Winter is the time of year when many people get sick. We hit the ground running full speed on the hopes and ambitions of the New Year and as we near Spring we start to dwindle and our immune systems weaken. By the time Spring is in full bloom we are too worn down to enjoy it. We all know getting proper nutrition is key in being happy, healthy and energized. It used to be that we could get most of the nutrients we needed from food. As the conditions of our environment have changed, so too has the quality of the food we grow and the needs of our physical bodies. Here are some tips of how to make the most of your food.
Eat your greens! In Chinese medicine green is associated with the Heart. Green foods build the blood and support the liver, and the liver cleans the blood. In science, when we break down the molecular structure of blood and greens we see they almost mirror one another. Including greens in your diet, especially dark greens, are good for fortifying the blood and nourishing our heart. It’s best to eat your greens raw or with minimal processing as cooking breaks and destroys a lot of the beneficial enzymes.
Right use of supplements. It used to be we could get everything we needed from food, but now not only is our environment deteriorating, influencing the nutrient density of our foods, many people today use food as a way to combat their psychological, emotional and existential tensions. This leads to overeating, or sometimes under-eating, and alters the choices we make of the foods we do eat. For these reasons many people are struggling to get the proper nutrients needed to thrive. Incorporating high quality supplements into your routine can help your body absorb and use nutrients more efficiently, and help the body repair from the toxins accumulated by living in our modern culture. Probiotics, digestive enzymes, Chlorella, spirulina OMGAs and herbs can all be helpful.
Soak your beans & your nuts! Beans and nuts have nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances as natural defense mechanisms. Soaking them in water overnight removes these enzyme inhibitors. We need enzymes to help us digest our food. Inhibitors clog or denature an active site of an enzyme, or bind to the enzyme, which prevent the intended molecule from binding, in turn affecting digestion and nutrient absorption.
Keep the skins on! Veggie skins are extraordinarily nutrient dense. If you eat organic, try leaving the peels and skins on your fruits and veggies. If they aren’t organic strip them off- pesticides and toxins accumulate on the skin and on the area between the root and the leaves (as in carrots).
Mindful with potatoes. In classical texts it was encouraged to eat root vegetables during the winter months. This was in part because that was what was growing, as well as what would help the body sustain through the intense weather conditions. The potato is a well-loved root in our culture. Potatoes can be helpful for building substance in the body and in conditions of tension, heat and dryness, can be helpful in reducing sodium in the tissues. However when eaten in excess, potatoes can result in withering and wrinkling of the skin, skin moles and rashes. They can be difficult to digest and can contribute to a flatulence, intestinal swelling and reduction of minerals in the body.
Resources: The Body Ecology Diet, D. Gates; Food Energetics, S. Gagne.