Vitamin C and the doctrine of flavours
Most of my clients know to take vitamin C when a cold is coming even though science hasn’t really any supporting evidence showing it helps, maybe it’s intuition that we know it’s just good for us! But it’s one of the most common supplements taken by people along with vitamin D, multivitamins, coQ10, and fish oils. There is even a gender split according to research men are more likely to be taking vitamin C than women who seem to be taking more probiotics, magnesium and B vitamins.
Vitamin C is really very easily obtained via our diet and in many respects we shouldn’t need to supplement it, but with it being water soluble it is quickly used up, particularly if we are under the weather, have injuries or are stressed. But if we don’t eat our fruit and vegetables then we are leaving ourselves open for a deficiency with this nutrient. More and more I’m seeing clients who are deficient due to not eating any vegetables, not one in their diet and this has been the case for many of them since early in childhood, and they are finding introducing them in later life difficult due to their textures.
This way of eating set in childhood I’m told is because the child became a fussy eater, this led to the parent and child restricting their diet more and more to easy pappy type foods, because meal times became difficult. This is obviously hard to deal with for any parent particularly in our faster paced world where we have little time to do more than serve up dinner and collapse for the evening wondering if any one will fill the dishwasher. So giving sweetened processed and fast foods designed to be easy on the palate become the norm for that child. But in later life due to the dietary restrictions the child has enabled I’m dealing with a young adults clearly deficient with a lowering immunity, and health problems including reduced stamina starting to show.
It’s funny how things have changed since I was a child, my mother wouldn’t have had any shenanigans at the dinner table of not eating our dinner, and if we didn’t eat dinner it was served up the next time we ate. We learnt to eat our dinner warm because the second time it was cold and that was just the way it was, she took absolutely no messing around from us. Mind you anyone would have eaten their dinner at my mothers table she wouldn’t have taken any messing from you either! We didn’t get snacks in between our meals, there wasn’t anywhere to go and pick up a sandwich or a coffee and pastry, and we only had sweet money once a week when we went to see Grandad, so we were often really hungry when we got in. But now with convenience meals and many prepared sauces and foods, it’s become much easier to feed everyone around the table different meals suiting a range of palates and for some parents everyone can be eating something different which must be a complete logistical nightmare for them to have to deal with.
I do find when I see children that they are very intuitive with their foods, they know what they like and often will eat lots of it, and I find sometimes these children are trying to naturally resolve a deficiency in specific minerals and vitamins that they have. So it’s important to be aware of them doing this.
Sometimes the gut is out of balance and is causing the child to change the foods it’s eating leading it to want more sweeter foods and breads.
They also often avoid foods due to increasing sensitivity that is happening, naturally knowing it’s not good for them at that point, so it can be difficult with many reasons to why a child is starting to become stronger with it’s food selections. But learning to work out whether the child is being fussy, or is becoming sensitive, or is having gut dysbiosis etc. is important to take time over.
The more the child learns to restrict it’s diet, the more it’s palate doesn’t learn any other textures and flavours, and it’s the variety that gives us good health over time. Let’s face it if we weren’t disciplined we would all predominantly be eating sweeter foods that are easy to make. But the Chinese have the philosophy for eating bitter, sour, sweet, spicy and salty with each meal to test the palate and because each of those foods bring different exposures to nutrients. This philosophy of foods in China is called the Doctrine of Flavours, and they are seen to work on different organs and systems within the body. Sweet acts on the stomach and spleen, sour the liver, and gallbladder, bitter the small intestine and heart, salty on the kidneys and bladder. When we are drawn to eating more than one of the flavours repetitively you can see quickly here how the other organs are not being supported. Our children start off with sweeter palates and over time we have to introduce them to the wider flavours, cooked or made in different ways.
It’s important to develop the palate of the child, and ourselves over time by trying foods in many different ways, this enables us to be supportive of the nutritional needs the body has. It keeps our foods alive for us, and interesting, because many of us end up in a food rut wondering what to eat. Even I end up in a food rut occasionally, and just before Christmas I said to one of my friends I just didn’t know what to make for dinner, and she said, “why don’t you use the recipes on the website they are really nice you know!!” I laughed because I often make the recipes then move onto the next thing I’m trying out and yes she was right I do have some nice recipes on there!
So it’s important for us to include a wide range of vegetables in our diets with different flavours, include a rainbow of colours each day, and make sure you count on the 5 portions a day that the government suggests, and increase it to 7 or more to make your naturopath happy because 5 is only the tip of the iceberg (lettuce) sorry I couldn’t resist!