What is it about summer that gets us going into carnivore mode? Certainly, the greater availability of fresh fruits is a bonus, and many of us do indulge with more than our fill of these. But this fruit gorging pales in comparison with our yearning for meat (any kind), especially when cooked on the barbecue. Just imagine it: The heavenly scent of a steak or a chop of even a humble hotdog smoldering and glistening on the grill, right above those red hot coals, the smoke wafting so invitingly on the summer wind? It’s an almost mystical urge that comes with the season, and it’s extremely difficult to resist. Then again, why should you? Barbecues are just one of the joys of the season. It would be almost criminal not to have one — or accept an invitation to one — while summer shines.
Still there is infinite wisdom in the old saying,”Too much of a good thing is bad.” Or isn’t good. Whatever. The thought remains the same. In this case, meat may be good for the body, but always in moderation. If you take too much of it, it’s almost like taking a piece of cork and jamming it up your arteries yourself. You wouldn’t do that, would you?
This summer, make a note to yourself: This season isn’t just about stuffing yourself; it’s about healing as well. The two-phase kind of healing that starts with purifying (healing out), followed by replenishing / recharging (healing in). It’s not hard, and — even better — it can get you really revved up to enjoy the season so much more.
Phase 1, the purifying stage, involves increased consumption of fresh fruits and veggies that either rid you of toxins or boost the efficiency levels of various internal organs. Among your best bets:
• Cabbage — Loads of Vitamin C and sulfur in this powerhouse veggie are believed to cleanse the blood and rid it of toxins, erasing what experts call ‘toxin fatigue’.
• Leafy Green Vegetables — A take-off from item #1: Leafy greens and even dark greens such as spinach and broccoli are very high — like, stratospherically — in chlorophyll, the plant pigment that can actually suck the toxins out of the bloodstream and increase your immunity levels.
• Lemon — We tend to think of lemons in the same way we think of oranges: as Vitamin C storehouses. The truth is, lemons also help the liver to break down toxins so that they can be absorbed by water and then expelled through urine. Once this happens, your metabolism works more efficiently and you’ll find your body is more able to ward off the sniffles.
• Red Grapes — Don’t associate them with Christmas because they’re available all year round. These little edible globes are a rich source of potassium and are low in salt, so they act as a diuretic and cleanse the body of toxins.
• Avocados — In addition to being sinfully, silkily delicious, avocados also offer a host of health benefits, beginning with their Omega-9 fatty acids content, which help the liver in cranking up its waste-purging function.
Now for the replenishing / recharging phase, here’s a short list of nature’s most potent veggies that can heal you from inside:
• Radishes (Labanos) — Their slightly peppery taste is always a welcome addition to salads. But you’ll be even happier to know that its sulfur-rich compounds can keep your GI system humming at peak levels by barring the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
• Leeks (Kuchay) — Here’s a vegetable that replenishes your insides and keeps you feeling as sunny as the weather as well! Leeks contain a unique substance called kaempferol, a flavonoid that bars the breakdown of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that induce feelings of serenity and happiness.
• Asparagus — Talk about a veggie that can really get you feeling sexy! The lethargy that comes from bloat and puffiness will be a thing of the past, thanks to its asparagine content — an amino acid with fantastic diuretic properties, ridding your cells of trapped toxins and expelling them from the body.
• Watercress (Tonghoy) — Although its distinctly peppery taste is, for some, an acquired taste, its health benefits should make it a regular part of your summer diet. Watercress has loads of Vitamin K, a nutrient that encourages the growth of new bone tissue.