In our modern world, we re-create an eternal, never-ending summer with central heating, lightbulbs, screens, and carbs imported from around the world (ie bananas or pineapples in winter).
Although no one really likes it cold and dark and without bread and chocolate, there are many health benefits to embracing the season of winter. Winter is a time of scarcity, dark, cold, and rest. In other words, winter is catabolic, meaning that it is the time to break down complex molecules (such as proteins or lipids) rather than build new ones.
Ancestrally, winter was a time when we activated the AMPK cellular pathway and maximised autophagy/apoptosis (aka healing) via darkness/melatonin, ketosis and fasting via food scarcity and no carbs in the environment, infrared via longer nights resting by the fire and lower activity in general. To maximise the experience of winter and get all the metabolic benefits, we can:
- spend periods of time eating high-fat/low-carb
- utilise strategic fasting
- get cold by getting outside or doing a cold plunge/cold shower/cold face dunks
- blocking blue light after sunset and going to bed early
- swapping high-intensity exercise/movement for yoga, walking, stretching, light jogging
- getting in an infrared sauna or lighting a fire early in the morning/in the evening if accessible
- see the sunrise daily to combat winter blues associated with lower light levels.
Our body needs the cellular events of anabolism and catabolism (building up and breaking down… on repeat). When we only engage anabolism via eternal, artificial summer, we continually pull the switch to store fat, toxins, build tissue and forsake pumping the accelerator on deeper healing. This is one main reason why we have modern dis-ease.
As we approach the winter solstice, no matter where you are in the world, see what you can do to embrace the ancient, metabolic benefits of the season around you.
Light shapes life