Autumn Joy: The synergy of Nature and Science
Autumn is my favourite season. And here is why.
I’ve just returned from a truly invigorating walk. I discovered these fields adjacent to the canal along which I cycle. How many times have I wondered what was hidden just beyond the canal? It’s at times like this, when I stop rushing, that I realise how Autumn is a time to celebrate the hidden and unassuming. Summer has passed with its overall intensity and showiness, and Autumn follows when nature lets out a last nurturing hurrah before settling down for a well deserved rest.
Why celebrate Autumn ?
One might begrudge the passing of those warm carefree days of t-shirts and shorts, the cooler temperatures and the shorter days. Do not let your heart sink, rejoice in the fullness of Autumn : cool nights, crisp mornings with a chance of frost, nurturing foods come in season and a chance to shed the last excesses of summer.
Cooler temperatures are a godsend for many, not just those who suffer from the heat, it is also a time when potentially harmful insects finally begin to hibernate or die off (I’m thinking particularly of deer ticks that cause Lyme disease, meaning that those walks through Richmond Park and other deer ‘infested’ areas aren’t as fraught with danger) .
A good frost also takes away the possible bitterness of the cabbage family (kale, Brussel sprouts and other brassicas) by producing more sugars. Try a few chopped sprouts gently sweated with a final dash of olive oil and garlic dressing.
Cooler nights are often a chance to have a better night’s sleep. When accompanied by a warm bath with Epsom Salts and lavender oil, the subsequent decrease in body temperature after exiting the bath can lead to a restful sleep. And don’t forget to leave your window open which will keep you from overheating and encourage oxygen rich air intake while you count sheep.
Seasonal vegetables :
The brassicas are mostly Autumn and Winter vegetables and are especially rich in vitamin K (essential for blood clotting and bone health), vitamin C (great for boosting immune and adrenal function), fibre (effective for transit : see additional fact sheet) and some more obscure nutrients including I3C (indole 3 carbinol has a lot of positive research in terms of cancer treatment ).
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) some foods have the effect of warming the body and so therefore can be beneficial at this cooling time. They raise the yang, the energy (qi) of organs and improve circulation, so if you are suffering from cold hands (Raynaud’s syndrome) and feet you may benefit from eating pumpkin and other squashes as well as vegetables related to the onion/garlic family (see recipe below) - all very seasonal too.
Seasonal meats :
Wild meats from deer and wild boar are in season too and many will argue that nutritionally they are even superior to most organic farm-raised meats because of their exposure to a naturally varied and wild food source and ‘lifestyle’ .
Exercise and lifestyle :
The shorter days can really effect one’s mood and I find that this can be dramatically improved by exercise. Ideally you might want to incorporate a HIIT exercise regime, but even gentle walking can clear the cobwebs and set you up for a good day. Also, the more time you spend outside, the more your pineal gland (a minute part of your brain will be stimulated by the natural light coming into your pupils and will reset your biological clock, especially if you are having sleep issues.
Autumn is also a good time to detox, to rid one’s body of built up toxins and even extra weight added during the excesses of summer, those extra G&Ts watching the sunset, those cheeky ice creams and cakes on the beach, that extra coffee to keep going. Even just cutting down on those naughty but nice treats could help your liver get back into gear ready for the challenges of winter. Detox is a topic close to my heart so please watch this space for future posts.
Also with Autumn sunlight weakening every day, you may want to supplement with Vitamin D which has been shown to affect your general wellbeing  and is virtually impossible to get from food. This time of year might also bring on your first cold and if so adding extra vitamin C and Zinc to your regime might be adventageous.
Closing comments :
My final recommendation for these darkening months would be to fill your eyes with bright, warm colours, remind yourself of Divali and Guy Fawlkes and all those exploding colours in the dark sky. Be joyful and give thanks for the harvest and the nourishment it will give us throughout winter. Meditate and practice gratitude and soon you will be in the slowing flow of darkening days.
Please engage with me:
I see these newsletters as chance to interact with you all out there and grow in my sensitivity to people’s interests and views. See this as a taster of my holistic approach to wellness, which stems from my belief in the synergistic power of my understanding of both naturopathic and scientific models. Do give me feedback, what can I improve on? What topics are you particularly interested in? Would you like to share your experience of natural medicine with other likeminded individuals? Post me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions and comments
. Lyme borreliosis in Europe : influences of climate and climate change, epidemiology, ecology and adaptation measure, Lindgren 2006.
. Indole-3-carbinol induced cell growth inhibition, G1 cell arrest and apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. Oncogene, 2001. SR Chinni, Y Li, S Upadhyay et al. (2001).
. The Ecyclopedia of Healing Foods, by M Murray, J Pizzorno & L Pizzorno. (2005).
. The Vitamin D Solution. M Holick (2013)