As the summer comes to an end, we prepare for another season change, transitioning into fall. Each change of season leaves some of us feeling vulnerable to illness. Our bodies have to acclimatize to the weather, sleep/wake cycles, dietary habits, and the potential exposure to different bacteria and/or viruses that all lead to stress on the body. The body works to maintain our internal balance with the changes in our external environment. Everything changes from the temperature, to what we eat, and how we dress. In Chinese Medicine, we teach patients about the importance of eating and dressing appropriately for the seasons in order to prevent illness. For example, we do not want to eat the same way in the fall as we do in the summer. In the summer, we tend to eat lighter and cooling foods such as cucumbers, mint, watermelon, salads, ect to keep cool from the high temperatures we endure. If we eat this way when the cooler weather arrives, we create an imbalance in the body by accumulating too much cold in the body. If we dress the same way in the fall as we do in the summer, we also add to having too much cold internally. As a result from being exposed to excessive cold, the body experiences a sudden drop in temperature and we become more susceptible to illness. Western Medicine explains the phenomenon of getting sick from the cold as viruses being able to survive longer in cold temperatures not because someone got chilled from the cold. In Chinese Medicine, we do relate too much cold and wind exposure being the cause of imbalance internally leading to the diagnosis of Wind Cold (signs and symptoms of the common cold).
Another key factor in maintaining our balance and health is the state of our microbiome. Our microbiome is always changing with our diet. What we eat plays a significant role in how healthy our gut flora is. In Chinese Medicine, the state of our health primarily depends on the function of the Spleen and Stomach.
A diverse, healthy microbiome is necessary to maintain healthy flora and a strong immune system. If we are not eating correctly with the seasons, too much of the wrong food can lead to inflammation of the gut and less diversity in the microbiome. Low diversity of bacteria in the body contributes to inflammation and overgrowth of bad bacteria. To remedy this, one must modify their diet by adding large amount of fruits and vegetables. The microbiome starts to change in just 3 days from changing the diet. However, one has to sustain these changes to maintain healthy flora. The Chinese medicine principle of warming, cooked, easy to digest foods also applies to the diet for better function of the Spleen and Stomach. Listed below are some tips for staying healthy during the season change.
Tips for Staying Healthy During the Season Change:
- Keep warm especially when the temperatures start to fluctuate. Keep your feet covered when walking on a cold tile or cement floor. Avoid cold, drafty or windy environments and cover your neck with a scarf in these conditions.
- Always stay well Hydrated.
- Acupuncture- to help boost the immune system and function of the Spleen and Stomach.
- Probiotics if needed to maintain healthy gut flora. Please check with your health care provider to see if this is appropriate for you.
- Eat foods that are warming and easy to digest for the Spleen and Stomach such as sweet potato, carrots, butternut squash, rice, oats, potatoes, cherries, grapes, figs, dates, longan fruit, pumpkin seeds, ginger, and licorice.
- Herbal Medicine to help balance the body internally and used preventatively.
- Get plenty of rest, 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Moderate Exercise.