The Season of Letting Go
Fall is the season Chinese medicine associates with the Metal Element and the Lung organ. The emotional feelings of sadness naturally arise during the onset of autumn, considered to be the season of letting go. Just as the leaves fall to the earth to decompose, this season often brings up feelings of loss, and is a reminder of the cycle of life and our own human fragility and vulnerability toward death. If our sadness is left unattended, or suppressed, this can lead to depression.
Therefore, with the darkening days and cooler temperatures it is imperative that we be mindful and support our body and mind with some important healthy dietary and lifestyle choices. Here are a few tips to help us manage this transition into autumn.
Consolidating Our Energy For Autumn
Just as we prune fruit from the harvest of summer, this is the time of year we prune away the excesses of summer. It is now time for consolidating our energy, slowing down from the frenetic activity of the summer, and focusing on what is most important, conserving our energy as we prepare for winter. Yes, this means that it is time to curl up by the fire and read a good book!
Our Lungs are vulnerable during the season of fall, which is why it is easy to catch a cold or flu. There are many natural ways to strengthen our immune systems to protect ourselves, including rest, enjoying delicious and healthy food to nourish our Lungs, and making sure we visit our acupuncturist for a tune up and autumn Chinese herbal formula to tonify our immune system.
Visiting our local farmer’s market at this time of year offers plenty of foods to help our bodies fight the effects of polluted air, especially after breathing in the smoke and particulates from all the wild fires this summer. The exposure to pathogens is on the rise with poor air quality.
However, we need not despair as there are plenty of things we can do to counteract these environmental factors especially, with foods from the garden. Root vegetables and spicy foods are known to be protective for the respiratory system.
Root Vegetables to Strengthen the Lungs
- sweet potatoes
Common Culinary Spices to Strengthen the Lung
Research has validated that our grandmother’s remedy of chicken soup really works for fighting respiratory infection. By adding garlic and chilies to this soup, we not only make it more delicious, but potent for protecting our Lungs.
Pears and Asian pears are another traditional remedy for Lung irritation from illness or pollution, and can help soothe a dry cough.
The Nut Harvest Brings Benefits to Lungs
Fresh nuts offer a great source of vitamin E and essential fatty acids (EFA). Vitamin E has been shown in numerous studies to help protect the lungs from the ill effects of breathing contaminants. Look for nuts that grow in your area, and buy them freshly shelled or shell them yourself to get the most benefit.
- hazel nuts
Soaking nuts overnight before roasting, grinding or cooking them into foods will make them easier to digest and increase their nutrient value. Cold-pressed oils such as sesame, olive, walnut, and avocados (available at the farmer’s market in many areas) are other good sources of vitamin E.
Selenium is an immune-stimulating, cancer protective mineral. It is found in many whole foods, especially those grown in selenium-rich soils.
Good sources of Selenium include
- brown rice
Ellagic acid, related to flavonoids, blocks the cancer-causing actions of many airborne pollutants, but is destroyed by heat. It is abundant in raspberries and blackberries and also found in other berries, most fruit, and nuts, such as walnuts and pecans.
Fiber is found in most whole foods and helps to eliminate some pollutants, although excess fiber, as from fiber supplements, can block mineral absorption. This is why I always prefer whole foods over the use of supplements.
Mushrooms: My Favorite Autumn Immune Booster
Medicinal mushrooms have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. We can use them as mini-vaccines against inflammation, viruses and even cancer.
Let’s look at Reishi. This popular fungus is one of the world’s most favored medicinal mushrooms, and for good reason. Reishi has been shown to aid in weight loss, keep the immune system healthy, and even fights cancer cells.
However, what makes this mushroom unique is its mood enhancing properties, which is why I like to prescribe it during the autumn season when so many struggle with depression and sadness.
Reishi excels at supporting these emotional swings due to one of its constituents called triterpene. These special compounds help calm anxiety, alleviate depression, and promote better sleep. Triterpenes’ positive effect on the nervous system goes beyond this. Reishi has been shown to promote healing and sharpen mental concentration and focus, as well.
Mushroom soup is a great way to add mushrooms to your diet with a flavorful and nourishing meal on a cold rainy day.
Reishi Mushrooms Can Help With
- concentration & focus
As you can see, there are many things we can do to support our immune system, protect our Lungs, and work with our tendency toward sadness and depression this fall. Slowing down, resting, visiting our acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, and cooking meals that are focused on whole foods from quality sources like our local farmer’s market will help keep us healthy into the fall and winter months ahead!
Yours in Health,
Please contact us with any questions, we are here to offer our support as you navigate this transition into the autumn season.