Elaine Williams, of the Goodwood Gut Health Programme, chats about the health benefit that Autumn will be bringing us very soon.
How Autumn can improve your health
As Autumn unfolds, a tangible shift occurs within us. The lungs and large intestine are now the organs that take centre stage. This concept may prove baffling to western medicine but for thousands of years, Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic practice have embraced this knowledge to great benefit.
Autumn’s energy is ‘descending’. Leaves fall to the ground, temperatures fall and within the body we transcend from the vibrant, ascending, yang energy of Summer, to the descending, yin energy of Autumn. Yin is a state of withdrawing and quiet reflection. As days grow shorter and the nights draw in, our habits change to support the nature of, our now dominant lungs and large intestine. It is the time for relaxation, introspection and restorative activity. Take time for yourself to focus on what is truly essential and important to you.
The large intestine is the organ of elimination. In Autumn this organ has extra energy to purge the body and mind of anything unwanted. The lungs are also assisting this process by eliminating toxins through the power that is breath.
On an emotional level releasing, cleansing and ‘letting go’ are equally important. The emotions correlated with the lung are grief, sadness, melancholia. At this time of year these emotions are more likely to bubble to the surface to be experienced. This allows you to contemplate whether you are now able to release any aspect of them.
In the world of the acupuncturist, the Autumn equinox is a powerful time to treat lung and large intestine conditions. Certain acupuncture points relating to these organs have extra Chi, or energy, at this time. Using extremely fine needles, this energy can be liberated for healing. Equally, this same treatment can be administered to harmonise these organs with this season. This optimises their function and assists them in their lead role.
Autumn is a good time to donate material possessions that, in the words of Marie Kondo, “do not spark joy”. Releasing unhealthy habits, or certain relationships, can offer an extra dimension to this purge. For anyone struggling to ‘let go’, look to nature. At this time, as fruit falls to the ground and the leaves are shed from the trees we are reminded to release in preparation for renewal
When harvesting Autumn’s bounty, we become aware of the food that nature provides in order to best support our health. We are now moving away from the raw and cooling salad foods of summer to the warming foods more befitting the seasonal change.
Now is the time for the nourishing squashes, along with energetically warming root vegetables and ginger. The lungs will benefit from pungent foods such as onions and garlic. Lungs are sensitive to dryness and cold during Autumn, turnips, carrots, cabbage, apples and pears are therapeutic due to their moistening and warming properties. The abundance of blackberries growing in the hedgerows offer benefits at this time. Your gut bacteria love their polyphenols.
Grass, or meadow grazed, red meat is more suited to Autumn and winter than to summer due to its energetically warming nature. Combining the above foods into rich soups or stews is perfect. Avoid cold or raw food in large quantity at this time of year.
Drinks such as green tea or matcha, black tea, or tisanes are perfect and can be sipped throughout the day. Warm drinks are definitely preferable, although a little red wine to accompany a meal is also energetically warming and a great, antioxidant rich, ‘digestif’.
It is no coincidence that the Goodwood Gut Health Programme resumes in the Autumn. This is one of the most precious times to work with gut health in the five element calendar. At Goodwood, this is accompanied by the additional offering of the three-night Breathe and De-Stress Retreat where western science fuses with Ayurvedic pranayama practice to reveal the power of the breath on your health, particularly during the Autumn season.
The benefits that Autumn imparts will be fully experienced if you yield to the influence of this seasonal change. Changing pace and enjoying the benefits of home comforts, nourishing yourself with the seasonal foods, reflection and releasing what no longer serves you allows your life to evolve and your spirit to express itself in your own unique way.
Elaine offers acupuncture as part of the Goodwood Gut Health Programme.