During these end-of-summer months, more carbohydrates become available in the form of fruits and veggies.
When you eat those summer fruits and vegetables, your pancreas responds with a rise in insulin levels, the hormone that prompts your cells to absorb blood sugar into the muscles for energy or storage.
As the summer carb-loading peaks in September, the body becomes naturally insulin resistant—meaning your cells cannot consume one more calorie of sugar.
The excess sugar from the summer carbs, as a result of September’s insulin resistance, begins the storage of fat. (5) This storage of fat provides the energy reserves required for the winter famine.
Our ancestors protected themselves from the famine of winter by preserving vegetables—by fermenting them or salting them.
Foods are fermented through a process called lactic acid fermentation or preserved by salting them. Doing this makes those foods heating in nature. Remember salt melts ice!
We RecommendFermented Foods and Ayurveda
While fermented foods are great to eat more of during the winter, September is a time of feasting on rich in foods that are alkaline, not acidic, in nature.
Look for foods that cool the body, such as apples, pomegranates, and watermelons and all of the end-of-season veggies exploding out of your garden and at your local CSA (Community-supported agriculture) farms.
Be mindful of your salt intake this month, as come winter, there will be a higher intake of sodium. High sodium levels are linked to a host of health concerns including high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, muscle aches, tiredness and more.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate very little sodium, less than 1000 milligrams per day. The average American eats more than 3000 milligrams per day.
Our bodies evolved to hold onto as much sodium as possible, so when we overeat it in the form of salt, we pay a price—often referred to as “holding onto water,” but otherwise known as lymphatic congestion.
Our ancestors also ate more than 11,000 mg of potassium per day, while we eat on average 1300 mg per day. The recommended daily intake is 4700 mg per day.
Because we evolved eating a ton of potassium-rich foods, we developed the ability to excrete it in the urine. The balance between sodium and potassium is critical. September—as is all of summer—a time to boost potassium and decrease sodium in the diet.
This month, eat more end-of-summer foods that are rich in potassium, and low in sodium, such as:
- Leafy Green Vegetables
As summer winds down and we move into fall, aim to eat 4 times more potassium than sodium.
The right ratio of potassium to sodium in the diet activates the potassium-sodium pump in the body that delivers hundreds of thousands of volts of electricity in the body that drives our energy.
This is why these are called electrolytes—because they literally make electricity!
Eating too much sodium salt from processed or packaged foods, and too little potassium from not eating enough fresh, whole seasonal foods will turn off the energy-making potassium-sodium pump, leaving you depleted, exhausted, and with a congested lymphatic system.
September is the season to energize and cool the body with cooling, energy-rich, high-potassium, low-sodium fruits and veggies.
The boost in potassium this time of year is no mistake for mammals. This is the time of year they need the energy the most—for mating!
September is mating month for most mammals. This allows for the babies to be born in early spring, giving them ample time to grow and gain some fat to endure the next fall and winter.
To support higher end-of-summer energy, melatonin levels are naturally high in the winter and low in the summer. In nature, high sex hormones in the winter (when melatonin levels are high) result in babies being born in the fall that are not ready to endure a brutal winter.
This is why high levels of melatonin have well-documented birth control properties. (1-8)
These end-of-summer days, blood sugar, insulin levels and cortisol (stress hormones) are surging as mammals prepare to fight for the right to reproduce.
Sex hormones also surge, boosting serotonin levels which pumps, amps and over-sensitizes the mammals, readying them for mating rituals—which can often be bloody. Serotonin thickens the blood for better clotting and constricts blood vessels, so if the mammal is injured during the rut, the body is literally ready for a fight. (1-8)
As serotonin rises, dopamine (the reward hormone) falls. Serotonin falls after mating, and then dopamine rises. Like a perfect symphony, winter then comes and everyone goes to sleep. The days quickly become shorter and the nights longer. Melatonin levels surge, and the thought of sex is replaced with the desire to sleep. (1-8)
When the sun sets, us humans have the tendency to turn on the lights and keep them on for an average of 6 hours after the sunset. That is six hours less melatonin, and more cortisol than we need.
Remember, as cortisol rises because we are awake, so do carb cravings, blood sugars, insulin and sex hormones, all at the wrong time of year.
In the natural world, we would be gorging on carbs, getting ready to mate, store fat, reserve fuel, burn the excess fat and shift from being summer/fall carb-burners to winter/spring fat-burners.
This September, give yourself permission to eat fruit, veggies and grains—as long as you are willing to minimize these during the winter and spring.
September is the beginning of a major shift, as we go from carbohydrate-feasting to fat-burning fasting next spring. It all starts now… so get ready and enjoy the last month of summer!
Reiter, R. Bantam Books, NY. 1996. p/163,169
TS, Lights Out. Atria Books, 2000
Seasonal Grocery List
When we adjust our diet and lifestyle to match the season, health-promoting digestive microbes dramatically change. Summer microbes support balanced immunity, digestion, mood, energy, blood sugar, weight, sleep – and much more. Summer is also associated with the qualities of ‘Pitta,’ which are hot, light and dry. To stay balanced, focus on foods and activities that are cool, moist, heavy and oily. Experiment with the flavors and enjoy!
September Seasonal Posts
The long days of summer provide more daylight hours to eat ourselves into balance… or eat ourselves out of balance. Understanding the importance of summer fare and following certain summer digestive guidelines are the keys for a healthy fall and winter. In this article, I will list my top preventive tips as well as my favorite summer foods we should all be seeking out. Let’s reap the benefits that summer was originally meant to bring us!
September is the month that fruits and vegetables are the most bountiful. Farmers are harvesting all of the goodies from the crops and delivering them to the locations where they are used or sold, preparing for the down season and for the cold air that is slowly creeping in. If we ate only from the seasonal harvest (as our ancient ancestors and most mammals still do), we would be loading up on these fruits and veggies… with a purpose!
More and more parents are asking, “What can I do preventatively now to keep my family healthy this year?” Over the years, I have streamlined 5 basic lifestyle tips based on the five-thousand-year-old, time-tested medical system of Ayurveda. These are all outlined in my book, Perfect Health for Kids, and I have summarized them in this article.
September 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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