The Paleo Diet and Seasonal Eating

Are you eating cantelope in January? How about apples in April? If you are then you are eating out of season, a practice which may not serve you or your body well. Our bodies metabolism changes with the seasons, with the length of the day and tempera

ture. Even if you are living in equatorial regions, there are seasons which dictate what foods will be available.

When following the Paleo diet, seasonal eating should be a natural part of your plan. We have evolved with the seasons and for our paleo ancestors there would have been no choice. But because we can walk into a grocery store in the dead of winter and buy foods that should be available only in the spring or summer, doesn’t mean we should. Seasons are the source of variety for the nutrients we need to thrive. Requirements for survival in the summer are different than those in the winter.

Tomatoes at a market stall at Borough Market in London, UK. Would you find these beauties in the winter? Photo Copyright © Jack Gavigan 2009. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.org

But it is all too easy to forget. Those strawberries from Mexico in December may look

great, but their nutrients may be of poor quality and may lead to food sensitivities and allergies to boot. This article from Natural News expands upon the issue:

Just because technology makes it possible for us to have oranges in winter….. doesn’t mean we should eat all foods whenever we please. The disadvantages of living in a technologically advanced period with modern day food practices have revealed themselves among us in the form of an increasing number of food intolerances and allergies, higher levels of obesity, modern chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes and much more.

According to many scientists, researchers and natural health experts, eating the right kinds of foods during the right times of year and avoiding them otherwise is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. Seasonal foods are a way of reconnecting with the organic cycle that nature intended for us.

Research has been done that shows the nutrient content of foods change according to the seasons:

In

a research study conducted in 1997 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in London, England, notable differences were found in the nutrient content of milk in summer versus winter. Iodine content was higher in the winter and beta-carotene was higher in the summer. The Ministry discovered that these differences in milk composition were primarily due to differences in the diets of the cows. With more salt-preserved foods in winter and more fresh plants in the summer, cows ended up producing nutritionally different milks during the two seasons. Similarly, researchers in Japan found tremendous differences in the vitamin C content of spinach harvested in summer versus winter.

Are there really any benefits to eating seasonally on the Paleo diet? Absolutely!

  • Better nutritional content and better overall health – Because grocery stores try to keep produce looking tasty out of season, the nutrition level of fruits and veggies are compromised. This attempt to break nature’s pattern causes producers to use more herbicides, pesticides, waxes, and other preservatives than would otherwise be applied.
  • When eating fresh produce in season you rotate foods, preventing the development of food sensitivities. You also get the maximum amount of antioxidants available and you benefit from the positive effects a food will have in season

For example, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), spring is associated with the liver — one of the body’s primary detoxification organs. Synergistically, spring is also the time when dandelion and other bitter greens are fresh and available; these bitter greens support the liver and its function of cleansing the blood.

  • Seasonal eating is sustainable and beneficial to your local economy. By purchasing fruits and veggies in season in your area, you support local farmers. You food has to travel fewer miles and is therefore much fresher and has more nutrients.

Economical benefits – It doesn’t cost the earth to produce seasonal foods at a time when they are naturally and readily available. Seasonal foods are cheaper to produce and hence, cheaper to buy as well.

When we roamed as hunter-gatherers we ate what we found, when we found it. We were closely tied to the cycles of the Earth and would have thought it an extraordinary circumstance to find any food out of season. We have lost that connection to the Earth and her seasons. Is it time to reestablish that connection? If you are following the Paleo diet, seasonal eating should be a natural part of that path.

Click on the links for charts from the Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture for what is in season when*:

*Hat tip: Joanne at Bellatrix Nutrition

Resources:

http://www.bewellbuzz.com

http://www.yumsugar.com/Benefits-Eating-Seasonally-22425443
http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=574

Do you intentionally eat seasonally? Have you noticed any health benefits or any economic benefits? Please leave your comments, question and observations below in the comments section. And please share this article with family and friends on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, to help them understand the importance of seasonal eating. Thanks for visiting!

 

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3 Responses to The Paleo Diet and Seasonal Eating

  1. Jan Madsen April 25, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I eat seasonally. Remember, it’s not just fruits, vegetables, berries and nuts and such but also other stuff. For example, birds do not lay eggs unless there are ten hours or more daylight. There is typically also a season for fishing both fish and shellfish.

    I also sleep seasonally, meaning little or no artificial light after sunset. Google “artificial light” and health and you’ll open a can of worms. I’m contemplating bathing seasonally, adjusting the temperature of the water to the temparature of oceans and lakes in my vicinity.

    • Lila Solnick April 25, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      You are so right about fresh seafood and eggs. While I’ve been eating eggs throughout the winter, I have been thinking about the year-round availability and maybe it would be best to cut back during the winter. Fish on the other hand could have been preserved by drying.
      The light issue is more important than people know. I’ve been attempting (unsuccessfully) to sleep more and limit light in the evening during the winter. I even have glasses that block the blue spectrum so that melatonin production can start hours earlier than I go to bed. It seems to help to some degree. But if I went to bed with the sun I’d never be able to work on this blog!
      Thanks for commenting Jan.

      • Jan Madsen April 26, 2012 at 1:57 am

        You are welcome.

        Good point about the fish.

        I too wear glasses after sunset because I get a lot of street light in. But following the rhythm of the sun now for two months have really improved my sleep and mood. And I suspect my overall health as well.

        Thanks for doing this blog.