With the change of seasons, comes a time for personal growth and reflection. "Fall is a time to relish the abundance of food at the end of the growing season," explains Dr. Sat Dharam Kaur, ND. "It is a time to reflect with gratitude on all we have been given in our lives; to seek balance and harmony in our inner and outer worlds; to release physical and emotional baggage; and to cleanse and prepare for a period of deep introspection. It is a time of letting go, particularly of old grief and attachments."
Here are a few tips to support you and your family through this time of transition and to stay healthy this season:
Take some time for yourself and reduce stress. Routine doesn't always mean work, deadlines and no fun. What was your favourite thing to do this summer? How did it make you feel? Even with the change in your fall schedule, and the change in weather, how can you make time to cultivate this feeling and nourish your fun side this fall and winter season? Stress reduction is shown to increase your immune system, improve quality of sleep and improve the relationships in our lives.
Take a high quality probiotic daily to boost your immune system. In a recent clinical trial, 57 schoolchildren were randomized to receive either a placebo or a professional grade probiotic plus vitamin C for six months. Children in the probiotic plus vitamin C group had 33 per cent less incidence of upper respiratory tract infections, a significant reduction in the duration of symptoms and also a 30 per cent decrease in the days absent from school (www.seroyal.com). Choose a probiotic with at least 12 billion CFU of live microorganisms per serving and one that has been kept refrigerated.
Take time to pack a healthy lunch. Avoid foods high in processed sugar such as pop, candy, icing, and packaged treats. Studies have shown that consuming high amounts of sugar can suppress the body’s immune response by up to 40 per cent for up to five hours afterwards, making us more susceptible to getting sick.
Stay hydrated. Keeping hydrated keeps the mucous membrane moist (this is the layer of skin that lines your nose, mouth and lungs and is one of our first lines of defence against invading viruses and other bugs). When the mucous membrane becomes dry, it is not able to keep out the "bad bugs" from entering our system making us more prone to getting sick. This can include drinking plenty of water, or non-caffeinated herbal teas.
Incorporate immune-boosting foods into your diet. These can include mushrooms (shiitake, maitake and reishi), raw nuts and seeds (sunflower, almond, pumpkin and Brazil), garlic, fish and spinach.
Make sleep a priority. Summer was a time for late nights and a time to break up the routine a bit. Now, it's time to stop screen time at least two hours before bedtime. Sleep is not only a time for physical rest, but it is also the time when our bodies heal, detoxify and restore balance in our system.
While I have mentioned some general guidelines, naturopathic medicine is about treating the root cause and providing an individualized treatment plan. Please consult a qualified health care provider before starting any natural therapies to see how they might work best for you.
Dr. Amy Punké, ND, has a naturopathic practice at Whole Self Wellness Centre, 106 Stellarton Rd., New Glasgow. Visit www.dramypunke.com or call 902-755-1210.