Tips to stay healthy this fall and winter
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Tips to stay healthy this fall and winter

Steaming cup of hot tea in a ceramic handmade mug.

Tips to stay healthy this fall and winter

Fall is here and if you are in Portland, Oregon that means the next several months will be dark and damp. The dampness of the Pacific Northwest has a way of penetrating to the bone regardless of how cold it actually is. This year it has come upon us fast and hard and the first round of colds has been particularly nasty. Here are some tips to keep your family healthy this year:

Wash your hands! 

Simple, yet effective advice. Use hot water with plain soap according to the recent FDA guidelines. “Washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others.”

Stay warm. 

East Asian medicine believes cold can enter your body through the skin and manifest in illness. Be especially careful to keep the neck and upper back covered – a great reason to have plenty of awesome scarves! This is also the best time of year to be eating cooked warm foods and cutting back on salads and smoothies. If you are a salad and smoothie lover, throw a chunk of fresh ginger into your dressings or smoothies to warm them up. From an East Asian medicine perspective cooked foods are easier on your digestion allowing your body energy to focus on staying healthy.

Boost your immune system.

Keep your immune system healthy by eating a great diet. Add plenty of ginger, garlic and mushrooms and consider cutting back on the sugar and alcohol. An experienced herbalist can also make suggestions for herbal additions to your meals that can help boost your system. If you are in the PNW remember your vitamin D too!

Sleep more.

As the seasons slow down and nights becomes longer, give yourself permission to slow down too. Adequate sleep allows your body to function at its highest level helping you fight off germs.

Get help at the first sign.

Scratchy throat? Sick co-worker or kiddo? Super fatigued? Get your body some support right away. In our house we use the wet socks treatment or ‘magic socks’ if I’m talking to my kids. This is naturopathic remedy to jumpstart the immune system. First take a hot bath or foot bath then put on cold and wet cotton socks. Cover up with wool socks and jump right into bed. While you are sleeping your body will spike a fever to warm up your feet kicking your immune system into gear. When you wake up your feet will be dry and you will hopefully feel better. It sounds terrible but it actually feels just fine. This remedy is appropriate only at the beginning of cold and you can repeat it a few nights in a row. You can read more about it here.

Acupuncture is another great front line defense. Your practitioner will customize a treatment to help your system fight off illness. This may include herbal medicine, cupping or gua sha (a gentle scraping technique).

Slow down and enjoy this time of year. Here’s to good health!