Health

6 Seasonal Ways to Fight Viruses, Pain, Insomnia, and More

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The autumn season brings with it some of the best natural fixes for your most nagging woes. Whether you’re having trouble sleeping or focusing, or you’re trying to stay healthy for flu season, check out these in-season picks that will have you feeling your best.

Balance blood sugar with squash.

Adding 3⁄4 cup of squash to your daily diet could help you power through fall days with 65 percent more energy! That’s the word from British researchers, who say squash contains nutrients (alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin) that slow carbohydrate absorption, plus heighten insulin sensitivity, cutting fatigue-triggering blood-sugar fluxes in half.

Boost your mood with potatoes.

Purdue University researchers say a medium skin-on spud can help you feel 42 percent calmer all day long — and it heightens happiness within 20 minutes of your first bite. The reason? Potato skins are one of the richest sources of potassium, which soothes the brain’s anxiety center and boosts the production of the happiness hormone serotonin.

Deepen sleep with pumpkin.

Savor a pumpkin muffin or slice of pumpkin pie at bedtime, and you could drift off 20 minutes faster and sleep 35 percent more deeply at night. Canadian scientists say the pigments that give this fruit its pretty orange hue (carotenoids) help calm the central nervous system and switch on the enzymes that produce sleep-deepening melatonin.

Relieve pain with leeks.

To sidestep aches and pains, work three cups of leeks into your weekly meal plan. Leeks add a mild, oniony flavor to savory dishes, plus they’re rich in compounds (kaempferol and sulfur) that cut pain-triggering inflammation by as much as 55 percent in one week, say researchers at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. Tip: Rinse chopped leeks to remove grit; drip-dry in a colander.

DELICIOUS IDEAS: Mince and sauté white part of leeks and toss with green beans for a savory side. Or enjoy their mild flavor in place of onions in quiche or soup.

Fight viruses with purple cabbage.

Ounce for ounce, purple cabbage provides more immunity-boosting vitamin C than oranges, plus it contains 36 healing nutrients (called anthocyanins) that energize virus-fighting white blood cells within two hours of your first serving. Enjoy 3⁄4 cup of purple cabbage daily, and New Zealand researchers say you’ll bounce back from viral infections up to 55% faster.

Enhance focus with radishes.

Can’t seem to stay on task? Nibbling on two radishes could sharpen your focus and concentration by 40 percent for 90 minutes. Stanford University researchers say this root vegetable’s peppery bite stimulates the formation of energizing, focus- enhancing beta brain waves.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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