Ayurveda is the science of being in harmony with the biorhythms of nature. For this, we must follow seasonal routines and diets. Humans have created a false idea that we are separate from nature. This belief is one of the main factors that can lead to illness and disease. We cannot properly digest the same food all year round, as our internal and external environments change. Each season calls for different foods and lifestyle habits. When we adjust to be with the cycles of the seasons we will get the proper vitamins, microbes, and qualities needed to bring us into balance during seasonal transition. Environmental factors shifts dramatically season to season and so must our diet.
The microbes in our body and environment shift with the changing earth. Our gut microbiome, the key to our health, is dependent on the seasonal microbes that each plant has during each season. The microbes that make up the body’s microbiome come from the soil that nourishes the plants we eat. Each plant attracts certain beneficial microbes from the soil, creating a symbiotic relationship. With each seasonal shift, the microbiology of the soil changes and the chemistry of the plants change. When we eat seasonally we consume the nutrients that are most beneficial for that time and the microbes on the plant.
What we can learn from nature:
Humans, unlike, herbivores are unable to digest grasses and other plant matter, because the mircrobes in our gut microbiome have not specialized to digest them. However, herbivores can show us how eating out of the seasons can have negative or positive effects on our health.
Herbivores, such as deer, have evolved to have two stomachs. The first one is called the rumen, where grasses and barks are digested by microbes.
The rumen is an incredible digestive machine that scientist are still researching. The sheer number and variety of these microbes make it possible for herbivores to fully break down most plants into its essential nutrients. In the rumen, after the vitamins, minerals, proteins and other nutrients are separated from the indigestible cellulose, these nutrients enter into the second stomach, which is similar to our stomach.
What is importance in this is that the herbivores’ diet changes dramatically from season to season and the microbes needed to digest each seasons’ harvest thrive with each season. From winter, spring, to fall, the woody branches and barks are replaced with the bright green grasses and then the abundant falling acorns. For each season the bacteria change to digest the different foods available.
This balance is constantly in flux and yet can be easily put out of balance if they eat an improper diet.
When an herbivore eats foods that are not in season, it causes a drastic shift in the microbiology, leading to severe indigestion and acidity that can kill the herbivore. When cows are taken from pastures and suddenly fed grain and corn instead of grasses, they have to be medicated with antibiotics and other drugs to pacify their rumen.
What we can learn from this is that eating in season and changing are lifestyle is important to overall health! We are as connected to the cycles of nature as the herbivores, although we see ourselves as separate from nature. If eating foods that are not in season can kill a deer, then it is important to look at how human health and illness, such as indigestion, lack of energy, chronic diseases and much more could be the effect of not living with the seasons. This is message for us to begin a diet and lifestyle plan that follows the rhythm of nature.
There is no doubt that the microbes in our intestinal tract change according to diet and seasonal influences and yet we try to deny this, as we want to eat the same food and do the same things year round. We must begin to tap into our true nature as part of this natural world and act as if we are not separate from it.