Gentle Approaches to Detox
With the tendency to load up on rich foods during the winter months, many are anxious to cleanse their system come Spring time. Perhaps the aging New Year’s resolution is coming to the fore once again. In my view, there’s an overemphasis placed on clearing our system, whether it be the colon or liver. Spring comes slowly and teasingly to Maine and, as I have said before, raw foods are hard work for our digestion. Purging diets can tire our digestive system as well. A more gradual, tonifying, method better suits most of us, who tend to be a little worn down at the end of the winter. Something that is a tasty part of our diet will be more likely to be incorporated naturally and become a regular practice. Of course, regular movement practice, such as qigong, is a prime way to detoxify the year around.
In the Taoist tradition I study, one of the greatest detoxifiers is a combination of miso and basmati rice, cooked with a variety of vegetables, preferably of different colors, and from the root, stem, and leaves of plants. Your choice of protein can be included as well. Do be sure to use organic basmati rice, whether white or brown, as the cheap stuff from India is loaded with pesticides.
There are a number of high quality misos available at the Good Tern, in bulk below the dried fruits , and jarred to the right of the dairy cooler. It is a salted condiment originally from Asia, made from beans and sometimes grains as well, ranging from dark brown to light beige. The darker ones are better for cold weather, the sweeter, lighter ones for summer.
A bit of local kelp, or the related Kombu, or a Wakame are nice additions to a soup you can create according to your tastes. Seaweeds are slightly cooling and aid the body in eliminating excess fluids, which tend to accumulate with rich and sweet foods. For a simple soup you might precook the basmati rice with some seaweed, which also adds digestibility, [with beans as well], while lightly frying some vegetables such as onions, carrots, and a dark leafy green. Use your imagination here. Add plenty of water for a soup and simmer 15 minutes or so before adding miso. Take a little stock out of the pot to dissolve the miso in before mixing it back in. Avoiding much cooking at this point preserves the natural enzymes in this fermented food. Paul Pitchford, in his classic Healing with Whole Foods, recommends 2-3 Tablespoons of miso per 4 cups of water.
As far as other additions go, any kind of mushroom will help the body eliminate excess internal damp. Shiitake mushrooms in particular support the immune system with their natural interferon, and ability to improve cellular oxygenation. Parsley is a nice garnish, potent source of vitamins, and helps drain internal dampness, especially with bladder and/or kidney problems. If any upper respiratory congestion is lingering, the antibiotic, anti viral, and fungal properties of raw garlic would be a good addition. Chop finely!
Another gentle way to aid the body’s elimination process is through regular intake of [preferably freshly] ground flax seed. The seeds should be raw, and kept frozen or cool to protect the omega 3 oils in them. I like to add a tablespoon or 2 of ground flax seed to my morning cereal, after it has been cooked. It is a good thickener as well.
May your health flourish and the upsurge of Spring energy be relaxed! In addition to dietary recommendations; herbs and Qigong are an integral part of Abi Morrison’s Chinese medicine practice at the Center for Health and Healing, 17 Masonic St., in Rockland.