The beginning of fall is always bitter sweet. With changing leaves and cooler temperatures marking the end of summer, there is such an energy shift in our bodies! While summer provided us with light and carefree attitudes, autumn brings with it more introspective energies that leave us wanting to stay snuggled in and pensive. We must be able to tune into these energies as the weather goes through this transition in order to keep us feeling at our prime this season.
Autumn and your lungs
Just as the environment changes with the seasons, so do our bodies. The season of autumn is associated with your lungs; our lungs are what take in the clean, crisp fall air that gets transported through our bodies to all of our organs and muscles. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs are associated with feelings of grief and sadness. In this respect, fall is the time of year to let go of unsettling thoughts and underlying emotional issues. Negative thoughts are unhealthy for us and can make us susceptible to colds, flu, and other illnesses. Letting go of these thoughts and issues builds up your immune system and makes you more resilient to the illnesses associated with the season.
How can you keep your lungs healthy this fall? For one, wear a scarf when those temperatures drop! Your neck is susceptible to those cold winds. Warm beverages such as tea are a great addition to your routine to benefit your lungs as well. They not only work to open up your sinuses and lungs, but also warm your overall body. Drinking and eating pungent foods can also boost the health of your lungs this season. This includes consuming foods such as onions, garlic, ginger, horseradish, and cinnamon. Funny how some of these are just coming into season now, huh? It’s like our bodies are in sync with the earth’s bounty or something… Coincidence? I think not! One easy way to incorporate these foods into your diet is to make them into Fire Cider, which is a healthy autumn tonic to boost your immune system. You can find my recipe for Fire Cider here!
Another way to keep your lungs healthy that also combats those negative feelings is to meditate and breathe deeply. Meditation is so relaxing and healthy for you! It allows your body to take in the necessary amount of oxygen it needs while soothing your lungs, body, and mind all at the same time! Simply sit in a comfortable position with your back straight, or lay on the floor and take a long, slow inhale through your nose, feeling your lungs fill up with air. Hold that breath for 5 seconds and slowly release it through your mouth. Repeat 3 times and feel the relaxation creep over your body!
Want stronger lungs? Simply take a walk outside! This is such a gorgeous time of year, so let those fall colors and wonderful smells envelop you on a daily walk! There is nothing more healing than the power of nature!
Large Intestine: The yang to your lungs’ yin
While the lungs bring in clean air to the body, the large intestines are another organ associated with fall that does just the opposite. The large intestine is what gets rid of what the body has no use for, waste products that are harmful and unneeded. So just as our bodies are trying to rid us of unneeded baggage, we are trying to rid ourselves of unhealthy thoughts and feelings so we can begin the healing process.
Just like warm beverages can benefit your lungs, they also benefit your large intestine. Drinking warm beverages, especially when you first wake up, helps keep your bowels moving smoothly. Ginger, one of the pungent foods I mentioned earlier, is great when made into a tea! Ginger is not only an anti-inflammatory, but it is also a wonderful antioxidant and digestive system booster. Turmeric is another root that works great as a warm beverage for boosting your immunity, kick-starting your digestion, and as an expectorant and decongestant for chest colds and coughs. Want the recipes to my warm ginger and turmeric drinks? Sign up for the Rooted Essence newsletter and they will be included in your free copy of the 10 Kitchen Herbs and Herbal Remedies for Your Journey to Natural Healthcare.
Another way to make your large intestine happy this autumn is to dump processed foods and replace them with real, whole foods. What you eat plays a vital role in the health of your gut, and believe it or not, your gut is what affects your overall health! If your gut in unhealthy, YOU will be unhealthy. The standard American diet (SAD) is full of cheap, highly processed, and artificial ingredients that are doing you body no favors! You need to be nourishing your body not only this fall, but ALWAYS through real foods. The Earth provides us with all the real food we need, and the less processed it is, the better!
Don’t forget to declutter! Fall is about letting go of the unhealthy, and that may mean decluttering your apartment or home and getting rid of things that you no longer need or that are simply taking up too much space. Excess belongings can make you feel cramped and uncomfortable, just as your intestines get when they are not functioning properly. When your body is tense, your intestines are tense, so freeing up some room can feel invigorating and help you in more ways than one!
Fall brings out the foodies in all of us!
As autumn approaches, we start to crave less ‘cooling’ foods such as salads and raw vegetables, and more of those foods that require cooking and are warming in the body. Luckily for us, the earth provides us with a bountiful supply of colorful foods this time of year such as pumpkins, squash, and sweet potatoes that are served warm and nourish our bodies throughout the fall and winter months.
Now, we may be focusing on our lungs and the large intestine this season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge a bit. When fall rolls around, there is only one thing on people’s minds: PUMPKIN-flavored everything! Have you ever wondered why pumpkin is such a fall staple? While pumpkins look great as doorstep ornaments, they are also packed full of beneficial fiber, 7 grams per cup to be exact! As cooler temperatures are creeping in, you may become less active outside. Less activity may mean that your body needs more of a push to keep your digestion going strong, which is exactly what the fiber in pumpkin provides for you!
This nourishing vegetable is mostly 90% water, which is wonderful because as the nights get chillier, you need to keep yourself hydrated as your body starts to tense up and the winds start to dehydrate you. Those fall winds can also wreak havoc on your eyes, but the beta-carotene in pumpkin helps protect your peepers by being converted into vitamin A in the body! It also helps your body fight off infections, viruses, and other illnesses that may be lurking as we jump into the cold and flu season. So don’t be afraid to indulge in a few of those pumpkin desserts!
Pumpkin isn’t only for consuming, however! The vitamin A it contains also protects your skin from premature wrinkles and can act as a great exfoliant and skin soother! Try my pumpkin turmeric facial mask here to get those benefits!
Other wonderful fall foods to add to your diet include apples, squash, leeks, tomatoes, carrots, kale, swiss chard, grapes, plums, broccoli – THE LIST IS ENDLESS! Ahh, those fond memories of apple picking adventures with your friends! With the abundance of local, tasty foods this time of year, there is NO REASON to crave anything unhealthy.