Autumn has so much to offer. In addition to pumpkin spice lattes and cozy plaid scarves, the chilly weather also brings about colds, fevers and the dreaded flu! Boost your natural defenses against illnesses the cold weather can bring using nature’s natural bounties.
It’s easy to think of summer for its diversity of produce, but autumn brings a harvest of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables that shouldn't be ignored.
Each season’s foods are meant to prepare the body for its maximum vitality. Fall foods are healing, immunity building, grounding and steadying. They draw energy inward allowing you to conserve your resources and get stronger to prepare for winter.
Seasonal eating helps support health as well as the environment. Foods grown naturally and picked at their peak of ripeness are always more nutritious than foods grown under artificial conditions or transported long distances. It also brings needed variety to your meals and saves you money.
Reach for sweet root vegetables like beets with folate, manganese and potassium to promote brain health and protect against heart and liver disease, turnips filled with antioxidants, minerals and fiber and sweet potatoes loaded with fiber, vitamins A, C, B6 and manganese. The fall squash family also has lots to offer. Pumpkins, butternut, acorn squash and spaghetti squash are all full of alpha- and beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and loads of fiber.
Then go fill your sweet tooth with healthy fruits like cranberries and blackberries, apples and pears full of cancer-fighting antioxidants, digestion aiding fiber and prebiotics, vitamins and minerals. Each of these fruits contains rich nutritional complements and are amazing in breakfasts, smoothies and baked goods.
2. Bolster health with spices
While you’re experimenting in the kitchen with your harvest finds, be sure to add spices to your dishes. These autumn spices will make your flavors pop and see you through your fall and winter ailments.
Cloves combat illnesses, muscle soreness, toothaches and freshen breath and other odors by killing bacteria with its anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Cinnamon regulates blood sugar, increases circulation and reduces the risk of heart disease.
Ginger has a rich nutritional complement and is filled with antioxidants and the compound gingerol. It combats nausea and gastrointestinal distress, fight fungal infections, helps ward off colds and flus and reduces pain with its anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rock star that helps the body repair damage, improve brain health and helps with arthritis. Use it in your cooking with black pepper to increase its effectiveness. But to get the highest benefits from turmeric’s curcumin, also take it in supplement form.
Black Elderberry Syrup is an immune-boosting powerhouse that’s been found to help prevent and even shorten colds and flu making it the perfect addition to any household during the fall and winter seasons.
Mullein has been used for many years to treat asthma, coughs and other respiratory issues. It’s anti-inflammatory and can be used to treat burns bruises and gout. It also fights infections, kills bacteria and is useful in fighting the flu so keep some mullein tea or tinctures handy. Click here to learn how to make your own herbal tinctures.
Apple Cider Vinegar is an enzyme and probiotic-rich fermented product that helps with indigestion, stimulates proper digestion, protects against infections and boosts energy, which can help with the cold weather doldrums.
For an eating and exercise double win, go on a harvesting adventure. Visit an apple farm, pumpkin patch or go blackberry picking for hours of delicious fun. Then when you get home, plan some recipes using your fresh new finds. If you have extras, turn them into jams or freeze them for later use. It will be great to pull out these treats in the middle of winter.
Don’t forget to stay active. It’s easy to get bogged down once summer’s over. The shortening days, busy schedules and tighter deadlines make it all too easy to get stuck indoors. But if you want to stay healthy, take advantage of the gorgeous weather by planning some hikes, bike rides or strolls. It will also help you work off all those tasty treats you’ve been making with your autumn ingredients.