10 Tips for Staying Healthy in Autumn 2021
from Elson Haas MD
Given our current times with the continuing challenges of the Covid pandemic, as well as extreme conditions from drought, fires and smoke on the west coast, it’s vitally important to pay attention to what’s happening around us so we can protect ourselves, our family and loved ones. Continue to maintain social distancing, wear masks for protection (yes, everyone has a different take on this, but that’s my advice). Stay indoors if the air is bad. Buy an air filter for your home. The key is to love and care for YOU, stay centered as the world may be in chaos, and be present so you can respond to what’s happening. This is the essence of my first tip.
Here’s a Summary of my 10 Tips for Staying Healthy in Autumn
- Be Present and Aware of where you are NOW.
- Open up to the harvest of your year
- As our foundation, our Foods and Diet are an important focus now.
- Exercise activity is crucial now as in any season. Stretch at Home.
- Which Nutritional supplements are useful at this time of year?
- Some kind of Detoxification is a good idea for early-to-mid Autumn
- 7. In Chinese medicine, the Lungs and Large Intestine require our attention
- This is a good time to deepen and clarify close relationships
- Open to the Creative Spirit
- Rest and Kindle your inner flame to protect you from the cooler times ahead - plus additional tips for colds and flu prevention
- 1. Be Present and Aware of where we are NOW. The Covid pandemic, which we’ve been dealing with for more than a year, has created unprecedented challenges on many levels, but it has also taught us to pay attention in a much more focused way and that is not all bad. For example, if more frequent hand washing (and being aware of spreading germs), and mask wearing as appropriate become new habits for us then I think we’ll see less spread of common infectious diseases like the flu and colds going forward. An important part of being present can also be doing some kind of meditation or centering exercise to help lessen our life stresses.
- As with the gardens, open up to the harvest of your year from the seeds you have planted for your life, and be willing to work hard and discipline yourself as you head into a new season. If you are a student (we are all students of life), get back to your studies. Usually, it is time to shift from the fun and laziness of summer, but not this year, so still have some fun in the coming months. Food-wise, Nature is so giving, and it helps to be receptive to her and what the Earth has to offer. What do we have to give to life for all the energy, love, and beauty I hope we all receive?
- The foundation and fortification with our Foods and Diet are an important focus now. Again, this is Harvest time and there are a great many foods—apples and walnuts, sunflower seeds, zucchini and other squash, cabbages, peppers and tomatoes, plus many grains and beans. Learn some new recipes and enjoy good foods. Most of us need more protein and heat-generating foods as the months get colder, even the energizing spicy peppers such as cayenne and chilies. This will keep our blood and energy moving.
- 4. Exercise activity is crucial now as in any season. As the weather cools, stretching is even more important, as is having indoor exercises we can do. Yoga and other flexibility-enhancing movements are helpful at keeping us youthful. Remember, we feel as young as our spine is flexible. Our weight work and aerobic activities are vital to staying fit and toned, and strong to support our immune function and circulation. A vital body rarely gets sick.
- 5. Nutritional supplements are often useful this time of year. Many of my patients add some nutrients that support immune function so as not to pick up whatever is going around as the weather cools.
- Taking some echinacea now is helpful, as is the Chinese herb, astragalus. Both help support immunity.
- Some people prefer the use of mushrooms such as maitake and reshiitake for immune support.
- Vitamin D intake and adequate body levels appear to protect us from some of the Covid problems if we’re exposed. Maintaining daily vitamins C, A and E along with selenium and zinc is also immune protective and helps clear our body of certain toxins.
- Roots are helpful at tonifying our body at this time. Ginseng is good for building strength and endurance. Burdock root is good for the skin and lungs, an area of focus for this season.
- See the Autumn section of my book Staying Healthy with the Seasons for more information.
