5 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy this Fall

The weather has been a bit up and down here in Decatur, Georgia but it is definitely trending cooler. Patients are already coming in with stuffy noses and scratchy throats. Here are a few tips for staying healthy as we transition into colder weather and if you need some support transitioning to the new season schedule a Fall tune-up!

1. Take care of your respiratory system.  Fall is the season of metal and the lungs. In Chinese Medicine the lungs are considered a “delicate organ” because they are the organ closest to the outside of the body and are especially vulnerable to wind and cold. Strengthen the lungs by going for a brisk walk in the cool air and doing some deep breathing exercises. When we breathe deeply we are flooding our brain and cells with vital oxygen. Try this breathing exercise: breathe in through your nose taking in as much air as possible, right down to your belly. Hold the air in for a count of five. Then slowly exhale through your mouth until even the very bottom of your lungs are empty. Repeat for a total of 3 times and see how amazing and relaxed you feel!

2. Wear a scarf.  Yup, Mom was right! From an acupuncture perspective it is all about wind.  According to Chinese medicine, wind is the cause of 10,000 diseases.  When our immune system is compromised due to stress, poor diet or lack of sleep we are more vulnerable and wind finds a way in through vulnerable spots like the back of the neck, which is known as the “Wind gate” in Chinese medicine.  While you are at it wear some warm socks too. 

3. Let that sh*t go. Excuse my sailor talk but sometimes we gotta get real. The lungs yang paired organ is the large intestine. While the lungs are responsible for taking in the new the large intestine is responsible for, you got it, letting that sh*t go. Fall is the perfect time for this. Maybe you need to clean out some closets or clear out the clutter in your office or reevaluate some negative relationships.  Maybe it’s time to let go of some negative believes that no longer serve you. Whatever it is, take the Fall challenge and let that sh*t go.

4. Eat with the season. Chinese medicine cautions against eating too much cold and raw food, especially as the weather chills. If you are one of my patients I have probably drummed this into you by now J The lungs love spicy or pungent flavors so try to include foods such as garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish, and mustard in your diet. Minimize dairy, which can cause mucus and congest the lungs. The lungs are easily affected by dryness, so use gentle moistening foods, like pears and black mushrooms.

5. Get more sleep. In the warm, yang, days of summer we can get away with staying up later and getting less sleep. Now that it is getting dark earlier and getting colder use that as an excuse to turn in earlier.  Ideally get 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep a night. More rest will keep your immunity up so you are less likely to get sick.

A bonus tip: If you spend a lot of time around germ factories, a.k.a children, I recommend you take a high quality Echinacea daily that combines the roots of Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea.  I carry one from Mediherb.  It is a great immune system booster.