Updated: Dec 10, 2019
I've been feeling the need to slow down. It's a familiar feeling that comes with the beginning of Autumn. It's like the party is over, and it’s time for inward reflection and contemplation. In nature, the plants shift their energy to the roots, so they can stay strong and survive the cold winter. We see this as they let go of the last of their harvest and start losing their leaves. If we see ourselves part of the cycle, it’s only natural that we too let go of all that does not serve us, and slow down to conserve energy needed to sustain us well into spring.
It’s a big transition between summer and autumn, with the change in light, temperature, weather, and pace. This can be a lot for the body and mind to deal with, and we often see an increase in illness. Some of the more common complaints seen in the clinic are respiratory infections such as cold flu, generalised pain and inflammation, muscular tension, fatigue, low energy, fogginess, and mood disturbance. It is, therefore a particularly important time of year to look after yourself, and set up good foundations for winter when the immune system is most vulnerable. Here are some general dietary and lifestyle principles that would benefit you during the colder weather.
Increase circulation and digestive power by adding warming herbs into your diet
Zingiber officinale (Ginger) It’s warming and contains anti-inflammatory properties making it an excellent choice for people who experience seasonal pain, and stiffness that is exacerbated by the cold weather. It goes well in pumpkin and with baked fish.
Cinnamomum spp. (Cinnamon) has antimicrobial properties that make it helpful for fighting off bugs during cold and flu season. It’s one of my favorites for kids because it’s clearly delicious! It’s great with baked apples or pears.
Capsicum spp. (Cayenne, Chilli) Capsaicin, the active constituent has been suggested to be useful in the management of arthritis, so it is another one that is useful for those whose aches and pains flare up in the colder weather. It's also a circulatory stimulant, aiding the flow of nutrients to areas of the body that need it. Use in small amounts, just a pinch will do for most people. Chili hot chocolate anyone?
Increase nutrient dense foods
Because plants shift their energy to the roots in the colder months root vegetables become a powerhouse of nourishment. Each root obviously contains its own nutritional profile, but they share similar characteristics such as a high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins C, B, A, and iron. Look out for beet, parsnips, turnips, kohlrabi, celeriac, horseradish, daikon, turmeric, Jerusalem artichokes & radishes.
Bone broth is a traditional cure all and immune boosting powerhouse.
medicinal mushrooms such as, shiitake, reishi and oyster have been shown to enhance immune system
Nourish your mental and emotional self.
Work with the season and make some time to consciously slow down. Practices such as yoga, meditation, and even just silence have been shown to improve stress tolerance, give greater positivity, and emotional balance.
It would be wise to consider, how you would feel if you were in flow with what your body wants to do? Would it take the edge off if you slowed down and looked after yourself? Your body will thank you!
It is important to continue with your exercise and /or stretching practice. This will improve blood circulation and thus reduce joint pain and muscular tension.
Reflection and journaling
What are you ready to consciously let go of? What patterns and beliefs that no longer serve you?
While these general guidelines apply to most people your diet is very personal, so please adjust to suit your needs, and your body. If you are still unsure, please contact your Naturopath for further advice.
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