By Shana Daniel, R.H.N
Now that winter has arrived, we may find ourselves gravitating towards foods which we associate with being more substantial, filling and hearty.
These foods include potatoes, (white and sweet variety), squash, rutabagas and other hearty options.
What is it about the cold months which signal our brains to choose hearty options with foods we wouldn’t typically lean towards in the spring and summer months?
The simple answer is ancestry, and the more complex is circadian rhythm.
Circadian rhythm related to eating dictates that there are windows where food can be digested and used for energy more effectively. Research suggests that going against these promotes insulin resistance and fat storage, where conclusive research cites disrupted circadian rhythms as being at the root of most weight and health issues.
How does the body know whether a food is in or out of season?
The xenohormesis theory seeks to answer this question. It proposes that phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables have a direct effect on biochemical pathways in animals, including us humans, via evolutionarily conserved signalling pathways.
These phytochemicals vary in availability depending on the season. Consuming the phytochemicals available in plants during a specific season helps an animals’ biology function optimally during that period, increasing their chances of survival. Based on this theory, consuming certain fruits and vegetables during the “wrong” season impairs these ancient, phytochemical-controlled signalling pathways in our bodies, ultimately altering our metabolic function.
During extended sunlight months, we naturally spend a great deal more time outdoors. We’re more active since we have more daylight hours. We also sweat more.
In turn, nature gives us some of the most hydrating foods of the year like watermelon, berries and cucumbers. It also gives us foods with rich sources of carbohydrates, such as peaches, melon, and corn.
In the fall and winter, when things begin to cool off and days become shorter, we crave fewer juicy melons and crisp salads.
Instead, we lean more towards warming foods such as vegetable soup, stews, grains, nuts, and avocado.
Fall also brings us the biggest harvest of apples, a fruit that’s filled with fibre and pectin to help us digest those bulkier foods we’re eating for warmth.
There’s also the citrus crop of winter that brings with it large doses of vitamin C, one of nature’s best protectors against the many bacteria and viruses which lurk in the coldest months.
When we consume fruits and vegetables at the time nature gives them to us, our bodies benefit by becoming stronger, healthier, and happier.
Seasonal eating makes us more aware of our body’s needs, and it brings our physical and nutritional well-being front and centre. When we get what we need, we feel better and more energized naturally.
Whether you decide to gravitate towards more demographically favoured foods full time or part-time, consider the positive impact your decision could have on the environment, local farming and cost. Farm to table means just that. And we all know that import of tropical pineapples in comparison to regionally grown potatoes and squash is pretty straightforward.
Relish in knowing that if you’re craving hearty nutrient-dense stews, curries and pilafs, now’s the time to enjoy them while these chilly months take precedence.
Find me once those glorious sunny warm days come knocking and I’ll be saying just the opposite – since that’s what seasonal eating is all about!
Visit www.wellnessessity.com for more information.