I don’t know if you’re experiencing the endless winter where you are: but up North, winter just won’t let us go. Snow in April! Are you kidding?
Anyway, it’s got me up in arms for spring to get here, so I can start planning my garden, and start running outside again. With spring also comes spring-cleaning. I clean my house, the gardens, I clean the gutters, and clean the front porch and the garage.
And I clean out my body.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the time for detoxing. So while I detox my life (goodbye bad habits and toxic friendships!) I also go about helping boost my liver – or I help my liver help me (like all good relationships, really).
Why the Liver?
The liver is the biggest organ in the detoxing system. It’s helped out by your kidneys, of course, but the primary job of the liver is to detox. An average adult liver weighs about three pounds. Located in the upper-right portion of the abdominal cavity under the diaphragm and to the right of the stomach, the liver consists of four lobes.
Duties and Functions:
The liver produces bile, which helps you digest your food.
Detoxifies the blood to rid it of harmful substances such as alcohol and drugs
Stores some vitamins and iron
Stores the sugar glucose
Converts stored sugar to functional sugar when the body’s sugar (glucose) levels fall below normal
Breaks down hemoglobin as well as insulin and other hormones
Converts ammonia to urea, which is vital in metabolism
Destroys old red blood cells
So when you support your liver, you’re helping it to complete these tasks more easily. The benefits of this are:
Better digestion, which includes:
better gut health,
better absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Easier weight loss
Management of type II diabetes
So What Do I Recommend?
Radishes. Radishes can be completely underrated. Fresh from the garden (or farmer’s market) radishes are delightfully spicy, juicy and a little sweet. They come in two different colours, black and red. The black ones are spicy like horseradish and can clear your sinuses in a matter of seconds (and sometimes make your mouth go numb – that was an interesting day).
Radishes are full of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are that pretty bright red color you see in the skin of the radish. They’re more than pretty though – they pack a wallop of antioxidants, fighting age-related brain disorders and protecting your heart health.
Radishes are also a source of a unique molecule called indol-3-carbinol (I3C). I3C reduces inflammatory intermediates in the blood. These intermediates are what signal increased blood flow to an injured area, causing inflammatory symptoms. Which is really just a fancy way of saying that radishes help fight inflammation related problems like gout and arthritis.
Radishes are an excellent source of potassium. This mineral supports proper fluid balance in the body by acting as a diuretic in opposition to sodium. Potassium attaches itself to sodium and helps pull it from the body. The symptoms of a sodium/potassium imbalance include swollen ankles or fingers, extreme thirst and irregular heartbeat: all of which contribute to hypertension. So radishes help eliminate high blood pressure and swelling due to water retention.
My favourite radish recipe:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
½ teaspoon sugar
kosher salt and black pepper
1 large head Boston lettuce, leaves torn (about 10 cups)
1 medium head radicchio, leaves torn (about 4 cups)
1 bunch radishes, cut into thin wedges
1/2pound snap peas, trimmed and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper.
Then add the lettuce, radicchio, radishes, and snap peas and toss to combine. For an extra treat, you can braise the radishes, which will change the textures and flavors of the salad.
Any other questions or comments? Let me know in the comments!