Autumn is a season of transition between the hot and expanded summer and the cold and contracted winter. During autumn movement is in-convergence. Nature changes bywithering and shedding. For us humans, too, autumn is a time for self-examination, an opportunity to shed thought patterns, habits and commitments that have become superfluous and do not serve us anymore. The movement of blood from the extremities back to the core increases blood flow to the mind.This process prepares us for the winter in which there is greater focus and inner strength.
A Season of Deficiency & Change
Autumn is a season of dryness and of cool weather. When the climate dries up and the temperature starts to drop, the body makes adjustmentsto protect it-self.
Changes in blood flow and the skin
When the outside temperature drops, your body protects itself from heat loss by reducing blood flow to your skin, arms and legs.The vitality of the skin wanes as blood vessels constrict with colder temperatures. Trees experience something similar: when the weather turns frigid they pull their sap into their core (the roots). Soon their leaves wither and fall. Reducing blood flow to the exterior of the body dries out your skin, and leaves your muscles feeling fatigued.Less blood in the skin means better circulation in the core. The stomach gains access to more blood and clamors for food. We experience this as a craving for starchy and heavy foods. Appetite and digestion improve just in time to thicken up and insulate the skin. Warm, oily, heavy foods build insulation and prepare the body’s reserves for winter.
Another result of blood vessel constriction is that it causes dehydration and fluid loss, a process called cold diuresis. When blood vessels constrict, it increases blood pressure. The kidneys release the extra pressure by removing fluids from circulationto the urine. A summer of hot sweating followed by cold diuresis may leave you dehydrated and electrolyte deficient. The Sourand salty tastes encourage “juiciness” of the body and water retention for those that are suffering of dryness.
Some people get cold feet even with two pairs of socks. These socks can’t coax blood out of hibernation once it moves to the core. The body may simply lack confidence or strength to maintain core temperature and warm the toes. A sweater to heat the core does a better job than an extra pair of socks to cure cold feet. Lifestyle changes, such as warm clothes and indoor heating, can convince the body it has heat to spare.
Changes in appetite
Over the summer, the brutal sun weakens digestion as heat draws blood from the digestive tract into the skin to cool you off. A heavy lunch in summer can easily make you feel nauseous or fatigued. In autumn however, noon is the time for a big meal. Towards the end of August, you are most likely to feel hungrier and hungrier. With the re-appearance of your strong appetite, you may also be craving heavier foods. These heavier foods will support you in the coming cold months by building up a storehouse of energy and warmth. The fall is a time of year to nourish your body withporridges and soups,grain dishes, sturdy root vegetables, wholesome dairy, mighty meat, and more salty foods, offering the benefits of insulating your body from the cold and dryness.
Changes in the mucus membranes
The mucous membranes of the respiratory systemare particularly sensitive in the fall. Autumn foods help maintain the delicate balance between dryness and dampness. Recommended foods are those that ripen this season, as they regulate the level of moisture in the respiratory system.The lungs are the only deep organ exposed directly to the outside world, meaning that the internal environment of the lungs is changed by the external climate and humidity almost instantly. In the five element system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), they are related to the metal element, which is also an element of autumn.
If your lungs feel dry, you may consider licorice tea. Licorice tea nourishes the lungs. It has a demulcent gelatin quality that coats your lungs, soothes dried out air passages, and eases sore throats and dry coughs. If you notice a gentle tickle in the back of your throat, this is a warning sign that a dry cough is on the way. Taking precaution can keep it from developing into a cough. Start with a cup or two of licorice tea each day until the tickle disappears. If this tickle has already turned into a rough cough, licorice tea will also help, especially if you add some raw honey.
Licorice tea is also an anti-diuretic. If you suffer from dryness, and your mouth feels parched, licorice tea can help replenish your fluids. *Note: Licorice is contraindicated for those with high blood pressure. If you are on blood pressure medications or suffer from high blood pressure, contact your doctor before taking licorice tea.
Grains: all kinds of rice. The white color is attributed to the autumn, strengthens digestion and regulates the body’s moisture.
Vegetables: the white variety of vegetables has a drying effect on the respiratory system and is appropriate for autumn phlegm conditions: Jerusalem artichoke, kohlrabi, radish, parsley root, celery root, and parsnip.
The orange purple variety of vegetables has a delicate moistening effect on the respiratory system and is appropriate for autumn dry membranes condition: carrots, beets, pumpkin, sweet potatoand butternut squash.
