How Your Body Prepares for Autumn
Autumn, such a classier word than fall!
When I think of this time of year, I think of apples, cozy sweaters, cool, crisp mornings, and hot oatmeal (weird I know). As we prepare to transition into this new season, it is natural to change out our wardrobe, hunker down inside more, and eat more warming, cooked foods. As the weather turns colder, our bodies metabolize energy more slowly and we tend to crave comforting foods, more sleep, and less activity.
When there is less light during the day, our bodies get confused and need time to get used to this new normal. A Harvard Medical School Study found that people average 2.7 hours more of sleep a night in October vs in the height of summer. To help your body acclimate to limited daylight hours, try to wake up with the sun and get at least 30 minutes of UV exposure during the day. Take a quick walk outside, go apple picking (my personal fav), bundle up for a hike to see some changing leaves.
Less light also means less access to sunlight created vitamin D for your body. Vitamin D deficiency can impact how you feel and could contribute to what we now know as SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Since vitamin D activates genes that regulate the immune system and neurotransmitters like dopamine, cortisol, and serotonin, when we do not have enough, we may feel sluggish, depressed, and anxious. Prepare for this change by going outside as much as you can in the fall and come winter, bring the fun inside by hosting gatherings with friends, going to a fun gym class, or start a new book. By increasing the frequency of those feel good events, you are supporting your serotonin and dopamine levels and turning that SAD into…GLAD!!!! (so cheesy)
Our bodies go into a WINTER IS COMING mode and tends to hoard the food that we put into our bodies. Our metabolism slows, and we tend to gain a few pounds. This is a natural cycle, but something to be mindful about if we are trying to achieve a certain health goal. Try and eat foods that are in season such as squash, sweet potatoes, persimmon, apples, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Challenge yourself to cook more soups and chilis and share your efforts with friends and family!