Wisdom-based cultures around the world have long recognized that the change of seasons is a time of transformation, a time when nature changes and so should we.
Autumn signals the transition out of the warm and expansive summer into the colder, more constrictive time. It is a season of “letting go” when the lush vegetation of summer drops away and the earth prepares for a long winter’s rest.
So just what can we do to help our bodies adapt to this particular change of season? In this blog I would like to share some of the things I do to facilitate my body and my bones making a smooth transition into winter.
Warming, alkalizing food
First off, the minute the thermometer drops, I move to “heavier food” — soups, stews, and casseroles. I also set aside cooling salads, cold sandwiches, and any form of cold drinks. Baked root crops such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, and beets become a daily staple, as does all manner of baked squash. All of these are not only “warming” and filling, but they are highly alkalizing. Alkalizing lentil soup is another regular, and I find my digestion is stronger if I take this soup or a vegetable broth at the beginning of my meal. Finally, a hot drink is always at hand, my favorite being a warming and detoxifying fresh brewed ginger tea, with or without honey and lemon.
Protection from the cold
Fall brings with it wind which is drying and often chilling. I take seriously the ancient medical wisdom from both India and China suggesting we protect ourselves from the wind and cold. I turn to cozy fleece jackets and scarves — and I always try to keep my feet warm, just as the ancients suggest. I also love the ancient Indian “warm sesame oil massage” for a fall boost of the immune and nervous systems.
I feel our whole mind-body-spirit complex benefits by following nature’s lead. Just as the once vibrant leaves “let go” and drop willingly to the earth, so might we consider what we might allow to “let go.” The dramatic autumn transition can well serve as a time of reflection, introspection, organization, and protecting boundaries. But I encourage you to not become over organized and overscheduled and to take some time to reflect and be calm as well. This may be a good time to begin meditation or mindful exercise such as yoga, tai chi, or qigong.
As the leaves fall, so may vitamin D levels
Without the vitamin D-producing summer sunshine, vitamin D levels often fall by 30% from the end of summer to the end of winter. I like to remind people to test their vitamin D levels in the fall. This “end of summer level” will be the highest you’ll likely have all year. Remember, year round, we like to maintain a minimum of 32 ng/mL for bone protection and suggest that a 50-60 ng/mL level is more optimum for overall health. I continue to see interesting research showing even more reasons vitamin D is so vital to bone health. For example, a recent study reported that more severe vitamin D deficiency was associated with more severe osteoporotic hip fractures. Here’s where to learn more about the importance of a testing your vitamin D levels in the fall.
Now, I’m off to enjoy a walk (with a few bone-building hops or heel drops) in the crisp autumn air. Happy fall!