Welcome to November!
Here are some things to think about this month:
1. Combat the dryness.
Winter is 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 some real problems.
The foods we will be eating during winter are just one of nature’s strategies to protect the gut from the coldness and dryness of winter by soothing, warming and lubricating the intestinal walls. Make sure you are eating enough fiber to boost digestive function and support immunity. You’ll want to be eating soluble fiber, which expands and becomes slimy in water, like oatmeal and psyllium.
We RecommendSoluble vs. Insoluble Fiber for Each Season
2. Stoke your inner digestive heat.
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. The stomach produces an acid called hydrochloric acid (HCL) that is responsible for breaking down many of the hard-to-digest proteins we consume. While excess stomach acid is seemingly becoming an increasingly prevalent issue these days, sometimes it is necessary to boost the production of the stomach fire (acid). To do so, please see my article, “Reset Digestive Fire (Agni)” for an easy protocol to reset your digestive furnace.
The Miracle of Amylase
Amylase is a starch-digesting enzyme that we started producing some 1-2 million years ago. Because early hominids gathered high-starch foods, such as grains and tubers, we acquired a gene to make our own amylase. In fact, according to a study at the University of Utah, early humans were able to gather enough wheat berries in just 2 hours to feed them for an entire day. With most of the African continent covered in grassland that was loaded with wheat and barley, studies suggest that is exactly what early humans ate – grains and grass seeds.
In the same study, researchers found residues of gluten in the teeth plaque of ancient humans 3.5 million years ago, suggesting we have been eating grains for a very long time – not just 10,000 years as purported. Somewhere along the way, and scientists are not quite sure exactly when, we started making our own starch-digesting enzyme.
Without amylase, we would not digest wheat very well. Today, a deficiency of amylase is linked to a wheat allergy, called Baker’s Asthma. Studies have shown that modern humans produce more amylase in the fall and winter, during the colder months, than they do in the warmer spring and summer months.
Remember, only eat bread that has organic whole wheat, salt, water and perhaps a starter. Nothing else is needed to make bread.
Sourdough bread has significantly lower levels of gluten, and can actually even be gluten-free if made right.
Spelt bread has significantly less phytic acid, which makes it easier to digest.
Rye bread has shown to be easier on the blood sugar compared to other types of bread, although studies show that whole wheat, when not processed, has a low glycemic index.
Sprouted or soaked grains have less anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid and lectin, and are easier to digest. The sprouting of the grains also makes them more alkaline.
Kamut and ancient grain has more antioxidants, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol, and has been shown to be beneficial for IBS and Leaky Gut Syndrome.
3. Get more rest.
As the days get shorter, the body’s “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system is activated in preparation for shorter days and longer nights. The body is wired to digest more dense, higher protein and higher fat foods in the winter, as the digestion is stronger.
Circadian changes in the winter encourage the body to get more sleep as part of the parasympathetic activation as well. Align yourself with these circadian rhythms and allow yourself to get more rest. It’s best to get to sleep between 8-10pm if possible.
4. Increase stress-relieving practices.
To effectively combat stress, we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response. I have 3 self-love recommendations:
- Daily warm oil self-massage (abhyanga).
- Meditation. Try my One Minute Meditation, and if you want to go deeper, check out my meditation eCourse, the Transformational Awareness Technique.
- Sun salutations.
5. Increase intake of fats and proteins.
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. Start incorporating 1 teaspoon of coconut oil each day into your diet, cook with both ghee and coconut oil, and add olive oil to your dishes post-cooking. Eat more nuts, seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin and sunflower) and animal protein if you are not a vegetarian.
Your diet should be 90% plant-based, and 10% animal protein, nuts, seeds, and yogurts and cheeses. If you are vegetarian, it is very important during the winter to consume lots of beans and legumes, as they are loaded with fiber, and essential for detox and stable blood sugar. To make legumes more balancing in the winter, cook them with cumin, hing, fennel, salt, onions and pepper.
6. Stay warm.
Keep your head warm especially. The body loses most of its heat through the head. The colder the body becomes, the more “fight or flight” immune-compromising stress is activated to cope with the winter chill. Wear hats throughout the day and sometimes even at night, this will de-stress the nervous system and allow for better sleep.
7. Slow down and relax when you eat your food.
This activates the rest and digest parasympathetic nervous system to help calm the mind and boost efficiency of digestion.
We Recommend3 Habits of People with Perfect Digestion
8. Keep your immune system strong.
- Vitamin D3 – 4000IU a day with the main meal (2000 daily for kids)
- Turmeric Plus – 2 caps with breakfast (1 for kids)
- For kids that have a tendency to make a lot of mucus, consider the formula Mucus Destroyer instead.
- Ashwagandha – 2 caps with breakfast (1 for kids)
- Chyawanprash – 1-2 teaspoons daily, or more if you have the sense that you are getting rundown. Only for children over 2 years old.
Seasonal Grocery List
When we adjust our diet and lifestyle to match the season, health-promoting digestive microbes dramatically change. During November, eat more foods off of the Winter Grocery List. Experiment with the flavors and enjoy!
November Seasonal Posts:
How NOT To Get Sick & Fat This Winter: According to Ayurveda, November is the first month of winter, and the cause for a dramatic shift in diet and behavior. Winter and its dietary prescription of more proteins and fats to rebuild the body and mind while insulating us from the cold winter months will last from November through February.
Great Winter Complexion as Easy as 1-2-3: Every winter, our skin is severely challenged to maintain its elasticity, youthfulness and glow. Lucky for us, nature has a plan to deliver inner and outer skin support during the skin-harsh winter season – with none other than its harvest!
6 Ways to Boost Immunity this Winter: There are many Ayurvedic practices that can help you stay healthy throughout the winter months. The best part? Several of these quick and easy techniques can be done in the shower, so they don’t make a big mess. Here are my 6 best tips for avoiding bugs and feeling your best this winter.
November Seasonal Recipes:
These fantastic recipes are gifted to us by the lovely Emma Frisch: cook, blogger, freelance food writer, and former farmer. She is Co-Founder and Director of Culinary Experience at Firelight Camps and was a top finalist on Food Network Star, Season 10. Emma’s recipes fall right in place with the rest of our diet and seasonal eating recommendations.
All photos and recipes by Emma Frisch.
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Introduce yourself to your new community! Let us and your fellow challengers know why you’re looking forward to the next year of living and eating with the seasons. Post inspiration, photos, recipe ideas, and more to social using hashtag #3SeasonDiet.