In Ayurveda, the beginning of a new season marks the perfect time to re-evaluate old habits and cleanse the system. According to the ancient Indian medicinal practice, climatic changes bring out similar changes in us all, so it's important to shed the accumulation of the previous season's energy if we want to maximize balance, reduce inflammation, combat disease, and enhance well-being.
The "discovery" of the effects of seasonal weather on our health is still relatively new to Western scientists, but anecdotal evidence suggests that we've always been driven to take preventative steps to fortify our defenses at critical points throughout the year. Think of the Christian tradition of Lent, for example: Religious followers are encouraged to abstain from alcohol, fat, and sugar for six weeks in the lead up to Easter in early Spring. Or, consider our natural inclination to lean towards grounding foods and warming spices at the first sign of longer nights and cooler weather.
Ayurveda formalizes these tendencies into one of its most powerful principles: It encourages internal cleansing during each seasonal change, or at least once a year. Referred to as pancha karma (which directly translates to mean "five actions"), its most intense level requires medical supervision. Not for the faint-hearted, patients embark on a preparatory period of sweating, before undergoing a series of purgative methods, such as laxatives, enemas, nasal baths, blood work, and emesis (therapeutic vomiting) to reduce congestion and clean out the colon.
Thankfully, elements of pancha karma can be modified to form a less extreme, Ayurvedic-inspired at-home program. With the aim of supporting the gut, strengthening the immune system, and boosting energy levels, we recommend committing to the following steps for a minimum of one month to reset your system for the Fall season.
Set yourself up for success
Stock your pantry with nutrient-dense foods like sweet potato, broccoli, brown rice, lentils, and kale. Avoid sugar, processed foods, dairy, and alcohol.
Cutting the cord can be hard, but caffeine is proven to negatively impact cortisol levels. Try this warming latte recipe instead.
The right supplements go a long way to supporting the body through times of change. Up your intake of of gut-loving prebiotics, plant protein, and anti-inflammatory ingredients in this tailor-made kit.
Spices as medicine
Ayurveda leans heavily on spices as a medicinal tool. For Fall, try incorporating more ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, coriander, and cloves.
Sweat it out
Sweat is one of the most effective ways to detoxify internal toxins. Seek out hot yoga, infrared saunas, or run a warm bath with epsom salts, ginger, and eucalyptus oil.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Bad breath, dry skin, and craving sugar are all signs of chronic dehydration. Aim to drink at least two liters of water a day—more if you’re sweating intensely.
Stress is linked to poor digestive health. Incorporate simple breathing exercises or a daily meditation to aid relaxation, and try taking a break from social media, tv, or difficult social situations.
Photograph Suzanne Saroff for The Nue Co.