman: 5 Tips for Eating Healthy This Spring

Food

In Five Element Acupuncture, wisdom points to nature as the source of understanding the rhythmic ebb and flow of life.  Spring is a time of rebirth, inspiration and hope in this philosophy. It is also a time to gather energy for assertive and courageous growth.

Asparagus is a popular spring vegetable that is packed with essential nutrients.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Nature has always brought me comfort in terms of recognizing how the body finds optimum balance and a natural return to health. There is no better time than now to begin your very own spring cleaning. Here are my favorite tips to help you get inspired and on your way:

1. Consider the energy of food

Most of us think about what we are craving in terms of flavor, the potential of a food to make us feel a certain way or an emotional yearning we have for a particular food. But there is another way to view the food we seek out: does it expand or contract our energy?

Coming out of winter, it’s common to feel a heavy weightiness from overindulging in sugar, coffee, starches and convenient comfort foods. These foods bring balance to the cold, dreary days of winter. However, it might be helpful to shift your focus to foods that may contract your energy (and your waistlines) now that the weather is heating up.  Consider eating more poultry, wild meat, eggs and fermented foods, which help power you through new growth and new beginnings.

At the same time, choose foods to help expand your mental energy and fuel your courage to dream about the potential for making important, meaningful changes in your health. Leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables that hydrate your cells provide you the nutrition your body needs right now. Fill your plate with three-fourths vegetables to flood your cells with rejuvenating phytonutrients. Check out The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook for fresh ideas on delicious, easy meals.

2. Eat seasonally

As budding leaves blossom, flowers bloom and life begins waking up outside, I tend to pay closer attention to the natural world around me. I find that enjoying food that is available seasonally helps ground and connect us to nature, which has a very therapeutic effect on how our bodies function.

A hundred years ago all food was organic, local, seasonal, fresh or naturally preserved by ancient methods. All food was food. Now less than 3 percent of our agricultural land is used to grow fruits and vegetables, which should make up 80 percent of our diet.

Sourcing seasonal produce, meat and seafood actually saves you money while increasing your nutrient intake. I know a lot of people often become confused about why eating real, whole food is more affordable than eating fast food, so I wrote this article, in which I discuss why you pay a much higher price for choosing boxed, preservative-laden foods.

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Here are the foods in season in spring based on U.S. regions:

Pacific Northwest:

Veggies & Fruits:

Asparagus

Artichokes

Beet greens

Cauliflower

Cherries

Fava beans

Herbs

Lettuces

Fiddleheads

Mushrooms

Nettles

Radishes

Rhubarb

Strawberries

Fish:

Dover Sole

Shrimp

Halibut

Oysters

Salmon (late spring)

Midwest:

Veggies & Fruits:

Asparagus

Broccoli

Cabbage

Greens (chard, collards, kale)

Herbs

Lettuces

Mushrooms

Onions

Rhubarb

Spinach

Meats & Fish:

Buffalo

Lamb

Rainbow Trout

Southwest:

Veggies & Fruits:

Asparagus

Arugula

Broccoli

Carrots

Cucumbers

Herbs

Kale

Mushrooms

Radishes

Rhubarb

Strawberries

Summer Squash

Meats & Fish:

Buffalo

Chicken

Grass-fed beef

Lamb

Rainbow trout

Southeast:

Veggies & Fruits:

Arugula

Beans

Blueberries

Broccoli

Catfish

Cabbage

Celery

Cucumbers

Eggplant

Lettuces

Mushrooms

Nettles

Onions

Radishes

Snap peas

Tomatoes

Meats & Fish:

Chicken

Flounder

Grass-fed beef

Gulf shrimp

Oysters

Snapper

Northeast:

Veggies & Fruits:

Arugula

Asparagus

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Fava beans

Fiddleheads

Greens (chard, collards, kale)

Herbs

Lettuces

Mushrooms

Nettles

Radishes

Rhubarb

Spinach

Meats & Fish:

Chicken

Clams

Cod

Fluke

Grass-fed beef

Lamb

Oysters

For more info about seasonal food by month please visit sustainable table.

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3. Give your kitchen a cleaning

  • Take everything out of the refrigerator and freezer, clean the shelves and drawers, and then examine each item’s expiration date and toss expired and highly processed items. Make a list of new items to get the next time you go to the store (Same for supplements: toss any that are outdated or that are no longer part of your supplement regimen).

  • Rearrange your refrigerator to feature freshly cut vegetables within easy reach for snacking.

  • If you aren’t used to buying flowers or picking fresh cut herbs, this spring try growing flowers and herbs in pots and keeping them nicely arranged on your kitchen or dining room table. The natural beauty will invigorate your senses and remind you that true nourishment comes from the simple, basic pleasures of fresh plants and real food.

4. Eat more phytonutrient-rich plant foods

So many of our favorite herbs, spices, vegetables and fruits are loaded with phytonutrients, which help our bodies naturally detoxify from everyday toxins. Try to eat a couple of these phytonutrients with every meal for the ultimate spring cleanse:

Allicin: Garlic

Anthocyanidins: Berries and Black Rice

Betasitosterols: Avocado

Capsaicin: Chili

Catechins: Tea (white is highest in antioxidants, green is a great option too) Isoflavones: Soy (stick with whole, fermented soy like miso or tempeh)

Cinnamic Acid: Cinnamon and aloe

Curcumin: Turmeric

DIM: Broccoli family

Ellagic Acid: Walnuts and berries

Gingerole: Ginger

Glucosinolates: Broccoli

Kaempferol: Strawberries and broccoli

Lignans: Flax seed, sesame seed and broccoli

Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids: Sea vegetables, borage oil, flax seeds

Phytosterols: Nuts and seeds

Prebiotic:Jerusalem artichoke, onion

Probiotic:kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir

Quercetin: Onion and apple

Resveratrol: Grape skin

Rutin: Parsley and lemon

Salycylic Acid: peppermint

Saponins: Beans and quinoa

Silymarin: Artichokes and milk thistle

Sulfides: Garlic, onion and shallots

Tocopherols: Vitamin E

5. Come together and detox with my community and me

There is no better way to show your commitment to yourself than investing your time and energy towards achieving your health goals. I would be honored if you joined us for a fun, supportive and positive experience. Our next 10-Day Detox Diet Challenge is June 18, click here to register.

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