If we are going to eat heavier foods during the winter, surely we must expect the body to deal with the consequences through additional elimination - classically, the winter colds.
So, the choice is a winter of congestive colds, or not indulging in seasonal festivities ???
It is generally agreed that the main, generic reason for getting a cold is infection by bacteria or viruses.
And it is well understood that those microbes, like any life form, require favourable conditions in which to thrive : food, water, pH, and temperature.
So, what are we doing that generates favourable conditions for them ?
Especially during the winter ?
Obviously our environment gets colder during the winter months, but we survive by virtue of our inventions to maintain our body temperature, through clothing, central heating, hot foods, etc.
So the connection between 'being cold' and 'getting a cold' isn't as simple as one might imagine.
Because of our cleverness in regulating our body heat it is only really our sinuses and lungs that experiences significant temperature changes during the winter.
Perhaps there is some significance to this, as colds are definitely associated with our breathing apparatus. If anything, the significance would be that under lower temperatures, the surface areas of those systems (mucus membranes) would tend to contract, and squeeze out more of the mucous that they are holding, making a nice moist, warm sofa for microbes to bed down in and start a family - thus leading to more obvious and prolific emissions.
But I doubt this is the whole picture.
However, with the declining temperatures, we definitely tend towards denser foods, more frequently and intensely cooked, leading to a pattern of more congestive meals.
Any change in diet is first and foremost felt by the balance of microbes being fed in the gut.
As this adjusts to this heavier diet, it gives off a different array of nutrients, and the acid/alkaline balance of the whole body shifts accordingly.
Denser foods (typically more protein and fat, less fruits and raw veg) naturally congest the system more, and the body seeks to eliminate this congestion firstly through the bowel and bladder. With these systems already working overtime due to modern diets, additional channels of elimination are brought to bear.
The lungs are constantly in the role of eliminating carbonic acids from the system just through breathing out carbon dioxide.
Adding the role of eliminate additional acids from excess protein assimilation makes them an even more favourable habitat for acid-loving microbes. Thus infections are most common here.
As mentioned above, this added burden from heavier foods in the winter months, conspires with falling temperatures to contract the lining of the lungs.
They express more of their mucus-load, which is more acidic, and makes highly favourable conditions for the opportunistic microbes.
Sinuses are another common line of attack, and the connection is similar.
Many folk notice the effects of an acid-forming food, such as dairy, on their sinuses.
Again, more mucus being created by denser foods, and squeezed out by lower temperatures - perfect conditions.
My nose is starting to run, just thinking about it...
So, we can make a few decisions...
- Move to a winterless climate - aaah ! what a thought :-)
It is obvious that people that live in more stable climates do not suffer from such seasonal colds, despite being drenched in monsoons, etc... But then again, there are visa issues, and languages to learn... Devon will have to do for now !
- Follow the sun - the least climate friendly solution :-(
For decades I jetted off to warmer climes every winter, and it is great. I only stopped when I realised the climate legacy I was leaving for my grandchildren to clear up. Flying really is the single worst consumer product on the market.
- Don't eat more cooked food during the winter months - aaaww !!! :-(
It takes discipline, and some social isolation, but it is doable. Certainly eating less of it (than one's culture would suggest) helps, but seriously, it takes constant vigilance to even notice ourselves doing it. It seems to be an energetic thing, with all manner of justification from ancient medical systems, yet we don't see any other animal doing it !
- Assist the body in removing the congestive load elsewhere - ah hah !!! :-)
Here at Sura Detox, we see it time and time again : those who come on retreat with us during the autumn & winter months do not suffer from the seasonal colds, even though they are exposed to such things through their friends and family.
How Fasting Helps
We know that this is because when we stop eating, the immune system goes into overdrive, cleaning house.
Digestion, while necessary, takes huge amounts of energy and chemistry (primarily enzymes) to perform. Without that constant drain, these resources are freed up for immunity purposes.
Enzymes ordinarily used to digest food can now be used by the immune system to break down and shift the toxic load of the whole body, starting with the blood.
Other tissues can then eliminate their backlog, and this suddenly resourced system flushes them out of the system.
That is why the first days of a fast can leave one feeling under par, but energy, clarity & vitality start to return in the latter days of the fasting week.
By giving the body the power to deal with these toxins at source, they no longer queue up to be eliminated through the lungs and sinuses, thus the lack of winter colds.
A Note from Nature
As usual, our oldest guide is what other animals do under such wintery conditions.
Firstly, we notice that all the mammals that evolved here are either extreme carnivores, or they are covered in serious fur, or they hibernate through these troubling months.
Clearly we aren't designed to be living here, so which of these strategies can we best adopt ?
Similar to hibernating animals, we are attracted to eat denser, more congestive foods as the winter draws in, but notice...
What animals are NOT doing at all while they are hibernating ?!?
Take a tip from nature, and from our hundreds of guests ahead of you.
Come join a detox retreat in October or November, and avoid all those winter colds...