Ask A Practitioner: What Are The Benefits of Seasonal Eating?

Join every week for a Q&A session with one of Basmati’s practitioners, Melissa Hill (FDN-P)! We know that there is a lot of confusing information out there, which can make applying health advice overwhelming.  Sometimes, it’s best to ask a practitioner directly, so each week we’ll cover a common health question!

Do you have a health question you’d like to ask? Write to us at editors [at] basmati [dot] com () and your question could be chosen and featured in a future column!

Q. Why is it important to eat with the seasons? What are the health benefits?

A: It is important to eat what is naturally growing during each season of the year in order to stay healthy and feel your best. Nature is designed perfectly and provides for us exactly what we need if we take notice. The fruits and vegetables that are available in the summer provide the nutrients and have the attributes that we need most this time of year to help keep us healthy and in balance if we consume them. Think about the foods that are ripe right now: cherries, berries, watermelon, cucumber, zucchini, mint, they all have a cooling and hydrating effect on the body, helping us to clear out the heat building up in us from the summer sun. Eating these foods during this season will help keep us from over-heating and keep the summer from drying us out. Eating a lower fat, higher carbohydrate diet during this time of year is more natural and provides the energy we need to get us through the long hot days of Summer.

We may be living in a time where we have access to just about any food at any time of the year, but that doesn’t mean we should eat the same things all year round even if they are “healthy.” Rotating the type of foods we eat throughout the year will ensure we get the vitamins and nutrients we need, increase the diversity of our microbiome, lessen our chance of developing food sensitivities, and help us transition from season to season with ease.

Just as nature goes in cycles, we have our own natural cycles. And the more we can get these inner and outer cycles to match up, the easier it goes for us (think efficiency, flow and ease in your body and mind instead of struggle, resistance, blocks, and stagnation). In Ayurveda, they speak of the natural cycles of our digestive fire as well. Ayurveda notes that our digestive fire is naturally stronger in the winter time, making it possible for us to digest the heavier foods that are available and appropriate for that time of year. During winter, we do better with an increase of healthy fats and protein and should have the ability to digest heavier grains and dairy. In this season, we naturally crave to eat warmer, higher fat foods as well like nuts, stews, meats, breads, and dairy. All these foods are part of a warming winter diet that is more suited to antidote the cold of the season. But as the seasons change, our diet should too. As the dampness of spring comes, those same foods that nourished us in the winter months, if consumed, would make us feel sluggish, congesting channels in our body leading to more mucus, allergies, and sinus congestion. If, however, you switch your diet in the spring to include more of what is naturally abundant then (think sprouts and leafy greens), these foods will help you naturally clear out the heaviness from winter, detoxifying you and helping you feel fresh for spring.

As summer, comes our digestion is weaker – but that is fine because the food available has already been cooking in the hot sun on the vine. Tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, berries, and watermelon are all easy to digest and naturally hydrating to help us replenish from the long hot days.  As summer fades away, our diet should transition to include warmer, more grounding foods like roasted vegetables instead of cold raw salads.

Also, the microbes present on the food from each season changes as well. By consuming foods from each season we also get the microbes we need to digest the food of the season and keep our immune system strong and flourishing.

So, next time you got to the grocery store, don’t just choose your same old favorite foods, but instead take in to consideration what is local and fresh for the season. Better yet, go to your local farmers market or join your local CSA to have the seasonal stars delivered to you. Branch out of your normal rut and expand your food diversity and your health potential! If you need some recipes for these new food finds, we have plenty right here.