Recharging for Spring with a Cleansing Diet

Eating in harmony with the seasons is the key to promoting the body's natural power to cleanse and heal itself. Cleansing the body is especially important as we move from winter into spring. The heavier foods we typically eat in winter can slow digestion and tax the liver, interfering with its ability to process fats and proteins and to rid the body of toxins. For this reason, spring is a good time to take a break from meat and other animal products. Reorganize your spring diet around plant-based foods that help revitalize the digestive system and the liver and remove toxins and impurities from the organs and bloodstream.

Here are some of the most effective choices:

Leafy green vegetables - The green pigment chlorophyll in vegetables like spinach, chard, collard greens, and kale is a powerful detoxifying agent.  Scientific studies of chlorophyll suggest the antioxidant compounds it contains may help protect against cancer-causing chemicals and environmental toxins. These vegetables also help the liver produce more bile, a digestive fluid that helps break down fats and remove metabolic wastes from the blood.

Whole grains - The B-complex vitamins in brown rice, barley, and other whole grains support the metabolic functions of the liver. These foods are also high in fiber, which helps our digestive system function more efficiently.

Olive oil - The antioxidant properties of olive oil help the liver recover from toxin-induced stress.

Mushrooms - The antioxidant mineral selenium in mushrooms also has this effect.

Root vegetables - This category includes vegetables from garlic and onions to carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, and celery roots. Like whole grains, root vegetables are a great source of fiber. They are also rich in antioxidants, including many vital minerals, which they absorb from the soil. Allicin, a sulfur compound that's produced when raw garlic is chopped or crushed, helps protect the liver from toxins.  Another substance in garlic helps cleanse the blood. Onions are also particularly beneficial to the liver. Lemon - Lemon juice helps flush out toxins from the liver and kidneys. It also stimulates digestion and bile flow.

For a springtime meal packed with cleansing foods, try this traditional Romanian soup.