It’s that time of year again. The leaves are falling, nighttime temps are dropping and a chill is in the air. Along with the many wonderful things that Fall brings comes an increase in colds, flu and lung related illnesses. How can you stay healthy and energetic through the Fall months? See these hints below:
Did you ever notice that you feel cold after eating a salad? That is because most of the ingredients in a typical salad (lettuce, cucumber, tomato) are cold in temperature. They help to cool you down in the hot summer months. Instead, start eating warm, cooked foods like soups and roasted root vegetables vs. raw cold vegetables and salads. Adding ginger, onions and garlic are beneficial for the lungs and immune system.
In addition, I see most people getting sick after Halloween and around or after the holidays. Why? Sugar is likely the culprit. It depresses the immune system, leaving you more susceptible to colds. What to do? If you do indulge, just try to limit it as much as possible and get back to healthy eating the day following your indulgence.
Try to continue being active as the colder temperatures progress. Walking/hiking/biking outside is wonderful. When it gets too cold, restorative exercise like yoga and tai qi are great choices. Regular exercise is important for lung health.
Stress management is key. Stress and anxiety have been shown to have a deleterious effect on the immune system. Meditation, breathwork, taking time for yourself, and sleeping well all can help to combat daily stressors in your life. As the light fades, try to go to sleep earlier and practice good sleep habits (sleeping in complete darkness, no phone/screen at night, etc.)
Also, make sure that you dress appropriately for the weather. The back of the neck should always be covered with a scarf or collar when exposed cold and wind.
Acupuncture has been shown to increase the immune system and decrease stress. In a study on anxious women performed in 2007, the women that were given acupuncture had an increase in their immunity not only 72 hours after treatment, but those effects lasted a full 30 DAYS! [i] So a generally healthy person can come in for acupuncture once a month during the fall and winter months and get a nice boost to fighting off bugs.
Acupuncture can also help to alleviate symptoms of illness if you are already sick and help to shorten the duration of whatever you fighting.
Many Chinese herbs have been shown to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and immune-stimulating properties. If you can’t get down to your local herbalist, the next best thing to do is the following: When you are just starting to come down with something and you have chills and body aches, put 1 chopped scallion with a few a tablespoon of grated ginger root into a cup of boiling water. Steep for 12-15 minutes. Strain and drink while wrapped in a blanket. Drink until you sweat. This should be enough to ward off most colds if you catch it early enough.
Stay healthy and warm!
Effect of acupuncture treatment on the immune function impairment found in anxious women.
Department of Physiology (Animal Physiology II), Faculty of Biological Science, Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.