The concept of detox seems to speak to our very nature. From the story of Jesus in the desert to the holy days of Ramadan, the appeal of purification through renunciation, as a means of preparing ourselves to operate on a higher level, has deep roots in spiritual and religious history and practice. Today, products for [...]
So you put on a pound or five over the holidays… Do you feel a like a sausage squeezed into your clothes? Most of us indulge in the delectable offerings of the season, usually laden with saturated fats, dairy, sugar, and white flour. In excess, these foods create congestion or metabolic waste that leaves us feeling sluggish, heavy, bloated, tired, achy, irritable, and/or depressed. Just as our automobile perks up after a tune-up, we can revitalize with a detox.
Whether you call it cleansing, detox, purification, or fasting, eliminating metabolic waste from the body is an ancient practice. All of the major religions include some form of fasting as a vehicle for well-being and spiritual awakening.
Fasting has a profound effect on all levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Increased vitality, mental clarity, and weight loss are typical detox results. Fasters often experience lasting relief from allergies, arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches, and addictions to sugar, caffeine, and nicotine as well as gaining deeper insight and a sense of joy. Fasting is considered by many to be the single most effective method of healing chronic disease.
Although most of the fruits and vegetables we associate with autumn are not related botanically, they offer our bodies a consistent nutritional theme. Apples, pears, grapes, beets, and squash are all excellent sources of soluble fiber and all but the squash are great sources of one particular type of soluble fiber: pectin. Pectin has a long list of research-substantiated health effects that range from lowering cholesterol levels to removing heavy metals and other contaminants from the body. This is truly nature’s soft detox agent and a great way to prepare for the short days of winter.
In addition to this great source of soluble fiber, these fruits and vegetables are very alkalizing as they are all great sources of potassium. They have unique phytonutrients that are protective against carcinogens. The ellagic acid in grapes and the betacyanin in beets stand out in this area, but winter squash varieties that cook to a dark orange are loaded with a wide variety of carotenoids that offer similar protection. Autumn makes it easy to eat the amount of fruits and vegetables that we need to feel our best.
What are your favorite autumn fruits or vegetables to eat? Share your recipes!
Summer is perfect for opening our senses to all that’s fresh and local. Choosing produce grown close to home yields great taste, supports your community’s farmers and economy, and cultivates a more direct connection to the earth. Nothing is more local than the herbs and greens you grow yourself. Greens are chock full of phytonutrients, plant compounds that provide a range of anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as support the body’s natural detoxification process. Even if you’re not a gardener, you can still get a huge nutritional bang for your effort-filled buck by planting a few parsley, cilantro, or basil seeds in a window box.
Scientists are learning more about the power of phytonutrients every day. A single piece of fruit or serving of vegetable may contain hundreds or even thousands of different kinds, and the complex phytonutrient profiles of simple-seeming plants reminds us of the complexity of nature and of life itself. The role these nutrients play in health—if and how they synergize with other nutrients, and the interplay between them and our environments and lifestyle choices—are all active areas of research.
It’s clear that scientists are discovering what yogis have known all along: Fresh, local herbs and produce carry the essence of health. Let’s enjoy the taste of what summer offers us now.