Autumn Is Here (In Theory)

by Trudi Rumball, Registered Acupuncturist

My favorite season of the year is upon us once again! Unfortunately, in Edmonton we typically do not get very long to enjoy the beautiful ‘late summer’, with golden bushes and red trees, but alas, it still is considered “fall”. For parents and teachers, this means a busy month of September — getting back into school routines, children’s sports and activities. It also means susceptibility to colds and flu’s! Our immune systems tend to get run down with all the stress and bustle and exposure. What can we do to support our immune systems this time of year?

In traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), autumn is ruled by the metal element, and the organs that are affected are the lungs and large intestine. ‘Qi’ (pronounced chi) is the life force that runs in our blood, and keeps us vital. The Qi that helps our immune system is called “Wei Qi” or defensive Qi. It is distributed and circulated by our lungs, throughout our bodies. If our wei qi is weak, our immune system is low. So what can we do to improve our Wei Qi?

  • Acupuncture has been proven to increase white blood cell production and improve our immune systems. Going for regular acupuncture helps to increase immunity and lower overall stress levels.
  • Drink lots of water. Our bodies need water for our organs to function to their full potential. Drink clean, filtered, re-mineralized water to keep your body hydrated.
  • Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function. That may mean going to bed a little earlier, but better than being in bed sick with a cold.
  • Exercise at least ½ hour every day. Although brisk, going for a quick walk will open up your lungs and increase function. The added bonus of vitamin D is a plus, which is hard for us to get (naturally) in the winter.
  • Wear a scarf when outside (click HERE to find out why)
  • Eat properly! Nutrition plays a big role in supporting your immune system. Eat lots of nutrient packed vegetables

The flavor for fall is pungent in TCM. Pungent flavors are expansive and dispersive, stimulating circulation in energy and blood. Adding peppers, onions, garlic, gingers and mustards to your fall foods can help you stay warm and keep your digestion from getting sluggish. Eating pungent foods is very helpful for keeping our large intestines happy and supported during the metal season.

Root vegetables are plentiful this time of year, as well as the heartier greens like kale. Fill your bellies with these nutrient dense fall veggies in soups and stews. Make big batches of bone broths to warm your family’s tummies. My favorite is beet soup. Beets are blood building and delicious.

Beet soup
4 large beets (or 8 small) pre-boil

8-10 cups veg stock
3 large carrots

2 tbsps Dill
2 large potatoes

1 onion

1 lemon salt and pepper to taste

I make my veg stock from scratch — carrots, celery, onions or leeks, tomato, mushrooms, whatever is around. I keep a giant Ziploc in my freezer and I put all my veggie scraps in it. When I need to make a stock, I just use what I have collected, throw in some salt, apple cider vinegar, filtered water and simmer for 2 hours. If you don’t want to make veg stock from scratch, you can easily buy the pre-made. I also precook my beets so they are easy to peel, and I add them at the end.
Saute diced onion and chopped carrots. Add salt and pepper to taste, I also add the dill at this time. When the carrots are a little soft, I add diced potatoes and sauté for a few minutes. If I have kale around, I will sometimes finely chop it and add that too as you can never have enough greens! Add veg stock and sliced beets, and simmer till vegetables are all cooked. I also like to add some freshly squeezed lemon juice as it cuts the sweetness of the beets. You can top with sour cream or plain greek yogurt and fresh dill. Enjoy!

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