The unofficial start to fall is upon us. Labor Day is over and we are back to the hectic schedules that September brings. For some of us, getting back to a routine can be comforting. For others, juggling all that comes with September can be overwhelming. Especially if you are trying to get healthy habits back on track after summer vacations.
Fall also brings its own challenges to staying healthy. Wild weather swings, school activities involving a lot of exposure to germs and certain viruses simply thrive in colder weather, such as the common cold. Also, seasonal allergies can turn into an infection when the nasal passages get infected.
One way to stay healthy this fall is to keep your nose healthy. Our nose is the first line of defense when it comes to stopping infections. The nose filters pollutants from the air as it passes through the nasal passages and warms the air before it goes to the lungs. Nasal congestion occurs when inflammation happens due to a cold, allergy, flu or environmental factors. (Source: Healthline) To help the nose do its job, using a Neti Pot to help flush it out is a great option.
When using a Neti Pot, make sure to use clean filtered water, not the type that comes out of the faucet. Even if you are using a filter that screws onto the faucet, the water won't be as clean as water that is filtered with a stronger carbon filter. A lot of the filters for the faucet are only filtering for taste. A Neti Pot does not have to be expensive. On amazon, you can find great deals. Use the Neti Pot once a week unless you feel sinus pressure and are blowing your nose, a lot.
A second way to stay healthy is to exercise. Exercise heats up the body, helping to fight off pathogens. This doesn't have to be hard-core exercise where you are sweating profusely. Walking for just 30 minutes a day provides health benefits. Exercising regularly helps your body circulate immune cells more quickly so bacteria and viruses are killed faster. (Source: OMICS) There are plenty of free exercise routines on YouTube that you can check out to find something you like. Yoga, Tai Chi and more intense routines are available to try. Once you find something you like, it becomes easier to exercise regularly.
What we eat also helps boost our immunity. As we transition from summer to fall, eating foods that are in season helps support a healthy immune system. Most of us think we have to eat citrus fruits regularly to support immune health. But there is are so many more nutrients that our immune system wants beyond just citrus.
Below is a list of some of the healthiest foods to eat to stay healthy this fall.
GARLIC, LEEKS AND ONIONS
Not only are Garlic and Onions good sources of Vitamin C, they contain Allicin which is a sulfur-containing compound that is antibacterial and antiviral. Onions should be used in almost every dish you cook this fall because they contain Quercetin. Quercetin is a powerful flavonoid that helps kill bacteria.
Celery is often overlooked as a healthy food that can support the immune system. It is high in Coumarins, which may help the immune system eliminate potentially harmful cells. (Source: World's Healthiest Foods) The key when using celery in cooking is to add it about 5 minutes before the dish is done. When celery is overcooked, it loses a lot of its protective nutrients. Also, eating celery raw is a great healthy snack. Stuff it with hummus or peanut butter or any other nut butter to make a filling and healthy afternoon snack.
Pumpkin Seeds are high in zinc, an important mineral to keep our immune system healthy. Not only are they a great topping for salads or easy add-ins for oatmeal or muffins, you can easily use pumpkin seeds in unique recipes.
Sweet Potato Veggie Burger from The Kitchn
Vegan Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta from This Savory Vegan
Roasted Pumpkin Seeded Hummus from Half Baked Harvest
CARROTS, SPINACH, CHICKPEAS, AVOCADO AND SWEET POTATOES
Foods high in Vitamin B-6 help make antibodies that stave off infections and disease. (Source: Healthline) Carrots, Spinach, Chickpeas, Avocado and Sweet Potatoes are high in B-6. Including them in your fall cooking routine will help keep everyone healthy. Here are some recipes to try:
Smashed Chickpea Avocado Sandwich from Feasting at Home
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes 4 Ways from Love and Lemons
Creamy Vegan Spinach Potato Soup from Show Me the Yummy
Hot Moroccan Carrots from Healthy Seasonal Recipes
One more consideration about the types of food to eat when thinking about staying healthy this fall. Avoiding chemicals and pesticides will help keep your immune system healthy. Whenever you can, buy organic food. It will be higher in nutrients compared to food grown with pesticides. When I tell people to buy organic, the first thing they say is that organic is too expensive. That used to be true but prices have come down substantially.
When I grocery shop, there are times I can buy organic products, fruits and vegetables cheaper than non-organic food. Also, Costco has been investing heavily in organic foods so the cost per unit is much lower when buying in bulk. If you strive for at least 80% organic foods at every meal, your body will benefit from the higher nutrients in the food. This will help keep you healthy as the seasons change.
I hope this post about how to stay healthy this fall inspired you with new ideas and recipes. Paying attention to nasal cleanliness, exercising regularly and eating foods high in Vitamin C, B Vitamins, Zinc and Quercetin is a great place to start.
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