Eating according to the seasons is an important way to maintain health as the temperatures shift. Now that it is fall, it is important to keep our bodies warm and our digestion strong to avoid getting sick or sluggish. Here are some easy nutritional tips for staying healthy this fall.
- Eat Pungent foods to cleanse and protect the lungs and colon by breaking up the mucus in your system and prevent illness. According to Chinese medicine, flavors impact organ systems. Fall is the season associated with the lungs and colon and pungent is the flavor that supports these organs. This autumn, consume more pungent foods like chilies and foods in the onion family. This includes: chilies, garlic, onions, turnips, ginger, horseradish, cabbage, radish, daikon radish, and white peppercorn. Other mucus purging foods include seaweed, kombu, marshmallow root, flaxseeds and fenugreek.
- Eat dark green and golden-orange foods because they are rich in beta-carotene. Beta-carotene protects the mucus membranes of the body and strengthens the immune system. Healthy (and delicious) sources of beta carotene include: carrot, winter squash, pumpkin, broccoli, parsley, kale, turnip, mustard greens, watercress, wheat or barley grass, green algae, and nettles. Dark green vegetables also have chlorophyll which is very cleansing to the lungs and digestive system.
- Eat lots of fiber. Once the mucus is broken up, you want to remove it from your body. Fiber is the stringy part of fruit and vegetables that remains undigested after the nutrients have been extracted from the food. Fiber is useful because as it passes along the digestive track, it cleanses the walls. The health benefits of fiber are extensive for digestive health, cholesterol levels, immune system support and colon cancer prevention. Apples, pears, cherries, carrots, and oats are great sources of fiber to support healthy cholesterol. Don’t hesitate to try other fibers as well.
- Cook your food slowly at a low temperature. Transition away from the raw foods of the summer. Cooking food is important because it decreases the amount of effort the body needs to break the food down for nutrients. Cooking slowly at low temperatures, helps retain more of the nutrients in the food.
- Breathe deeply. Take time each day to sit quietly and breathe. Oxygen circulation in the body invigorates blood flow and calms the mind.
I hope these easy tips are helpful this fall. If you are interested in more details about these tips as well as recipes, check out the wonderful book Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford. He has a simple and efficient approach to explaining the benefits of Chinese medicine nutrition.