Have you ever wondered why leaves change colors? As nights grow longer, chlorophyll production slows and eventually stops. Thus revealing two other components of the plant: carotenoids and anthocyanins. The carotenoids provide the yellow, brown and orange, while the anthocyanins provide the reds. Affected by the lack of light, the cold temperatures, and soil moisture, these leaves eventually lose their color and fall. The energy that was once in the leaves is now stored within the branches and promise new life in spring.
In fall, we go through a similar transformation. Many of us become more introspective, providing an opportunity for new insights and awareness. Fall is time to take advantage of that awareness and strive for a healthier, happier, more vital you. Here are tips to help you on your journey:
Eat your Veggies
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only four percent of women and six percent of men eat enough vegetables. So, what are you eating? We all know vegetables are packed full of healthy, protective nutrients, but many of us do not think of vegetables as fuel. Vegetables, because of their fiber content, give us sustained energy – energy that convenience foods lack. Try eating vegetables as snacks and at every meal.
Lay off the Caffeine
To make up for the fuel we are not getting from our diet, we reach for caffeine. The average American drinks 3-4 cups a coffee a day. For many this means poor sleep and midday crashes. The remedy: more coffee. To get out of this cycle lay off the Joe for one week. Once over that dreaded caffeine headache, many people report feeling more energetic.
Address your Stress
Stress truly is an epidemic in this country. It causes or worsens many health conditions, and many people have poor ways of dealing with stress.The first step is to recognize your stressors. This may sound simple, but we can reach a point that everything stresses us out. We end up forgetting the thing that triggered it all. Try diaphragmatic breathing. It’s easy, cheap, effective, and can be done anywhere.
As days get shorter and nights longer, it is common for many to start feeling down. If this happens to you, change emotion with motion. The exercise you choose does not even have to be strenuous — just move your body. Numerous studies have shown that those who exercise live 3-7 years longer than couch potatoes.
Drink More Water
Very few of us drink enough water. Even mild dehydration can affect our mood, reduce our concentration, and zap our energy. Depending on your lifestyle, the standard recommendation of eight, 8-ounce glasses per day may not be enough. Instead shoot for half you body weight in ounces.
Strengthen your Relationships
The more isolated we feel the more vulnerable to stress we become. Strengthening our relationships with family and friends cultivates a strong support network. Researchers from the Nurses’ Health Study found that women were less likely to develop physical ailments as they aged if they had close friends. Results were so significant that these same researchers concluded that not having close friends or confidants can be just as detrimental to health as smoking or carrying extra weight.
Do a detox
The human body is always detoxing, but we can take steps to enhance its ability. Choosing organic produce and meats and ridding our home of possible toxins are great places to start. A medically supervised detox, however, might be a better choice for you.
Fall’s bounty provides some great detox foods like beets, squash, cabbage, kale and other leafy greens. They all provide powerful antioxidant protection and stimulate enzymes in that help neutralize and excrete toxins.
Some effective ways of minimizing environmental exposures include removing your shoes before entering your home, checking your cleaning and beauty products, stop cooking with non-stick cookware, and drinking water.
Be with Nature
A series of studies published in the June 2010 issue of The Journal of Environmental Psychology all came to the same conclusion: being outdoors and exposed to nature increases vitality. One study, in fact, demonstrated that just the thought of being outside increased vitality. Seattle is full of amazing neighborhoods, parks, and walking trails. Take advantage of the beautiful Northwest and get outside.