The green variety of vegetables can be over drying, and make your body feel cold. In autumn, cook greens well. Mix them into nourishing soups, or cook them with oils or root vegetables
Legumes: lentils and white beans for lung phlegm conditions.
Fats, oils, Seeds and nuts: for lubricating and moistening dryness, sesame seeds (gomashio), sesame oil, tahini, olive oil, ghee, butter, coconut oil, almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia, peanut, pistachios.
Autumn is a time of year when your body is anxious to build a warm, insulating layer of fat under your skin to protect your body from the onslaught of winter. Your body’s need for fat increases your appetite for fat. In autumn, Vata and Pitta people can safely enjoy a diet rich in fats. By the time November rolls around, you will probably be craving dietary fats like butter, ghee, olive oil, and nuts. Beat your body to the punch by increasing oils before constipation and dryness become a problem and trigger a craving.
One of the best fats to nourish your body in autumn is ghee. Although ghee is made from butter, it is lactose-free. Even those who are lactose intolerant can use ghee and benefit from this nourishing oil. Use ghee as your main cooking oil, spread it on toast, and drop a teaspoon into oatmeal and soups.
Coconut oil and coconut butter are both helpful for maintaining regular bowel movements, pain-free joints, and nourished skin. Work one teaspoon of coconut oil per day into your diet in the same ways as ghee. Mix coconut butter with honey to experience the most nurturing dessert you may have ever had!
Animal protein:beef and chicken best made as soup or broth.
Dairy: Fall is the time to indulge in soft cheeses like feta, goat cheese, yogurt, and spiced milks. These heavy, soft dairy products offer fats and protein to your deficient, dry body.
Fruit: for lubrication lemon, citrus fruit. For phlegm conditions pomegranate, baked quince, guava, baked apples.
Spices: some spices encourage contraction and movement inward: Sumac, Turmeric, Muscat, Mishia, Ajwan and nigella. The contraction movement affects the respiratory mucous membranes and prevents allergic rhinitis that is common during this season. Other spices which are pungent, such as black pepper, white pepper and wasabi and horseradish, are used to dry out excess moisture and phlegm accumulated during the end of the summer.
Traditional herb formulas:Chyawanprash to strengthen immunity and protect from seasonal infections, and Ashwagandha ghee to improve resilience before winter cold.
It is not a rare phenomenon to develop an unexplained feverduring autumn. Autumn fever may be the body’s attempt to free itself from excess heat and dampness accumulated during summer. In these cases it is recommended to eat or drinkpungent and dispersing greens that release the heat by sudation: green onions, chives, coriander, rocket, arugula,stream cress, parsley and mint.
The onset of autumn windy and chilly nightsnaturally increases anxiety levels if you are unprepared. People who already run a little tired and deficient are the most vulnerable, so when fall comes around, it’s time to slow down and avoid stress as much as possible, by reducing the number of activities you partake in one given day. Be gentle with yourself. Enjoy the natural sleepiness of fall as you snuggle under a blanket at home. Take care of yourself more often than usual, away from the pressures of social life, and conserve your energy. Follow the three pillars to keeping your body healthy and strong in the fall:
Get enough sleep
Make your life cozy
In early autumn you may start to notice that your stools are getting harder, darker, or smaller. You may notice more gas as well. Along with dry stools, chances are that dryness appears in multiple places in your body at the same time. Your mouth, the inside of your nose, and your skin all may begin to feel dry. Your eyes may become dry and itchy. Pay attention to these signs of dryness, so that you can nurture your body. These are important warning signs of the risk for constipation.
Encourage your body to have easy bowel movements by increasing oils and healthy fats like ghee into your daily diet. Oils lubricate the dried-out lining of your colon, making it easier to stay regular. Adding more mineral salt to your diet can also help you stay regular. Demulcent foods like oatmeal and bananas that are high in soluble fiber, bulking up the stool and nourishing your body’s mucous membranes to ensure easy elimination.
Lifestyle and resilience
To better cope with autumn dryness, it is advisable toself-massage the body with olive oil or sesame oil at least once a week before showering. After anointing the whole body, relax by lying down on a comfortable and soft platform and let go for 20-30 minutes. Then, rinse the oil in warm water and dry rub the body thoroughly with a towel. Such treatment prevents stiffness in the joints and helps the body to defend against the diseases of autumn.
Another important preventative move against autumn health hazards is breathing exercises that strengthen the lungs.
Skipping meals, irregular mealtimes, staying up late and wearing your-self down with excess activity and insufficient rest during October could result in compromised immunity for flu season come November. Alternatively, relaxation and downtime free up energy to help the body prepare for winter.