Healthy Eating in Flow with Autumn: A Chinese Medicine Perspective

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, one key to a long life is living in harmony with nature and the four seasons. All living things on earth, including humans, are influenced by environmental and seasonal changes. Each of the four seasons has its own individual characteristics and rhythms that affect not only the external world but our internal world as well. According to the Huang Di Nei Jing, a core text of medicine in China, “Spring gives birth, Summer grows, Autumn harvests, and Winter stores.”

It is important to know that during each of the seasons our body is also “doing that season.” Simply put, what is happening outside is also happening inside us. Autumn is the season when everything begins moving in a state of inward contraction. As the Harvest season indicates, autumn is the time when the last of the summer crops have reached maturity and are ready to be harvested. Trees begin to lose their leaves; plants cease to bloom and begin dying or go dormant. The bright sunlight of summer begins to wane and the days become shorter, the air crisper and dryer. This dryness effects us in many ways. As a clinician we see most illnesses that patients are suffering with in the autumn are aggravated by dryness.

One way that we can stay healthier in the autumn is to eat in balance with the Autumn. Nature does an amazing job of providing just the right types of food that correspond to our seasonal bodily needs and rhythms. In autumn, it is important to eat foods that moisten and nourish bodily fluids. In accordance with Yin energy, it is recommended to cook foods slowly and over low heat. This method protects the moisture in the food. Soups and stews are good this time of year, for they are warming, nutritious, and easily digested.

Autumn recommended foods include:

Apples, pears, grapes, persimmons, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflowerspinach, kale, artichokes, leeks, mushrooms, clams, crab, oysters, mussels, scallops, salmononions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkin, duck, pheasant, rabbit, venison, wild turkey.
 
Eat sour flavors as they help stimulate fluid production, including:                      

Sauerkraut, sourdough breads, pickles, olives, vinegar, yogurt, lemons, adzuki beans, cheeses and green apples.

Finally, Eat fewer bitter foods to protect the lungs and prevent excess fluid loss.

Written by Jack Schaefer
Priest in Training 2014
Jack Schaefer MAcOM LAc
Director, Mountain West Wellness Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Professor Southwest Acupuncture College
Boulder, Colorado
USA




Photo courtesy of Geek Philosopher.

3 Responses to Healthy Eating in Flow with Autumn: A Chinese Medicine Perspective

  1. Tina Hamilton says:

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder of foods to eat during this season. I ferment my own kumbocha – I’m guessing it fits right in there with the sour foods, correct?
    – Priest Tina

  2. Superbly written by a superb physician. Farmers really are the best Daoists. Jack is a great physician which is the farmer of the human body. Listen to his words by eating and living within the season and you’ll never need his needles.

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