According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, the fifth season of "Late Summer" is one of the most important times of year as it focuses on the health of our digestion and overall nourishment. After an indulgent summer of raw foods, our digestive system can be taxed. Chinese medicine theory believes that digestion is where our health and wholeness is based. It's responsible for our immunity, nourishment, and often emotional stability.
Hence, a focus on your overall digestive well being after a summer of indulgence can be incredibly impactful to your overall health and wellness as we transition to the last months of the year.
A Word On Digestion
In modern science, the importance of digestion is reflected as more research is done on the human biome. Studies recently show that the gut microbiota is now considered an important partner of human cells, interacting with virtually all cells in the body. Although gut microbes have been explored for decades, investigations of the role of microorganisms that reside in the human gut has attracted attention beyond infectious diseases.
"I am convinced digestion is the great secret of life."
Numerous studies have reported changes in the gut microbiota during not only obesity, diabetes, and liver diseases but also cancer and even neurodegenerative diseases. (I love when science catches up with ancient wisdom!).
Beginning to Prepare for Autumn & Colder Weather
This particular season of transition is considered more difficult on the body than others and it is important to take extra notice and care. I think we all can agree that we feel better in spring than we do when it starts to get cold. Every year in autumn, I see an abundant amount of colds, flus, mood shifts, rashes, and asthma. Each season prepares us for the next and now is the time to protect from autumn and lung-related illness.
It's time to bulk-up on "easy to digest" foods
The best way to protect ourselves is to begin cooking more of our foods. Think "easy to digest". Soups, stews, teas, and congees are all great options. Encourage your digestive strength by mindfully sitting to a meal and focusing on the flavors, chewing the food well, eating at more regular times, and choosing fewer ingredients.
Avoid overindulging in breads, dairy and iced foods (sorry ice cream). If you do have these foods, add some tea with the meal: Ginger, chai, or mint are great options. Nourishing foods are emphasized and generally come from the earth or sit on the ground such as yams, sweet potatoes, and squash. Increasing pungent foods is helpful now as well. Radishes, onions, cabbage, and turnip open and protect the lungs which are the focused organs in upcoming Autumn.
Becoming Centered Again: Meditation, Acupuncture and More
Seasons have a direction and an emotion. Late Summer's direction is the obvious centre or Earth. The emotion that is key for your overall wellness is that of "being centred". Meditation, prayer, and reflection are especially beneficial activities now. This will create stability in us and assist in this transition to a colder climate.
I enjoy embracing Traditional Chinese Medicine practices as a form of prevention. It's what it was originally intended for. During this season, acupuncture is focused on the abdomen and often warmth is applied with moxibustion on corresponding points that boost immunity. This is especially a great time to tend to any digestive concerns or if you tend to autumn illness.
Wishing you a healthy Late Summer.