Stay Fit, Healthy, and Happy this Fall
I hope the season of Fall is settling into your life.
In Traditional Chinese medicine, Fall relates to your lungs, the front line of your immune system, the experience of inner reflection, and emotional intelligence as a practice.
Fall is also a time of gathering resources and getting organized and ready for Winter. Not that long ago, most of us would be busy filling a root cellar, drying meat, and making fermented foods.
In the spirit of gathering and sharing resources, I thought I would share some practical health tips that are important this time of year.
How to Prevent the Flu
Flu season comes around every fall. Whether you get the Flu and how severely your immune system depends on a few things. Stress, nutrient deficiencies, poor sleep, and the health of your mucous membrane all determine how Flu season will go for you.
The Flu is actually a form of viral infection that is usually fought in your sinuses, throat, and lungs. If your immune system is weak the virus can get deeper into your chest before for your immune system can fight it effectively. If your immune system is over-active, your symptoms may be more acute and be centered in your throat and nose. If you have an autoimmune condition, the flu can trigger a flare up that could last for a few weeks.
The part of your immune system that recognizes and attacks the flu virus are called anti-viral peptides. A combination of Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and a strong Omega-3 fatty acid, three times a day, has been shown to increase the activity of your own antiviral peptides.
This is what I take as a clinician during Flu season:
- 1000 mg – Vitamin C
- 1000 IU – Vitamin D3 (with K2 is better)
- 1000 mg – Omega-3 fatty acid
- (3 times per day. Half as much for children over 4)
If you are around a lot of people with symptoms of the Flu and you are prone to catching what is going around, then Oil of Oregano is a good choice. I usually mix Oil of oregano with melted coconut oil (1 ml Oregano oil to 1 Tbsp Coconut oil). When it is time for a dose, I put ¼ teaspoon in half a glass of water and put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Then I drink the water and the hardened oil, just like swallowing a pill. This is safer than taking Oil of Oregano directly in your mouth, which can sometimes set off a more reactive throat infection.
If you catch a chill and then try and get warm, and still feel cold under your skin, try this. Cut up the white part of 3 green onions and one Tbsp of minced and crushed ginger. Simmer them together for 10 minutes in 2 cups of water or bone broth. Add some unpasteurized honey and curl up in a big blanket.
Getting more from your sleep
If you divided a 24-hour day into four seasons, fall would be the evening, the time of settling in.
The benefit of a good night’s sleep is a clinical certainty, just as a chronic lack of proper sleep will accelerate any illness. If you do not find it easy to fall asleep, or you wake up a lot, then exploring sleep hygiene would be worth the small amount of effort.
Sleep hygiene covers a wide range of practices from dimming your lights, avoiding screens and giving your brain an hour of silence before bed, keeping your bedroom cool, and doing some calming breathwork.
Wake Up like you mean it!
In the classics of TCM, the ancients tell us, ‘In fall go to sleep early and rise early.’
I love being an avid researcher because I am always learning new and surprising things about how things work and what is actually making the most difference in people’s health and in their lives. Recently there has been a lot of research, and even a few best-selling self-help books, on the realization that what you do in the morning actually changes your brain – in the best possible way!
If you wake up and go through the exact same sequence of experiences, in the same way, your brain decides to hibernate – in a way. The opposite is also true. If you wake up and try new and challenging things like resistance training, a cold shower, or some breathwork and your brain will begin to start generating new pathways to explore your new and adventurous life.
If you want to learn more about Morning Rituals and Neuroplasticity, check out this video
Good Food for Fall
Fall is a time of feasting and abundance.
A few generations ago, most of us would have been trying our best to gain ten pounds. Today, most of don’t need to eat more, we need to eat better. The easiest way to think about better is to learn about nutrient density and nutrient availability. That is a big subject.
If you have read my blog for long, you will know that I advocate and Ancestral approach to eating for your health. A part of the ancestral approach is to eat seasonally, so here are some meal ideas for a nutrient dense and restorative fall menu.
Curried Oxtails, Root Smash, and Salad
Sausages and Braised Cabbage
A nutrient dense diet includes eating ‘nose to tail’. That means relearning how to make liver, kidneys, feat, hearts, and tongues taste like it was made by a Chef. Nose to tail also includes the absolutely essential Bone Broth.
Another way to ensure your body is getting the most benefit from as many nutrients as possible is to cycle your colors. Every few days focus on eating seasonal vegetables that are yellow, orange, red, purple, or green. Instead of always having as many colors at each meal, it is actually better to give your body a few days with each color, or nutrient profile. On a cellular level, the specific alkaloid or bioflavonoid that gives a root or vegetable its color will support a specific function. This pulsing approach to nutrient density also helps people discover the nutrients that they need the most.
Nutrient availability is just as important as Nutrient density. Depending on many factors, your digestive system may be working great or it may have weak stomach acid, low pancreatic enzymes, corrosive bile, or an imbalanced microbiome. As you get older, or if you are feeling like your body needs more support, give your digestive system the easiest food to digest and the best support for your digestive organs.
What follows is general advice about food. More potent approaches to strengthening your digestion should be done with your health care professional. There are some things you do not want to get wrong.
Another bit of food wisdom from Chinese medicine reminds us that the longer it takes a food to grow, the longer you need to cook it. Eating lettuce, other greens, and sprouts raw makes sense. Steaming turnip greens and radishes is easier to digest and more nutrient available, especially with some fat. Carrots should be boiled until they only dense in the middle. Again, bring on the fat. Leaves that can survive a frost, like Kale, collards, Chard, and large Spinach should be blanched to remove the oxalic acid.
Modern life is busy. As much as I would like to spend two hours a day in the kitchen making amazing food every day, I have to be more efficient like everyone else. Staying ahead of the meal prep game is one of the most satisfying strategies in daily life.
The healthiest food specifically for you, made the way you like it, in very little time, every day!
Check out this article on Batch cooking for some good ideas.
Lastly, yes, Fasting is a cure-all!
If you feel like your metabolism or immune system is stuck in some grudge match, then consider a 2 or 3 day fast. There is a lot of research that is showing that occasional fasting has multiple benefits. Intermittent fasting is an easier way to get the benefits without ever having to feel like you are starving.
Qi Gong course update
We are starting on October 21st at 6:30 PM PST.
The first 12 weeks will be an introduction to Qi Gong and Somatic Mindfulness. These are great tools to help you stay grounded in and connected to your body. The next 9 months will be a certification course for those who want to become level one – Core Practices and Principles of Qi Gong.
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