The time for the metal element comes after the Earth Element. As the beautiful qualities of summer and fall start to fall to the earth, everything starts to lose its color and beauty. The land hardens in preparation for the colder months ahead. Nature contracts and moves its essence inward and downward. This movement of qi transforms in nature the same way it transforms in our bodies. Our bodies tend to become dry and brittle in the fall and winter.
Fall is the season of harvest and letting go of what must change and die. This gives us the time to pull inward and focus on things that truly matter. Gathering together and feasting on the harvest of summer. We prepare for the stillness of winter by storing food, fuel, and warm clothing. Preparing ourselves by studying and planning for new opportunities of creativity that come out of stillness and begin to focus on being more present with ourselves.
The Inner Classic says “the forces of Autumn create dryness in Heaven and metal on Earth; they create the lung organ and the skin upon the body, the nose, and the white color, pungent flavor, the emotions of grief, and the ability to make a weeping sound.”
Food For Fall
Think of the abundant yet contracting nature of autumn when you think of food. You may notice your cravings leaning toward more astringent and heartier flavors. Taking extra care and focus in preparing wholesome meals.
The sense of smell is related to the Metal element and lungs. Our appetite is stimulated by warm fragrance of baked and salted food. Roots that are harvested in fall hold concentrated nutrients that help thicken the blood and help us stay warm in cooler weather.
After the scattered pattern of summer, we can now take the time to organize. Preparing mentally for periods of focus we can help prepare th body to begin the process of contractions by adding sour foods. Such as rose hip tea, vinegar, cheese, yogurt, lemon, sourdough, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, leeks, aduki beans, grapefruit, limes, and sour apples, plums, and grapes. Small amounts is all you need.
Dealing with Fall Dry Conditions
Fall also starts to turn into a more dry climate. When a person has dry conditions it usually has to do with the lungs caused by imbalances in the diet, excessive activity, or even organ malfunction. Symptoms of dryness in the body look like thirst, dry skin, nose, eyes, lips, throat, itchiness and a thin body type.
Treating dry conditions, especially in the lungs, you need foods that moisten like soybeans, barley, millet, pear, apple, persimmon, seaweed, mushroom, almond, peanut, sesame, flax, honey, rice syrup, milk, eggs, dairy, crab, clam, oyster, mussel, herring and pork.
And herbs like marshmallow root and fenugreek. Using little amounts of salt also help moisten the system. Those with dryness should avoid bitter, aromatic, and warming foods in excess.
How to Balance Lung Qi
The lungs receive vital force from the air and mix it with the qi extracted from the food. Qi and nutrients is then distributed through the body. This essence protects the surface of the body including mucous membrane and the interior/exterior of the lungs from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.
Lung qi energy is characterized by its ability to consolidate, gather together, maintain strength, and unify against disease and cellular immunity. Balanced metal energy is therefore unified qi, that holds onto direction, create order, and they look are effective with what they do. Looking at how we hold on and let go can be expressed as emotional attachment. The colon helps release what is no longer needed, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Healthy lungs indicate those that can hold onto their principle and hold commitments. When it comes time to let go, they do it without emotional repression, grief, and sadness and resolving it. Weak lungs look like experience of loss associated with confusion, attmpting to stifle sadness, never completely letting go. Looking disorderly and other lose their possessions easily or hold onto them with unreasonable attachment.
Foods that Help Cleanse the Lungs and Colon
Pungent foods are used to cleanse and protect the lungs and colon. The pungent properties help disperse stuck mucus blocking qi in the organs. Chilis can be used to help the lungs. And any white pungent foods help balance the metal element. Such as onions, garlic, turnips, ginger, horseradish, cabbage, and white peppercorns.
Dark green and golden orange vegetables are protective because they are high in beta-carotene. Which helps surface mucous membranes. Protecting the lungs and colon against cancer. Foods high in beta-carotene are carrots, winter squash, pumpkin, broccoli, parsley, kale, turnips, mustard greens, watercress, wheat, barley, and algae. Including herbs like yerba santa, mullein leaf, and nettle.
The green foods that are high in chlorophyll help inhibit viruses and discharge residues in the lungs that can come from chemical fumes, coal dust, and cigarettes. They also improve digestion of protein and fats.
Cleansing the lungs also requires fiber. Fiber is the indigestible portion of foods like the bran of grains. pulp of fruit, and cell walls of vegetables. Fiber helps aid the function of the intestines and cleanses the colon and lungs. Eating a large variety of whole vegetables will help add enough fiber to your diet. Fiber also encourages healthy gut bacteria. Choose vegetables that are not mucus forming fiber when you are trying to cleanse the system.
I hope you are enjoying your autumn friends! Let go, breath, and just be. Harness that metal energy. I hope this guide helps you find balance during this time of year.
Check out my recipes (with more on the way) for more ideas on what to eat throughout the seasons.