It's that time of the year again when it seems like a lot more people are getting sick with colds, other upper respiratory ailments, and various versions of stomach bugs; with all this seemingly having a lingering effect.
To Ayurveda, this makes sense and particularly why this time of year seems to provoke such complaints. Ayurveda has the understanding around the why it happens and what to do about it either to prevent it from occurring or managing it quickly, compared to allopathic medicine.
Last year I wrote an article for exactly this time of year and it couldn't be any more perfect for understanding this in depth. Check out the link HERE.
That being said, here are some simple practices to strengthen immunity on both sides of the fence, whether you're sick or want to prevent getting anything.
1) HYDRATE! Stay properly hydrated. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water BUT make sure 1/2 of that is actually warm water and the other 1/2 is some electrolyte boosting beverage such as a limeade, a lemonade, a little juice in water with a pinch of salt, a packet of Emergen-C, or even just coconut water. Make sure it's all above room temperature this time of year.
2) WARMTH! Warmth increases metabolism and cold decreases it significantly. Following up on the previous recommendation, AVOID ice and cold beverages. This has an astringent quality and dries out the mucous membranes in the mouth and sinus' which is primarily where the root of these seasonally related health issues evolve from. A compromised digestive system and compromised mucous membranes can wreak havoc on the body and immunity. Read HERE for more details on how cold affects the body negatively when internalized.
3) LUBRICATE! Yes, the skin which is the largest organ in the body and weighs an average of 12 pounds alone, covers the outside of the body, the mouth to the rectum (the inside), and a lot of in between in various forms. Keep it all running smoothly by properly lubricating. How? Internal oleation. How? Simply ingesting/cooking with oils daily. An average of 4 tbs., maybe a little less for Kapha predominant types. GHEE is #1! Coconut oil is next and great! Olive oil and Flaxseed Oil too. See HERE for an idea on oleating externally. (If you're not able to come in for a session, then administer a self oil massage (Self-Abhyanga) and then take a hot shower.) Follow the idea from the link for your model.
4) NASYA! Which is the nasal administration of a medication or even simple oil can significantly help with keeping the nostrils and sinus passages from drying and cracking which is highly problematic, especially this time of year. Click HERE and look at some of these companies that sell or next time you see me ask me to make you a personal bottle of nasya.
5) FOOD! We are entering into the thick of winter. It takes more energy to increase metabolism and therefore it is imperative that we are mindful of our digestive capacities. Don't overeat as this will shut down the digestive system and after a week or two, if not sooner, you'll notice yourself catching not only what may be floating around but also creating your own inner state of disease. Check HERE for an article on digestion and disease prevention.
6) EXERCISE! As always, exercise is crucial, year round but especially this time of year when winter demands our hibernating. The problem that occurs is that unlike bears that store up food before the sleep, we store up on food by eating a lot and sleeping a lot, this is counter productive and counter intuitive which will add to hardship in the digestive system and slow down the lymphatic systems which is responsible for removing toxins from the body and from being optimal in its function with immunity. It takes more effort to get out of the house when it's extremely cold and icy out. Not to mention the safety issues when there is ice, and extreme cold. So, join a gym and get to it when you can. When you can't, turn on youtube and look up yoga practices or other cardio/aerobic activities while you're home and do this for your health management. A good diet alone isn't good enough when there isn't adequate exercise in place. This is really what gets the juices flowing and metabolism running optimally. No and's, if's or but's! Stay active. Rest in between. Try not to be too sedentary and if you are then you must eat less. Supply should be low when demand is low! Read HERE for more details on supply and demand for the body.
7) REST! Speaking of...adequate rest supports proper immunity and efficient metabolism. Following the natural cycles of the day that have been in place since the beginning of humankind (and before) encourages health on so many levels. Loss of sleep can cause detrimental consequences to health. Irregular sleep patterns or staying up late an also add to other mental and biological issues. It's all connected! Read HERE for more on sleep.
Here's another article to help with other ideas. Click HERE.