As a kid and even as a young adult, I would almost always be sick over the Holidays. If only I knew about ayurveda then, I likely I could have prevented many stomach flus, bouts of food poisoning, colds and fevers. Luckily, I now have a much greater understanding of the body, so I am able to stay healthy during flu season. And I am happy to share some of my ayurvedic secrets with you to help you boost your immunity system naturally, so you can fully enjoy the season’s festivities.
Holidays are a time for celebration, big meals and travel. All great things, but add them together and wrap them in stress and our digestion and immunity system gets overwhelmed. Our normal eating habits are often askew this time of year and we tend to overindulge with sugar, alcohol and heavy food. The weather also affects the strength of our agni, or digestive fire. During winter, our digestion ‘cools’ and slows down as the outdoor temperature decreases. This also means our metabolism weakens and so does our resistance to bacteria and viruses.
– Eat regular meals in and a calm state. Plan and prepare healthy meals that give you energy before you are starving and willing to eat anything.
– Drink a daily tonic of hot water, lemon, turmeric (1/4 tsp of dry turmeric) and honey (1/2 tsp) – photo beside. You can also add ginger to this tonic. Chyavanaprash, a jam-like blend of 40 herbs and spices in honey and ghee, is another excellent preventative remedy.
– Take Amalaki. It’s a gentle ayurvedic herb that is super high in vitamin C and is non-acidic.
– At the first sign of a sore throat, gargle with apple cider vinegar, honey and warm water. You can also gargle with turmeric, honey and warm water.
– Clean and clear your sinuses using a netti pot, a small little tea pot looking thing filled with warm water and a pinch of sea salt. Tilt your head forwards and to the side as you pour the saline solution into one nostril allowing it to flow out the other into the sink or bathtub. Do this at night only. Afterwards, lubricate sinuses with warm sesame oil.
– Augment intake of vitamin C and turmeric. If hungry, eat small meals and favour warm herbal teas and soups.
– Eat kitchari (click here for recipe) for three – five days following your cold or flu. It’s the best food to get the digestion back on track. Then slowly add in small amounts of foods from your regular diet. Dairy, sugar and alcohol should be the last things reintroduce.
– Dress warm, even inside (wear slippers) and stay hydrated.
– Avoid eating anything cold or raw, especially ice cream or iced water with a meal. It will decrease the effectiveness of your digestion and immunity.
Above all, rest well and take care of yourself. The best time to fight a cold or flu is before it’s full blown. You will recover much faster and conserve your energy throughout the Holidays.