Health Matters – Change of Season

Many of us may have hoped that our recent bouts of chilly, rainy weather were just a slight blip in an otherwise mild fall forecast. However, the local weather forecast seems to suggest that the daytime temperatures will remain in the single digits, and there’s cold rain on the horizon, too. It seems like the chilly, damp fall weather is here to stay?along with the colds and flus that the change of season inevitably brings. It’s the time of year when everyone seems to be sick. But is it necessary to fall ill every autumn?

Fortunately, It’s possible to reduce your chances of catching whatever’s going around. Illness often occurs in the fall because the changing temperatures and humidity create stress on our bodies. Plus, used to the summer’s warmer weather, we’re often forgetful when it comes to bringing a jacket or sweater to ward off the damp chill. To boost your immunity, try these three steps:

Take Your Vitamins

Maybe it sounds trite, but vitamins can be crucial to immunity at this time of year. Vitamin C is a key preventative vitamin. Unfortunately we can’t synthesize it, so we depend on our food intake to get enough. Raw fruits (oranges, apples, pears, and berries, for example) can be a reliable source of vitamin C. Additionally, taking a vitamin C supplement (preferably ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids) can help boost vitamin C levels in our cells.

A word of caution: if You’re counting on getting your vitamin C from food, make sure that what You’re eating really does contain it! For instance, oranges contain vitamin C?but orange juice That’s been pasteurized (not freshly squeezed) has been heated, and heat denatures vitamin C, rendering it less effective.

Sleep Adequately

Now isn’t the time to party excessively! To develop a strong immunity, your body needs its healing sleep. Maintaining a healthy sleep pattern for the next few weeks means you should be aiming for eight hours a night, preferably from 11 pm onward.

Eat This Soup

Chinese medicine associates the change from summer to fall with a ?yin? time, meaning a necessary time of rest and relaxation. Traditional Chinese medicine has crafted a soup, commonly referred to as ?Change of Season Soup,? which, while nourishing, also contains medicinal plants to help boost our bodies? immunity during this time. If one to two cups of the soup is consumed daily for two weeks, it will help harmonize the yin and reduce the bodily stresses associated with changing outdoor temperatures.

It’s simple to make your own Change of Season soup. You’ll need three dried medicinal herbs and one fresh or dried medicinal berry (discussed below). These can be put into a broth of your choice (vegetable or chicken are fine), and a mixture of vegetables (beets, onion, or squash, for example) can be added.

The four key plants in the soup are Codonopsis root, Astragalus root, Chinese yam (Dioscorea) root, and Lycii berries. Each of these ingredients has a specific role in tonifying different parts of the body or in bolstering immunity to prevent disease. You’ll need equal parts of each plant in the soup (about 2-3 ounces of each); they’re usually available at a health food store that stocks bulk herbs, or from your local Chinatown. Alternatively, they can be located online. Cook the herbs on medium heat in your broth/stock for five hours, adding vegetables to the stock if desired. The herbs can be removed with a slotted spoon prior to serving. To make it even easier, you can take any kind of vegetable stew that you like to make and eat, and then add these four medicinal ingredients to it to make it powerful.

The soup is comforting and nourishing, and packs an immunity punch at a time when our bodies take a little more environmental assault.

Adequate rest, vitamin C, and Change of Season soup will all help you battle the common change of season illnesses. Try one, or all three, and enjoy good health while the chilly rain beats down outside!

Katie D?Souza is an AU graduate and a licensed naturopathic doctor. She currently practices in Ontario.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for personal interest only; it is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Readers are always encouraged to seek the professional advice of a licensed physician or qualified health care practitioner for personal health or medical conditions.