Autumn is a time of nurturing, building and supporting your organs for the cold change ahead. It is time to clear the heat of summer from your body in order to prepare our immune system for the Winter ahead. In traditional Chinese medicine Autumn affects the lung and large intestine meridian and the element metal. At this time the air tends to dry out and with this may bring symptoms like constipation. This season also affects our nasal passages leading to an increase in sinus, allergy and congestion ailments. The predominant emotion for Autumn is grief and sadness.
Foods to Build Immunity
In autumn it is a good idea to eat foods that build your immunity. Cook at lower temperatures for longer times, using more water over a lower heat. For example, bone broths, stews, casseroles, soups and baking. It is a great time to pull out that slow cooker.
Foods to include at this time of the year include apples, pears, persimmons, lima beans, spearmint, peppermint, sweet potato, beetroot, pumpkin, zucchini, carrots, figs, adzuki beans, olives, spelt, kamut or rye sourdough bread, millet and brown rice, sustainably caught seafood, soups, leeks, vinegar, yoghurt, lemons, limes, grapefruit, cabbage and fresh nuts.
Oils to Alleviate Dryness
Many people suffer from dryness in autumn which may manifest as a dry cough, dry lips, wrinkles, dandruff, itchiness and constipation. To relieve the symptoms of dryness, eat foods that nourish and moisten the body. These include:
Organic fermented soy products - tempeh, miso, and tofu;
Vegetables - mushrooms, spinach and locally sourced sea vegetables;
Fruit - apples, pears and persimmons;
Nuts – almonds and pine nuts;
Grains - barley and millet;
Seeds like sesame and hemp seeds.
Increase the amount of good oils you eat during autumn, as these will protect your skin and therefore protect your lungs. (According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the condition of your skin reflects the condition of your lungs.) Good sources include nuts, seeds, avocado, tahini, sustainable fish, and cold pressed oils like walnut, avocado, olive and coconut oil.
It is also good to use pungent flavours at this time of year including ginger, wasabi, horseradish and garlic. At the onset of cold and flu, fresh ginger helps rid your body of illness through sweat, and when you are well, dried ginger builds immunity.
Strengthen Your Lungs
To strengthen the lungs, use cooking methods such as steaming and boiling. It is also a good time to take herbs and supplements to boost immunity such as vitamin C, zinc, bioflavonoids, Andrographis, Echinacea, Elderberries, Olive leaf, and Mushroom Extracts.
For coughs and congestion the following foods taken as teas or added to soups and stews may be helpful:
In cases of yellow or green (hot) phlegm: use cooling pungent foods, such as peppermint, chamomile, daikon radish, radish, watercress and locally sourced sea vegetables such as wakame and nori.
For white (cool) phlegm use warming pungents, such as garlic, onion, horseradish and ginger.
Foods to Avoid
During Autumn it is better to avoid too many cooling foods especially cold drinks and ice, melons, salads and raw foods, juices, raw onions, and dried spices. You should also avoid the quicker methods of cooking such as stir frying.
A change is a coming, so be mindful of your bodies changing needs now. Keep warm and start getting into those yummy soups and casseroles - with lots of warming ginger!