Your internal clock

We’ve all heard of the biological clock, but what about the “circadian clock”, also known as the circadian rhythm?
We all seem to notice that October and November are pumpkin everything months. However, do we know exactly why this happens and why we need to consume these foods? Here’s another Mother Nature fun fact for ya!
If you live in the North Eastern side of the states like I do, you’ll notice an abundance of hardy fruits and veggies filling the grocery stores and farmers markets. Acorn squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc. All are common this time of year due to climate change. Depending on the climate, you have different produce. We don’t grow mangos here this time of year but pumpkins are everywhere! Mother Nature has a way of producing foods during these climate changes to support our needs through these climate changes.
Let’s talk briefly about circadian rhythm. In the center of our brain we have a pineal gland. This gland is seriously the size of a pea but has a huge role. It belongs to the endocrine system and is considered your global positioning system (GPS) or internal compass, and it controls your body’s clock (this is why I call it the circadian clock). This gland takes in sunlight, registers temperature, environmental factors, and regulates your body’s circadian rhythms.
The circadian rhythm is responsible for our sleeping and waking patterns, endocrine functions, hormone production, digestion and regulation of nutrition, cell regeneration, and many other processes in the body. Disruption of the circadian rhythm leads to insomnia, impaired glucose absorption, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, depression, and decreased life expectancy.
A properly functioning circadian rhythm requires having access to sunlight and moonlight as well as eating foods from your environment. Plants require light to grow. The amount of light the plants are exposed to regulates the amount of carbohydrates and sugars the plant contains. When you eat plants, you are eating transmuted sunlight. If you are living in one type of environment/climate and are eating foods from an entirely different environment/climate, your body is receiving mixed messages about where it is. This has been known to disrupt the timing and flow of the natural circadian rhythms in the body. So eating mangoes and watermelon during a snow storm isn’t exactly going to bring summer back- I would know, I was notorious for doing this, and in doing so, I couldn’t figure out why I was always freezing!! I was eating cooling foods and not foods that helped me stay warm. 
So to make it plain and simple, depending on our climate (the north east for example) our gardens use their own clock by producing foods we need to consume. It’s kind of like squirrels in the summer…they eat the berries, flowers and even our tomatoes out back yard garden, but in the fall and winter, they forage acorns. The same concept goes for us humans, we have the luxury of going to the store. However, due to science and modern transportation, we now can grow just about anything and transport it. By sticking to the produce that grows in season locally, we are able to keep that other ticker of ours in check.
For example, sweet potatoes – they are loaded with beta carotene which then converts to vitamin A once it passes our liver. This is crucial for our bodies this time of year because vitamin A helps to absorb and hold onto vitamin D. As we all have heard, vitamin D is crucial for many things including bone health, cell regeneration and our immune system. We wouldn’t need much vitamin A in the summer hot months because we have the natural vitamin D from the sun. And then there’s squash, which are loaded with fiber, vitamins A, B6, C, niacin, calcium and zinc among other important nutrients. But squash have another component that is crucial for the cold months. They are loaded with antiparasitic, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, protecting us from a wide variety of viruses, including tapeworms and other intestinal parasites that are prone during the colder darker months.
As you can see our bodies and Mother Nature play hand in hand. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever have out of season foods; you just want to eat more foods that are in season. By doing this, we stay healthier and as a bonus, we support our local farmers. Now that I’ve given you a quick lesson on circadian rhythm, watch out for delicious and easy fall recipes for you and your family to enjoy!


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