In all branches of medicine the changes of the seasons are recognized as observable turning points in our bodies and immune systems. As the weather begins to cool moving from summer into fall, many biological shifts take place to prepare us for the harsher winter (depending on where you live). Chemical processes and signals from the brain begin to slow as the days become darker and we are exposed to less sunlight. Our metabolism shifts as we crave denser, more nourishing foods to keep our bodies warm. Even our mucus production picks up to aid in our first defense against outside pathogens. It's truly a wonder on what our bodies can do to keep us protected, but in the process it can leave us feeling a little out of sync or under the weather in the first weeks of adjustment. Have you perhaps been wondering why you feel so chronically tired all of a sudden? Or had an increase/decrease in appetite? Sometimes this can even manifest as the seasonal cold to rid our bodies of the accumulated toxins from summer time. We know that the less we take care of ourselves, the harder it can be to recover. I remember as a teenager who constantly consumed fast foods, GMOs, mostly sugary drinks, as well as regular alcohol consumption I was constantly sick with the seasonal flu. Now as I have learned to practice observing the seasons and what kinds of changes I need to make, I can't say I actually recall the last time I was extremely ill. I started listening to those signals of the sniffles that my body needed me to do more for my care. So how can you keep your healthy regiment all season long? Here are some of my top practices for keeping my immune system strong:
The respiratory system is one of the first places that can come under attack from outside invaders. If you love the experience of a eucalyptus oil in a sauna you can create the same experience at home. Simply take some boiling water and fill up a bowl with it. Cover your head with a towel as you hold your face over the steam. You may want to wait for it to cool slightly if the heat is too much. For extra benefits you can add a drop of essential oil. I recommend Cedarwood or Lavender when dealing with especially drying cold weather. Or use Eucalyptus or Rosemary if you're feeling stuffed up. Alternating between inhaling through the nose or mouth I find to be most helpful. Do this for about 5-10 minutes up to 3x a day.
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Being so high in Vitamin C, Elderberry has made itself known it the herbal world as a great immune supporter. Another benefit of these slightly tart berries is their strong flavor that can make it easier to take some of the more medicinal tasting herbs, especially for stubborn kiddos (my 3 year old takes her doses of garlic gleefully). You can find a wide variety of these syrups at your local health food store. Through the winter I will be making batches of homemade syrup. You can message me to claim a jar for yourself. Want to try making your own herbal syrups at home? Visit Mountain Rose Herbs for quality elderberries and recipes. Medicine making is an enjoyable activity to do even with your little ones!
GARLIC IN EVERYTHING!
If you don't know and love the magic of garlic yet let me just say I will forever be a fan. Garlic can be used for just about everything, with over 100 different compounds that have been studied, all created from different methods of cooking or maceration. Garlic can not only be added to your fall dishes, but used in teas, or even taken raw like a sort of capsule. Of course the flavor is a bit strong for some so use at your own discretion. My favorite fall recipe for garlic is an immune boosting juice diluted with some hot water. Juice a couple cloves of garlic with a lemon, and any kind of apple. Add some hot water and a pinch (or more for the danger lovers) of cayenne pepper for an extra warming kick. Use as a daily tonic.
QUALITY FOOD CHOICES
With holiday season approaching it's easy for us to indulge ourselves. We always come back to next spring ready to hit that diet again. What I often don't see talked about in diets is how to support the body in these times of change. Our system is crying out for more support, so it can all come crashing down if we don't understand what we're really needing. With a slower metabolism it also becomes a vicious cycle of putting on some weight. Hey it's only natural with wanting to keep warm in the cold weather. So my biggest tip in this area is to acknowledge that your needs are likely to shift. While keeping in mind the big 3 of protein, fats, and carbs it's good to find a balance that works for your constitution. Allow yourself that wiggle room. In the seasons of baked, fried, and roasted foods be sure to get your nutrient density packed in as well. Steam some veggies rather than baking them at high temps. Keep varieties of produce and spices. Spend more time cooking those heart warming meals at home. Even just these simple "hacks" can make a world of difference in keeping you at your best.
Every year each seasonal cycle teaches me something new about myself. Especially during the slower times of fall and winter, is where I've come to appreciate slowing down and listening intently. Rather than dread the cold months, I welcome it's unique beauty. I hope these simple tips spark you to brave your own winter days with a renewed vigor. Not living in fear but rather taking charge once more to continue living in your highest alignment. Wishing you all a well and safe fall and winter season!
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