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!
The carbohydrates attained from the fruits and veggies would induce a blood sugar spike and, in response, insulin levels would rise in order to deliver the carbs as blood sugar to the brain, muscles and fat and, ultimately, boost hormone production.
As the summer carb-loading peaks in September, the body becomes naturally insulin resistant—meaning the muscle 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 insulation needed and energy reserves required for the winter-spring “famine” waiting around the corner.
September is also 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.
Melatonin’s Role during Sextember
Melatonin, which connects us to the daily and seasonal cycles, regulates most of the hormones of the body, including the sex hormones. Having a baby in early spring required most mammals to mate in the summer and, most commonly, September.
Melatonin is only produced at night, after the sun sets. As the sunlight lingers for longer during the summer, melatonin levels tend to be suppressed. We produce more melatonin in the winter, when the nights are longer.
The prolonged duration of the nighttime release of melatonin that occurs at the change of season between summer and winter acts as the endocrine signal for de-activating the hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone that is required for pregnancy.
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For seasonal breeders, Sextember is the last chance to conceive before the surging melatonin levels block conception.
This is why high levels of melatonin have well-documented birth control properties. (1-8)
In nature, sex hormones rise when insulin rises, and blood sugars and insulin both surge in the summer/fall, when melatonin levels are still low.
During these end-of-summer days, blood sugar, insulin levels, cortisol (stress hormones) and serotonin 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, readying the animal for a fight in the rut, the reward hormone, dopamine, is on deck. As serotonin falls after sex, dopamine rises – reward and pleasure hormones surge.
Like a circadian symphony, Sextember is followed by a sinking sun, and longer nights. Melatonin levels surge, and the thought of sex is replaced with the desire to sleep. (1-8)
Sadly, when the sun sets, we turn on 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. Clearly, we have evolved away from being seasonal breeders, but the seasonal hormonal shifts albeit not as pronounced as they may have been thousands of years ago are still present inside all of us.
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!