Washington Grown Nutritionist, Craig Hunt - Serene warm summer days have shifted from sipping lemonade to scraping frost from car wind-shields. Orange and white pumpkins appear on porches and appetites craving cooling fresh vegetables now desire warm vegetable soups, stews, and casseroles.
Just like Mother Nature changes a field’s landscape, our food choices affect our inner landscape. Warm foods help our bodies regulate core temperatures as heated food molecules are transferred from ovens and crockpots to our digestive tract.
But there’s a lot more to the cozy molecules than just heat; food molecules contain vitamins, minerals, fibers, macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) and phytonutrients that assist in nourishing the trillion plus cells that make up our body. Also in our digestive tract are trillions of microbes that assist our digestion in breaking down and absorbing our food.
These symbiotic microbes depend entirely on the food we eat and simultaneously make it possible for us to digest our food which boosts metabolism and modulates immune function. Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and aged cheeses are ripe with these helpful “probiotic” microbes. Fall season fiber-rich foods such as pears, apples, squash, legumes (lentils, dried beans and peas), and tuber/root crops like potatoes, beets and carrots provide what are known as “prebiotics”.
Prebiotics provide fiber and non-digestible carbohydrates such as lignans for our beneficial microbes to proliferate and support our well-being. Eating a variety of fiber rich, whole foods from Washington State will help us to stay warm during colder months and nourish the trillions of cells that keep our metabolism and immune function ready for whatever winter weather is dished up.