Autumn Essentials — Food for the Lungs by Wilmien Bos

In this week’s feature Wilmien Bos shares a few key ingredients to include in your Autumn diet to keep your lungs healthy and to boost your immune system, also known as “Wei Qi’ in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Read the list of Autumn essentials here.

Our lungs are essential to our life and play a huge part in our overall immune system. During autumn the lungs can do with some extra support to keep the immune system up, and to guard against colds and flu during the coming winter months. According to Chinese Medicine the lung qi governs the lungs and large intestine, as well as the skin. Our “Wei Qi” or Defensive Qi resides in the skin and helps regulate our immune system, or the body’s army of defence against illness.

Eating food that is rich in fresh raw qi is important for the lungs. As the colour of the lungs are white according to the Chinese Medicine system, eating light or white colour foods supports the lungs. Pungent foods support the lungs where rich and fatty foods or foods that cause inflammation like diary needs to be minimised during autumn.

Here is a list of seasonal autumn foods that support the lungs:


Ginger helps to control and reduce mucus, making it an excellent companion for the lungs in autumn. It is a warming root that has been used in Chinese Medicine for eons. Ginger promotes respiratory health by eliminating pollutants. Use ginger in stir fries, as a tea, in soups.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables protect the lungs and scientific tests have shown that its anti cancerous properties benefit the lungs for a long term health. Eating 5 servings per week of these during Autumn provides you with lots of nutrients, amongst them Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, phosphorous and flavonoids.


Almonds are loaded with rich chemicals known as antioxidants; it is also packed with selenium. Recent research suggests Almonds to be an excellent protector of the lungs against lung disease as well as Asthma.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are effective for clearing congestion of the bronchi, lungs and sinuses. Being very rich in beta carotene, along with Vitamin C and B complex vitamins, iron and phosphorous, they are excellent immune system boosters.


Garlic is a great decongestant and expectorant which makes it great for treatment of bronchitis. It acts to thin mucus and regulates the immune system.


Pears improve lung function and coughing, it is an excellent fruit in autumn and supports the health of the colon too. It is a lubricating fruit and supports the skin.


As humble as they may appear Leeks are packed with anti oxidants, Vitamin A, B, C and K as well as copper and iron. It acts in a similar way to garlic but has more fibre, making it excellent for the colon too.

Apart from the list above there are many other foods, and spices that support the lungs. Including warming spices such as Turmeric and Cayenne, as well as Black pepper can support lung function. Drinking adequate amounts of good clean water is important for the lungs too and herbal teas that support the lungs include liquorice root, oregano, thyme, lungwort, and sage.

Take some time this autumn to nourish your lungs and you will find that your immune system, mood and overall wellbeing increase.

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