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Throughout the year, nature provides us with the appropriate foods to protect us from the climate, support our health, and keep us in balance. Becoming aware of seasonal foods and seasonal eating habits can attune us to the cycles of nature and our bodies. In many traditional cultures, autumn is the harvest season. Just as food is gathered and stockpiled to sustain the winter, our bodies also harvest and gather energy for the colder months ahead. Autumn is also a time for slowing down and going inward. The wind and falling temperatures push the flow of energy downward and into our bodies. Animals start to prepare their nests for hibernation, and with the strong drying winds, the trees lose their leaves. While we feel the effects of wind on our skin, internally, the wind also attacks the lungs. When dryness is trapped in the lungs it can easily cause coughs and other Lung disorders. Since autumn relates to the metal element and the organs of the Lung and Large Intestine, it is especially important to boost our immunity and nourish our Lungs during this season.

Proper nourishment for the autumn season can be attained by eating foods that moisten the Lungs and Large Intestine. Sour foods such as grapes, persimmons, pears, apples, olives, sauerkraut, adzuki beans, yogurt, rosehip tea, lima and navy beans moisten and nourish our organs while replenishing body fluids. Pungent foods and herbs stimulate and clear wind from the lungs. Foods such as garlic, turnip, ginger, horseradish, daikon and white peppercorn have a warming and cleansing effect on the body and add flavor to eals. Cooking with dark leafy greens and golden orange vegetables such as carrots, winter squash, pumpkin, broccoli, parsley, kale, turnip, mustard greens, millet, chestnuts and rice support the digestive system. They also provide large amounts of beta carotene, which helps to boost the immune system and protect our Lungs and Large Intestine against illness.

Autumn is a wonderful time for reaping the benefits of the long warm growing season provided by the spring and summer. It offers an abundance of vegetables and herbs as well as a variety of tastes which support and fuel the body in order to provide additional heat we need to protect us from the cooler damper climate. So take advantage of autumn’s harvest by spicing up your kitchen and your health!

By: Gayatri Bhatnagar, Licensed Acupuncturist and Ayurvedic Practitioner