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Can you believe it is already September? Summer is a time to relax and enjoy sunshine (unless you live in San Francisco where it’s basically cold & foggy), but fall means back to school and preparing for the winter months ahead. I’ve heard of quite a few folks complaining of “summer colds.” Here is how to stay healthy during the seasonal transition into fall.

Keep your body in balance by eating seasonally. Summer stone fruits, berries, and lighter raw greens give way to heartier root vegetables, warming foods, and more cooked foods. Include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cooked greens like kale & collards. Apples and pears and figs will begin cropping up now too –all terrifically high in fiber. Try skin brushing to stimulate the lymph and detoxify the skin. Take warming epsom salt baths and drink ginger tea to help digestion.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, autumn correlates with the lung system, which dominates the skin, respiration, body fluids metabolism, blood circulation, and immunity. Eating the heartier root vegetables pureed into warming soups helps keep these body systems healthy. Try butternut squash or parsnip/pear or potato soups. Delicious. Keep warm with warming ginger tea that, in addition to aiding digestion, is also a gentle detoxifier that promotes good circulation and immunity.

If you are feeling run down, the first step is to get more rest. Studies show that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are three times more likely than those who sleep at least eight hours to catch a common cold after being exposed to a cold-causing virus! Avoid processed foods and sugar and up your intake of vitamin C with citrus, red pepper, kiwi, and brussels sprouts. Also, get plenty of probiotics, because they build good gut flora, and the majority of your immune system is in your gut! Drink kefir if you tolerate dairy, or eat cultured foods like kraut or kim chi.

A good tonic to prevent or shorten duration of illness is my favorite way to feel better. Try elderberry/yarrow flower/peppermint tea. Elderberry is a superior immune tonic; yarrow helps break up phlegm, and peppermint is soothing. Try a tincture with astragalus; medicinal mushrooms like reishi, maitake, or cordyceps; and schizandra berry, and echinacea. Increase zinc intake, too; it’s crucial for good immune function, and many people don’t get enough, especially vegetarians. Zinc is found predominantly in animal protein, especially beef & lamb. The only good veg source is pumpkin seed. Consider taking a multi vitamin-mineral supplement if you are vegetarian. You’ll get a full spectrum of B vitamins that are often hard to find in veg sources, as well as zinc.

See my recipe archive for the butternut squash soup. It is sublime. Here is another great fall soup recipe. Make a batch and eat on it during the week. It’s also delish.

Perfect Pear & Parsnip Soup
Do you know what parsnips look like? Giant white carrots. When roasted, they are sweet and pair well with roasted carrots or hold up well in stew. Find them with the other root veggies.
2 –3 medium parsnips
1 large ripe Bosc pear, peeled and seeded and diced
2 medium shallots, sliced
2 TBSP. organic butter or coconut oil
2-1/2 cups vegetable stock, or water (more as needed)
2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
zest from one lemon
sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Boil parsnip (skin on) in water until tender. Meanwhile, heat a pan with butter and sauté the shallots until translucent. Add in the diced pear and cook for about 2 – 3 minutes and season lightly with salt & pepper. When the parsnip is ready, peel the skin and place in a blender. Add in the cooked pear mixture, the lemon zest, and grated ginger. Add in the stock or water and blend until smooth. (You may need to add in more liquid if the consistency is too thick). Adjust seasoning with more sea salt & pepper. Reheat in a pan and serve hot with fresh herbs or chopped nuts as garnish.