Eating with the seasons
This isn’t a new concept for most folks, but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate just how important it is to eat the foods that are being harvested, if not directly in the community you live, somewhere in the general vicinity. And for the snowy areas, this means perhaps from a more southern state that doesn’t have frozen topsoil. Each season brings its own special qualities and energetics. In the winter it’s colder in the Northern hemisphere, which means that the body requires more warming, grounding food, such as root vegetables, oily foods (pass the saturated fat please) and a good amount of protein. Notice I didn’t say lots of carbohydrates or sweets. During the darker months, it can be enticing to try to boost the ole feel good serotonin levels with sugar, but ultimately that will leave one more susceptible to the bugs that make their rounds during wintertime, and will cause a tendency to overeat. Maintaining physical activity, practices of finding joy on the inside (yoga anyone?!) and taking foods or supplements with Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and the long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA will help to keep the spirits up.
The colder months are also a time to eat more cooked foods rather than their raw counterparts. Humans have prepared food with heat for hundreds of thousands of years (researchers are still trying to figure out exactly when daily cooking began) and this tradition is thought to help stoke the digestive fire, or in ayurveda, jatharagni, not to mention increase the absorption of certain essential nutrients. We have various fires or agni’s throughout the body that work on a physical and energetic level to transform materials. More on jatharagni next article.
Keep it Simple
A trip to the Indian buffet (as delicious as it is) can be a recipe for digestive disaster. Any buffet or potluck for that matter. When a large variety of food is eaten at once, it burdens the digestive system. To put it in a simple manner, it’s confusing to the digestive organs, specifically the pancreas, which is one of the organs responsible for secreting digestive enzymes in response to what type of food is eaten. There are three basic digestive enzymes that are found throughout the alimentary tract; amylase to digest starch, lipase to digest fat, and protease to digest protein. In addition to these basic categories there are different types of proteases (trypsin and chymotrypsin) and other enzymes including ribonuclease, deoxyribonuclease, gelatinase and elastase. So if a bunch of different proteins are eaten, then the pancreas has to figure out the right amount and types of proteases to secrete into the small intestine.
It’s generally easier for the body to break down a few types of foods rather than a scoop of eight different dishes at a potluck. I know it’s all organic and made with love, it’s still not a good idea to go for everything. The body becomes familiar with the type of diet eaten, this is called “the law of adaptive secretions”. And when there’s a whole lot of new material to work with, it can be stressful to properly break down. The result of this confusion and poor function is usually bloating from gas produced by food fermenting in the stomach (burping) or in the intestinal tract (the other direction), heartburn, or loose stools. So do yourself a favor, and pick just a few dishes to enjoy instead of a little of everything.
Chew on this for a while, add it to the guidance from the previous installation of this digestive series, and let me know how it works out! To check out the first article see: A Guide in Optimal Digestion
Happy Digesting Friends!