We are now in the second phase of autumn or fall. The weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter. Sunny days are now followed by rainy and windy days enabling the leaves to crisp up and quickly descend to the ground. While nature gears up for winter, the flux in temperatures and the constant shuffle between rainy, windy, and sunny days has a lot of people falling sick around this time of the year.
Here are some things you can do to stay healthy!
Wear a scarf around your neck and keep your head covered. It makes you look stylish and at the same time blocks external pathogens, such as wind, from attacking your body through the neck and head.
Practice deep breathing or pranayama. Since the lungs are very sensitive at this time of the year, it is a good idea to practice deep breathing exercises, such as 'Alternate Nostril Breathing' and 'Skull Shining Breath' to keep your lungs healthy. Strong lungs can fight off external pathogens such as wind and airborne toxins.
Go out and get some sun. Most people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency in the winters because the sun's energy is so low and the days are usually short and cold. So the best thing to do is get your reserves of natural Vitamin D when you can. Go for a walk, hike through the forest, or just sit outside and read a book if you can.
Move away from drying foods. Autumn is mostly a dry season and having drying foods such as alcohol, coffee, chips, crackers, breads, cakes, etc. will only increase the dryness quotient in your body making you more prone to colds and flus this season.
Eat warm, slow-cooked food and drink warm beverages. Introduce some dairy. Since your body needs to prepare itself for a cold winter, it is wise to eat foods that slowly warm you up. Uncooked food or cold food is harder to digest during this time of the year and will leave you feeling cold. So, eat fewer salads and more soups, stews, and porridges.
Introduce moist grains such as oats, rice, etc. into your diet.
Root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips, etc., are in season for a reason. They strengthen your large intestines and keep them moist while seasonal greens, such as kale and spinach, keep your lungs in top shape to combat any pathogens that may affect them this season.
Adding pungent spices, such as ginger and mustard, in small amounts increases the warmth of the food.
Drink warm beverages such as warm water, herbal teas, and warm beverages, such as apple cider, to help you to smoothly transition into winter.
Late autumn is a good time to introduce good quality, grass-fed dairy products, such as ghee and yoghurt, into your cooking. Dairy products keep the lungs and large intestines moist during this season. If you suffer from any dampness in your body or too much of mucus in your lungs, avoid dairy.
Begin to increase your protein intake but stick to easy to digest proteins such as lentils, mung beans, adzuki beans, fish, eggs, chicken, and tofu. Clams are abundant at this time so include them in your diet if you are a pescitarian.
Enjoy nuts this season - preferably roasted.
Begin to give yourself warm oil massages. Massage your body and your hair. Warm sesame oil is wonderful this time of the year and combats dryness that is very common this season. The oil also creates a protective sheen on your skin to help block out pathogens that enter the body through the skin.
NOTE: The tips listed here assume that you are reasonably healthy and don't have any disease or chronic condition because of which you have to follow a restricted diet.