Tips to staying healthy in Autumn
In traditional terms, many of us know autumn as the harvest season. It’s a time to harvest and gather what we have cultivated during spring and summer in preparation for winter. Well in our bodies, there is a similar process occurring.
By the end of summer, most of us are looking forward to being able to slow down, rest and replenish from the hive of activity that is summer. So it is also a time to harvest and gather the energy within our bodies in preparation for the cooler temperatures and windy months ahead. It is this energy that we will need to keep us warm and our defence systems strong!
In Oriental Medicine, autumn is associated with the LUNGS and LARGE INTESTINE (Colon) and very closely associated with the immune system. The energy we need to bolster our immune system, is produced through the digestive system, and so it too can become deficient at this time.
With these organ systems in the spotlight during autumn, imbalances in the areas governed by the Lungs and Colon can present as the following symptoms:
- Coughs, colds, flu – in particular dry coughs and sore throats. If your immune system and wei qi is weak, you will find yourself frequently getting colds, flu, coughs or hay-fever type symptoms.
- Muscular tension in the neck, jaw (TMJ), chest and shoulders
- Viral infections
- Skin conditions – dry and/or itchy skin, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis etc
- Gastrointestinal problems – for those who suffer constipation you may find it more pronounced
The Lungs are about expanding and dispersing, just as they take in the air we breathe and then distribute the oxygen all around the body. Our Lung qi (energy) gathers and maintains strength. Lungs that are strong make a person effective in how they go about their tasks and help them to maintain purpose. The Large Intestine ‘lets go’ of what is no longer necessary. A healthy balance between the Lung and Large Intestine will allow a person to honour commitments, but then let go of a relationship when it is over.
Here are my tips to having a healthy autumn and keeping your immune system strong:
Stay out of the wind and drafty places. In Oriental Medicine wind can penetrate into the body via the orifices and get trapped in the musculoskeletal system, producing stiffness, pain, fevers & chills, and pathogenic invasion.
Deep breathing and meditation will benefit your Lungs – add them to your exercise regime during autumn. Avoid excess sweating – it’s a sure way to deplete your qi!
Autumn is a wonderful season for reaping the benefits of the long, warm growing season provided by spring and summer. Autumn food should moisten and clear the Lungs, get rid of wind and support the digestive system.
Now would be a good time to have fewer salads and more soups. Soups are good for several reasons, including the longer cooking times that mean the ingredients are easier to digest, and the watery medium that counter-balances the drying effects of autumn.
The digestive system can easily be deficient in autumn, so we should avoid excessive intake of cold drinks and summer fruits in order to nurture the Spleen. Eat dark green and orange vegetables to assist digestion. Sour and sweet foods for autumn include adzuki beans, apples, cheese, grapes, olives and sour dough bread. These support the Spleen while encouraging the energy downwards. Also, to harmonize the digestion, try millet, chestnuts, rice and carrots. Include plenty of healthy oils in your diet to give protection and lustre to your skin – some of the most common being olive, organic coconut, sesame, flaxseed (NOT for cooking) and avocado oils.
Autumn is a good time for steaming. Cook at low temperatures for longer periods of time than you would for a quick stir-fry in summer. Heavy foods, such as thick stews and soups build energy reserves for the colder months. Salt helps moisten dryness and sends energy downwards, so use small amounts of salt in autumn cooking.
Another great food to include in autumn is fresh nuts. Cooked or roasted nuts are easier to digest, especially in the cooler months. Remember that nuts are a concentrated food source, so they can easily generate damp. They are valuable for the weak and thin, however, if you are overweight or have signs of heat (or red tongue and face), limit the number of nuts you eat.
Keep your acupuncture and bodywork treatments regular!
Remember…. the best approach to a HEALTHY BODY and MIND…. is a PREVENTATIVE ONE.
If you are experiencing any health concerns and interested in how Oriental Medicine may be able to help you, please contact Kim on 0416 219973 or email@example.com to discuss a treatment plan.