Spring: The Season for Cleansing and Paddling

ArticleMarch 10, 2022

Does spring trigger thoughts of allergies, red eyes, stuffy noses and other seasonal health issues?

Fluctuating temperatures, pollen, and wet, cool weather can contribute to allergies and a weakened immune system.

When the snowmelt and/or spring rains are keeping your favorite rivers at optimal flow, it’s a downer to be feeling less energetic, foggy and full of phlegm.

The good news is there are practical diet and daily routine habits that can help you feel optimized, healthy and ready to hit the water in full force this spring.

Here are my top five must-do spring habits for your best spring paddling season. I’ve also included a delicious (and healthy) oatmeal recipe.

Swap your morning coffee with warm lemon water.

Spring is the season of cleansing, and drinking warm lemon water first thing in the morning is a gentle daily cleanser, especially for your kidneys and urinary tract.

In addition, the warmth of the water plus the heating quality of lemon help to stimulate digestion. Why is digestion important? Because when you’re digestive fire is strong, your body is better able to process what you consume and therefore your immune system functions better.

It’s easy! Cut a wedge of a fresh, organic lemon and squeeze it into a cup of freshly boiled water. Let cool until it’s comfortable to drink, then enjoy!

As an added bonus, the pectin in lemon helps with weight loss, too!

mug of hot water with slice of lemon in it

Keep warm and dry (when possible).

This means wear your drysuit, wetsuit and/or layer up when you're out paddling on a cool spring day. Don't under-dress just because some days/weeks, or parts of the day are warm(er). Wear enough clothing, including socks and shoes to keep you warm and dry. Not wearing enough clothes because you’re excited about warmish weather is a good way to weaken the immune system and get sick.

Anna paddling in green kayak.

Eat a small breakfast.

I recommend oatmeal with warming, digestive spices, including cinnamon, cardamom and clove.

Because spring is the season of cleansing, our bodies don’t need as much food. Eating a small, warm breakfast will help keep you nourished and your digestion and immunity strong. Check out my spring oatmeal recipe below!

Eat lots of dark, leafy and bitter greens…

…such as dandelion greens, kale, chard, arugula and spring mix. Dandelion greens are especially good for you in spring season because they help support and cleanse the liver. The liver is an important organ for cleansing the blood and processing things like medications, caffeine and alcohol. Our livers like to be loved during spring season so eat lots of greens and drink delicious liver supporting teas such as dandelion root tea.

Here’s the bad news.

If you suffer from spring allergies it’s time to cut out the dairy. I know, I love cheese too! Dairy is not only heavy, it’s known to produce phlegm in the body. The next time you drink milk or have a big hunk of cheese, notice how your nose tends to get stuffy almost immediately. To keep the nasal passages and your head clear this season ditch the dairy. Don’t worry, you can come back to it in the summertime and you’ll feel so much better!

Anna’s Spring Breakfast Oatmeal

  • 1/4 cup oatmeal, quinoa or millet (soaked overnight and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 date chopped or a handful of raisins
  • Cinnamon, cardamom, clove (put in however much you love)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 to a 1/2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 TBS flax

Bring to a boil, cover and turn heat to low. Cook 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes. Enjoy!

Want to learn more about seasonal diet and lifestyle choices for optimal health? Check out Anna’s Wellness Coaching and Art of Self Care Retreats to live and paddle better! mindbodypaddle.com

ceramic bowl of dark oatmeal

With 20+ years of experience as an accomplished whitewater paddler and instructor, NRS Ambassador Anna Levesque is the leading expert on kayak instruction for women and yoga and wellness for paddling, including SUP Yoga.