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5 Immune Boosting Tips To Help Transition Into Autumn

Autumn has officially descended upon the East Coast with crisp nights, drier air, brilliant blue skies, and a surge of change. This season drives creativity but can also lead to burnout and unnecessary colds if we keep moving at our summer pace. Urban Wellness Clinic invites you to roll with these changes and make adjustments in your daily routine to allow for a healthy transition into the cooler months.

Immune Boosting Tips

I know for myself the shift from summer to fall is significant, and my body has trouble recalibrating as my lips crack, I get dry redness around my nose, waves of sneezing, fatigue, and overall moodiness and a feeling being ungrounded. Others thrive on the shift in the season, feeling the creative spirit in the air and finally embracing amazing running weather. But if you are anything like me, know that during this change in season a strong immune system is essential and digestive health is the ruler of this system. Here are our tips from the Urban Wellness experts on how to transition into Fall!

1. Eat According To The Season

For fall, Dr Kaitlyn Clarke suggests a shift away from the light salads and raw foods typically enjoyed during the heat of summer, and fill your plate with the abundance of fresh fruits and seasonal vegetables available now! Add more warm hearty foods like roasted root vegetables, squashes, and warm soups.  Plant proteins (beans, lentils, nuts, seeds) and animal proteins (including eggs and dairy) are grounding as well, just be mindful that these foods can potentially create congestion, especially dairy.

Foods that nourish our digestive system this time of year include sweet potato, apple, avocado, peach, pear, asparagus, bok choy, cabbage, endive, Jerusalem artichoke, mushroom, radish, spinach, squash, and watercress.  Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and miso help boost healthy flora in the intestines. Studies show cooking with garlic helps boost the immune system and reduces the number of days out from a cold or flu by 61%. 

Lastly, minimize refined sugars and flours, which deplete essential nutrients and undermine the immune system.

kale sweet potato soup

Featured recipe:  Kale and Sweet Potato Soup


1 Medium onion (chopped)

3 cloves of garlic (minced)

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

5-6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

15 oz light coconut milk

1 bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves chopped finely

 Preparation: Place all ingredients, except coconut milk and kale in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook, partly covered about 20 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Add coconut milk and simmer for 5 more minutes. Stir in chopped kale and cook for 3-4 more minutes until kale is wilted. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

Store any leftover soup in Mason jars.  Soup for breakfast anyone?!?

2. Avoid Stagnation In The Body

Prevention is the best medicine.  Support the immune system with a lymphatic draining massage with dry skin brushing before taking a shower.  Brush with circular strokes starting at the hands, up the arm, toward the axillary lymph nodes and heart, and starting at the feet, up the legs with circular strokes toward the lymph nodes in the groin and torso.  I like to gently brush down the neck towards the heart to drain the lymph nodes that lead to the sinus cavity to decrease congestion. Always brush towards the heart!

A trip to the sauna or steam room is great for eliminating toxins through the skin (it happens to be the largest organ of the human body), stimulating circulation, and relaxing, all of which improve immune function.

Immune Boosting Tips- Fall Yoga

3. Shift Your Exercise Focus

Many New Yorkers cycle through a mindset of “work hard, play hard, go hard and my body will thank me” with “I’m burnt out and I need a vacation to escape.” With a shift in season, I give my body a different routine because going hard like in the summer months is a recipe for a head cold.  I make sure to have the following in my weekly cycle during the fall:

-Daily mobility exercises to reset the body. These could be foam rolling, rocking, crawling, bretzels or a simple 20 minute yoga sequence all moving with the breath. This helps calm my nervous system and go into a state of rest and relaxation (parasympathetic state) to help balance the chaotic feeling of fall.

– Make your lungs happy and strong with cardiovascular exercise (2-3x/week) for improved oxygenation of your blood and resistance to illness.  Focus on breathing in and out through the nose as this helps warm and moisten the dry air that enters the body. My favorite cardio these days are kettle bell swings or sprint hill repeats.

-HIIT training brings short bursts of intervals to increase the heart rate with ample rest. No, not 1:30 minutes straight of kettle bell swings that you see at many NYC HIIT gyms, UGH, that makes me want to cry. Check out a program from personal trainer Matt Semrick with just the right amount of heart pumping for Autumn:

Kettle bell swings

Choose a weight that allows for 5-8 reps per exercises, with focusing on fewer overall exercises in a superset and a set of 3 with an emphasis on more challenging weights/loads. Rest between sets should be 45-60 seconds.

1A) Push

1B) Hinge

Rest and Repeat 3 times

2A) Pull

2B) Split Squat

2C) Core

Rest and repeat 3 times

4. Sleep Like a Pro

It’s a known fact that daily physical activity improves the quality of sleep.  But how much sleep do you really need? Your organs are busy detoxifying your body during rest, so make sure to hit the sack and log at least 7-8 hours a night. If you are sleep deprived, studies show your T-cell count goes down and your inflammatory cytokines goes up, increasing the risk of catching a cold or flu.  The fall is great sleeping weather, keep the blinds closed for total darkness and the temperature cool around 65 degrees!

5. Supplements

There are many wonderful herbs to enjoy that also boost immune function.  As the weather gets cooler, be generous with garlic and ginger in your food preparation.  Get your Vitamin D levels checked – many people are quite low in D, and appropriate supplementation can significantly reduce the frequency of colds and flus. FDA guidelines suggest a serum(OH) Vitamin D level of 20-40 ng/mL is normal, but this is way too low.  If your blood level is above 45ng/ml, we recommend supplementing 2,000-4,000 IU daily depending on age, weight, season, how much time is spent outdoors, where one lives, skin color and obviously blood levels. Also consider a multi-vitamin, probiotics, CoQ10, quercitin with bromelain, Vitamin C, zinc (balanced with copper), chlorella and kelp. Every person’s needs are different so feel free to contact our nutritionist Dr Kaitlyn Clarke for an appointment to review what your specific needs to find balance and survive the change in weather.

Cheers to a healthy and vibrant fall!