As the summer months come to an end and autumn begins, it's important to adjust our health and wellness routines to fit the new season. Autumn brings with it cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and a shift in the foods we eat and activities we enjoy. With this change in mind, it's essential to prioritize our health and wellness during this season. In this article, we'll explore ten top tips for staying healthy and well during autumn, including everything from incorporating fresh seasonal produce into your diet and supporting your immune health, to the best ways to prevent seasonal affective disorder. By following these tips, you can support your physical, mental, and emotional health throughout the autumn season and beyond.
NOURISHING GROUNDING AUTUMN MEALS:
As the weather cools down, it's natural to crave warm and comforting foods. Consider swapping out salads and cold meals for nourishing warm soups, stews, curries and roasted vegetables. Grounding root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potato, and beetroot, and fruits such as apples and pears are all perfect autumn foods which will add plenty of nutrients and fibre to meals. These hearty meals can help keep you feeling full and satisfied. Use healthy cooking methods like oven-baking, grilling, stewing, pan frying with a little olive oil, or use a slow cooker or steamer.
Autumn can also be a time for indulgence, but it's important to still prioritize nutritious foods in your diet. Try limiting processed and sugary foods and instead opt for whole foods like good quality proteins (wild oily fish, organic chicken and eggs, organic tofu), seasonal fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oats), and healthy fats including avocado, raw nuts and seeds (chia, hemp, flax, walnuts, almonds, Brazil), nut butters and tahini, and beneficial oils such as cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, avocado and macadamia nut oils.
USE WARMING AUTUMN SPICES:
Autumn is a great time to start incorporating warming herbs and spices to meals. The best Autumn herbs and spices include chilli, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, saffron, clove, cardamom, coriander, black pepper and cumin. These warming herbs and spices help stimulate circulation, improve digestion, and can help reduce inflammation in the body. These herbs and spices also have a thermogenic effect which means they help to boost your metabolism to assist with fat burning and weight loss. You will find these warming autumn spices in our Bodhi Organic Masala Chai, Sticky Chai and Vegan Sticky Chai. Our Bodhi Organic LuminosiTEA, turmeric + ginger collagen latte powder is a delicious way to add more turmeric and ginger to your diet.
EAT AUTUMN IN-SEASON PRODUCE:
As the weather starts to change our eating habits and meal choices also start change. New seasonal produce will start popping up at your growers market and green grocer. Seasonal eating is better for the environment, for your health and you will save money. The key benefits of eating seasonally is it is better for the environment and community, you will be supporting local farmers, it will save you money, and the produce will be fresh and will have spent less time being transported so they will be more nutrient rich. Buying seasonal produce that is locally grown helps protect our planet. Locally grown produce reduces transport and storage needs which contribute to greenhouse gases.
Check out your local farmers markets for what’s in season. Source some seasonal cook books to give ideas for delicious Autumn meals.
What fruits are in season in Australia in Autumn? Apples (Granny Smith to Pink Ladies), figs, grapes, kiwifruit, lemons, pears. Bananas and stone fruits like plums are still in season. Try stewed pears, apples or figs to go with granola, yoghurt. Add pears or apples to porridge with some cinnamon, honey and flaked almonds. Grilled pears topped with coconut yoghurt and hemp seeds make a simple healthy dessert. Make a healthy apple and pear crumble. Try our banana bread or banana and pear cake. Add pear slices or grapes to a salad. Add sliced figs to pizzas, or in salads with walnuts, rocket and cheese. Baked apples with cinnamon, drizzle honey topped with natural yoghurt.
What veggies are in season in Australia in Autumn? Tomatoes, zucchini, spring onion, corn, eggplant, snow peas, pumpkin, cucumber, cauliflower, beetroot, wild mushrooms, and potatoes. During autumn, many wild and wonderful varieties of mushrooms become available, in particular, pine mushrooms, saffron milk caps and slippery Jacks. Try making a pumpkin, corn and spinach frittata. Baked eggplant with miso and tahini sauce, or add eggplant to curries. Beetroot and feta quiche. Make beetroot relish for burgers or wraps. Frittatas with grated potato, zucchini, spring onion and corn. Zucchini noodles tossed with pesto, roasted pumpkin and cherry tomatoes, topped with toasted pine nuts. Stuffed baked potatoes with chili kidney beans and top with guacamole. Add zucchini or beetroot to baked goods, try our Gluten-free Chocolate Zucchini Cake or Red velvet beetroot cupcakes. Have snow peas and cucumber with hummus. Roast a tray of pumpkin, potatoes, beetroot, eggplant and zucchini and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and rosemary. Make a veggie lasagne with layers of baked eggplant, pumpkin and zucchini with tomato sauce. Try cauliflower rice, or bake a whole cauliflower rubbed with Indian spices and yoghurt and top with raisins and flaked almonds. Pan-fried turmeric cauliflower pieces are delicious tossed through kale salads. Add wild mushrooms to pastas, risottos, dumplings and Asian stir-fries.
