Week 4 - Nutrition – the inner route to wellness
Six weeks to wellness
All human beings are intimately linked with nature, although it may not be something we reflect on every day. What goes on in nature as the seasons' change has a profound effect on the wellbeing of our bodies and the strength of our spirit. As the days lengthen into spring, increasing light levels have an awakening and enlivening effect on us. Our spirits also seem to lift and we feel more of a temptation to get outside – walking, exercising or preparing the garden for the onset of spring.
The urge to throw off winter’s heaviness and lethargy is strong, with energetic impulses to clean, tidy and throw away clutter – this is the way spring cleaning gets started. It’s no coincidence that nature is also waking up. Everything begins to grow but, with root crops coming to an end and losing their vitality, new crops are still scarce. So what has nature to offer us at this time of year?
Highly nutritious plants such as stinging nettles are at their tender best in spring. They come with an impressive contents list of vitamins, minerals including iron, flavonoids, sterols, chlorophyll, and tannins, as well as good amounts of protein. Nettles are an excellent spring tonic and can be cooked and eaten like spinach, in soup or as an ingredient in an omelette. They are helpful for all types of arthritic illness, particularly gout, helping the body rid itself of accumulated waste. They’re also alkalising and stimulate the lymphatic system, supporting internal spring-cleaning as toxins are flushed out.
Another plant highly beneficial to us at this time of the year is the dandelion. With fresh young leaves well suited to salads, it acts as a spring tonic and blood purifier. Dandelion, too, is rich in vitamins and minerals, with a mildly bitter taste, which benefits the liver, promoting the flow of bile and exerting a cleansing action on the kidneys. It’s worth mentioning chicory at the same time – a valuable, mildly bitter vegetable, which can also support the liver in detoxification. Watercress is also helpful as a spring tonic. It belongs to the Brassica family, its tangy sulphurous components have a stimulating effect on the metabolism. (Best not to harvest in the wild due to the danger of liver fluke!)
The changes of seasons are major transition times for us, as nature moves from one settled phase to another, through a period of upheaval and changed energy. Some people are more sensitive to these changes and need to take extra care with their health at these times. Instead of feeling energised with the increasing light and warmth, you may find you suffer from tiredness and a lack of energy. Look to the plants suggested above to help you through, but of course, any symptoms which cause you concern should prompt you to seek professional guidance.
Adrian Large works at the Elysia Therapeutic Centre in Stourbridge as a naturopath and practices rhythmical massage therapy. TheCentre opened in 2012 to provide a therapeutic oasis with a team of committed therapists working with an awareness of the fine balance between emotional, mental, physical and spiritual good health. Their knowledge stems from the anthroposophic medical picture of health and illness developed by Dr Ita Wegman and Rudolf Steiner. All therapists are fully qualified and registered with their professional regulatory body. Elysia Therapeutic Centre also provides Wellbeing Days for small groups sharing their unique method of health-care over a selected range of therapies. Find out more from www.elysiacentre.org