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A healthy autumn in 5 steps

author: TERESA MAJEWSKA, editor: Katarzyna Terlecka

Zdrowe przejście przez Jesień w 5 krokach

Autumn is a transitional period between the usually hot summer and the cold winter. It is a time when we should prepare our bodies for the significant change in weather conditions that will come soon.

According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”), autumn is the time to internalize and focus on our inside on all levels.

Some love this time of year, and others associate it mainly with an undesirable decrease in energy, worse immunity and the bothersome chill.

Regardless of the group you belong to, a few simple TCM principles are definitely worth remembering, as sticking with them will guarantee health and well-being during this not-so-universally-happy season.

1. Cleanse your body after the summer.

In autumn, the external conditions change, so our body’s inside should also thermally adapt to these changes. It is a worthwhile effort to remove the leftovers of a hot summer from your body (often in the shape of a large amount of moisture caused by eating ice cream and drinking cold drinks). Cleansing treatments serve this purpose well.

The most delicate form of cleansing consists of consuming 3 warm meals a day, each of them comprising vegetables with the addition of cereals (with vegetables outweighing cereals in each meal). Prepare meals based on seasonal vegetables, i.e. those that are naturally available in autumn. 

The simplest dish is a soup prepared without animal protein (the treatment is based on the complete exclusion thereof). You can eat it up to three times a day. Remember, however, to eat till you feel full! 

Practice shows that the treatment is most effective if it lasts for three days, or a multiple thereof, i.e. 6, 9, 12 days.   

Cleansing may also involve the use of more specialized treatments, like a “mono diet”. However, remember that they may not be best for everyone, and a specialist’s advice should be sought before you take one on. 

2. Eat warm meals and limit raw food.

According to TCM, autumn is the time of the Lungs. This explains the typical tendency to develop respiratory diseases during this season. Because the susceptibility to colds, flu, tonsillitis or sinusitis in autumn is high, think about strengthening your immune system using food.

According to the TCM, the Stomach and Spleen as well as the Lungs and Large Intestine are connected by a so-called “nursing cycle” i.e. Earth is the “mother” of Metal. That is why, what we eat affects a condition of our respiratory system. If the Spleen has too much moisture and mucus, it will pass it on to the Lungs. This, in turn, can lead to a runny nose, a cough and, finally, an infection.

Therefore, most respiratory problems are treated by TCM by acting on the digestive system. That is why, in the autumn, diet is of utmost importance.

By eating cooked, baked or stewed meals with the addition of aromatic herbs, you are able to protect yourself against the effects of the external cold and infections.

An extremely important condition is to combine such a diet with physical activity, especially in the open air. A daily walk, bike ride or a round of Nordic walking will support the immune system – according to TCM associated with Lungs. 

What to eat in autumn? 

  • warm breakfast – porridge, millet or soup, 

  • typical autumn vegetables, i.e. root vegetables (carrots, parsley, beets, sweet potato), cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, pumpkin. 

  • add garlic, onions, leeks to dishes, because they warm up, 

  • do not forget about parsley, dill and chives, because in addition to being natural vitamin bombs, they facilitate digestion and help eliminate moisture from the body,

  • adhere to the following proportions when preparing meals: (i) 35-60% whole grains and cereals, (ii) 20-25% green, starchy and non-starchy vegetables, seaweed, algae (iii) 5-15% legumes (iv) 5-10 % fruit and small amounts of nuts and oil-rich seeds (v) 1-10% animal foods: dairy products, eggs, fish, poultry and mammal meat.

3. Protect yourself from the cold outside.

Protecting yourself from the cold outside by dressing warmer seems obvious. However, not everyone is aware that the cold usually enters through the feet or head, neck and shoulders. That is why their protection is so important. 

If you are quick to get cold, often have cold feet, knees or even your whole legs, then in autumn think about buying a belt for heating your kidneys with the help of warming herbs. Heat these herbs in a dry frying pan, gently stirring from time to time and then put them into a special fabric belt and apply to your lower back or lower abdomen for as long as you feel the heat spreading over this part of the body.

Another way to counter the chills is to put your legs in hot water with salt and dried ginger for several minutes. Do not go outside after these procedures. The best thing to do is actually immediately jump under a warm blanket.

4. Adapt your daily routine to changing external conditions.

Autumn is a shorter day and a longer night, so this is the time when you should consciously limit your activity. This is your time to focus, calm down, relax and look inside. 

Giving yourself that time also helps to prevent disease.

In autumn, the day is shorter, so it’s easier to go to sleep according to the organ clock *. If we sleep between 21:30 and 23:00, when the strongest regeneration processes occur in our bodies, we multiply their effect. Sleep at this time: (i) improves the quality of our blood, (ii) slows down the aging process, (iii) improves emotional stability, (iv) strengthens the immune system and (v) directly affects our beauty – adds shine to our hair, smoothes the complexion, restores shine to the eyes.

5. Apply the principles of "first aid" for autumn colds.

Below are some proven and effective tips to fight autumn infections and colds.

First symptoms of a cold:  

  • if you are experiencing chills, take a warm bath with the addition of rock salt (1/2 kg per bath) – this will warm up the surface of the body and the pathogen will come out,

  • after the bath, drink tea with ginger and liquorice (a slice of ginger and a pinch of liquorice) and then immediately go to bed. 

Be careful when warming up (i) when weakened, (ii) with signs of heat, and (iii) during menstruation. 

Infectious disease (flu, tonsillitis) combined with acute sore throat:

  • Instead of ginger tea, drink a strong infusion of mint 3 times a day,

  • if you have a fever, be very careful with any warming spices,

  • drink raspberry juice,

  • eliminate animal protein (especially chicken, dairy) and, of course, sugar.

Dry cough, no runny nose:

  • milk with butter and honey will not hurt,

  • pear compote works great.

Runny nose, mucus, sinusitis, bronchitis, wet cough

  • milk with butter and honey will only make things worse,

  • drink water with ginger and licorice,

  • use thyme, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper.    

I will probably surprise you, but according to TCM, drinking tea with lemon during a cold is a mistake. This causes the pathogen to retain in the body because the lemon closes the pores. During this time, use a spicy, not a sour, taste. 

* Organ clock – the TMC concept describing the circadian rhythm of energy flow in individual organs of the body.

Want to learn more or get in touch with a specialist?

If you want to seek individual advice about your nutrition, you can arrange a visit with Teresa Majewska, who is the author of this article. Her contact details can be found here.

The information presented in the article is not written by a doctor and does not constitute medical advice. Any suggestions that you find here are informative and can not be treated as a substitute for an individual diagnosis and individually selected treatment method.

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