How To Keep Your Immunity In Check This Winter Through Ayurveda?
by Dr. Rani Iyer on Nov 05, 2022
What are the seasons according to Ayurveda? A year consists of six seasons, namely, Shishira (winter), Vasanta (spring), and Grishma (summer) in Uttarayan and Varsha (monsoon), Sharata (autumn), and Hemanta (late autumn) in Dakshinayana.
Uttarayana indicates the ascent of the sun or the northward movement of the sun. The sun takes away the strength of the people and the cooling quality of the earth. reduces the Bala (strength). It is also called Adana Kala.
Dakshinayana indicates the descent of the sun or movement of the sun in the southern direction the strength of a person enhances during this period. It is also called Visarga Kala
To have a healthy and balanced life, it’s important to stay in perfect harmony with nature. It is important to understand the energies of the changing seasons and follow diet and lifestyle modifications accordingly to attain optimal health and thereby keep your immunity boosted.
Winter is Hemant and Shishir ritu according to ayurveda.
In winters, we have the strongest digestive power which is due to an increase in fire (Agni) content of our body, hence this is the time to give nourishment to our body. This is the time when you can provide good nourishment to the body and increase the bala of the body.
We should consume food predominantly with sweet sour and salt tastes. It's best to eat less of the astringent, bitter, and pungent tastes in winter, although all six tastes should be included in your diet. Warm, home-cooked, unctuous foods are ideal if they are not deep-fried and are cooked with easy-to-digest oils such as ghee or olive oil. Avoid cold foods, as cold foods and drinks weaken the digestive fire.
Diet guidelines to keep your immunity in check this winter:
- Food prepared with wheat flour, black gram products of sugarcane and of milk, food prepared from freshly harvested corn, fat, and edible oils should be had.
- Dairy products like homemade butter, Ghee and Milk are good to consume in this season. Jaggery, Sesame, New Rice, Dates, Figs are beneficial.
- Warm soups and stews, hot cereals, and warm beverages are good to be consumed this season.
- Nuts like almonds, walnuts, dates, figs etc. should be added in our diet.
- Yoga Asana and Atapa-sevana (Sunbath) should be done to avoid the accumulation of Kapha Dosha.
- Though it is a predominantly healthy season due to the cold atmosphere respiratory illnesses like cough, cold, and throat infections are very common in this season.
- Warm water should be used for bathing.
- Abhyanga or massage in the morning with warm oils like sesame should be done every day. It strengthens the skin and muscles and nourishes the tissues
- 2 drops of sesame oil can be applied in both nostrils every day.
- Make sure to get enough sleep and avoid oversleeping.
- Avoid daytime sleeping.
- Do pranayama practices regularly.
- Exercise according to one’s strength should be done.
- Vata aggravating lifestyle like exposure to cold wind, sleeping late at night, are to be avoided.
Herbs can be included in the form of teas duing the winter. You can take Ginger and tulsi tea during the day. Mix two parts of ginger with three parts of cinnamon and a pinch of cardamom can have a tea made like this twice a day. You can also try lemon water with honey and a glass of warm Turmeric milk at night.
Herbs that help with maintaining a strong immunity during winters:
- Haritaki (fruits of Terminalia chebula).
- Pippali (Piper longum) can be had as a powder with honey in a small quantity.
- Ashwagandha capsules which is adaptogen is a powerful remedy for treating many health problems and stress.
- Amla can be had in the form of a powder or fresh amla juice.
- Include warming spices such as cardamom, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon in everyday foods.
- Avoid any fasting in winter.
- Chyawanprash is a powerful herbal remedy for boosting immunity around 2 tsp twice a day with lukewarm milk or water can be taken.
One should resort to Abhyanga (oil massage) with oils that have Vata balancing properties. It helps to rejuvenate and restore our energy. Massage should be done especially to the scalp and forehead.
These are the ways by which the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda provides us with several safe and natural ways to boost our immunity. If we follow these recommendations we will always enjoy good health and our immune system will function optimally.