Most of us are ready for some warm weather and sunshine. With that comes the motivation to get out and be active. While this is generally a great idea, you may want to be strategic as to how you approach spring. Why? Your body is likely at its weakest point right now. The cold weather, lack of sunlight and lack of movement are major stressors to the human body. You need some time to rebuild your system. There are a variety of ways to do this, but in this article I will focus on some very special foods. I generally don’t like using the word “superfood” because there is no one food that is going to fix you, but there are some foods that pack a special punch when it comes to nourishing and detoxifying your body and boosting your system.
Artichokes are a superfood for the liver and gallbladder. You can steam them and dip the leaves in olive oil. The waxy coating you pull off is what you are looking for. You can also eat the heart and stem. While it is debatable if food (or supplements) can play a role in boosting glutathione levels, artichokes have been shown to have this impact. Glutathione is one of the most potent anti-oxidants that exists and plays a role indetoxification, aging and longevity.
Beets are another superfood for the liver. They contain a substance called betaine which has a powerful positive impact on the liver’s detoxification pathways and can also aid in reducing systemic inflammation in the body. Beets are great to add to salads or as a side to round out your plate. Beets can be cooked in batches in the oven as they store well in the refrigerator.
Bone Broth / Collagen
No superfood list would be complete without bone broth. It may not seem as attractive to sip on a warm cup of broth in the hot weather and so a high quality collagen powder is a nice option to have. I rarely recommend protein powders, but collagen powder is in a different category. Collagen is a protein that is similar to what is present in a gelatinous bone broth (the kind of broth that looks like jello in the refrigerator.) Collagen powder, especially of the hydrolyzed type, can be dissolved in coffee, tea or other liquids and is a great way to get a high quality, well balanced protein in your diet. Of particular note is the amino acid glycine which plays a major role in detoxification. Most people are deficient in this amino acid. Of course, if you like broth you can have that year round.
Mushrooms are an oft-overlooked food, but they contain numerous nutrients that can't be found in high amounts in many other foods. One of them is selenium, which is beneficial for the thyroid (your metabolism). Cooked mushrooms are also an excellent way to detoxify the digestive tract. Many fiber supplements can cause bloating, but mushrooms do not have that impact and they are quite tasty when sautéed in butter or olive oil. There are also numerous varieties of mushrooms, so feel free to experiment as they all have a different taste, texture and nutrient profile.
Yes, salt is often overlooked as health food, but salt provides the body with some essential minerals. When the body is under stress, minerals can be depleted at a rapid rate. Salt is one way to counterbalance this, of course when balanced with an overall mineral-rich diet. I generally recommend salting all food to taste with a high quality sea salt or canning and pickling salt. These types of salt generally contain no additives. The only thing that it should say on the label is “salt” or “sea salt.” Some people may even want to add an extra pinch of salt to their water bottle. This is a great way to add natural electrolytes to your water if you're going to be sweating a lot.
Gouda is loaded with Vitamin K2—one of the most important nutrients out there and one that most people are deficient in. Vitamin K2 plays a role in everything from the health of our bones and teeth to reducing the progression of atherosclerosis. You don’t need to eat a block of cheese either. A few slivers a day can do the trick and makes for a great snack when paired with a piece of fruit.