This is a info sheet that I translated from my Chinese medicine doctor on how to stay healthy during the fall.
Ensuring a Healthy Autumn ~ 秋季养生与药食
As summer turns to fall, heat gives way to autumn breezes, and the temperature difference between day and night becomes more pronounced, it is especially important to choose appropriate clothing to avoid catching a cold. Though autumn is cool, it is not yet cold; therefore wearing too much clothing too early makes the body less agile at adjusting to increasingly colder temperatures, thus making you more susceptible to getting sick. A common teaching of the ancients is to slowly increase the amount of clothing.
TCM believes that during the dry fall season the body loses water, making you more prone to dry lips, nose bleeds, itchy sore throats, constipation, itchy skin, and other problems. According to the Five Elements Theory of Chinese Medicine, the lungs are more likely to get infected with pulmonary diseases (cold, cough, allergies) in autumn. Therefore the key to staying healthy in the fall is protecting the lungs and replenishing bodily fluids.
Medicinal Foods Key to Autumn Health
1) Eat more seasonal fruits and vegetables to nourish yin.
TCM doctors believe white colors support the lungs, and therefore eating white foods is good for the health of the lungs. Such foods include lily, white fungus, lotus plants and seeds, gingko, sugarcane, pear (水梨), wax gourd (winter melon), Chinese cabbage (白菜), cabbage (高丽菜), and daikon/white radish. In TCM it is believed the five major organs are linked with 5 major flavors and respond best to those flavors. Therefore, during autumn when it’s important to protect the lungs, you should eat more tart (acidic) flavors such as, apples, pomegranates, grapes, grapefruits, lemons, and hawthron, etc. Vinegar is one of the best sources of bitter, acidic foods.
2) Drink a Chinese herbal tonic
Popular Chinese herbs that nourish yin and moisten the lungs are, American ginseng, ginseng (太子参), South Adenophora (南北沙参), Odoratum (玉竹), a Chinese Medicinal tuber dwarf lilyturf (Ophiopogon japonicus) (麦门冬), Chinese Medicinal unprocessed rehmannia root (Radix Rehmanniae Recens) (生地黄), noble dendrobium (Dendrobium nobile) (石斛), and almonds, etc.
There is a saying that a summer without illness leaves you in a weakened state. When the summer has passed, the body is susceptible to fatigue, and shows other signs of exhaustion. Then is the time to take Chinese medicinal dangshen (党参),membranous milk vetch (Astragalus membranaceus) (黄芪), atractylode roots (白朮), Chinese yam, and red dates, etc, to nourish spleen Qi and strengthen lung efficiency. Normally you use 3-5 types of herbal medicine, taking doses of 9-12grams each time, and prepare them by mixing with water, drinking as tea, making into congee (porridge), or together in chicken soup with meat as a stew.
Meal for Nourishing Lungs in Autumn
Main Dish – Chinese Chestnuts over 5 Grains
To make Autumn 5 Grains, use organic brown rice, Job’s Tears, Gorgon fruit (芡实), and oats. To soften the mixture, you can add glutinous brown rice or cracked corn. Then add ~10-15 seasonal Chinese chestnuts, which help to bring out the sweet fragrance and flavor of the dish.
Side Dish – Soy with Asparagus
Ingredients: 500grams asparagus; 1/3 package soft tofu; fresh garlic; salt; oil.
Directions: 1) Cut the asparagus into small pieces. Flash boil the pieces with salt and oil for 1 minute. Remove.
The texture of this dish is very refreshing. For those who don’t eat raw garlic, you can leave it out.
Soup – Pear, Almond, & Pork Chop Soup
Ingredients: 9-12grams almonds; 1 large pear, peeled; 200grams pork ribs; ginger.
Directions: 1) Quickly boil the ribs until they’re no longer raw.
This is a good soup for enhancing Qi and lung function that the whole family will enjoy.
Dessert – American Ginseng, Red Date, & White Fungus Soup
Soften 10grams of white fungus (银耳) by soaking them in cold water. Then put the white fungus, 5grams ginseng, and 15 red dates (pits removed), to boil in water. Rock sugar, to taste, can be added at the end.
As the air cools and the leaves change, we may feel nostalgic, but it’s important to keep the spirit active and healthy. With this crisp autumn weather, you can take a walk outside enjoying life, drink tea, and spend time with friends. A common question is, “what can I use to nourish myself?” My reply is, “ginseng is not the answer, our energy will live on.”
~ Your Health is our Greatest Happiness ~
周臻 Dr. Vivienne Zhou