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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Eat These Fall Foods to Keep Your Gut, Brain, and Immune System Healthy

Autumn brings to mind pumpkin carving, Halloween parties, and Thanksgiving turkey. It also brings cooler temperatures, shorter days, and the shedding of leaves from trees. But the season’s shift in barometric pressure, temperatures, and wind can impact our health in various ways. The change in seasons can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, ear infections, and respiratory problems like bronchitis and asthma. Autumn can also wreak havoc on our skin, with many citing dryness as a season’s problem.

The good news is that you can strengthen your immunity this season by making simple tweaks to your diet and incorporating probiotic supplements. In addition, regular exercise and a focus on mindfulness can benefit anyone prone to seasonal health issues.

When the seasons change, so can your gut bacteria. Eating a wide variety of whole foods, especially those high in prebiotics and polyphenols, is essential. These nutrients fuel your microbes and support their growth. Plus, they can positively affect the gut-brain axis, which can help reduce anxiety and depression.

A diet high in soluble fiber is another key to a healthy gut. This is because soluble fiber absorbs water and turns it into short-chain fatty acids that feed your gut microbes while keeping you feeling fuller longer. Some excellent dietary sources of soluble fiber include beans (red, white, and black), lentils, sweet potatoes, and asparagus. Add these to salads, soups, and stews, or eat them raw with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, our dietary choices can change the composition of our gut microbes in as little as 24 hours. That’s why it’s so important to eat a variety of whole foods and avoid artificial sweeteners, red meat, and processed foods.

The harvest season also offers us a bounty of fruits, vegetables, and spices loaded with beneficial nutrients. For example, pumpkin is a delicious way to get a dose of vitamin A and potassium, while sage and rosemary offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Apples are filled with vitamin C and fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and bowel movements. Butternut squash contains fiber, vitamin A, folate, and antioxidants.

Autumn is the perfect time to incorporate these nutritious fruits, veggies, and seeds into your daily routine to energize you all season. So enjoy the beauty of this season and remember that it’s the small changes we make over time that can have a significant effect on our health.

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