Seasonally and Nutritionally Attuned to the Fall

What kind of food do you crave in the Fall? I always love foods that are warming, a little bit spicy, and the smell and taste of cinnamon and butter with brown sugar!

Interestingly, according to the Chinese classical text the TangYe Jing, we should be eating more foods that are SOUR in flavor. SOUR? Think pickles! vinegar! fermented foods! and certain fruits like lemons…

How do sour flavors have a medicinal effect on our bodies?

One thing that is obvious when you bite into something sour, is how it can make your lips pucker and you may notice an activation of your salivary glands!

Sour foods support our digestive fire and help increase the productivity of digestive enzymes.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, sour foods “consolidate” or “astringe” Qi and are considered Yin in nature and cooling in temperature.

Now what the heck does that even mean? Let’s investigate this!

Yang is represented by the color white and Yin is represented by the color black. As we shift into the fall season, Yang begins to be enveloped into the energies of Yin.

How Sour Foods Effect the Physical Body

Sour foods cause contraction, gathering, absorption in the body.
Sour can help dry and firm up tissues that are bogged down, sagging, and heavy.
Sour flavor helps to prevent abnormal leakage of fluids such as with incontinence, lymphatic drainage, and what Chinese medicine practitioners and scholars understand as leaking of “energy.”

How Sour Foods Effect the Spiritual Body

Sour foods support seasonal attunement. The fall season is a time when many people start to feel that “nesting” feeling of the approaching winter. The hours of daylight become shorter, in agricultural areas, is a time of gathering and harvesting. This period of contraction (i.e. moving inwards) as winter nears. Yang (heat, sun, fast moving energy, fire, summer) is starting to move inside of Yin (cooling, calming, slow, nourishing).

How Sour Foods Effect the Emotional Body

Because of the contracting / consolidating nature of sour flavored foods, it moves us physically and emotionally inward in attunement with the season of fall.
Emotionally, sour foods are used to benefit individuals who are dispersed, scattered people with unpredictably changing personalities. If you are feeling scattered emotionally, try something as simple as adding a lemon to your water and see if you notice a difference!


Some Examples of Sour Foods and Foods that are Mixed with other Flavors According to Chinese Dietetics

  • Simply Sour Foods: Lemon, lime, pickles, Hawthorne berry, rose hips, sauerkraut, sour plum
  • Sour and Bitter Foods: Vinegar
  • Sour and Pungent (or acrid/spicy) Foods: Leek
  • Sour and Sweet Foods: Adzuki bean, apple, blackberry, mango, olive, tomato, yogurt

Interested in an herbal or nutrition consultation with Levin Therapeutics? Book your appointment online here >

Summer Wellness Tips

“In the three months of summer there is an abundance of sunshine and rain.  The heavenly energy descends, and the earthly energy rises.  When these energies merge there is intercourse between heaven and earth. As a result, plants mature and animals, flowers and fruits appear abundant. One should refrain from anger and stay physically active…it is important to be happy and easygoing…so that the energy can flow freely and communicate between the external and internal.  In this way illness can be averted in the fall.”– The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon of Medicine

Read More

Your Body, Your Health, Your Diet, Your Planet

One of my many classes in the Masters of Nutrition program at the National College of Natural Medicine specifically focuses on community non-profit organizations in Portland, Oregon.

Each week, a new speaker (usually the founder and mastermind of a local non-profit) comes to my classroom to present to us their work in the community. It is, needless to say, incredibly inspiring.

Read More