The crisp air and changing leaves signify that autumn has arrived. This beautiful and bountiful season brings an abundance of delicious produce, from apples and squash to pumpkins and pears. However, the cooler weather may also usher unwanted illnesses like the flu. Fortunately, we can support our health during autumn by making nutritious food choices and lifestyle adjustments.
Load Up on Immune-Boosting Foods
As the temperatures drop, our immune systems become more vulnerable. The good news is that many foods can deliver disease-fighting nutrients. For instance, pumpkins and other orange vegetables are packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps battle viruses and infections. Meanwhile, red apples contain quercetin, which research suggests may reduce susceptibility to the flu. So, drinking freshly pressed apple cider embellishes fall flavors while providing immune support.
Seek Out Seasonal Superfoods
In addition to fall favorites, keeping an eye out for powerful superfoods can further fortify the body against sickness.
Pomegranates offer a tart-sweet juiciness and rank high in antioxidants. The seeds and oil particularly supply punicalagins that combat inflammatory conditions like respiratory infections. Though not as popular, longan berries provide comparable antiviral and anti-inflammatory benefits.
And while many only associate citrus fruits with winter, blood oranges, and other varieties still thrive in autumn. Vitamin C in citrus plays a starring role in immune response.
Stay Hydrated As the Air Dries
Crisp fall air feels refreshing but dries out sinuses, which makes them prone to congestion and infection. Supporting moisture levels by properly hydrating provides relief.
Beyond drinking enough water, herbal teas like ginger, echinacea, or elderberry infuse added antiviral and anti-inflammatory perks that bolster immunity. For an antioxidant boost, green or black teas suit the season. And for electrolytes lost through respiration or exercise, coconut water outshines sugary sports drinks.
Rest Up with Early Nights
Though cozying indoors seems tempting as the days grow shorter, sufficient sleep rarely happens automatically. Making an effort to turn in early pays dividends for immunity and energy levels.
Adults require 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. So consider winding down screen time an hour before bed – blue light interferes with our natural circadian rhythms. Reading a book, bathing, sipping chamomile tea, or trying gentle yoga poses are better options.
Establishing sound sleep habits now braces the immune system for seasonal shifts ahead. It provides the energy needed to enjoy autumn’s fleeting beauty.
Incorporate Immunity-Enhancing Foods
Beyond fruits and vegetables, certain supplemental ingredients specifically target immunity. Adding these to autumnal recipes bolsters our defenses against infection.
Mushrooms like maitake and shiitake contain beta-glucans that stimulate infection-fighting cells. Sauteing mushrooms to mix into a risotto or add to soup stock distributes their benefits into each bite. Garlic and onions also pack an antimicrobial punch, so don’t be shy with them.
Ginger and turmeric have antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties that make fantastic fall spice rack additions. Sprinkle them into curries, chai teas, roasted veggie medleys, and more for a vibrant, immune-boosting kick.
Schedule Your Flu Shot
Alongside a nutritious diet, receiving an annual influenza vaccination provides critical illness prevention. Despite myths to the contrary, the flu shot effects do not cause sickness. The inactivated virus instead primes the immune system to mount a defense. So, scheduling a flu shot allows time for full effectiveness before exposure risk increases.
Most people over six months old can get vaccinated. Check with doctors about timing and necessity based on age, health conditions, or pregnancy status. With COVID still circulating, avoiding one contagious respiratory illness remains particularly worthwhile through layered defenses like vaccination.
Implementing lifestyle adjustments around rest, hydration, and nutrition prepares us to fight off infection and enjoy the autumn season. Simple dietary choices like eating more whole and colorful foods and incorporating immunity-enhancing ingredients provide powerful, lasting benefits. Pair these with an annual flu shot, and our defenses stay strong as the weather cools.
By taking advantage of autumn’s bounty through a healthy, seasonal diet, we can gracefully transition through this beautiful time of year while supporting wellness from the inside out.