PREVENTING SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER:
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to the changes in the seasons. SAD symptoms commonly start in Autumn and continue through the colder months of winter. Common symptoms experienced by people with SAD are lethargy, loss of interest in work and hobbies, issues sleeping and oversleeping, brain fog, feeling hopeless, overeating and weight gain. Factors that contribute to SAD include the reduced level of sunlight in Autumn and Winter which can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm along with reducing vitamin D synthesis via our skin. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with depression. Reduced sunlight can also cause a drop in serotonin levels (your feel good hormone) which can trigger depression. The change in season can also disrupt your body’s production of melatonin, which plays an important role in your sleep cycle and mood. Another factor contributing to SAD during autumn is that reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels which can trigger depression. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel happy and content.
If you are prone to SAD support your mood and serotonin production throughout Autumn by supplementing with vitamin D, B vitamins, omega-3 essential fatty acids, and herbal medicines such as St John’s wort, withania and rhodiloa. Niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), and folic acid (B9) all work together with tryptophan to produce serotonin. Deficiencies in B vitamins are associated with mood changes, depression, insomnia, anxiety and fatigue. Eating a healthy well-balanced diet, spending some time outdoors in the sunshine each day, getting daily exercise, and adequate sleep (around 8 hours a night) are all important ways to help support your mental health and reduce the risk of SAD during the colder months. You will find this beneficial mood boosting herb in our Bodhi Organic PositiviTEA (MOOD) and VitaliTEA (ADAPTOGEN).
BOOST YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS:
Vitamin D is an important fat soluble vitamin that plays a role in our mood and brain function, and prevention of depression. A majority of Aussies are thought to be deficient in vitamin D due to lack of sun from either spending too much time indoors or wearing sunscreen all the time when outside. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to the development of depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), insomnia and anxiety. Vitamin D is also important for healthy immune function.
Sunlight is one of the easiest and healthiest ways to get sufficient vitamin D. Your skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to UV light. Sensible sun exposure of around 15 minutes daily in summer, and, 2 to 3 hours a week in winter, on the arms, legs, hands or face (without sunscreen), is all you need to help maintain adequate vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is also found in oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and sardines), eggs, organic butter and milk from grass-fed cows, cod liver oil and mushrooms (exposed to UV light). It is recommended to supplement with around 6,000-8,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily if you are deficient in this important mood boosting nutrient.
Spending time outdoors exercising is not only a great way to top up your vitamin D levels but exercise is an excellent natural anti-depressant. When you exercise endorphins and serotonin are released, which helps boost mood. There is abundant evidence favouring the positive effects of exercise on mood and energy levels, helping sleep and, of course, a myriad other health benefits such as cardiovascular care, weight management and social inter-activeness. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy, anything from walking, swimming, dancing, soccer, or surfing.
BOLSTER YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM:
Autumn is the time to bolster your immune defences in preparation for the colder months. Some of the best ways to improve your immunity naturally is eating a nutritious diet rich in fruits and veggies, include fermented foods (yoghurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi), garlic, and brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale) in your diet. Consume turmeric, ginger, seaweed, medicinal mushrooms, lemons and other citrus fruits. Ginger tea with lemon and a little manuka honey, or echinacea herbal tea is a lovely way to help support your immune system. Supplementing with vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, and probiotics will also help boost your immune function to help your body fight off infections. Our Bodhi Organic ZesTEA (Ginger, turmeric + lemongrass) and ImmuniTEA (echinacea, ginger, elderflowers + elderberries) contain these immune boosting botanicals.
Medicinal mushrooms like shiitake have been used for centuries in Asia as a food and traditional Chinese medicine, for the treatment of respiratory tract infections and as an immune tonic. Medicinal mushrooms like shiitake, reishi, maitake, turkey tail, chaga and cordyceps contain incredibly powerful immune-strengthening compounds that help enhance the immune system to improve the body’s ability to fight off infections.
