In other parts of the country the leaves have already started turning and the air is crisp and cool, signaling the beginning of fall and cooler weather to come. However, in Los Angeles we are having a bit of an Indian summer still. We’ve had a few moments of coolness where I whipped out the down comforter only to wake up hot and uncomfortable. I love the cooler weather and can never wait to take out my coats for the few days of cold that we get here. My patients however, don’t usually love what comes with fall…the beginning of cold and flu season. Cold and flu season starts in the fall and continues through the spring. There are some things that we can do to help boost our immune systems as this season change happens.
Summer is finished and it is time for many of us to sync up with the school year – yes even those without children, find that they are affected in other ways by the beginning of the school year – more traffic, less time to ourselves, more colds. This is the time to ground ourselves and recommit to practices that we may have fallen out of while in “Summer Vacation Mode.” What do I mean? Recommitting to an exercise regimen as well as taking just 5 minutes every day to quiet our minds with some type of meditation exercise. Less eating out, and turning back to eating more wholesome, warm, home cooked meals if possible. I know that so many of us don’t have time, but even if you have to eat out or order in, now is the time to look towards soups and stews as opposed to pizzas and salads. Root vegetables are starting to come into season, and these are an excellent choice for those cool evenings when you want a hearty vegetable dish. Daylight savings time happens on November 6th this year. Since we “gain” an hour, now is a good time to go to bed a little earlier and to use the extra time to start getting up a little earlier. Many of my patients use this time of year to incorporate a stretching practice, morning yoga routine or tai-chi.[pullquote4 align=”right” variation=”orange”]The number one thing that you can do to prevent colds and the flu is to wash your hands frequently.[/pullquote4]
Fall is scarf weather, not quite cool enough for sweaters, but a good time to use a little something to protect the delicate neck area. In Chinese Medicine, wind is one of the elements that makes us susceptible to cold diseases. So start to bundle up! Fall is also the time of dryness. We leave the humid days of summer behind and this can dehydrate us and make us more susceptible to colds as well. Make sure to stay well hydrated by drinking lots of fluids at room temperature or warmer. Soups, real bone broths, stews and miso soup are actually a great way to start the day. So use this time to slow down and enjoy the changing leaves and cool weather with a hot cup of tea.
The number one thing that you can do to prevent colds and the flu is to wash your hands frequently. You need to lather your hands and rub for at least 15 seconds – sing Happy Birthday two times, and that should do the trick. Here’s some more tips:
- Drink plenty of fluids, green tea is especially good.
- Wear a scarf if its not cold enough for a sweater or coat.
- Take a Vitamin D Supplement, 1000iu a day is appropriate.
- Use a neti pot or other sinus rinse daily, particularly when folks around the office start to get sick. I like this one.
- Add tomatoes, garlic, onions and oregano to your dishes when possible.
- Elderberry & Zinc lozenges are great to use on a regular basis and at the first sign of a cold.
- Get both exercise and some form of meditation everyday. Aim for 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as walking, running or hiking and at least 5 minutes to quiet your mind either at the beginning of your day or at the end of it. Within a couple weeks, this will become a habit.
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