By Tara Winters, P.T., DPT
Physical Therapist, BASI Pilates teacher
Fall is here - the days are getting shorter and holiday decorations are making their way onto our
front lawns. The only thing missing is the cooler weather...but I digress. Holiday parties, family
get togethers, and outings with friends tend to become paramount on our to-do list this time of
year. Unfortunately, amidst all of this fun and celebration lies somewhat less than optimal food
choices and a lack of self-care that we all need as we get busier. There are many ways to get in
the spirit of the holidays without letting the body get worn down. Let’s explore some ways to
have a happier and healthier November.
Eat What's In Season
Eating with the season is good for the body and good for the environment. Squash are a
versatile, classic Autumn food. Pumpkin, in particular, packs a ton of fiber (great for your gut
bacteria!) and benefits your vision with a healthy dose of Vitamin A. Don’t throw away the
seeds! The healthy fats found in pumpkin seeds shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in the
body. 4 They’re also high in zinc - an element that plays a role in digestion, hormone balance,
and fighting of free radicals commonly associated with accelerated aging and disease.7
Cranberries are another Fall powerhouse food. Cranberries are linked in research to aid in
everything from gut health to cardiovascular health.5,6,8. Avoid the traditional sugary cranberry
sauce (as this has the opposite effect on gut health) and opt for a healthier option. Look for a
recipe that incorporates a sweetener such as citrus or applesauce over white sugar.
Tea has been around for centuries and is consumed in just about every culture. There must be
a reason for this, right? Served cold or hot, it can provide a ton of benefits in the health
department. Tea is high in polyphenols which are shown in research to aid in the prevention of
cancer and heart disease.1 Until recently, it was unknown as to how these compounds became
bioavailable in our bodies. Researchers found that specific gut bacteria digest these compounds
and allow our systems to use them in the prevention of disease.9 This is just another reason to
nourish your gut bacteria! Gut health is linked to just about everything going on in our
bodies...brain function, immunity, hormone expression, you name it! 9 Another study from the
European Journal of Nutrition analyzed the effect of both green and black tea on the gut.10 The
study suggests that both types of tea alter bacteria within the gut to promote weight loss.
10 So, ensure that your gut bacteria are happy and healthy to make a significant impact on your overall
wellbeing. Herbal tea can be another great option around the holidays. Naturally caffeine-free,
herbal tea is a relaxing option to choose before bedtime. Not to mention all of the comforting
flavors of herbal tea that will put you in the holiday spirit. Cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin...yum.
And If You Really Need An Extra Boost...
When our bodies are not performing at their highest ability or we’re unable to get certain
nutrients from the food we’re eating, supplements are a nice option to fall (pun intended) back
on. With the weather changing and our busy schedules keeping us from getting enough rest, sickness is lurking around many corners. Vitamin C supplements are shown to boost immunity when you start to feel that sniffle coming on. 11 Echinacea has also been used for years in the prevention of the common cold and is another great natural option to boost immunity. 3 A final supplement to consider is Vitamin D. Low vitamin D levels are connected with autoimmune
diseases. Be sure to get your levels tested before you try this vitamin, though. It is possible to
take too much. You can always ask your physical therapist for nutritional advice if you have more questions.
Our acupuncturists here at The Cypress Center also incorporate diet and nutrition into their
treatments depending upon the patient.
I hope this inspired you to embrace Autumn and all of the wonderful things it has to offer!
1. Mukhtar H, Ahmad N. Tea polyphenols: prevention of cancer and optimizing health.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [serial online]. 2000:Available from: Academic OneFile,
2. Zhang S, Ohland C, Jobin C, Sang S. The Role of Gut Microbiota on the Metabolism of Black
Tea Theaflavins. The FASEB Journal. 2017.
3. M. J, R. S, A. S, P. K, R. E. Safety and Efficacy Profile of Echinacea purpurea to Prevent
Common Cold Episodes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.
Evidence-Based Complementary And Alternative Medicine, Vol 2012 (2012) [serial online].
4. Morrison M, Mulder P, Kleemann R, et al. Replacement of Dietary Saturated Fat by
PUFA-Rich Pumpkin Seed Oil Attenuates Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and
Atherosclerosis Development, with Additional Health Effects of Virgin over Refined Oil. Plos
ONE[serial online]. 2015
5. Neto C, Amoroso J, Liberty A. Anticancer Activities of Cranberry Phytochemicals: an update.
Mold Nutr Food Res. 2008.
6. Bodet C, Grenier D, Chandad F, Ofek I, Steinberg D, Weiss E. Potential Oral Health Benefits
of Cranberry. Critical Reviews In Food Science & Nutrition [serial online]. August
7. Roohani N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R, Schulin R. Zinc and its importance for human health: An
integrative review. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : The Official Journal of Isfahan
University of Medical Sciences. 2013;18(2):144-157.
8. Blumberg J, Basu A, Toner C, et al. Impact of Cranberries on Gut Microbiota and
Cardiometabolic Health: Proceedings of the Cranberry Health Research Conference 2015.
Advances In Nutrition [serial online]. July 2016;7(4):759S-770S.
9. Dueñas M, Muñoz-González I, Bartolomé B, et al. A Survey of Modulation of Gut Microbiota
by Dietary Polyphenols. Biomed Research International [serial online]. February 22,
10. Henning, S.M., Yang, J., Hsu, M. et al. Decaffeinated green and black tea polyphenols
decrease weight gain and alter microbiome populations and function in diet-induced obese
mice. Eur J Nutr (2017).
11. Schlueter A, Johnston C. Vitamin C: overview and update. Complementary Health Practice
Review [serial online]. 2011;(1):49. Available from: Academic OneFile, Ipswich, MA.
12. Kirsten T, Galvao M, Reis-Silva T, Queiroz-Hazarbassanov N, Bernardi M. Zinc Prevents
Sickness Behavior Induced by Lipopolysaccharides after a Stress Challenge in Rats. Plos
ONE[serial online]. 2015;(3)
13. Aranow C. Vitamin D and the Immune System. Journal of investigative medicine : the official
publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research. 2011;59(6):881-886.