Ayurvedic Diet for April
Source; Joyfullbelly, Joyful Belly. Diet & Lifestyle, "Discover How to Heal".
Have you caught 'Spring Fever'?By April spring fever is in full swing. You may have been hibernating indoors throughout March to avoid the tumultuous weather, but by the time April rolls around, the great outdoors is calling. Children stare longingly at the window, itching to get outside. This itch is commonly known as 'spring fever.' What you may not know is that spring fever is also a physical condition that comes with the mounting heat - that itch to get outside is an important sign that physical changes are happening in your body.
Do you live in the Southern Hemisphere? You may need the Ayurvedic Diet for October instead. April in the southern hemisphere is equivalent to October in the northern hemisphere.
ClimateThe world comes to life in spring. Birds sing, bees buzz, and small critters who hibernated warm and cozy all winter are also coaxed into the sun. Buds swell and leaves unfold from the barren trees, creating a cool green canopy in the forest. Luscious flowers open up, offering their intoxicating scent to the mix. Teachers know just how difficult it is to conduct a class at this time of year - once spring fever sets in, the children are eager and restless. Late spring is one of the most inviting, beautiful, inspirational times of year. It's impossible to resist the enthusiasm that comes with it!
Psychology of AprilApril and May are full of sweetness and affection. With the itch to get outside, the desire for romance arises in the hearts of the birds, the bees, and people too! Springtime is a traditional courting season. Archetypal Bambie has transformed from young and clumsy to mighty and elegant - a real catch! The thrill of the chase inspires teenagers to fall madly into puppy love and behave ridiculously! In fact, in Chinese Medicine, falling in love is considered a form of madness. It's wonderful, but it makes you stir-crazy just like a spring fever.
Your liver is pretty hot by this time in the season so you may also be inclined to hot blooded reactions like anger. Winter's bitterness becomes anger in spring. What you have been stewing on all winter rises to the surface to sprout. Physically, angry rashes may spread on your skin. The same foods that drain liver toxins in early spring also cool down your blood mid spring. Hot blood from your heart slows and cools as you eat bitter greens. With these bitters, you may gently return to a state of sanity.
April in Your BodyA warm day in April presents a new challenge for your body. Spring fever isn't just a mental condition, but a physical one as well. Your body, accustomed to the cold of winter, is now adapting to consistently warmer days. This is a huge transition! Although you have may have been craving this heat, your body isn't ready just yet - it's still catching up to the changing weather. As a result, this excess heat can cause symptoms related to congestion and puffiness, especially for Kapha and Pitta types. As much as the sap runs in the maple trees, your hands may swell on a warm day in April as your heart rate increases. You may notice your cheeks and face feel swollen and puffy. With every one degree rise in basal body temperature, the heart rate increases by ten beats per minute.
Spring restores your youthful glow. With the heat, your skin color transitions from the gray and lifeless color of winter to the rosy-cheeked glow of summer. Heat pushes blood into your extremities which have been neglected over the cold winter months. This blood surges into your muscles bringing with it an itch to move, to get outdoors, till the garden, and bask in the sunshine. The enthusiasm is contagious.
Kapha in AprilWhile April showers bring May flowers, they also increase the humidity in the air and make you prone to symptoms of Kapha aggravation like mucus congestion. The body may still be congested by excess Kapha in April, so the fragrant air can easily aggravate sensitive respiratory systems and internal dampness. Favor pungent and diuretic foods and herbs to keep Kapha's accumulated moisture flowing out of the body.
Pitta in AprilAllergies are in full swing as everything begins to bloom and the air thickens with pollen. A stressed liver can make Pitta individuals more prone to allergic reactions. Common April symptoms include a runny nose, itchy eyes (due to liver heat), rashes and sore throats. Pitta types in particular benefit from liver cleansing with bitter foods and herbs. Enjoy the wild green bitters like chickweed and dandelion popping up beneath your feet. Soothe red, itchy eyes with a cooling rose water eye rinse in the mornings.
Vata in AprilVata types continue to enjoy the bliss of spring's moisture and warmth in April. They need to be mindful of keeping grounded with a good daily routine (dinacarya) amidst the excitement of spring fever.
RoutineDon't oversleep this time of year! It is ideal to wake with the sun. Begin your day by rinsing your sinuses with a neti pot followed by an invigorating breathing practice, which can be as simple as several full deep inhalations and exhalations. Your full breaths should include both dropping the diaphragm (belly breathing) and expanding the chest. These will keep your lymphatic system refreshed and cleansed, ensure your airways remain open, your mind alert, and digestive fire stoked.
Get some color in your skin and a healthy dose of vitamin D by soaking up more sunlight with the warmer weather. Movement is also key during spring. Longer days mean that there's plenty of time to get a short workout in after work. Aim for at least 15 minutes of daily exercise. Walking, hiking and biking are all great ways to lighten up and enjoy the fresh spring air. Your exercise routine should also include stimulating backbends that will energize you, open the lungs and wring out the liver.
Just as the seeds deep in the soil become swollen with April's moisture, so does your body. You may notice your rings seem to be suffocating your fingers and your feet may feel squished in your shoes. As the weather warms up, trade abhyanga for skin brushing. This will help to reduce the natural spring puffiness that abounds in April. Sip cumin, coriander and fennel tea throughout the day. It's diuretic nature flushes excess water from the body.
Diet for AprilLight fare abounds in the spring, and your body is ready for it. All fall and winter, you did your best to eat foods that would keep you warm and strong. But now it's time to drop your storehouse of fats and sweets. Rather than hearty roots, the springtime diet should favor greens like dandelion and arugula along with fresh, light tender sprouts like asparagus.
