In This Article
Are you in the Southern Hemisphere? See the May Guide here.
Welcome to November!
Here are some things to think about this month:
1. Combat 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 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. (Check out our Ayurvedic massage oil.) 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 eat 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 eat 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, ground flax, and chia seeds. Start with 1 Tbs organic ground flax seeds with water every morning this winter.
2. Stoke inner digestive heat
The late fall harvest, which we eat throughout winter, is rich in denser foods like root veggies, winter squashes, hearty greens, grains, nuts, and seeds. All these foods are much harder to digest compared to foods of spring and summer, thus, a stronger digestion is essential. The stomach produces an acid called hydrochloric acid (HCl), responsible for breaking down many hard-to-digest proteins. While excess stomach acid a seemingly increasingly prevalent issue these days, sometimes it is necessary to boost stomach fire (acid). To do so, please see my article Reset Digestive Fire (Agni) Protocol for an easy protocol to reset your digestive furnace.
Miracle of Amylase
Amylase is a starch-digesting enzyme that we started producing some one to two 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 two hours to feed them for an entire day. With most of the African continent covered in grassland 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 show modern humans produce more amylase in fall and winter, during colder months, than they do in the warmer spring and summer months.
Read my wheat and gluten articles here.
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 antinutrients, such as phytic acid and lectin, and are easier to digest. Sprouting 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 winter, as digestion is stronger.
Circadian changes in winter encourage the body to get more sleep as part of 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 four 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.
- Increase intake of fats and proteins.
As the cold, dry weather chills our bones, nature offers much-needed insulation in the form of high-protein and high-fat foods. Start incorporating one tsp ghee or 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 vegetarian.
Can’t find unadulterated extra virgin olive oil? Try my favorite small farms award-winning organic olive oil, Fandango.
Your diet should be 90% plant-based, and 10% animal protein, meaning meat and dairy. If you’re vegetarian, it is very important during winter to consume lots of beans and legumes, as they are loaded with fiber, and are essential for detox and stable blood sugar. To make legumes more balancing in winter, cook them with cumin, hing, fennel, salt, onions, and pepper.
5. 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 chill. Wear hats throughout the day and sometimes even at night; this will destress the nervous system and allow for better sleep.
6. Slow down and relax when you eat
This activates the rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system to help calm the mind and boost efficiency of digestion.
7. Keep your immune system strong
Consider my Winter Immune-Boosting Kit, which consists of vitamin D3, turmeric, ashwagandha, and chyawanprash to keep you and your family healthy all winter.
- Vitamin D3: 4,000 IU a day with the main meal (2,000 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 tsp 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 diet and lifestyle to match the season, health-promoting digestive microbes dramatically change. During November, eat more foods off the Winter Grocery List. Experiment with flavors and enjoy!
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 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! Read my top three tips for protecting skin all winter long.
6 Ways to Boost Immunity this Winter: There are many Ayurvedic practices that can help you stay healthy throughout winter. 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 six best tips for avoiding bugs and feeling your best this winter.
By Emma Frisch
- Lemon Pistachio + Ginger Granola
- Delicata Squash + Kale Pie
- Magical Root Vegetable + Maple Gratin
- Maple-Rosemary Roasted Nuts
Prebiotic Foods that Balance Vata
Chicory Root | Harvested Fall: Balances Vata
Chicory root, known for its coffee-like flavor, is commonly used as a coffee substitute. 47% of chicory root is inulin, a powerful prebiotic. Inulin is known to support healthy digestion, elimination, and microbiome.3 Because it supports proliferation of beneficial bacteria and these bacteria make gas, be prepared to experience slight bloating when you start consuming chicory. With prebiotic foods, start with a small dose and build up slowly based on your tolerance as your gut bugs change.
Yacon Root | Harvested Fall: Balances Vata
Yacon roots are very similar to sweet potatoes and are rich in fiber. They grow in the Andean region of South America. Yacon roots are an abundant source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin.4 Studies have found yacon root supports healthy regulation of the immune response, glucose balance, mineral absorption, and lipid metabolism. As a result, glycemic levels, body weight, and colon challenges can be reduced.4
Flaxseeds | Fall Harvest: Balances Vata
Flaxseeds are 20-40% soluble fiber from mucilage gums and 60-80% insoluble fiber from cellulose and lignin. Fiber-rich flaxseeds also contain powerful antioxidant compounds that promote healthy gut bacteria, regular bowel movements, and healthy weight loss.5
To see all prebiotic recommendations, read Nourish Your Microbiome: Seasonal Prebiotics for Your Ayurvedic Body Type.
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