Staying Healthy in the Season: Autumn
The leaves on the trees are turning brilliant shades of yellows, reds, oranges and yellows and we welcome the day with a crisp, cool scent, we find ourselves in autumn. Autumn, especially in the New England where we are located, is a beautiful time of the year and a very important season in the Chinese Medicine system. Autumn is associated with the Metal element and the time of the year when we put emphasis on organization, order and developing boundaries. It is a time that allows for introspection and transitioning from the high energy Yang of the summer days, to the darker, colder Yin winter ahead.
The Metal element is connected with the lungs, which can be easily challenged during the autumn when air gets cold and dry. It is also a time when people start to develop sadness and longing for the summer and dread of the winter months. To best balance our bodies during this time, we need to keep our lungs (and our bodies) warm and moist and most importantly, keep our hearts happy and mind’s clear.
Here are some important tips for staying healthy and vibrant in the autumn season:
- Connect to nature. Take a walk in your neighborhood or hike through the woods. Breath in the smell of fallen leaves and the beautiful autumn colors. Also, breathing in the cool air will help strengthen the lungs, which we know can be easily affected during the cold months.
- Wear a scarf! Not only are scarves fashionable and look good on everyone, but they protect certain channels or meridians that are associated with colds and flus. In Chinese Medicine, the area of the back of the neck can be very susceptible to invasion of pathogens and it is very important to keep protected during autumn and winter.
- Eat seasonal appropriate foods that moisten and nourish the body. Some of the best foods to eat during this time of the year are tofu, tempeh, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, garlic, barley, cooked vegetables, baked squash, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, cooked greens (including spinach, kale, dandelion). This is the time to start making some hearty soups! Check out our delicious recipe for Baby Butternut Squash here!
- Try incorporating sour foods into your diet. The taste of sour is very beneficial during this time of year. Sour foods include things like sourdough bread, olives, pickles, yogurt, and vinegars. An easy way to incorporate sour into your diet is to start the day with a warm glass of water with some fresh lemon, lime or grapefruit.
- Incorporate some of your favorite Autumn spices! Spices like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves can be warming and help out bodies integrate with the cold air easier. Try incorporating these spices into your foods and beverages.
- Avoid eating sugar, refined flours, fried foods, cold dairy, and raw, uncooked foods. These can bring extra coldness and phlegm to your body and increase your chances of sickness. Eat less raw fruit than you may have been eating in the warmer months. If you do enjoy fruit, try enjoying pears, apples, persimmons and other seasonal fruit. Cooking the fruits can make them tastier and easier to digest. If you’re looking for a healthy way for apple crisp, here is a wonderful recipe!
- Sleep more! In the summer months, we can be prone to burning the candle at both ends, but as the sun is setting earlier, try to get into bed earlier and aim for 7.5-8.5 hours of sleep a night.
- Declutter your home and your life. Clean out your closets, pantries, garage, basement, etc. of old and unused clothing and goods and sell them or donate them to a local shelter or collection center. Autumn is a great time to inventory the abundance of our lives and take what we need, and leave the rest. This practice can be very refreshing to a lot of individuals, especially in this time of the year.
- Invest in a humidifier for your home and office. When we turn on our heat, we are removing moisture from the air. That moisture can be very important for our lungs and our whole body’s health. They are especially important to put in your home’s bedrooms, as we can get very dry at night. Humidifiers can be an inexpensive way to ensure your home isn’t drying you up inside and out.
- Drink tea! Defeat fall dryness and warm yourself up inside and out. With a delicious cup of fall-time tea. We recommend our Bancha Hojicha, made from the roasted twigs and leaves of the Green Tea plant. Check out more of our special teas in our store or here on our website.
Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy Autumn!
by Alison Larocca