Nature has a way of providing us with what we need, when we need it. That’s especially true when it comes to the foods that become available with each season. Autumn brings with it a bounty of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that nourish the body and support health and well-being. Being aware of seasonal foods and attuning your diet to your body’s needs is a great way to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
The harvest season is a time to prepare your body for the cold winter ahead. Your diet should shift toward richer, denser foods that will provide you with extra energy and warmth. Consider increasing your intake of protein, fats, and whole grains but be sure to keep up your exercise program, to control weight gain.
Nourishing your immune system is also very important at this time. Take advantage of dark green and golden-orange vegetables that are rich in beta-carotene to strengthen the body’s Wei Qi (immune system). These include carrots, pumpkin, squash, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, and many more.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it’s important to maintain the body’s balance during this season by adding sour foods such as sauerkraut, leeks, yogurt, and sour apples to your diet. Pungent foods such as garlic, turnips, and horseradish should also be added to your autumn diet, since they cleanse and protect the lungs.
It’s also important to moderate your caffeine use this season. As autumn settles in, you may notice yourself feeling a little more tired than usual and increasing your coffee intake to boost your energy. Before you lift that next cup, consider making a healthy change and switching from coffee to tea.
Tea has been found to have a variety of health benefits, including protecting against heart disease and some types of cancer, reducing inflammation and blood pressure, and even increasing bone density. Green and white teas contain especially high amounts of antioxidants, which protect against cellular damage.
Some foods that are best eaten in the harvest season include (but are not limited to): Wheat germ, bay leaves, sage, cabbage, anise, savory, capers, basil, thyme, broccoli, cayenne, peanut oil, daikon, cinnamon, honey, leeks, cardamom, peppermint, lemon, mustard leaf, garlic, onion, marjoram, parsnip/turnips, pepper, mustard, radishes, rosemary, lemon balm tea, chamomile tea, and mint tea.
These are just a few simple suggestions. Please consult with the acupuncturist-herbalists at the Marlborough Wellness Center if you have any other questions or are considering making any healthy dietary changes to make sure they are right for you. Happy harvest!