As you may have noticed…. the season is changing… and we need to take extra care during this transition from Summer to Fall (autumn)! Every year there is a period of time when many of us feel under the weather. Flu season generally occurs during the fall! Hence, we need to get our body ready from Summer’s heat (Pitta aggravating) to Fall’s dry, windy and cold weather (Vata Aggravating).
The function of the immune system is to protect our bodies against foreign invaders. The invaders can come in the form of actual foreign bodies (pathogens) such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Toxins can also be created from within and show up as dis-ease anywhere in the body.
A proper immune system is an intricate balancing act. When functioning optimally, it is able to discriminate effectively, knowing when to fight pathogens and when to back down. Now if you have been following my blogs, you very well know by now that as per Ayurveda, digestion (Agni) is of great importance!
You guessed it right….. achieving a strong immune system lies in a strong digestive system! Your immune system is influenced by the power of agni (digestive fire), our ability to digest, assimilate, and absorb nutrients in our bodies. Our body is able to fight any infection if our immune system is strong which in turn depends on our digestion (agni)! If we have a lot of AMA (toxins from undigested food), an environment is created in which pathogens (disease causing microorganisms) are encouraged to thrive.
Ama can result from improper eating habits and unhealthy lifestyle practices. When you eat something you know is not good for you but you still eat it anyways, or you engage in an activity that you know is not good for you but you do it anyways, you are committing “Crime against your Wisdom” called “Prajnaparada”, in Sanskrit!
Our body knows how to heal itself! It keeps giving us signals! The body naturally wants to become balanced and healthy. But in this Vata dominated culture we forget to listen to those subtle signals and we go on committing crime against wisdom!
I encourage you to try out some of these ayurvedic guidelines and see for yourself the change in your energy and vitality and also build a strong immune system…
- Do not tax your digestion by eating heavy, rich, difficult to digest meals. Instead, eat easy to digest meals like khichari, lentil soups, vegetable soups, cooked vegetables.
- Avoid cold, heavy, oily “Kapha-genic foods”. They reduce agni (our digestive fire) and in turn weaken immune system. i.e. Avoid ice cold water with meals, avoid cheese, ice cream, yogurt, fried foods and packaged foods at all cost.
- Include spices such as turmeric, ginger, black pepper, cumin, coriander, fennel & cinnamon in your diet.
- Sip on herbal teas – ginger-lemon tea, dandelion tea (good for reducing kapha toxins). It is really important to keep the toxic load as low as possible so that your immune system can fight pathogens!
- Chyavanprash is an ayurvedic herbal jam made up of amla/amalaki (Indian gooseberry) and herbs and spices to boost immunity and improve strength & vitality. Take 1 tsp- 2 tsp every morning.
- Follow the rules of “Dinacharya” – Ayurvedic daily routines – and live in sync with nature.
- Follow the rules of “Ritucharya” – Ayurvedic seasonal routines – by eating seasonal foods and following an appropriate lifestyle routine for the season.
- Follow a diet and lifestyle regimen that is balancing for your unique mind body type “Prakruti“.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Excess weight is a burden for the body. Placing undue stress on organs and metabolic functions impairs immune function.
- Get regular exercise. Just the right amount of movement helps the body become more resilient.
- Get sufficient, good-quality sleep. As per Ayurveda you must sleep by 10:00 pm. The body detoxifies & restores itself and counters the effects of stress during sleep and relaxation.
- Follow a daily routine which has time for some yoga, meditation and Pranayama (breathing exercises).
- Meditating for short periods each day can greatly reduce anxiety and stress, improve your quality of life, as well as boost immune function. Allow yourself to feel fully supported and let go of tensions you may be holding. Believe in yourself and start loving yourself! You can do it!
- MOST IMPORTANT- MANAGE STRESS! Stress has a direct effect on the immune system. It also impairs Agni leading to Ama (toxins) which taxes the immune system.
If you need to pick two most important points from this blog to begin with, I would suggest you pick …Stress management and going to bed by 10 pm!
I feel all these practices are intertwined! Once you start sleeping on time, you will be able to relax better and take care of your stress. And once you start sleeping well, you will wake up feeling energized and be present in the moment to actually listen to what your body is trying to tell you and so you will be able to make the right decisions for yourself in terms of diet and lifestyle.
Ayurveda’s holistic approach can help you develop a lifestyle that is good for your body and your mind while supporting health and immunity.
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It is my humble wish to make Basics of Ayurveda available to each one of us in an easy to understand format. ‘coz if all of us are healthy at the deepest level of the soul, only then this planet will be a happier place to live!
The content provided in my blogs are for knowledge sharing purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.