In Autumn, as the weather fluctuates between warm and cold or windy, it is important to support your immune system. Heading towards the cooler months is a great time to review and make adjustments to strengthen your health.
Our Naturopath offers 5 simple ways to give your body a boost to thrive in Autumn.
Rest and let go
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Autumn is ruled by the metal element. The metal element is associated with the lungs and large intestine and is related to the emotion of grief. Just as animals prepare for hibernation and plants focus energy on their roots, we often feel a natural inclination to slow down and turn inwards ourselves. Take this as permission to sleep in more and say no to social gatherings or activities that don’t excite you. Letting go of the things that no longer serve you whether those be physical objects, people, memories, emotions or attitudes is helpful. Just as the trees let go of their leaves, take time to get honest about what no longer serves you too and simply let it go.
Root vegetables (e.g.: carrot, parsnip, garlic, swede, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, etc.) are abundant in Autumn and make great additions to your ‘seasonal’ diet. Foods that are fresh and in season are naturally more nutrient-dense and tend to taste better. Cooking soups and stews at this time of year is a great way to make use of the vegetables in season. In TCM, Autumn is also associated with the colour white so enjoy foods such as radish, pears, daikon, cauliflower, onion, tofu and white beans.
In Autumn, we are blessed with clear sunny skies so make the most of that and spend at least 15 minutes in the sun every day. Our body synthesises Vitamin D, which has a marked role in immunity, from sunlight exposure. Food sources of Vitamin D include oily fish (sardines, salmon, cod), eggs and mushrooms. Apart from Vitamin D synthesis, sunlight boosts your mood and stimulates the pineal gland to produce melatonin (our ‘sleep’ hormone), helping to regulate our sleep and wake cycle. Some people have trouble converting vitamin D in their bodies. Blood tests can be done to determine your levels of this crucial nutrient. If you are low, good-quality vitamin D supplements are readily available from Saltuary and many other stores.
It’s no longer a secret that our gut microbiome (i.e.: all the bacteria in our gut) affects every aspect of our health. A large bulk of our immune system is housed throughout our gut. From mental health to immune health, having a healthy microbiome is essential to overall health. To optimise gut health, include food sources of probiotic bacteria to your diet. These include fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut or kimchi, kombucha and good quality fermented dairy products such as yoghurt or kefir. Some people find they feel more uncomfortable when eating such foods. This is often a sign of disordered gut health which the correct treatment can help to alleviate. If this is you, consider seeing a Naturopath.
Eat more Vitamin C and zinc-rich foods
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system by encouraging white blood cell production. White blood cells are immune cells that help to protect us from infection. Vitamin C-rich foods include berries, kiwi, capsicum, citrus fruits and broccoli. As an addition, the skin of kiwi fruits provides a beautiful prebiotic food source. Prebiotics act as a food source for our gut bacteria to keep them healthy! Ensure you are using organic kiwifruits so that you don’t expose yourself to toxic pesticides and other chemicals though.
Zinc is beneficial against cold sores and infections such as colds. It affects multiple aspects of the immune system such as the normal development and function of cells involved with immune function. Food sources of zinc include seafood (especially oysters), nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, legumes and meat. Again, both vitamin C and zinc, as well as probiotics, are readily available as supplements. It is however very important to get these from your food also, and now you know how to!
Keen to get your health thriving? Book in to see our Naturopath