I'm overjoyed that fall is here. It's my favorite time of year.
Fall means pumpkins, mushrooms, apple cider, and soup. Some of my favorite foods.
Fall can also mean colds, flu, and low energy.
Is there a way to ward off such inconveniences? Well nothing is foolproof, but here are 7 suggestions to stay healthy this fall so you can enjoy all the festivities of corn mazes, apple picking, leaf peeping, pumpkin carving and football.
Eat those apples (and other seasonal fruit). Apples have been shown to strengthen your immune system. Other seasonal fruits such as pomegranates and citrus also help you ward off fall illness by giving you a big boost of vitamin C and phytonutrients. Aim for 2-3 servings of these nutrient dense foods a day.
Slow down. It seems like I've been going full-throttle lately. I know that for those with kids, the start of school is partial relief, partial stress creator. So as the air is turning colder, take some time out to relax and let your body renew. Even if it's just 10 minutes a day, sit in your favorite spot and watch the world go by. Maybe have a cup of herbal tea. Slow down and take in the crispness of autumn air.
Part of slowing down is also getting your 8 hours of sleep a night. I know it's hard to get 8 hours during the long days of summer. The shorter days make fall the perfect time to start a habit of getting to bed earlier and recommitting to 8 hours of sleep a night.
Get those fall greens. We often think of green for spring, but greens are also a perfect fall food. Greens grow better in the cooler weather, and are actually sweeter than when grown in the summer. So now is a perfect time to try kale or mustard greens, arugula or bok choi. Of course don't forget the broccoli and cauliflower.
Wash up. One of the easiest ways for germs to spread is through hand-to-hand contact. You don't have to get excessive about it, but be sure to wash your hands, especially after you sneeze or if you are traveling with lots of people. Plain old soap and warm water do the trick; so don't waste your money on expensive hand sanitizers or antibacterial soaps or sprays.
Spice it up. Spices have been used for centuries to boost your immune system. Try any of these spices to boost the flavor of your dishes, as well as strengthen your immune system. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, black pepper and more. For a wonderful relaxing drink that will help you slow down and boost your immune system at the same time, try some homemade chai - not the processed stuff with loads of sugar, but homemade goodness.
Check out my recipe:
In 10 ounces of water, boil the following: 4 whole black peppercorns, 4 whole green cardamom pods, 3 whole cloves, ½ stick cinnamon, ½ inch fresh ginger root. Let boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Then add ½ cup almond milk. Heat again, strain and enjoy.
Try some herbs. Many tout the benefits of Echinacea, but I have a big fan of Astragulus. It can even be taken by those with auto-immune conditions because it is an adaptogen. That means it is thought to help protect the body against various stresses, including physical, mental, or emotional stress. Like many herbs, you don't want to take it forever. Instead, take it for week when you start feeling run down. Or if you're traveling, take it a few days before, during, and then a few days after your trip.
Hang out with the Fun-Gi. Mushrooms are great for increasing your white blood cells - the cells responsible for fighting off illness. Whether sautéed, marinated or raw, mushrooms are amazing foods. While maitake and shitake are the most coveted for the immune boosting powers, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, your standard white button mushrooms have recently been shown to be pretty powerful immune boosters.
Not sure how to add mushrooms to your diet? Try this easy and delicious recipe.
A Fall Celebration Salad
2-3 shitake mushrooms, cleaned, de-stemmed and sliced
juice of ½ lemon
1 tbl Bragg's amino acids
½ Asian pear, sliced thin
hand full of walnuts
hand full of dried cranberries (without sugar if you can find them)
2 cups mixed greens
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Place sliced mushrooms in a glass bowl. Pour lemon juice and Bragg's over the mushrooms. Stir. Let sit for 20 minutes or longer
Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over greens. Place greens on a plate. Evenly distribute marinated mushrooms, pear, walnuts and cranberries on each plate.
Any other tips you like for staying healthy this fall?