Medicinal mushrooms contain active compounds called beta-glucans that improve the efficiency of the immune system. They are also a rich source of un-digestible fibres called polysaccharides which act as a prebiotic. These prebiotics help support gut immunity by feeding beneficial gut bacteria so they can grow and flourish. Studies have shown that shiitake mushrooms are an effective natural antibiotic, killing off pathogenic microbes while leaving beneficial bacteria unharmed.
Dried or fresh shiitake and maitake mushrooms make the perfect addition to winter soups, stews and stir-fries. Turkey tail, reishi, chaga and cordyceps on the other hand are not ideal for cooking due to their bitter taste and hard woody texture. These mushrooms are best taken as a powder and used to supercharge smoothies, coffee, hot chocolate or chai. Make sure you buy certified organic mushrooms as they can easily absorb whatever they are grown in, including chemical pesticides and herbicides. You will find these medicinal mushrooms in our Bodhi healthy hot chocolate, Hot ChocolaTEA.
Maintaining good gut health is vitally important when it comes to immune health. Not only is the gut our first line of defence against pathogenic microbes, 80% of our immune cells lie within the gut walls. We need a healthy balanced gut microbiome for a strong functioning immune system, to fight off colds and flu and other infections effectively.
Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, kvass, kimchi, miso, kombucha and sauerkraut contain contains live bacteria that helps increase beneficial microbiota in the gut. Including a variety of fermented foods in your diet daily is an excellent way to your support immune health during winter. Some delicious ways to incorporate more fermented foods into your daily diet include adding yoghurt to muesli and porridges, add a spoonful of sauerkraut to curries, stir-fries and lentil dahl, or try miso to make a delicious dressing for salmon or root veggie and quinoa buddha bowls. Coconut yoghurt is a good dairy-free alternative that works well as a healthy topping for buckwheat pancakes, or Autumn desserts like healthy apple and pear crumble. The beneficial bacteria present in unpasteurized miso are killed by prolonged cooking at high temperatures, so add miso to soups and other dishes just before removing them from the heat. Try making your own fermented vegetables, they are easy to make and much cheaper than store bought varieties.
MOOD BOOSTING BOTANICALS:
The herb St John’s wort (hypericum perforatum) is prescribed by naturopaths and herbalists for its anti-depressant effect. St John’s wort’s mood boosting action is due to its ability to increase the availability of serotonin and dopamine to the brain. Studies have shown that St John’s wort is beneficial for treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety including SAD, and is just as effective as SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) such as Prozac and Zoloft.
Ashwagndha (withania somnifera) is another effective herb for the treatment and prevention of SAD. This ‘adaptogenic’ herb helps support the adrenals to calm the nervous system and improve the body’s ability to cope with stress. This popular Ayurveda herb is used widely by herbalists and naturopaths to treat anxiety and depression.
Rhodiola (rhodiola rosea) is another valuable ‘adaptogenic’ herb that is beneficial for improving depression, SAD and intense physical and emotional stress. Studies have shown that Rhodiola can significantly reduce mild to moderate depression, without the side effects of pharmaceutical anti-depressants.
You will find these mood boosting botanicals in our Bodhi Organic PositiviTEA (MOOD) and VitaliTEA (ADAPTOGEN).
Lemon balm is popular among herbalists for treating insomnia, depression and anxiety-related conditions. Lemon balm has a sedative and calming effect on the nervous system. Scientific studies of lemon balm have also shown it to be effective for fighting infections and improving the immune system. You will find this soothing botanical in our Bodhi Organic SereniTEA (CALMING).
STAY WELL HYDRATED:
It's important to continue drinking water even as the weather starts to get cooler to keep your body well hydrated. Having enough water each day is vital to support stage 3 detoxification (removal of toxins from the body), to prevent constipation, and to promote healthy skin, and optimal brain function. You should be aiming to have around 2 ½ Litres of water daily including caffeine-free herbal teas like chamomile, licorice and ginger, and bone broths to stay healthy and hydrated this Autumn. Bone broths make a warm wholesome drink, providing calcium, silicon, glucosamine and chondroitin, which have been found to help support immune function, promote strong bones, help heal the gut lining, and help reduce joint inflammation. Another delicious drink you can try is a turmeric and apple cider vinegar tonic. Add 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp ground turmeric and a pinch of cayenne pepper to a cup of hot water. You can add a little raw honey, Manuka honey or maple syrup if you like. This delicious drink is a great way to start the day to help kick start your digestion, as well as support immune function and detoxification. You can also have this tonic as a shot with a small amount of water.
Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.