- 6. Detoxification is a good idea for early autumn and can provide a great benefit. I typically do a 3-week cleanse/detox program myself every September/October, and I also lead an online class for my patients and anyone who wants the support of a group to help them through the lifestyle habit change process. This year, the detox program is focused on a month-long program on weight in October, called Weight Release: Healing Our Relationship to Foods.
Can you take a break from some of your routine habits, like caffeine, alcohol, or sugar? Doing an effective Detox Diet or avoiding sugar, wheat and dairy for a couple weeks (as I write about in The False Fat Diet book) is often quite revealing and helps us to feel better, lighter and more youthful with greater energy. Since it is getting cooler this season, we will need to exercise and use a sauna or steam as a means to enhance sweat and clear toxins. I believe that regular sweating is important to health and longevity.
- 7. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the autumn season is the Metal (Air) element and focuses on the organs of the lungs and large intestine.
We need to watch out for dryness (the climate that supports Autumn) and mucus in our bodies. The emotion that can affect this element is worry or grief, so we want to relax and meditate and dismiss any worry. Other associations re skin/hair, nose and the sense of smell, the color white (silver, too), sound of weeping and the food flavor as pungent or spicy.
In TCM, this is the time to prepare for the cold season and do what we can to prevent getting sick. Gathering our fuel and food, being aware of our breath, and exercising regularly offers a good basic for our health, Overindulgence can lead to congestion and toxicity, as well as constipation and the clogging of the nose and sinuses. This leads then to upper respiratory infections as the germs grow in the mucus and then inflame the membranes. Staying clean and clear this season along with a healthy immune system will help keep you well. Try a facial steam and breathe in the herbal mist (you can use mints, rosemary, chamomile, lemon verbena, and other herbs) to help clear the sinuses.
- 8. Relationships are important to all of us. This is a good time to deepen and clarify our love and family connections. This helps us discover more about our own needs and those close to us, as well as learn to listen to them (both the needs and the people). Also, learn to be alone and listen to your inner guidance and truth.
Some folks focus relationships on their work, computers and TV, or other electronic devices. Can you still your mind chatter, and let your body breathe deeply to your soul? Give it a try and your spirit will be calmed and can also fly free of the burdens of time.
- Open to the creative Spirit. We can receive new ideas and actions necessary to fulfill our purpose and move us forward in our life. This can help to improve motivation with new energy and excitement for life. This could be writing about past experiences or our future goals, working on a book or personal story, reading a self-help book and applying it to improve our life, or taking up a new exercise. In other words, start a program now that you can develop and work on into the colder, darker months.
- Take a rest now because the demanding holiday season is just around the corner. Do not burn your batteries out before November. Kindle your inner flame and firepower, which will protect you from the invasion of harsh climates and germs. The winter blues come partly from a loss of this fire energy. Shifting and balancing with the Seasons is vital to Staying Healthy.
And if you start to get a cold or the flu, it is best to take action quickly. Here’s my cold and flu buster program.
- I start with 500-1,000 mg of vitamin C 4-6 times daily and even hourly until you feel better, and vitamin D3, 5000 IUs twice daily.
- Increased doses of vitamin A (not beta-carotene) 25,000 –30,000 IUs 3 times daily for just 3–4 days and then lower that dosage to 10 –20,000 IUs twice daily for about a week (then take a break since excess vitamin A can have some toxicity if taken too long).
- I also use fresh garlic - several small to medium cloves at a time dipped in honey and chewed; I may repeat this several times the first day. That is a spicy and aromatic natural antibiotic and immune defender; you can alternately use the odorless garlic caps, several three times daily if you do not want to smell, but they are not quite as effective. Or you can press several cloves of garlic into your bowl of soup before you eat, instead of eating the garlic straight.
- Echinacea and goldenseal alcohol extract can also be used to support immunity and the alcohol can cleanse and disinfect the membranes.
- Some help may be achieved with olive leaf extract or oregano oil as mild anti-viral herbs.
- Of course, drink lots of water, herbal teas, and hot soup.
As always - Stay Healthy with the Season!