Eating with the Seasons

Fresh spring lettuce, succulent fruits in summer, autumn’s
squash and wild rice, root vegetables in winter. Eating fresh
seasonal produce not only is delicious, it is a good way to connect
with the rhythms of the natural world. And that, according to Dr.
Elson Haas, founder and director of the Preventive Medical Center
in San Rafael, California, is essential to good health.

‘Your well-being depends upon understanding and integrating your
own cycles with those of nature,’ Haas writes in his newly reissued
book Staying Healthy with the Seasons (Celestial
Arts). Originally published in 1981, this classic was one of the
first books to integrate Eastern healing traditions with modern
Western medicine and helped shape today’s burgeoning field of
integrative medicine. Haas considers health through the lens of the
five seasons (including late summer) and the Chinese Five Element
theory, which holds that all energy and substance relate to fire,
earth, metal (or air), water, or wood. In the human body, he
explains, each element is important for specific body organs,
‘which in turn become especially vulnerable with each new

Autumn, the season of the large intestine and the lungs, is the
time for concentrating on elimination and cold prevention, as well
as building up for winter with proteins, grains, vegetables, nuts,
and seeds. Winter’s emphasis on the kidney and bladder requires
attention to reproductive processes and the warming nutrition of
fish, cooked foods, and beans. Spring’s dietary emphasis is on
citrus, greens, and herb teas because this is the season of the
liver and it is all about cleansing. In summer, the season of the
heart, it’s time to focus on exercise and eating cooling foods like
salads, fruits, and liquids. Detoxifying is the core of Haas’
approach. ‘Most illnesses are a result of excess toxins in the
body,’ he writes. ‘Healing is the elimination or cleansing of these
toxins, and then achieving a balance of intake and output.’ Unlike
fasting, which is defined as water intake only, cleansing is done
by drinking only fruit and vegetable juices — eating no solid
foods — for five to ten days or longer.

Perfect in spring and great in early autumn — but good for you
any time, says Haas — is Stanley Burroughs’ Master Cleanser recipe
(see below). With lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper, it
offers a good balance of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. While your
body is gently cleansed, the maple syrup provides energy. The
pepper keeps the body warm and eliminates toxins and mucus. And
lemon, an astringent, clears toxins from deep tissues and

Just as the earth cleanses and rebuilds itself throughout the
year, detoxifying the body is a great way to get started on a more
natural cycle of healthy eating.

Stanley Burroughs’ Master Cleanser

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice
1-2 tablespoons 100 percent pure maple syrup
1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 ounces spring water

Drink liberally (8-12 glasses) throughout the day as your sole
nourishment. One to two weeks is not too difficult or too long for
this cleanse.

If you carry this cleanser with you, use a glass jar, because
acids in the lemon may leach toxins from a plastic container into
the drink. Likewise, right after you drink the lemonade, rinse your
mouth with water to clear the lemon and maple syrup from your

From Staying Healthy with the Seasons by Elson Haas
(Celestial Arts, 2003).

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