5 Immune-Boosting Tips for Winter According to Ayurveda
- Published on: 28 December, 2016
- Last update: 07 August, 2017
According to Ayurveda (and Traditional Chinese Medicine!), our bodies work in synergy with our external environment. We follow the same laws that nature follows! As the seasons change, our needs do too. To stay in balance, we can adjust our habits & diets. Because fall & winter bring us increased “Vata” (air energy), we have to make up for the stress this dry, cold wind can impose on our immune systems.
Here are 5 tips for protecting your body against the weather + mitigating excess Vata:
1. EAT MOIST FOODS – One of the best ways to balance our bodies is through our diet. Vata pacifying foods are heavy, moist, oily and warm and should nourish and hydrate the body to decrease the depletion and dryness that this energy creates. Soups and stews are perfect (especially soups with a dose of healthy fat, as it moisturizes our tissues & skin from the inside out).
2. OIL UP YOUR SKIN! – Nourishing our skin externally combats the dry, air energy of Vata. It also protects and lubricates our internal organs. Stomach massage/abdomen oiling is excellent because it moistens our G.I tract as oil is absorbed deeply through the skin. Oiling the nostrils, head and hair is also wonderful as it prevents dandruff and is said to be grounding for the mind. Traditional Ayurvedic treatments for nervous system disorders use sesame oil because it’s the best oil for pacifying Vata.
3. TAKE A GINGER BATH – Ayurvedic physician Dr. Vasant Lad says that one of the best remedies for a weak immune system is a ginger bath. Simply add ½ cup of ginger powder to a warm bath. If your skin does not feel sensitive, add another ½ cup before soaking for 20 minutes. You will feel a tingling sensation as the ginger encourages healthy blood flow. You may even cough up mucus if your lungs are congested! Soaking in this immune-supporting spice warms the body against Vata cold and purges dampness. This can be done daily during times of extreme depletion.
4. AVOID HIGH IMPACT EXERCISE – According to Eastern Medicine, it is important to follow a fitness regimen that aligns with your body type and the outside weather. While high impact and intense cardiovascular exercises are popular for losing weight and strengthening the heart, they can be depleting during the cold winter. During taxing Vata weather, we have to preserve our energy and opt for slower paced, toning activities. Yoga is ideal, complimented by pranayam (breathing exercises).
5. MEDITATE – An overactive mind taxes our bodies and lowers our immunity. The connection between our thoughts, feelings and physiology is very strong and our emotional state influences our overall health. Stress in particular dehydrates our tissues as our kidneys are located beneath the adrenals. The kidneys are governed by Vata and also regulate water metabolism. Meditating daily helps to manage stress and remain grounded.