In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), health is seen as a state of balance and living in harmony with nature. By aligning ourselves and our diet with the season is a way to achieve this balance.
In Autumn, everything in nature contracts and moves inward and down. Leaves and fruit fall, seeds dry, the sap of trees goes into the roots, and the sun energy declines. It is a time to pull inward and gather together on all levels. We again begin to feel the cool air in our lungs and on our skin.
In TCM five element season, fall is associated with the organ & meridian systems of the Lungs and Large Intestine, represented by the metal element. These organs are stimulated to cleanse in Autumn to help deflect winter illness. The tissues affected are the skin and body hair.
Getting the common cold during this time is not unusual and beneficial for some to strengthen the body for winter. A 2-3 day fast/cleanse for the large intestine is also important during this time through a liquid diet (or at least avoiding congesting foods) while adding laxative teas or foods, and if possible using an enema.
Ideally one should do a cleanse at the end of summer / beginning of Autumn. Doing an effective detox diet or avoiding sugar, wheat and dairy for a couple weeks is recommended. Ingesting too many of these foods will cause phlegm to accumulate in the lungs and sinuses.
Spend more time preparing foods. The aroma of baked food will stimulate the appetite and receive essence of food through smell.
Enjoy the harvest, and eat a diet of warming foods and pungent foods.
Carrots, squash, winter squash, brussel sprouts, kale, collard greens, yams, and broccoli
Pungent foods are especially great this time of year. They often are white (the associated colour of the season). Pungent foods open the lungs and fight off colds and flu. They include: onions, radish, daikon, garlic, and ginger.
Apples, pears, persimmon, dates, raisins, grapes, figs, and pomegranate fend off dry skin that can occur during this season.
Grains include: brown rice, oats, and wheat germ
Restrict cooling and mucus-forming foods such as dairy (plain yogurt is acceptable), too much raw, and greasy foods.
Breathing exercises are important as the Lungs (and the skin) are the associated organ. In TCM, they play a huge role in our immunity from colds and flu. The air is cold and crisp and the Lungs are especially taxed. Enjoy Yoga, Qi Gong, Pranayama or meditation breathing exercises.
Skin Brushing is amazing this time of year to cleanse lymph through the skin.
Cupping or Gua Sha behind the lungs are especially beneficial from an Acupuncturist
Wearing white and using more white in your home is recommended from a Feng Shui perspective as a way to be in harmony with Autumn.
The emotions of the season are Grief/Sadness and the corresponding letting go. Now is the time for introspection and releasing any unresolved sadness. Grief can cause us to breathe shallow and the lungs need to expand now. The obvious emotion of the Large Intestine is “letting go”. Deep breathing and making sure you have regular bowel movements can help with these emotional virtues.