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It is hard to ignore the fact that seasonal foods have been feeding us since the beginning of our evolution and, as a result, our health depends greatly on a diet that changes with each season.
We have compelling evidence that suggests that microbes in the soil, the plants they attach to and the health benefits that both the microbes and plants offer us, are changing with each season. Let’s examine some of these seasonal benefits.
Each winter as the cold and dry weather chills our bones, nature offers much-needed insulation in the form of a high protein and high fat foods. We watch squirrels forage nuts and seeds each fall and winter for that exact purpose, to stay warm and insulated.
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The late fall harvest, which we eat throughout the winter, is rich in denser foods like root veggies, winter squashes, hearty greens, grains, nuts and seeds. All of these foods are much harder to digest compared to the foods of spring and summer, thus, a stronger digestion is essential. As always, nature answers the call by gracefully boosting digestive strength through the winter months. During the cold winter months, our bodies attempt to hold onto as much heat as possible. The more concentrated heat in the body, the stronger your digestive fire (agni), allowing your body to easily break down the dense foods of fall and winter.
An Antidote to Winter Dryness
Winter is also a very dry time of the year. This is partially due to the fact that summer, which precedes winter, is also very dry in most locations. So, in transition from a very hot and dry summer to a cold and dry winter, it is the dryness that prevails.
If the dryness of winter is not mitigated by foods and activities that are warm, moist heavy and oily, the body will dry out. Dry skin may be just a minor inconvenience of winter, but when dryness infiltrates the intestinal and respiratory tracts, it can cause a chain reaction of imbalances.
When the intestinal tract becomes overly dry, it can lead to sluggish and dry bowels, gas and bloating, and increased levels of toxicity. Also, the intestinal wall is where researchers believe 80% of the body’s immune system lives, which can be compromised when the intestinal skin dries out. Unfortunately, this happens most commonly in the winter when we need our immunity the most.
When the skin that lines the respiratory tract dries out, the mucus lining can become hypersensitive, forcing the production of excess mucus. As the body makes more mucus to combat the seasonal dryness, the excess mucus can become a breeding ground for undesirable bacteria. Just like in the intestines, the body’s optimal immunity depends on the healthy balance of mucus production in the sinuses and lungs.
Nature once again provides the antidote to the dryness of winter in two powerful ways:
- During the summer months, the harvest is rich in fruits and vegetables, helping to keep the body cool and prevent any unwanted dryness in body from the accumulation of summer’s heat.
- Then comes the fall and winter harvest, which is rich in higher fat foods that lubricate the mucus lining of the intestines, lungs and sinuses. If seasonal foods are eaten in the summer, fall and winter, the immunity — which depends on a healthy mucus lining — will be prepared to defend you through the long winter.
Unfortunately, few follow these simple principles and find their sinuses drying out in late fall, leaving them prone to histamine sensitivity in the fall and sluggish elimination come winter. The more dry you become in the winter, the more mucus you will produce in the spring. This can trigger yet another cycle of hypersensitivity, leaving your immune system unprepared for the wet, damp weather that comes with spring.