Ahh, autumn. We just love this time of year. As much as we enjoy the warm, sunny days of summer, who can deny the wonders of fall? Time to unpack your sweaters, break out the pumpkin spice, and prepare for the cooler temps to come.
Cold weather prep also means taking better care of you, so while you're prepping for fall and the upcoming holiday season, add the 11 health tips below to your autumn to-do list and everyday wellness routine.
1. Replenish Your Stash of Immune-Boosters
Help keep yourself and your family healthy by stocking up on immune health essentials now. Try antioxidant vitamin C, L-lysine, zinc and immune-supporting herbs like full-spectrum olive leaf and echinacea. Keep a natural hand sanitizer on your desk, stash hand sanitizer wipes in your briefcase or bag, and put them in your children’s backpacks too.
And since at least 70% of your immune system is in your gut, it’s a good idea to reinforce digestive and immune health with probiotics and prebiotic fiber.1 Read What Are Probiotics? and Why Do I Need Probiotics? to learn more, and Immune Support During the Winter Months for more immune-boosting tips that are great for fall too!
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2. Get a Checkup
Did you know more heart health concerns are discovered during cold months than any other time of year?2 That’s because cold weather may affect circulation and make your heart work harder.2 Autumn is an ideal time to get your yearly checkup to make sure you’re in tip-top health before winter weather begins. Be sure to check with your doctor about any seasonal vaccines you and your family may need.
Also, your family health history holds many clues that can help you and your doctor build a strong wellness plan. Relatives tend to come together more often during the autumn and winter months, so use family gatherings to learn more about your health heritage. Read Know Your Health Heritage: How to Discover Your Family Health History for tips on collecting details that may help you stay healthier.
3. Embrace the Flavors of Fall
Eating whole foods that are in season is the way to go year-round for nutritional impact, and the real foods available in fall are especially compelling. Tables and baskets at farmers markets fill to the brim with seasonal produce like squash, gourds, apples, beets kale, and brussels sprouts—and the list goes on! Check out this seasonal food guide to see what’s fresh near you and get your fill of seasonal eats. Check out Nutritional Squash and Gourds for the healthiest types of squash.
The fun doesn’t stop at the farmers market. Fall is the perfect time to try healthy soup recipes, experiment with nutritional powerhouse spices like turmeric, Ceylon cinnamon and ginger. And get in on superfood trends that are perfect for cooler temps like bone broth collagen and matcha green tea.
4. Shift Your Exercise Habits with the Season
Start planning your cold-weather activity routine now so you’ll be less likely to skip a workout later when the weather changes and going outside isn’t as appealing. If joining a gym or taking a fitness class isn’t for you, try online workouts or make up your own! You can get a workout just by turning up the music and dancing around in your living room.
Find ways to fit more activity in throughout your day with mini workouts and health hacks for staying active at work. Read Move More: How to Move More Each Day for some great ideas.
5. Reevaluate Your Hair & Skin Routine
Notice your skin looking a little dull during cooler, drier months? Do your hair and scalp feel dry? It isn’t your imagination. When the heat kicks on indoors it can make the air dry, and the lack of humidity and cool weather outside doesn’t help either. Going back and forth between the two can leave your skin and hair feeling lackluster.
Get your glow back with gentle, daily skin exfoliation and regular moisturizing. We love using nature-sourced oils to quench thirsty skin and hydrate hair. Try argan oil, rosehip oil or jojoba oil for hair and skin. Use oils on hands, cuticles and skin after showering, massage oil into your hair and scalp after you shampoo, or add a teaspoon to your favorite shampoo or conditioner.
Also, hyaluronic acid can make a huge impact on your skincare routine. It attracts moisture to your skin and helps it maintain fluid balance for a plumping boost. Hyaluronic acid makes a great addition to lotions or oils.
6. Hydrate from the Inside Out
Staying hydrated is just as important now as it was during the summer. Your body uses water for everything, all year long! Drink up to benefit digestion, fluid and mineral balance, waste removal, energy, mood, skin, joint lubrication and more.3,4
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAM) an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.3 That’s 124 ounces of fluids for men and 92 ounces of fluids for women each day.
Read Water for the Win: Benefits of Water, Plus 5 Water Infusions to learn about the many benefits of water.
7. Refresh Your Memory About Healthy Portion Sizes
Think you know what a healthy portion of protein looks like? Or what ratio of veggies to starch you should eat? It’s best to be sure, especially before the holidays. Miscalculating portion sizes can lead to accidental overeating and weight gain, and you could miss out on getting the right balance of key nutrients.