Springtime flourishes with wild abundance! You can find many wild greens like dandelion and chickweed cropping up beneath your feet. Eating these fresh, young spring greens are nature's timely remedy. Their bitter taste drains heat from your blood thereby saving you from fever, sore throats, swollen hands, and heat-induced headaches. Other spring bitters that drain dampness and support liver cleansing include fennel bulb, watercress, chard, radicchio, kohlrabi, lettuce, beet greens, endive and microgreens. Their lightness brings welcome relief from liver congestion and sluggish circulation. You'll start to crave the refreshed feeling they offer. Sour foods also support gentle cleansing of the liver. Serve up ferments, grapefruit, and raw beets to show your liver some love.
April's theme is puffiness. Life is literally swelling with potential! You may notice yourself less thirsty than usual and it's fine to cut back on your water intake, but not if you are sweating. Diuretics such as corn, celery, kale, cabbage and collards should be on the spring menu. These help to dry out overly moist and puffy Kapha in the watery month of April. To encourage healthy circulation and reduce puffiness, especially when your hands and face are swollen, also use diaphoretics. Diaphoretics are herbs that help you sweat by dilating capillary beds. Pungent diaphoretics like radishes, mustard greens, arugula, chives, raw onions and garlic will facilitate blood flow to the surface of your body (called the exterior in Chinese medicine). Aromatic diaphoretics include mint, peppermint, rosemary and basil. The improved circulation from these diaphoretics will combat general sluggishness due to excess Kapha as well. Spices such as cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and black pepper also increase circulation and can be used generously this time of year.
The astringency of cool bean salads, especially chickpeas, are also timely. Astringent foods like legumes, sprouts, raw veggies, millet, barley and buckwheat tighten and tone loose tissue, perfect as April puffiness sets in. Avoid Kapha provoking foods like wheat, dairy, sugar and salt as well as heavy, fatty, fried foods which also tax the liver. Eat Kapha pacifying fruits that aren't too sweet. These include apricots, cherries, oranges (don't forget to use the zest!), lemon, pomegranates, tangerines and kumquats. Take your fill of the earth's bountiful spring offering, and feel the healing effects on your body.
Dry Up MoistureDrying, bitter, and pungent herbs are useful this month. Bibhitaki is one of the three fruits in Triphala and renowned for balancing Kapha. Its astringency, along with dry and light qualities, sop up the excess moisture and heaviness of Kapha - clearing out the places where Kapha easily accumulates including the sinuses, lungs, liver and lymph (rasa dhatu).
Kapha's accumulation in your lymph is what leads to your spring puff. As mentioned above cumin, coriander and fennel tea is a famous detox & digestive blend that supports weight loss and reduces water weight. CCF makes you to feel light and vibrant as metabolism improves and swelling is reduced.
Cleansing BittersLiver & lymph cleanse tea is another spring favorite - a custom formulation designed to detoxify and fortify the liver while strongly moving lymph and flushing the gallbladder of bile. It also serves to jumpstart your sluggish metabolism, enabling you to easily shed winter weight and kiss that puffiness goodbye!
Bitter herbs cleanse the liver and keep Kapha check. Our formula Digestive bitters stimulates digestion and cleanses the liver and blood of heavy fats while promoting mental clarity. It also relieves uncomfortable abdominal bloating, swelling and promotes weight loss. As if that weren't enough, this formula contains herbs often used to lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides. Experience why this formula is a Joyful Belly favorite!
Our formula, Gall Bladder Tonic, contains bhumyamalaki and a number of herbs to reduce fatty liver and clear a congested spring gallbladder. Bhumyamalaki is the quintessential Ayurvedic herb for cleansing the liver as the very bitter taste cools, soothes and cleanses. With its special affinity for the liver, bhumyamalaki acts to detoxify and strengthen this essential organ. It also supports proper function of the gallbladder and promotes healthy skin. An excellent herb for both Pitta and Kapha, bhumyamalaki is useful for those with constitutions that would benefit from its dry and light qualities.
Bitter ghee is yet another option for liver and gallbladder cleansing. A classic formula for Pitta Kapha disorders, it is used to relieve irritability, liver congestion, and gallbladder stagnation.
Commonly known for it's ability to relieve a sunburn, aloe vera gel's appeal includes many other health benefits. The bitter taste of aloe vera soothes and cleanses irritated tissues. It also acts as a cholagogue, stimulating the gallbladder to release bile. As bile is a fatty substance, release of bile also tends to lower blood fat, cholesterol and improve fat metabolism. As it decongests your lymphatic system, the cooling drink is an excellent way to help your body cleanse in the spring. Aloe also helps balance blood sugar levels, which is why aloe vera has been traditionally recommended for diabetes and balancing Kapha.
PungentsPungent herbs dispel mucus congestion and stoke a sluggish digestive fire. Trikatu is Ayurveda's favorite pungent Kapha balancing herbal formula. Trikatu not only gets your blood moving, it supports the metabolism of fat and toxins. Its warming and drying pungency wrings out excess moisture and kick starts your digestive fire, moving you from couch potato to spring chicken. Bitter orange peel is a classic herb for boosting metabolism. It's anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antifungal properties reduce your susceptibility to spring colds and allergies.
Ensure your elimination is regular and your colon is cleansed with Ayurveda's classic formula triphala. Triphala's drying nature also helps to reduce spring puffiness.
By following these tips, you'll delight in spring's abundance and enjoy optimal health in April.