The best time to help build your immunity against winter ills and chills is in autumn.
In store we have already noticed a significant increase in the number of people experiencing coughs, colds, blocked noses, head and body aches; most likely as a result of Australians (particularly Victorians) re-emerging from 12 months of lockdowns, masks and physical distancing measures.
Whilst a catching a cold or virus at some stage throughout the year may be inevitable, you can reduce the likelihood and/or the severity and duration by building up your immunity in the months before winter arrives.
As the seasons change, so too should your diet. During summer, you’ve most likely enjoyed salads and fresh fruits that cool the body. When autumn arrives it is a good idea to start introducing more warming foods. Look for ways to include root vegetables such as carrots, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, as well as cabbage, leeks, beans, asparagus and broccoli.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine these foods, along with pears, walnuts, cinnamon, apples, plums, garlic, onions, horseradish and mustard help to nourish the lungs which are closely related to the immune system.
This is also the time to start cooking with whole grain foods like brown rice, quinoa, oats and millet and combining it with oily fish (like salmon, mackerel, tuna or sardines) and flavouring with herbs like turmeric, rosemary, thyme, basil and dill.
A healthy diet throughout autumn will help prepare your body for the cooler months, but will also contribute significantly to a healthy gut and digestive system, which in turn will develop a strong immune system.
Sleep and Rest
Now that daylight savings has come to an end and the weather is getting cooler, night time is falling sooner. Whilst it may be disappointing to call it quits on the backyard BBQs, social evenings with friends and family outings, it is a reminder that at this time of year you need to put more focus on sleep and rest.
Autumn is the time for you to take your foot “off-the-gas” a little and start to embrace the indoors and more introverted pursuits.
Wind down as the sun sets each day by reading a book, taking a bath, playing a board game or doing a cross word or puzzle. During autumn, it is a good idea to adjust your bed time routine so that you can go to sleep earlier and enjoy an extra hour or two sleep each day.
Washing our hands (more often!) became second nature during 2020. We became more aware of the how easily germs can be spread on door handles, shopping trolleys and other surfaces.
Whilst an over-use of harsh hand sanitisers ultimately may not be ideal for your good bacteria (many sanitisers kill both “good” and “bad” bugs), washing your hands (soap and water is ideal) before and after eating, after using the bathroom and if you sneeze, cough or blow your nose, will help to reduce the spread of germs.
70% of your immune system lives in your gut, so if the gut is not functioning properly it can have a negative effect on your ability to fight of infection. Good gut bacteria can be destroyed by stress, alcohol, cigarette smoking, antibiotics and poor diet.
You can help to support the good bacteria of your gut by taking a probiotic daily. Probiotics are live microorganisms that can restore the natural balance of the gut.
Probiotics are available as a supplement (either in a powder or tablet form) or through fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, Kombucha, yoghurt (as natural as possible) and tempeh.
Despite needing to slow down and get more rest throughout autumn and into winter, maintaining some level of physical activity is still important to keep the body healthy. You might change your exercise routine from running to a slower walk or a jog or try exercises such as swimming, dancing, walking, stretching, gardening, Tai-Chi, Qi Gong, yoga and Pilates that all strengthen and support the body and the immune system at this time of year.
Breath work can be incredibly powerful, as it helps to move air through your lungs.
We recommend our near-by neighbour Jackie Allen Yoga for a great range of classes.
In store (we're at 23 Sturt St Ballarat) you will find a wide range of fermented products (including those made locally by The Fermentary), probiotics and other supplements to help support you throughout the change of seasons. Our naturopaths are available in store every day to discuss your general health concerns and private consultations can also be arranged for a more customised health and wellbeing plan.