Tips On How To Stay Healthy This Autumn

By Judith Reid - Naturopathic Nutritionist -

There has been a noticeable chill in the air for some weeks now, especially at night, but the Equinox on 23rd September moved us officially into the autumn season.

It can be a beautiful time of year as we observe nature’s garments transform from lush greens to golds and reds, especially if the sun comes out to play, but cold winds and damp weather can play havoc with our health, so it’s worth taking a little extra care. As always, it is wise to take our cues from Mother Nature.

Slow down a little

Autumn health and slowing down-natural health star

As autumn unfolds, we need to get in tune with nature by gradually slowing down and adapting our diaries to suit the shorter days and colder weather. Trying to maintain a 24/7 lifestyle during the colder and darker months puts extra stress on our cells and can undermine our health.

Eat warmer foods

Autumn and winter are the seasons to warm the body from the inside with nourishing stews and soups, dishes which have been simmering for an hour or so, thus building up heat which can be transferred to our own bodies on eating.

A modicum of raw foods can still be tolerated alongside cooked foods, but eating too many can put out our “digestive fire”, which can lead to us feeling sluggish, cold and muggy headed, not to mention full of catarrh!

Enjoy a warming cuppa

autumn health and enjoying a warm cuppa-natural health star

Favourite herbal teas such as mint, camomile and fruit can actually be quite cooling to our bodies and are best suited for summer. Good options for colder weather are those that include ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and other warming spices. Making your own is easy. Grate a small chunk of fresh ginger into water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, perhaps with some lemon juice/rind or a cinnamon stick & cloves.

Sore throats are often a problem at this time of year.  Teas containing liquorice and slippery elm, which help to coat the mucus membranes of the throat, can be very comforting.

A cup of warm water with freshly squeezed lemon takes a lot of beating too!

Enjoy more sleeeeeeeeeeeeep

Getting more early nights in during this time can reap dividends. We are part of nature and as such should be sleeping, or at least resting, during hours of darkness.  During sleep, our body cleanses and does a fair bit of repair work. Our detox system can be a little sluggish during colder weather so it needs every bit of help it can get. Notching up a few more zzzzzs each night can help the body concentrate its efforts on cleansing rather than keeping up with our hectic life! It is when toxins build up that we start feeling unwell and literally manifest colds and flu as the body brings in the bigger guns to clean up.

Catch some daylight    

Autumn health-natural health star

We are all creatures of light and now that nights are drawing in, moods can start to fall too. Especially for those who leave for work in the morning darkness and return in the dark too, having probably seen very little natural light in between, it is essential to optimise light exposure at lunchtimes and weekends. Light activates hundreds of enzymes, essential for the optimal functioning of the body.

Exercise

As tempting as it is to stay indoors on cold and damp days, it’s worth getting out for a brisk walk each day to keep the circulation going and stimulate your lymph system, which plays a big part in your immunity.

Wrap up warmly

It sounds obvious, but fashion sometimes dictates that we don’t follow common sense!!! Hats and scarves are good at keeping out cold which could lead to head colds, chills and chesty complaints. Feet appreciate toasty socks, and wearing a scarf around the kidney area is beneficial too. These are all areas which are neglected when we bravely strive to keep in summer-mode for as long as possible!

Boost your immune system

With sunshine at a premium, levels of Vitamin D3 can slump, so it’s worth taking this as a supplement. I would also recommend a good Vitamin C and probiotic to help give your immune system a helping hand.  Remember though that supplements are just that. They are meant to supplement an already healthy diet, so if you are eating poorly, no amount of supplementation can save the day!

Mood-food

Autumn health-natural health tsar

I find that lighting candles in the evening brings some much needed light and warmth, especially when the dark creeps in after a cold, wet day.  I also line up a few treats for the cold nights ahead: a few DVDs, favourite books, and perhaps some new recipes to experiment with in the kitchen. Choose things to nourish your mind and body, and thus help to elevate your mood.

In summary, try to reduce your stress and pre-empt many of the problems that you could face this season.  Boost your nutrient intake, notch up those zzzzzzs, and keep warm, but also get outside for some much needed light and exercise.

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