Late Summer and Supporting Our Body (5-Minute Read)

Late summer fruits and vegetables in canning jars
Connie Pretula Headshot

Connie Pretula

Connie Pretula is an inspiring health coach and Menopause Navigator to mature women, using a holistic approach to nutrition and life.

September 12, 2023

I hope you had a great weekend! I live in Vancouver BC, we had two beautiful summer-like days but the weather is definitely changing to more of a fall feel. 

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, all of the fall fruits and vegetables are in abundance at the farmers markets and grocery stores. Do you have a favourite fall fruit or vegetable? I love Bartlett pears and Black Plums and I am enjoying them while they are fresh and at their peak.

The root vegetables and squash are plentiful right now. I usually buy a Sugar pumpkin to bake and puree for pie at Thanksgiving which Canadians celebrate the second Sunday of October.

This is an important time of year to start supporting our bodies for the colder months. Since we are on the tail end of summer and still experiencing warm days on occasion, it is easy to be in denial of the shorter days and the transition to fall and then winter. Supporting our immune system now will reap the benefits when winter rolls around.

I spent much of my young life on the farm, then when I was 13, my parents sold their business and we moved to the farm full time. We had a huge garden, my mom and dad loved gardening and I grew to appreciate the convenience of having fresh vegetables and fruit a few steps away from our house. 

I would help pick what we grew to eat fresh, and the excess was either frozen or preserved to be enjoyed through the winter. My dad built a cold room in our basement so we could store the root vegetables, sometimes they lasted until spring.

This is when I first learned about eating in season, my parents did it for financial reasons and it was what they learned in their families.

We didn’t eat salad in the winter because there was no way to grow it. I guess my dad could have built a greenhouse, but it would be very expensive to heat on minus 30 Celsius days which are more common than not during a Manitoba winter.

When I’m working with my clients, I encourage them to eat in season which can be challenging. The global transportation network allows fruits and vegetables to be shipped in from countries all around the world. We are no longer restricted to seasonal eating.  

The reason I encourage seasonal eating is because there are benefits for our body and usually ingredients are reasonably priced (that’s a relative statement with the effects of inflation). As the season cools, we need to warm our bodies. I will never understand why many restaurants bring water with ice in the winter, the exception is Asian restaurants, they bring warm water.

These are very common recommendations in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I took a continuing education course last fall about Nutrition in Chinese Medicine. It was so interesting to learn about the thermal properties of food and how they change based on the way the food is prepared.

Most fruit, especially tropical, is very cooling to our body and in particular, our digestive system. As the months go on, we should be eating pears poached with cinnamon, very warming and it also helps reduce mucus and phlegm. Have you ever roasted pineapple wedges with cinnamon, really delicious, far less cooling and supports the digestive system. I’m also excited about all of the apples starting to ripen, I love baking them with some chopped nuts, a bit of olive oil and cinnamon, no need for extra sugar. In TCM, apples support our spleen which helps support our blood.

I’m not a fan of smoothies, especially as the months cool down, they are too cold for our digestive systems and can inhibit the internal heat we need to ward off pathogens. I also discourage salads and a lot of raw food for the same reason.

Don’t get me started on Pumpkin Spice Lattes… In most cases, they are sugary, chemical shit show. 

Most of the fruits and vegetables that are abundant right now are best enjoyed baked, boiled, roasted or sautéed. I doubt there are many people who would eat a squash or potato, raw. Also, the way fall produce is prepared can bring out so much more flavour. I love roasted Brussels Sprouts, the flavour changes completely, no sauce required.

This is also a good time to support our bodies with certain supplements rather than waiting until we are sick. I don’t like to give general advice on supplements, especially when it comes to something like vitamin D, vitamin A or Zinc. There are many considerations depending on your current state of health on the best forms and dosages. I recommend speaking with your healthcare provider about the best options for you.

One thing to keep in mind, especially in Canada, the intensity of the sun does not benefit most of us in getting enough vitamin D which is the area above the 41st parallel, that’s all of Canada.

Plus, many parts of Canada experienced smoke from wildfires so many people spent more time inside. The warmer weather will also cause people to spend more time inside as well. Another factor in absorbing the UV rays is the strength of sunscreen someone uses and the natural pigment in a person’s skin, darker skin provides a natural sunscreen.

There have been many studies in the last couple of years about the benefits of vitamin D and supporting a person’s immune system, Vitamin D3 is the most beneficial form. Sometimes it’s combined with K2 which helps the body transport calcium to the bones rather than the cardiovascular system. Talk to your healthcare provider as to which form of vitamin D is best for you, people who are on anti-clotting medication, have kidney issues or on dialysis, should be very cautious of vitamin K2.

I do provide consultations for supplementation, depending on your current health status, I may require an intake form. That may sound strange, I’m not about quick fixes and masking symptoms and I want to make sure there isn’t an underlying condition that I need to be aware of.

If you would like some fall recipe inspiration, send me a message and I will send you an electronic recipe collection, I should have it completed by the end of the week.

If there are topics you have questions about or would like me to cover, send me a message.

Thank you for reading my words.

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