7 foods to supercharge your health this season
As the leaves change colour and the air turns crisp, autumn signals a shift not only in the weather but also in our dietary needs. This season is a time of transition, and our bodies respond differently to the changing environment.
To support your health and immunity during the autumn, it’s essential to embrace seasonal eating and make mindful choices.
Discover the connection between autumn nutrition, immunity and the benefits of consuming seasonal foods. Find out which foods are best to eat this season, along with tasty recipes to inspire you in the kitchen.
Changing seasons and the immune system
Autumn brings cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours which can affect our overall well-being. With the changing season, there’s often a rise in respiratory illnesses, including the common cold and flu. The drop in temperatures contributes to lower humidity levels in the air. Dry air can dry out the mucous membranes in the respiratory tract, reducing their effectiveness in trapping and expelling airborne pathogens.
The shorter daylight hours also mean reduced exposure to sunlight. Sunlight plays a crucial role in promoting the production of vitamin D in the skin, a vitamin closely linked to immune system function. With diminished sunlight exposure, your vitamin D levels may decrease, potentially compromising your immune response.
This is why it’s vital to strengthen your immunity through healthy dietary and lifestyle choices.
The power of seasonal eating
One effective way to support your health during autumn is through seasonal eating. Nature provides us with a bounty of foods uniquely suited to each season, and by consuming what’s in season, you can tap into a variety of health benefits.
Here are some seasonal foods for autumn that can help boost your immunity:
Autumn is synonymous with apple picking, and these fruits are packed with vitamins and antioxidants including vitamins C, A and K, and some B vitamins (B1, B2, B6). These vitamins play important roles in maintaining overall health, from supporting the immune system and various metabolic processes to promoting vision and skin health. Apples also provide a healthy dose of fibre for digestive health.
Pumpkins and squash
These vibrant vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which is instrumental in supporting the immune system. Vitamin A plays a pivotal role in the production and function of various immune cells, including white blood cells, which actively patrol the body, seeking out and neutralising harmful pathogens. It’s also important for the maintenance of mucosal surfaces, including the lining of the respiratory and digestive tracts which form part of the first line of defence for the immune system.
Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, rocket, cabbage and Brussels sprouts are at their prime during autumn. They’re high in vitamins C and K and contain antioxidants to protect the body from pathogens, reduce inflammation and maintain healthy immune function.
Carrots, sweet potatoes and beets are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, particularly vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants – all of which protect the body against autumn illnesses. They’re ideal for hearty soups and stews, perfect for keeping warm during cooler days.
Leeks are flavoursome, onion-like stalks that are rich in essential nutrients like vitamins A and K, folate (B9), magnesium, iron and potassium. They are also rich in dietary fibre, to aid digestion and promote a feeling of fullness. Their mild, sweet flavour adds depth to a wide range of autumn dishes, from hearty soups to savoury roasts, making them a versatile and delicious addition to seasonal cuisine.
Many varieties of mushrooms, like shiitake and maitake, have immune-boosting properties. They contain compounds such as beta-glucans that have shown to enhance the production and activity of immune cells, fortifying your body’s defences against illnesses. Mushrooms not only add flavour to your dishes, they provide a good source of vegetarian protein.
Autumn is the perfect time to savour the flavours of seasonal produce.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Extra Virgen olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F)
- Toss the butternut squash cubes with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelised.
- In a large pot, sauté the chopped onion, carrots and garlic in a little olive oil until the onions are translucent.
- Add the roasted butternut squash, apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and vegetable broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft.
- Use a blender to puree the soup until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of olive oil before serving.
Nourish your body this autumn
By embracing seasonal eating and making mindful dietary choices, you can support your immunity and overall health during autumn. Incorporate seasonal foods like apples, pumpkins and cruciferous vegetables into your meals to nourish your body this season.
If you’re looking to learn more about nutrition and healthy recipes you can make at home, take a look at CNM’s short courses and recipes: