Find out from Marion Pezard, naturopath, how to get through autumn in good shape, support your immunity with plants, look after your sleep and adapt your diet.
The golden leaves, the fresh air, the crackling fire and steaming mugs warming our bodies and hearts... There's no doubt about it, autumn is here!
In the cycle of nature, each season has a very useful role to play, one that we don't apply enough to our human lives, and yet we too are part of the ecosystem, just like the flora and fauna.
So here are a few tips to help you plunge peacefully into the season of cocooning, of getting back to yourself, of slowing down and of human warmth.
Slowing down the pace
Let's start with the idea of slowing down, taking time for ourselves, reconnecting with nature, going for walks in the forest, admiring the changing colours.
As the trees lose their leaves and the animals prepare to hibernate, we're the only species that doesn't respect nature's rhythm.
Take advantage of the slightest ray of sunshine to stick out your nose as soon as the weather permits. This allows us to synthesise vitamin D, which is important for our immunity and also for our spirits, especially for people suffering from seasonal depression. This means taking breaks at the office, for example, to go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine, or at least some daylight, rather than staying cooped up in front of our screens.
This slower pace also helps to reduce our stress, since stress interferes with communications between the immune system and the brain. So the less stress we have, the better our immune system performs.
Taking care of your sleep
Autumn is the ideal time to extend your sleep time, and create a cocooning environment, why not by adding a few plaids, small lanterns, a plant-based candle and some quiet music to your home.
In the evening, create a little bubble, stay away from screens, prefer subdued lighting, diffuse a soothing essential oil such as lavender, petit grain bigaradier or Roman chamomile, and take the time to massage your hands, feet or stomach, for example, or do a relaxation session to gently drift off to sleep.
You can also opt for the Roll-On "Nuit Etoilée" to massage into the wrists and solar plexus to promote a peaceful night's sleep and sweet dreams.
Staying on the move
It's sometimes harder to get out of bed at this time of year, so make waking up a gentle moment with a softer sound to wake up with, a dawn simulator, or by doing a few stretches such as a sun salutation.
The grey weather can make us more sedentary at this time of year, but it's essential to keep moving and oxygenating, again with walks in nature, which is so beautiful at this time of year, and enjoying an infusion or hot tea when you get home.
If you find waking up really difficult, you can try diffusing lemon essential oil in the morning to give you a boost at the start of the day.
Adjust your diet
This is a challenging season for tired people, who tend to catch the slightest cold or virus that comes their way.
So to help you understand the importance of eating well to support your immunity, I'd like to explain how it all works.
Our intestine contains a whole host of bacteria called the microbiota and is often referred to as the 2nd brain or the seat of immunity. What you need to understand is that this microbiota is precisely where the nutrients after digestion will either enter the body by integrating the blood at the level of the intestinal villi, or will be rejected with the feces. It is therefore a real defence barrier for the body, one of the most important after the skin.
Except that our diet, our modern lifestyles, our stress, pesticides and other chemical disruptors damage this microbiota, making it less effective and forcing immunity - in other words, our internal defence army - to work in this area more than it should.
Not only does this take up a lot of our energy, but it also shifts the focus of the immune system away from the fight against microbes and viruses, for example.
Even more annoyingly, to defend itself, the immune system creates inflammation, which could be likened to a forest fire that kills everything in its path to protect the body from intruders.
But this inflammation, this forest fire, also has side-effects, such as fatiguing the body, digestive pain, sometimes gynaecological pain, joint pain, hormonal problems and a blurring of messages between the body's various systems.
Add to this a drop in light levels and a lack of vitamin D due to a lack of contact with the sun, and the terrain is ripe for seasonal depression and severe fatigue, which plunge us into a vicious circle.
To avoid this, certain nutrients are essential, to be obtained in sufficient quantities alongside a healthy microbiota, as mentioned above.
- Vit D: small oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, cod liver, eggs, exposure to the sun, etc.
- Vit C: citrus fruit, cabbage, kiwi fruit, parsley, blackcurrants
- Zinc: seafood, lentils, egg yolks, wheat germ, wholegrain cereals, raw cocoa, nuts
- Omega 3: flaxseed oil, walnut oil, camelina oil, hempseed oil, shelled hempseed oil, small oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, etc.
- Magnesium: almonds, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, bananas, cocoa (raw without sugar: bars or powder), sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, linseed, pumpkin seeds.
- Selenium: daily dose by eating one or two Brazil nuts, for example as a snack.
Since good health begins at home, I recommend a balanced diet with a variety of colours, not forgetting the necessary amount of protein (vegetable and/or animal) and healthy fats.
Some useful plants:
- Nettle to re-mineralise after sweating it out this summer
- Thyme to ward off cold spells
- Ginger to tone up, stimulate energy and also promote circulation and calm inflammation (which itself makes us tired)
- Echinacea to boost immunity
- Cinnamon to warm you up
- Mallow to liquefy secretions in the event of a blocked nose, for example.
- Inhalation for the respiratory tract based on eucalyptus globulus essential oil (wet cough) or eucalyptus radiata (dry cough).
- Grapefruit seed extract as soon as you feel the first symptoms of a cold. Can be used during pregnancy and breast-feeding, and for children aged 3 and over by adjusting the dosage.
- Ravintsara essential oil: 3 drops to rub under the feet for a global action.
- Marine plasma to remineralise and energise.
As always, remember to personalise this advice by making sure there are no contraindications to its use and by seeking advice from a health professional.
So you're all set for a vital autumn!
Marion Pezard is the creator of the Healthy Living podcast and author of the book Reconnexion aux cycles féminins, published by La Plage.