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10 Sep, 2020

What to eat in autumn, with Dr Jenny Goodman

Dr Jenny Goodman has spent 20 years dramatically improving the health of patients who have been told "All your tests are normal - go away". She understands the drastic effects that both environmental pollution and poor nutrition are having on our bodies and brains, and she is passionate about sharing and demystifying this knowledge. A much sought-after lecturer and broadcaster, she empowers people to push back against the modern tide of epidemic illnesses that threaten to engulf us all yet are utterly preventable.


Jenny, you practice Ecological Medicine. Can you outline this approach for us?

What I learnt in medical school, instead of how to heal the sick, was how to manage symptoms. I started asking questions like ‘Why is this person ill?’ “How did this occur?’. And these questions were clearly taboo, you were not meant to ask them. We’re all joined up in the web of life on this planet, so if we put pollution into the sea, into the earth, if we spray pesticides, insecticides, weed killers on to the crops, if we feed hormones and antibiotics to the animals we eat, if we do all that, because we’re all joined up in the web of life on this planet, then we will get sick.

Why does seasonality matter for our health?

Seasonal eating matters because our bodies are different at different times of the year. We are very cut off from the seasons because we live in centrally heated houses, and the supermarkets ship in everything from all over the planet at all times of the year (causing huge pollution), so we’ve lost touch.

What we need to be eating, and what we used to eat, is simply what grows at the time of year when it grows. And then we’ll get a lot more variety. For example, if you’re eating the same fruit every day all year round, then you’re not only putting a huge dose of sugar into your system but you’re eating fruit of poorer quality. Because if it’s in season, it’s good, it’s fresh, it’s got all the right nutrients in it and rather than just being watery, it tastes really good.

What should we be looking to eat late summer through autumn?

Right now, in late summer, we should be going out and picking blackberries - they’re free, they’re everywhere, even if you live in the middle of the city you will find a park with a few trees and a few blackberry bushes. In summer we should be eating berries - strawberries, raspberries and cherries, this is the time to indulge in those things. Whereas January, February and March are not the time to indulge in those things. Apples and pears ripen here in autumn and this is the time to buy them, eat them and pick them if you can. But if you’re in the supermarket, watch out, because as outrageous as it seems, some supermarkets are importing apples from New Zealand, and that means they’re 6 months old, because they ripen at the opposite end of the year in New Zealand. Go easy on the grapes because they’re very high in sugar, and if they’re not organic they have been sprayed.

Fruit is ok if you eat it as fruit, you won’t overdose on apples by eating apples, but you will overdose if you drink apple juice. If you drink one glass, you’ll be drinking the equivalent sugar to that in 9 or 10 apples, which you would never naturally eat.

Similarly, I’d be a bit wary of dried fruit, as they are incredibly high in sugar. All our fruit is becoming sweeter, even grapefruits. I can personally testify that 40 years ago I did a grape fast, so I ate nothing but grapes for 10 days, and they were so sour I cannot tell you how much willpower it took to eat those grapes. But I would never put a patient on that programme now because they are just full of sugar.

And the reason that the growers have bred them like that is because we will buy more because they are like sweeties now. We all naturally crave sugar, we are programmed to do so, in hunter gatherer times that would have actually been useful, because right this time of year in the autumn we’d have feasted on fruit and berries, which were the only sweet things there were, and that would have enabled us to lay down fat for the winter, because in winter we would be virtually hibernating and there was almost nothing to eat. But that’s not the case now. We still have this ability to be hooked on sugar, it's innate, it's built into our nature, but when there are chocolates and ice creams and everything in the supermarkets, it is in our environment so much, it’s almost impossible to resist. That tendency was useful when you only got sweet stuff once a year.

In terms of vegetables, more or less everything is good now. Salad is good right now until the end of October. Pumpkins and squashes, in fact virtually every kind of vegetable is ripening now.

What nutrients might we be lacking in autumn, and do we need nutritional supplements to alleviate this?

Regarding supplements, in normal conditions I'd say that we don’t need any supplements at all during the summer, late spring and early autumn, however with Covid around it is different. And the key nutrients I would say any time of year now are Vitamin D - taken in the evening, Vitamin C, lots of it, every day, because that helps you fight any virus, including Covid, a little bit of iodine, a little bit of selenium and lots of zinc. Those are the 5 key nutrients.


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