Before holiday potlucks and parties roll around, refresh your memory on what an ideal meal looks like for you and get back in the habit of focusing on healthy portion sizes. You can use a plate as a general guide and fill 1/2 of your plate with veggies, 1/4 with lean protein and 1/4 with a whole-grain starch.5 Check out this handy WebMD guide to portion sizes for many common foods.5
Tune in to your daily nutritional needs, including calories and protein intake, so healthy eating becomes second-nature long before you’re faced with a holiday feast or endless dessert buffet. Stock your pantry with real, whole foods, and take a Real Food Multivitamin to fill in any nutritional gaps.
8. Banish Holiday Stress Before it Happens
Head into the holiday season calm and collected by adopting stress-busting habits now. Try adding something new to your relaxation routine like a morning meditation practice or get an essential oil diffuser for your home. Take regular timeouts with relaxing herbal tea, and explore the power of adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola rosea, cordyceps and L-theanine for easing the physical and mental effects of stress.
If this time of year leaves you feeling stressed and depleted of energy, check out Swanson Ultra Pure Energy— it’s a synergistic formula with adaptogenic herbs that give you energy without the jitters. It’s perfect for helping keep energy levels up and stress levels down while transitioning to fall schedules.
Also, read Say Om: 6 Tips to Help You Relax and Reduce Stress for the best stress-busting foods, essential oils and relaxation techniques.
9. Keep Your Sleep in Synch
There’s nothing like a time change to throw off your sleep schedule. The autumn time shift combined with shorter days means it gets dark early and leaves many of us feeling tired. That’s because when the sun goes down and lights are dim our bodies are triggered to produce melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles.6
If going to and from work in the dark makes you feel like napping on the couch by 6pm despite getting enough sleep the night before, it’s time to make some changes. Combat the urge to snooze too early by being more active in the evening—even if it’s just a brisk walk or a set of jumping jacks in your living room—get your body moving.
Also, consider switching out your lightbulbs to an option that gives you natural, balanced light indoors. And don’t forget vitamin D supplements. Your body needs sunlight to produce this essential nutrient and the lack of sun leaves you more likely to be low in vitamin D, which can also contribute to feelings of fatigue.7
If you have the opposite concern and have trouble getting to sleep at night, read Zealous About Zzzs: Sleep Benefits & Sleep Hacks for Everyone and Sleep Better with Trendworthy Sleep Essentials for tips on getting better shuteye.
10. Detox from Digital Overload
Chilly weather may keep you indoors more often, but that’s no excuse to spend all of your time in front of a screen. All that blue light from electronic devices can harm your eyes!8 Learn about the damage blue light can do in Important Facts about Blue Light and Eye Health.
Instead of all that screen time, discover indoor activities that are interactive without the use of screens—like board games, creative hobbies and puzzles that challenge your mind. Autumn is also the perfect time to start a self-care routine. Not sure where to start? Read 11 Best Self-Care Tips for Mind & Body.
11. Set Goals, Not Just Resolutions
Small intentions over a long period of time can help you make real progress toward your goals. Start now and take small steps every day toward your goals instead of waiting for the new year.
If getting in better shape is on your list of goals, starting now may be especially helpful. Making small changes to your daily diet and exercise habits over a longer period of time is more sustainable and healthy than sudden crash diets or workout overload come the new year.
Have a Healthy Fall!
Autumn is an amazing time to up your wellness game before cold weather and holidays. We hope these 11 healthy tips for fall will help you make this the best season yet. Share your own tips in the comments below, and if you have holidays on the mind, check out Five Tips for a Stress-Free, Healthy Thanksgiving and Holiday Hacks for Your Health.
Lindsey is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for ice cream. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food.
Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.
1 3 Let’s Talk About Health: “Adding Years to Your Life, and Life to Your Years” By Ray Morgan Om.D Ph.D. https://books.google.com/books?id=LDdFDwAAQBAJ (Accessed 2/27/2018)
2 Cold weather and your heart. British Heart Foundation. https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/support/practical-support/cold-weather (Accessed 10/23/2018)
3 Water: How much should you drink every day? MayoClinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256 (1/18/2018)
4 The Benefits of Drinking Water for Your Skin. University of Wisconsin Hospital. https://www.uwhealth.org/madison-plastic-surgery/the-benefits-of-drinking-water-for-your-skin/26334 (01/05/2018)
5 Portion Control Size Guide. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/printable/portion-control-size-guide (Accessed 10/23/2018)
6 4 Melatonin: In Depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/melatonin (Accessed 01/19/2018)
7 Vitamin D Deficiency. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-deficiency-symptoms (Accessed 10/23/2018)
8 Blue Light has a Dark Side: Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side (Accessed 11/06/2017)
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.