There have been several books written recently about the wisdom of eating in sync with the seasons. We can find food from around the world in our grocery stores, so the notion of eating seasonal foods seems like a novel idea, but it has been a fundamental belief of Chinese medicine for two thousand years.
Dr. Michelle Hughes, Comox Valley Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (www.comoxvalleyacupuncture.com) recently wrote about changing our diet for the fall season in her newsletter and has graciously allowed me to reprint it here.
Fall is the season of harvest, it is a time for us to pull inwards and store up fuel for the long winter months ahead. One of the ways to do this is through our diet. Just as fall has the movement of contracting and pulling inwards we must choose food that reflect the same qualities in order to preserve our energy.
One should also focus more attention on preparation in order to supply the greater energy required for the cooler months ahead. To begin the process of contraction one should add more sour flavoured foods to their diet. These include: sourdough bread, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, leaks, adzuki beans, salt plums, rosehip tea, vinegar, cheese, yogurt, lemons, limes, grapefruit, sour apples, plums and grapes. Now is also the time to switch from raw foods back to cooked foods . In the summer it is hot and we have the digestive energy required to break down raw food. However, when the weather turns cool one should cook all foods for longer periods of time on low heat.
Root vegetables are important in the fall as they are harvested in the fall. The Chinese followed the laws of nature to stay healthy and thus ate according to the seasons. So whatever vegetable is harvested in the fall is good for the diet.
The fall season also corresponds to the lung and large intestine. It is very important that we pay special attention in protecting the lungs and colon at this time. A majority of North Americans show signs of lung and colon weakness due to their sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. This leads to such mucous-laden pathologies such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, allergies, IBS, diverticulitis and ulcerative colitis.
Therefore one should include foods that specifically cleanse and protect the lungs and colon. Pungent foods help disperse the stuck mucous that is lodged in these organs. Pungent foods include all hot peppers and chillies.
However white pungent foods should be included specifically because white is the color of the lungs has more focus on that area. These foods include: onion, garlic, turnip, ginger, horseradish, cabbage, radish, daikon radish and white peppercorn.
Mucilaginous foods are also important as they renew the mucous membranes of the lungs and colon. The following plants have the ability to remove old, thick mucous deposits and replace it with a clean moist healthy mucous lining; seaweed, kombu, marshmallow root, flaxseed and fenugreek.
Dark green and golden orange vegetables have a protective effect beacause of their rich beta-carotene content. Recent studies have shown that foods rich in beta-carotene can protect the lungs and colon against cancer. These foods include: carrot, winter squash, pumpkin, broccoli, parsley, kale, mustard greens, wheat or barley grass, blue-green algae and nettles.
Another important part of the process is the cleansing process. To cleanse the lungs and colon one should eat a diet high in fiber. Research has shown that sufficient amounts of fiber can prevent appendicitis, colon cancer, diverticulitis constipation and hemorrhoids. Eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains should give you a sufficient amount of fiber in your diet.