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- • Three Steps to Keep Winter Allergies at Bay •
- • Healthy and Hearty Winter Recipes •
- • Three Tips for Maintaining Your Mental Health in Winter •
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Tips to Manage Fall Allergy Season
After such a scorching summer in much of the country, Fall is a welcome season bringing cooler temperatures, comforting food, and a gentle lead into winter. However, for many people, Fall also brings with it some severe allergies.
While most people may associate severe allergies with the Spring and Summer months when everything is in bloom, there are those who only suffer during the autumn. The main cause of Fall hay fever is typically weed pollen but, depending on where you are located, common fall allergens can include ragweed, sagebrush, burning bush, tumbleweed, and Russian thistle just to name a few.
If you suffer from these types of allergies, you are more than likely aware of days when pollen counts are especially high (windy and warm days). Rainy days are a welcome relief until the grasses dry and pollen counts soar once again.
A common Fall occurrence in many parts of the country is burning leaves after they fall from the trees. This is when mold can become a problem for those suffering from Fall allergies. When those piles of damp leaves are left alone to rot, mold can form and cause allergy sufferers all kinds of issues.
In some areas of the country, ragweed can cause problems from late August to mid-November. Ragweed thrives on warm days and cool nights and is found in every part of the country. As with most grasses, pollen counts are highest early in the morning.
Now that you know some of the more common Fall allergies, what can you do to make this season as painless as possible? It’s not realistic to lock yourself inside with nose spray and tissues but you can be strategic in your plan of attack to deal with the dreaded Fall allergy season. Here are a few tips to ease the burden:
- Make sure you are aware of pollen counts so you can limit your time outside during peak hours if possible.
- Use a HEPA filter and humidifier to keep airborne pollen levels manageable.
- Keep doors and windows closed, especially on days when pollen counts are high.
- Vacuum and dust regularly.
- Change clothes and take a shower after outdoor activities.
In addition to over-the-counter nasal sprays and antihistamines, check with your health care provider to discuss treatment options including acupuncture (which has a history of effectively treating allergies) and herbal remedies, as these are more natural options to dealing with Fall allergies.
Fall’s Best Comfort Food
One of the best things about the approach of Fall is the cooler temperatures that bring family recipes filled with warm comfort food. It’s no wonder Fall is often described as soup season. Hearty and warm soups filled with fall produce and rich broth bring warmth and comfort to family tables no matter where you live.
One of the most recognizable Fall vegetables must be pumpkin. But pumpkins aren’t just cute Halloween decorations. A quick search of the Internet will deliver dozens of pumpkin soup recipes right to your inbox. Here’s a favorite you may not have tried before: Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk. You can vary this soup recipe by choosing butternut squash as well and the addition of the coconut milk instead of heavy cream won’t be noticeable to most. Finishing it off with a healthy spoonful of plain Greek yogurt, chopped parsley and a drizzle of high-quality olive oil will have you going back for seconds and thirds! Making a double batch also leaves you extra to freeze and warm up later when time is short.
The prep time for this soup is approximately 30 minutes and the cook time is one hour and 35 minutes. This recipe will serve 8. And the roasting of the vegetables gives this soup a rich flavor you won’t forget.
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 small pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (shortcut: you can buy already cubed butternut squash in the freezer section of most grocery stores but fresh is best!)
- 3 large carrots, peeled and cut in half
- 2 large red onions, halved
- ¼ cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of flakey sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 pinch of white pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 4 cups checking stock
- 2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap sweet potato in foil and bake until soft, about 45 minutes
- While the sweet potato is roasting, place pumpkin, carrots and onions on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, allspice and white pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes until soft.
- Peel sweet potato and squash when cool enough to handle. Transfer to a large saucepan and add carrots, onions, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, ginger, salt and pepper. Stir in chicken stock and coconut milk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and summer 20 minutes.
- Puree soup using an immersion blender or regular blender until smooth.
Serve warm with crusty bread and enjoy the tastes of Fall!
3 Tips to Keep Mentally Healthy in Fall
While many people embrace the approach of Fall, with its vibrant colors, cooler temperatures, and shorter days, others notice a dangerous shift in their mental health. For some, the decrease in temperature means more time indoors and that can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. Here are three tips to maintain your mental health during the Fall.
Keep Your Vitamin D Levels in Check
It’s easy to get lots of Vitamin D during the warm summer months, but with shorter days comes fewer hours of sunshine which can translate to less time spent outside. This can make it increasingly difficult to get the Vitamin D you need.
Low levels of Vitamin D can cause a host of health issues so keeping your levels in check is important during the colder and sometimes darker fall and winter months. While you can increase your intake through diet changes, a Vitamin D supplement might be the most effective way to maintain your intake. The daily Vitamin D recommendation is 400-800 IU but some people need between 1000-4000 IU per day to keep levels in the right range. Make sure you talk to your health professional to see what is right for you.
The Importance of Sleep
The cooler temperatures of Fall can often bring the urge to hibernate or spend a little more time under those cozy blankets. But keep in mind that this could be disrupting your sleep patterns which can also bring about a host of health issues. The fewer hours of sunlight can also give the urge to stay in bed longer. Sleep experts recommend keeping the same bedtime and waking time throughout the week. Don’t let yourself sleep the weekends away! Use the cooler temperatures to your advantage as the body sleeps best in a cool environment.
Believe it or not, we’re more likely to be dehydrated in the winter months. It makes sense if you think about it. It’s not as warm out so we’re less thirsty. Dry skin and a lack of energy might just be the keys to recognizing you’re dehydrated.
There are lots of ways to track your hydration including apps and fancy water bottles. You can also maintain your hydration through drinking herbal tea for a warm beverage during those cooler mornings and evenings. And you can incorporate foods with high moisture contents including apples, pears, celery, lettuces, cucumbers, butternut squash, and pomegranate among other options.
As you embrace sweater weather, embrace your mental health and make sure you are getting enough sleep, staying hydrated and keeping up with your Vitamin D. This can make all the difference in whether or not you enjoy a healthy Fall.