Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion Made Easy
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Your liver is pretty hot by this time in the season so you may also be inclined to hot blooded reactions like anger. Winter's bitterness becomes anger in spring. What you have been stewing on all winter rises to the surface to sprout. Physically, angry rashes may spread on your skin. The same foods that drain liver toxins in early spring also cool down your blood mid spring. Hot blood from your heart slows and cools as you eat bitter greens. With these bitters, you may gently return to a state of sanity.
Spring restores your youthful glow. With the heat, your skin color transitions from the gray and lifeless color of winter to the rosy-cheeked glow of summer. Heat pushes blood into your extremities which have been neglected over the cold winter months. This blood surges into your muscles bringing with it an itch to move, to get outdoors, till the garden, and bask in the sunshine. The enthusiasm is contagious.
While April showers bring May flowers, they also increase the humidity in the air and make you prone to symptoms of Kapha aggravation like mucus congestion. The body may still be congested by excess Kapha in April, so the fragrant air can easily aggravate sensitive respiratory systems and internal dampness. Allergies are in full swing as everything begins to bloom and the air thickens with pollen. A stressed liver can make you more prone to allergic reactions. Common April symptoms include a runny nose, itchy eyes (due to liver heat), rashes and sore throats.
Get some color in your skin and a healthy dose of vitamin D by soaking up more sunlight with the warmer weather. Movement is also key during spring. Longer days mean that there's plenty of time to get a short workout in after work. Aim for at least 15 minutes of daily exercise. Walking, hiking and biking are all great ways to lighten up and enjoy the fresh spring air. Your exercise routine should also include stimulating backbends that will energize you, open the lungs and wring out the liver.
Just as the seeds deep in the soil become swollen with April's moisture, so does your body. You may notice your rings seem to be suffocating your fingers and your feet may feel squished in your shoes. As the weather warms up, trade abhyanga for skin brushing. This will help to reduce the natural spring puffiness that abounds in April. Sip cumin, coriander and fennel tea throughout the day. It's diuretic nature flushes excess water from the body.
Springtime flourishes with wild abundance! You can find many wild greens like dandelion and chickweed cropping up beneath your feet. Eating these fresh, young spring greens are nature's timely remedy. Their bitter taste drains heat from your blood thereby saving you from fever, sore throats, swollen hands, and heat-induced headaches. Other spring bitters that drain dampness and support liver cleansing include fennel bulb, watercress, chard, radicchio, kohlrabi, lettuce, beet greens, endive and microgreens. Their lightness brings welcome relief from liver congestion and sluggish circulation. You'll start to crave the refreshed feeling they offer. Sour foods also support gentle cleansing of the liver. Serve up ferments, grapefruit, and raw beets to show your liver some love.
April's theme is puffiness. Life is literally swelling with potential! You may notice yourself less thirsty than usual and it's fine to cut back on your water intake, but not if you are sweating. Diuretics such as corn, celery, kale, cabbage and collards should be on the spring menu. These help to dry out overly moist and puffy Kapha in the watery month of April. To encourage healthy circulation and reduce puffiness, especially when your hands and face are swollen, also use diaphoretics. Diaphoretics are herbs that help you sweat by dilating capillary beds. Pungent diaphoretics like radishes, mustard greens, arugula, chives, raw onions and garlic will facilitate blood flow to the surface of your body (called the exterior in Chinese medicine). Aromatic diaphoretics include mint, peppermint, rosemary and basil. The improved circulation from these diaphoretics will combat general sluggishness due to excess Kapha as well. Spices such as cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and black pepper also increase circulation and can be used generously this time of year.
The astringency of cool bean salads, especially chickpeas, are also timely. Astringent foods like legumes, sprouts, raw veggies, millet, barley and buckwheat tighten and tone loose tissue, perfect as April puffiness sets in. Avoid Kapha provoking foods like wheat, dairy, sugar and salt as well as heavy, fatty, fried foods which also tax the liver. Eat Kapha pacifying fruits that aren't too sweet. These include apricots, cherries, oranges (don't forget to use the zest!), lemon, pomegranates, tangerines and kumquats. Take your fill of the earth's bountiful spring offering, and feel the healing effects on your body.
Kapha's accumulation in your lymph is what leads to your spring puff. As mentioned above cumin, coriander and fennel tea is a famous detox & digestive blend that supports weight loss and reduces water weight. CCF makes you to feel light and vibrant as metabolism improves and swelling is reduced.
Bitter herbs cleanse the liver and help to keep both Kapha and Pitta in check. Our formula Digestive bitters stimulates digestion and cleanses the liver and blood of heavy fats while promoting mental clarity. It also relieves uncomfortable abdominal bloating, swelling and promotes weight loss. As if that weren't enough, this formula contains herbs often used to lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides. Experience why this formula is a Joyful Belly favorite!
Our formula, Gall Bladder Tonic, contains bhumyamalaki and a number of herbs to reduce fatty liver and clear a congested spring gall bladder. Bhumyamalaki is the quintessential Ayurvedic herb for cleansing the liver as the very bitter taste cools, soothes and cleanses. With its special affinity for the liver, bhumyamalaki acts to detoxify and strengthen this essential organ. It also supports proper function of the gall bladder and promotes healthy skin. An excellent herb for both Pitta and Kapha, bhumyamalaki is useful for those with constitutions that would benefit from its dry and light qualities.
Commonly known for it's ability to relieve a sunburn, aloe vera gel's appeal includes many other health benefits. The bitter taste of aloe vera soothes and cleanses irritated tissues. It also acts as a cholagogue, stimulating the gallbladder to release bile. As bile is a fatty substance, release of bile also tends to lower blood fat, cholesterol and improve fat metabolism. As it decongests your lymphatic system, the cooling drink is an excellent way to help your body cleanse in the spring. Aloe also helps balance blood sugar levels, which is why aloe vera has been traditionally recommended for diabetes and balancing Kapha.
Ensure your elimination is regular and your colon is cleansed with Ayurveda's classic formula triphala. Triphala's drying nature also helps to reduce spring puffiness.
By following these tips, you'll delight in spring's abundance and enjoy optimal health in April.
 - Equivalent to October in the southern hemisphere
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
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