March is the first month of spring. After the cold winter months, we start to feel tired and exhausted. Our body has used up its summer/autumn vitamin reserves and is looking for renewal. If you’re feeling like you could do with a little spring detox and revitalization, learn more about the green and herbal superfoods to aid your body’s cleansing processes and get energized.
The phytochemicals and antioxidants in vegetables can increase the body’s immune system against diseases such as cancer or heart problems. Vegetables also contain many vitamins and minerals, and the assist detoxification. We will now look at some vegetable superfoods.
Kale – kale is filled with fiber, magnesium, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, sulphur, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, carotenoids and flavonoids.
Broccoli – broccoli is filled with vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and fiber. It also has anti-cancerous properties. Broccoli is useful for the following:
- Preventing stomach disorders
- Curing stomach infections
- Boosts the symbiotic gut bacteria
Wheatgrass – Wheatgrass is useful for the following:
- Regulating metabolism
- Helping with food digestion and weight loss
- Cleansing the body
Barley Grass – barley grass is filled with bioflavonoids, vitamin C, iron and calcium. Barley grass is useful for cleaning the body from heavy metals.
Chlorella – is a single-celled, green freshwater algae that helps the body to detox by binding to heavy metals and other toxins. Chlorella is filled with vitamins such as B, C and E and fiber. Chlorella is useful for the following:
- Cleansing and detoxifying the body
- Reducing cholesterol and blood pressure
- Preventing blockage of the arteries
- Preventing heart problems, cancer and strokes
- Supports liver health
Spirulina – it is a type of cyanobacteria, which is a family of single-celled microbes that are often referred to as blue-green algae. It is one of the most nutritious foods, loaded with essential amino acids, various nutrients and antioxidants that may benefit your body and brain. Spirulina is useful for the following:
- Protecting against oxidative damage caused by stress, aging or bad eating habits (super-antioxidant)
- Providing anti-inflammatory effects
- Lowering LDL and triglyceride levels
- Reducing cancer occurrence and tumor size
- Reducing blood pressure
- Improving symptoms of allergic rhinitis
- Boosting the immune system
- Preventing anemia and fatigue
- Lowers blood sugar level and acts against insulin resistance
Herbs offer a wide range of nutrients to the body that it may not have otherwise received due to poor diet practices and environmental deficiencies in the soil or air. Medicinally, herbs work with the body to help heal and regulate it. It is best to use herbs in their whole form as opposed to isolating effective plant constituent’s so-called ‘active ingredients’. It is best to use herbs that can affect each part of a medical problem since most illnesses and all body parts are interrelated.
Herb superfoods include the following:
Nettle – nettle plants are known to have a sting but when dried and eaten, saliva neutralizes the sting. Nettle helps with removing excess weight. Consuming a cup (89 g) of nettle tea on a morning will help to improve a person’s bowel movements. Nettle leaves also help to increase metabolism, release mucus in the colon allowing for the flushing of excess wastes, treat anemia (due to its high iron content), decrease the chances of skin problems and increase the thyroid function.
Aloe vera – this a persistent succulent that grows in the wild. The aloe vera plant seems to thrive in tropical and sub-tropical areas. Research has shown that aloe vera has about 75 healing compounds. Some of these compounds are natural steroids, antibiotic agents, amino acids, minerals and enzymes. Due to its high quantities of natural sulphur, the Egyptians have used aloe vera as a skin moisturizer and treatment for burns, cuts, bruises, acne and eczema. Aloe vera juices tend to alkalize the digestive tract which helps to prevent over-acidity (a leading cause of indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn and ulcers). Aloe vera can also reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels; prevent kidney stones; stop colon cancer; enhance oxygen levels in the blood; heal infections, cuts and burns; and protect the body from stress.
Echinacea – this plant is useful forwarding off the cold and flu, stimulating the immune system by building white blood cells and building up resistance. It also works as a natural antibiotic. Echinacea is also effective in stimulating the lymph flow in the body. The lymph runs parallel to the bloodstream and helps to rid the body of toxins. Echinacea can be taken in either liquid or capsule form for about two to three weeks during flu season.
Ginseng – Asians have been known to use ginseng as an energy source as it helps to rejuvenate the body from stress, anxiety and tiredness. It also helps people to recover from illness or surgery as it has restorative and anti-infection properties. Ginseng can also help with treating diabetes, preventing the growth of cancer cells, improving digestion, lowering the cholesterol levels and increasing the body’s immune system.
Astragalus – this herb can help to stimulate the immune system, boost the metabolism, help with minor digestion issues, reduce stomach acidity, increase the body’s metabolic rate, promote the elimination of waste material and help digestion.
Schizandra berry – this plan is often used in Chinese medicine as a liver cleanser and antiviral herb.
Turmeric – turmeric has very strong anti-inflammatory properties and is also packed with antioxidants.
Liquorice root – thanks to a substance called glycyrrhizin, liquorice root has great immune-boosting properties. Glycyrrhizin also helps to fight various flu viruses.
Rosemary and garlic – these herbs help to prevent cancer when consumed with cooked meat. It helps to reduce the formation of heterocyclic amines compounds. Garlic can also treat colds and flues, lower cholesterol levels, strengthen the immune system and prevent pancreatic, liver or colorectal cancer.
Ginger – ginger helps to reduce muscle soreness, especially after heavy exercise. It also helps to calm the stomach.
Mushrooms – the polysaccharides and other beneficial compounds in medicinal mushrooms help to increase the body’s immune system to prevent diseases and illnesses. Examples of these medicinal mushrooms include Agaricus blazei Murrill, lions mane, shiitake, reishi, maitake and cordyceps. These mushrooms contain antioxidants and help to boost the immune system and energy levels and prevent problems in skin or liver.
If you want to try a few days of juicing to cleanse and rejuvenate your body, I recommend the following four fruit and vegetable combinations:
- The detoxifier: cucumber, celery, orange, ginger, apple, parsley (optional: wheatgrass powder/chlorella/spirulina algae powder).
- The antioxidant: carrot, spinach, orange, ginger, turmeric, wheatgrass.
- The vitalizer: beetroot, carrot, lemon, ginger, apple, spirulina.
- The regenerator: apple, carrot, orange, aloe vera, celery, kale and parsley.
Dr. Suzanna Braeger
Holistic Health Coach and Nutritionist, Yoga Teacher
Lecturer (B’n’S Holistic Health Coach, Nutritionist and Wellness Consultant, Yoga Teacher Course)