September: Fall Health
The fall equinox is Saturday, September 21st. School is back in session, there is a chill in the air, and the skies are growing darker. Our bodies naturally need more sleep during the cooler months, so allow yourself ample rest during the year’s coziest season. Our suggestions below will support you in having a happy and healthy autumn.
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
This centuries-old aphorism now has a new meaning, as The Atlantic recently published a fascinating article on the health benefits of apples. When apples are consumed whole (yes, that means eating the core, too), they are an excellent source of probiotics and fiber. Over 90% of the healthy bacteria in apples is contained in the core. Seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide, so you may way to remove these before snacking. Apples are also a healthy source of malic acid, which is beneficial for liver and gallbladder health. Always buy organic as apple crops are the most pesticide-laden of all produce.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in immune function, bone health, mood, and energy. Living in the Pacific Northwest means that there is not enough sunlight for our bodies to synthesize sufficient Vitamin D, so supplementation is important. Since Vitamin D is fat-soluble, always take your supplement with a small amount of fat to allow for maximum absorption.
Being replete in Vitamin D is one of the best things you can do to support your immune system during cold and flu season. Alder Family Medicine offers Vitamin D injections for patients who are clinically deficient. Please speak with your provider to see if this therapy is indicated for you.
Thorough and frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of illness.
Wet your hands with running water, turn off the faucet, and apply soap
Lather your hands by rubbing them together, be sure to include the backs of your hands, in between your fingers, and under your nails
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
Rinse your hands well with warm water
Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them
Wash your hands before preparing or eating food, and after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Dr. Kat’s Favorite Squash Soup
(Adapted from The Fat Radish in NYC)
Kabocha squash (~3 lb)
3 Tbsp avocado or coconut oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 cups homemade bone broth (or vegetable stock for vegan option)
2 tsp ground turmeric
15 oz unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Chopped scallions or chives
Sea salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 425
Cut the squash in half, remove and discard the seeds and stringy flesh
Roast the squash for ~ 1 hour, until soft. Set aside
Place the avocado or coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring every so often, until it begins to soften. Add the broth and coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer.
Scoop out the flesh of the squash and add to the pot.
Use an immersion blender (or transfer to blender/food processor) to blend until smooth. Season with salt.
Serve the soup hot, garnishing each bowl with toasted pumpkin seeds and a sprinkle of scallions/chives.
Chinese Medicine Perspective, from Dusty:
According to Chinese Medicine and its 5 Element Theory, autumn is the season of the Mineral (or Metal) Element. Each of the 5 Elements is associated with two organs. In the case of the Mineral Element, the organs are Lung and Large Intestine. In this medicine, we call organs “officials” because to us they are not just physical organs, but are in fact in charge of specific aspects of our human experience: mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. The lens of Chinese Medicine says we are not separate from nature and we must learn to live in balance,. iIt’s important to look outside!
Autumn is a time of letting go, like the leaves falling from a tree, or the Large Intestine ridding our body of toxins. The Lungs are about inspiration, creativity and connection. The autumn air is sharp and crisp so it is a great time to begin or increase breathing practices to deal with the sadness of summer being over. The world is transforming to a more quiet and meditative time. It is common to feel more grief, the emotion of the Mineral element during this time. Make sure you are giving yourself enough space this autumn for self-reflection and creative or connecting activities. On a physical level, when it starts to cool down (especially in the mornings) make sure the back of your neck is covered with a scarf or jacket as pathogens can move into the body through the wind and the cold.