How to Support the Immune System During the Fall Transition
Fall is here! The crispy mornings, the cooler evenings, earlier sundowns, and of course, the allergies and cold/flu season are upon us! As this is the peak season for allergies and colds/flu, this is equally the time when our immune systems need some TLC.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, the seasons are associated with an organ. Each organ has multiple functions to assist with balancing the body's vital energy, Qi. These functions differ a bit from the Western perspective. However, in TCM, it is important to know which organ is paired with which season in order to keep the flow of the Qi active and balanced through diet, movement, teas, and some emotional reflection.
As we enter Fall, this season is associated with the Lung organ. Yup, that's right...Just one, not the pair. In TCM, the Lung is responsible for controlling respiration, the way in which the breath is flowing, the opening of the nose, and controls the skin and body hair (our first line of defense from outside forces). Now imagine if the Lung is weak and tired. No energy to get the flow of respiration to move smoothly, the skin and body hair will be impaired to fight off the nasty invaders, and the nose becomes overrun with dripping mucus. No fun.
So how can we support the immune system to prevent these issues from occurring? Let's dive in to a few tips in preparing ourselves for this new season and help the Lung!
Limiting or avoiding cold or raw foods
Cold or raw foods bring their cooling nature that create a shock on the digestive system. Which is why warmer foods are preferred during this time of the year. We get used to eating foods that are cool or light during the hot season of Summer. So try to keep the salads and the smoothies for the warmer months of the year. Even limit the amount of dairy, sugar, and oily or fatty foods. These foods in general just tax the digestive system which then leads to a weakened immune system.
Consume cooked and warm foods
This is the time for soups and cooked vegetables. These foods help to assist the digestive system allowing it to breakdown the food more easily and less stress. The recommended way to cook vegetables is to use fresh produce, less water, and at a lower temperature. By cooking food in its fresh form and at a lower temperature, it helps to preserve the nutrients and allow for better absorption. In turn, nutrients will help the immune system defend the body.
Spices are also encouraged during this time. The warmth from the spices help to assimilate nutrients from food but also provide healing properties as well. Some spices that are great for this time of the year are ginger, chili, curry, black pepper, turmeric, and dried mustard.
Get the body moving
It is so important to get the body moving. It should be part of the daily routine. We remember to brush our teeth and to shower...it should be in the list of those daily routines. It is easy to want to stay indoors and be cozy on the couch or in bed when the fall season approaches but it is best to keep the blood flowing with ease. Light gentle movements such as stretching, walking, Tai Chi or even Qigong are great ways to keep the body limber and warmed up during the cooler months. All of these movements assist the Lung organ with its respiratory functions and the skin as a protector.
When we move the body, we are also moving the fluid, the blood, and toxins. The body has a natural detox system in place that allows the immune system to get rid of harmful toxins, excess fluid, and unwanted biological material we don't want in the body.
Teas are used as medicine in TCM. During the cooler time of the year, this is especially true. The immune system could use all the support it can get, even more so during 2020. Teas are a great way to boost the body's defense.
Ginger, cinnamon chai or green tea are a great way to support our immune system and digestion. Ginger is known for its antibacterial properties, assists the Lung organ by eliminating mucus and clear the nasal passages. Cinnamon chai has its own fighting abilities when it comes to boosting the immune system. Fights bacteria and inflammation, helps to remove toxins, and fights off colds and flu. Green tea has long been known for it being rich in antioxidants, an anti-inflammatory and help with the fight against infections. Not a bad batch to combat the seasonal cold or even used as an immune booster.
Release and let go
As each season is paired with an organ in TCM theory, each organ is paired with an emotion. As mentioned above this is the time of the organ, Lung. This organ is associated with the emotions sadness and grief. So if it seems like you just got hit with all "the feels" then this could be a huge factor as to why. Long standing repressed emotions will surface during this season. When we hold in our emotions for an extended period of time, this will eventually weaken our Lung's ability to keep the smooth flow of respiration and limit the control of excess fluid leading to possible pathogen invasion (e.g. colds, flu, allergies, etc.).
It is important to find an outlet that best works for you. Try to incorporate some forms of release such as journaling, breathing exercises, aromatherapy, and/or meditation. Release and let go of the weight that these repressed emotions bring.
Seasonal changes comes with transitions in a lot of different areas. However, when we are aware of how to support our bodies, these biological machines will be able to stand tall and defend us with the right tools. So try a few of these tips to assist your immune system and the Lung organ.