Autumn is in full swing – the days are shorter, air is cooler, and the leaves have mostly fallen from the trees. Cold and flu season is here!
In Chinese medicine, autumn marks the transition from the active, expansive yang energy of summer to the beginning of a more subdued yin cycle. It is the season of final harvest, a time to stock up on food and warm clothing, and to slow down and become more introspective in preparation for the colder winter months ahead. To maintain good health, we need to live in harmony with nature by attuning ourselves to the seasonal changes.
According to Chinese medicine, illness occurs when the organ systems are out of balance. The energy of the lungs is at its peak in autumn, so it is important to keep them strong. The lungs govern the defensive qi (like the immune system in Western medicine) which circulates on the ‘exterior’ of the body. The exterior includes the skin, muscles, joints, nose, mouth, and upper respiratory tract. When the body is in a weakened and unbalanced state, the defensive qi is unable to protect us from external pathogens, leaving us more susceptible to illness and disease. External environmental influences such as wind, cold, and heat can then attack and enter the body through the pores and mucous membranes of the nose and mouth leading to symptoms of the cold or flu: nasal congestion, runny nose, cough, sneezing, chills and fever, sore throat, fatigue, body aches, and headache.
By following these simple tips, you can help support your body to reduce the risk of coming down with something this season.
Eat according to the season – This is a great way to strengthen your body and immune system. Eat less cold raw foods such as salads and incorporate more soups, stews and steamed vegetables which are easier on the digestive system. Warmer heartier meals with longer cooking times help thicken the blood and nourish the body for the colder weather. Some helpful foods to incorporate into your diet include: winter squash, cabbage, turnip, sweet potato, potato, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, leek, carrot, pickles, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, olives, garlic, onion, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, chili, sour apples, plums or grapes, pear, persimmon, walnuts, almonds, pinenut, sesame seeds, rice, oats, and miso.
Refrain from foods that weaken the immune system – Dairy, refined sugars, processed and greasy foods and alcohol tax the immune system making it harder to fight off invaders.
Bundle up – The head and back of the neck are especially vulnerable to invasion by wind, so protect these areas by wearing a hat and scarf to prevent illness.
Practice ‘letting go’ – Autumn is a good time to let go of anything we no longer need, or which does not serve us well, so we can make room for new experiences that will help us grow and move forward. Clearing away physical and emotional clutter creates positivity, happiness, and health. Clean out your closet, desk, car, garage or any cluttered area and donate or sell what you no longer need. Emotionally, this is the perfect opportunity to reflect on yourself and focus on resolving any underlying issues and letting them go. Try writing these down on a piece of paper then burn it, symbolically releasing the content.
Sleep – We all know that getting the right amount of sleep is essential to maintain good health. Based on the Chinese biological clock, we should be in bed by 11pm to allow the body to fully rest and recover and to perform necessary maintenance functions. 7 to 8 hours is the average recommended amount of sleep for an adult. Everyone is unique in their needs, so the optimal amount of sleep is what allows you to function throughout the day without feeling drowsy while sitting quietly or when focusing on a task.
Avoid drafts while sleeping – Sleeping near an open window or with a fan blowing on you can leave you more susceptible to coming down with something. The defensive qi moves from the exterior to the interior of the body at night, leaving us less protected.
Breathe slowly and deeply – Deep breathing is one of the best ways to strengthen the lungs, calm the mind, and lift the spirits. Filling your lungs with the crisp, clean autumn air can help you feel more energized.
Acupuncture is a safe, natural, and effective way to keep you balanced and healthy. Regular treatments can help boost immunity to prevent the onset of illness or can shorten the duration if you do get sick. If you feel that you need some extra support over the coming months, please feel free to call
289-338-0237 (Bradford), or Spine Stretch Studio (Aurora) at 905-727-2963 to inquire about an appointment.