The changing of the seasons is a beautiful time of year to re-assess your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Check in on how your body feels, what you might need to do to keep feeling good through the colder seasons, how to keep moving. The mental check in might be asking yourself whether the darker days and heavier foods are weighing you down. Did your summer energy go somewhere? What are you going to do to stay mentally active and excited through winter? Joining a class or learning something new? What about a spiritual check in. Thanksgiving is this weekend and I will think of all the things I am grateful for in this world and express gratitude for all the wonderful experiences I have had through this last season. The gratitude I have for my supportive family and loving friends, The gratitude for my life and all idiosyncrasy that make my reality quite humorous and bright.
The changing of one season into the next can be taxing on all of these parts of the self and it is important at these times to nurture yourself. Tired? Try to get to bed a little earlier for good health and supporting the immune system. Drink warmer teas that keep you hydrated and help your internal fire stoked. Peppermints and ginger boost immunity.
It's time to start cooking again (except for my raw vegan friends) cooking, roasting, stewing, baking and all the yummy foods of fall. One of the best things you can do for your immune system this fall is have a 'clean food' week in the kitchen. A small detox before the heavier foods and sweet treat season. Eat whole foods and avoid the processed stuff for just one week and I promise you better energy! Lentil soup and a spinach salad on Monday, Tuesday for steamed Talapia and organic wild rice, Wednesday cream of coconut carrot soup, quinoa and mixed veggies with a splash of Braggs on the Thursday. Friday calls for a huge salad with everything on it, topped with a salmon steak and drizzled with a fresh raspberry vinaigrette.... See, not that hard. Just keep the dairy, grains, sugar, and meat (except fish) off the plates for a week and you will feel excellent!
Why no dairy, wheat, meat or sugar you ask?
They cause inflammation in the body. The foods you choose can either promote or prevent inflammation. Foods containing arachidonic acid, such as eggs, organ meats (including liver, heart and giblets), beef and dairy products promote inflammation. Through a complicated process the body breaks down arachidonic acid into inflammatory compounds, including the hormones, prostaglandins and leukotrienes that control the mechanisms of inflammation, constrict blood vessels and promote blood clotting.
Overcooked food or foods cooked at high temperatures (including French fries, blackened and/or barbecued foods, fried chicken - high-heat frying or deep-fried foods) incite the inflammatory response because they create advanced glycation end products (AGES), something the body treats as an invader. AGES are produced when a protein is bound to a glucose molecule, resulting in damaged, cross-linked proteins. As the body tries to break these AGES apart, immune cells secrete large amounts of inflammatory cytokines. Many of the diseases that we think of as part of aging are actually caused by this process. Depending on where the AGES occur, the result can be arthritis, heart disease, cataracts, memory loss, wrinkled skin or diabetes complications, to name a few. And ore simply, the more your immune system is working on fighting against the cheese burger you just eat, the less it has the energy or alertness to to fight foreign proteins like viruses or bacterial infections.
Wheat has it own protein, gluten, that can also cause inflammation even if you are not allergic to it. This is because of a non specific antibody response that doesn't create the same intestinal permeability as an allergic celiac response. This has been hypothesized due to the increase of the hybridization and the genetic engineering of wheat crops over the past 50 years.
Sugar's un-sweet truth is that it can attach to components in the cell plasma membrane also forming chemicals called “advanced glycation end products”, same as the milk and the meat. Accumulation of AGEs in a cell can lead to malfunction. In addition to producing wrinkles in the skin, glycation degrades other vital organs, including your kidneys, lungs, and brain! The bond between the sugar and collagen generates a continuous stream of free radicals, which damage our cells and tissues and stimulate even more inflammation. Along with wheat, sugar has been one of the biggest genetically engineered crops in Canada and the US. If you are eating “white sugar” that doesn't state sugar cane as the ingredient, you are most likely eating GE white sugar beets. Most of the cookies, cakes, breads, crackers, jams, oh well almost everything has GE sugar, but this will be a topic for another time.
So what does inflammation have to do with immunity?
Chronic low levels of inflammation, that we may not be aware of at all, slows mitochondrial performance and causes higher levels of oxidative stress (free radicals) in cells of the body, all of the inflammatory factors cause disruption the survey ability of the immune system, leaving room for pathogens to invade and multiply.
Consider a week, maybe after all the gobble gobble is gone, to do something cleansing and nourishing for you and your family. All of the meal ideas listed above are anti inflammatory and will be posted with further recipe ideas on the Recipe page.
I am grateful for you taking the time to read my page and consider my thoughts. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and continue to be grateful for all of the amazingly healthful ways in which we can live.
Eat simply, love richly.