Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's Officially Fall: Does the Cold Weather Cause The Cold/Flu? Tips on How to Adapt to the Cooler Weather

I know it's not Sept. 21st yet but for me, there are 3 things that make it Fall:

1.  For the first time since Spring, the weather is cool enough that I wanted to come home and take a warm lavender bubble bath, make a cup of tea (it's the first Saturday in months that we didn't come home and open up a bottle of white wine!) and then pull out extra blankets for Makoto, Rambo and me.

2.  While at our friend's (gorgeous) penthouse abode, I had a bird's eye view of the luscious green trees turning red in Allan Gardens.....tear.

3.  I picked up the September issues of Vogue and Bazaar....this confirms that it's officially Fall.

In Chinese medicine, many philosophies on health are directly related to the changes in seasons.  As leaves fall off trees, flowers stop blooming and several plants become dormant, they are conserving their energy in their seeds and roots to prepare and survive the winter.  We should also take cues from nature and use this time to conserve our energy as the Fall and Winter are designated the "yin" seasons where our bodies priorities shift towards recharging and nurturing our "qi" (inner energy).

Now...this doesn't mean stock up on cheetos and become a couch potato until March.  But it does mean that the Fall and Winter are a fantastic time for renewing, exploring, starting fresh and taking care of yourself.  I make a lot of referenes to Chinese Medicine in this blog post so you'll either think this is interesting or that I'm talking about a lot of mystical voodoo weirdness, but whichever camp you are on (or maybe somewhere in between) I hope you can take something from these tips which can help you stay healthy and happy during the Fall and Winter:

1.  Soups, stews and congee galore - As the weather becomes cooler, choose foods that are easily digestible such as soups, stews and congee (the Korean version is called jook).  The lung meridian in Chinese medicine is the most vulnerable during the fall and it also happens to govern your immunity.  So making sure that you don't stress out your digestive tract (Stomach and Spleen meridian) means that more energy can be given to balance your lung meridian.

2.  Bring a sweater - Canadians are often confused, fashion-wise, during the change of seasons.  This weekend, I saw girls in short shorts and tanks and others wearing their winter jackets.  In western medicine, they do not make a direct link that cold weather may cause the cold (the theory is that cooler weather causes more people to stay indoors which means we have more contact with each other and become germ-passing monsters....not to mention that school is back in session where the little kiddies start passing around germs like it's going out of style...WASH YOUR HAND DILIGENTLY!!!).  In Chinese medicine, the cold weather is seen as one of the six pathogenic factors that can attack your system.  Dressing appropriately can prevent pathogenic cold from attacking the exterior of our body and weakening our qi which can lead to us contracting the cold/flu.  No matter which theory you believe in, we've all been stricken with the sniffles, fatigue and malaise after a night out without being properly dressed (ex.  ladies...remember the morning after going clubbing in the winter and not wanting to carry around a jacket all night?  Flu central.)  So....bring a scarf or sweater with you wherever you go!

3.  Vitamin D - If you've been slacking off on taking your vitamin D over this glorious summer we've had, it's time to start up again!  Visit your Naturopath to get the correct dosing.

4.  To quickly warm up, drink warm tea! - I remember sitting through my last CPR/First Aid course and when we got to the hypothermia part our instructor was adamant that the best way (after the obvious first steps like getting them out of soaking wet clothing) to help the victim warm up was by administering sips of warm fluids.  Warming up your core temperature helps you to feel warm and fuzzy and drinking peppermint tea is so yummy!

5.  Renew and Explore - I think that many of us see September as a fresh start since this is when the new school year started.  Even if you are not a student anymore, take this time to start fresh!  Re-evaluate the things that make you happy in life, tweak your diet and listen to your body.

We've had such an amazing summer that i'm actually looking forward to Fall!  Makoto on the other hand refuses to even talk to me as I'm writing this blog post because he lives for summertime....poor guy...maybe I'll just have to try to get him excited over all the new amazing Fall fashion....highly unlikely but worth a try!

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