Fighting fit for autumn

Fighting fit for autumn

Autumn will soon officially be here. In nature, this time of year reflects dryness, when the trees lose their leaves, and is a time for reflection as we look back on the past year and prepare to withdraw as the winter months close in. Marlene Watson-Tara , author of the definitive vegan cook book Go Vegan, gives her advice on keeping well as the temperature drops and the evenings draw in.

Preparing ourselves both mentally and physically is important to keeping well in the colder months ahead. Mental conditions are rooted in physical health, and our mental state affects our physical health. Daily diet has a profound influence on both physical and mental health, as well as on the quality of life we experience.

General Considerations

As autumn approaches our motivation to exercise is less apparent. It is however important to continue to stretch out the muscles of the body and get plenty of exercise.

Autumn Dietary Tips

Boosting the immune system at this time of year can help maintain health during the cold days ahead. The corresponding organs for autumn are the lungs and large Intestine. The lungs expel carbon dioxide, and the large intestine eliminates solid residue.  If this waste is not eliminated frequently it can have an effect on the skin.  The bowel is one of the most important routes of elimination for self-cleansing and works together with the kidneys, bladder, lungs and skin to help eliminate waste efficiently from the body.  Selecting the right foods to aid this process is crucial.

Fermented vegetables are the perfect food to replenish the good bacteria in your gut and support your immune system.  You can choose from an array of beautifully coloured vegetables to ferment, such as cabbage, carrots and cucumber. The salt and water solution known as brine is used to protect against the growth of microorganisms that would lead to rotting and promote the growth of the good bacteria ‘lactobacilli.’  It’s important to use the correct ratio of salt to water otherwise the fermentation process won’t happen.

Lacto-fermented vegetables are cultured vegetables. Sauerkraut, kim chi, and sour dill pickles are all forms of lacto-fermentation and are simple to make.  Traditionally lacto-fermentation was used to preserve the harvest and store vegetables for the winter. If you have a garden full of cabbage, cauliflower, beetroots, carrots, and green beans and don’t know how to store them all, consider making a few batches of lacto-fermented vegetables. These can be stored in your refrigerator for months.

If you are dealing with multiple allergies, chances are your gut is out of balance and is in need of a daily dose of beneficial microorganisms.

Some food suggestions for Autumn

Pungent is the taste associated with the autumn season, the pungent taste gives off a hot, dispersing energy and is said to be beneficial to the lungs and colon.  Pungent foods have been known to stimulate blood circulation.  In most culinary cuisines, they are commonly combined with foods high in fat.  These foods include spring onions, daikon radish (or dried daikon), ginger, peppers, garlic, onions, wasabi (dry mustard) and horseradish. However, an excess of these foods can irritate the intestines.

Herbs and Spices

Thyme is a great culinary herb for the autumn season. It is often used in teas to help ease bronchitis and other respiratory complaints. The tea can also be used as a gargle to soothe sore throats and coughs.  Lotus root is also an excellent tea for chest and throat ailments. Echinacea has active compounds that can help to reinforce the body’s own defence mechanism and is well known for its ability to accelerate recovery from infections, colds and flu.

Don’t over eat

One of the features of healthy societies is that they relax at meals and don’t overeat. In modern culture, food is often eaten on the run. We get used to eating quickly to fit lunch or breakfast into a busy schedule, and as a result don’t chew properly. When we stop moving, sit and relax we digest food more efficiently and convert blood sugars for long-term storage. These functions of the parasympathetic nervous system do not function when the mind is anxious.