Fall: What It Means For Your Health

Fall is less than two weeks away (September 22, 2010, to be exact) which means you may notice your body and mind adjusting to the seasonal change. I, like many people, often forget that I need to give my body and mind permission to adapt to the cool, damp air and lack of sunlight, instead of worrying when things seem “off.”

For example, I became worried yesterday when my body and mind did not possess its usual vigor; instead of plunging full throttle into an all-day home-improvement project (ever peel wallpaper, anyone?), I quit after just two hours and decided to watch TV instead. For a very, very long time. I also slept more this weekend than I have in months. What is it about fall, cold weather, and a lack of sun that makes our bodies slow down…way down?

According to Yoga for the Seasons: “Autumn brings a time of letting go of the abundance of summer and contracting inward.” In Chinese medicine, fall is connected to the Metal element, which means that autumn brings focus to the lungs and large intestines. Yogis share the belief that “the power of the Metal Element allows you to efficiently let go of what is not necessary, and store only what is needed for Winter.” And if we do not nurture and adapt our bodies to the seasonal change, “problems in these organs make us susceptible to digestive distress, colds and flus and depression” (source: GRD Yoga).

While I do breath work and meditation on a regular basis to nurture my lungs, I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to taking care of my large intestines. I’m ashamed to admit it but I still eat dairy even though I’m lactose-intolerant! Why, you ask? To me, it’s comfort food…especially in the cooler weather. It’s also familiar, like an old wool blanket that once belonged to your grandmother.

I’m Irish so… cheese, meat, and carbohydrates were not only what I ate growing up, they continue to be my comfort food, for better or worse.  As an adult, I eat these three things, knowing that they will fill me up instantly. (On an emotional level, these foods also make me feel nostalgic for home-cooked meals from my childhood.) And then just like that, the temporary feeling of contentment is ambushed by the sudden revolt going on in my large intestines. I am too full and I feel sluggish, irritated and depressed.

So this fall, I resolve to eat for my Ayurvedic body type. (In Ayurvedic medicine, there are three doshas: Pitta, Vata, and Kapha. Our dominant dosha predetermines our physical and emotional health.) I discovered that I’m a combination of Vata and Pitta, with Pitta being slightly more predominant.

According to “Discover Your Dosha: Ancient Ayurveda Meets Modern Science” (Whole Living, June 2010):

“Pitta has the strongest “digestive fire” of the three doshas but can abuse it by overdoing foods that are spicy, oily, or salty. If the digestive system rebels, it’s time to emphasize sweeter, cooler fruits and vegetables (raw or cooked), such as melons, carrots, and broccoli.”

I, for one, will be sticking to fruits and veggies this fall so that I can embrace the seasonal change with good health and a renewed, positive outlook.

To learn your Ayurvedic body type, take this quiz.

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One Reply to “Fall: What It Means For Your Health”

  1. I’m a pitta too! I’m a pitta too!! Maybe that’s why we like each other. =-) Love the post. Almost forgot fall was on its way. Can’t wait for cooler days, longer nights, and long sleeved shirts. Ok, and my leopard clogs. Great bio update.

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