Top Tips to Keep You Healthy this Winter (part 1)

Date Posted:10 January 2011 

Come winter season, more than leaves turn red. Ever noticed how many red-nosed people you see in the stores at this time? Kleenex sales go up, and antihistamines fly off the shelves. Chances are, even as you read this, you're trying to stifle a sniffle.

Take heart - you can win the cold war!

And yes, you can do it without the standard ammunition of pills and rubs. Believe it or not, something as simple as sleeping on time could be your greatest anti-cold weapon!

Beating the cold season

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of healing, has an interesting theory on disease. It believes that all disease happens because the elements that make up our body go out of balance. The common cold, for instance, strikes when the body's digestive fire or "agni" is dampened. What causes that? Well, the cold weather itself! Yes, the temperature outside dips, and with it, your immunity.

Now look what happens: the dimmed fires inside fail to burn body toxins or "ama" fully. The "ama" accumulates, clogging the micro-channels of the body and generating phlegm. Phlegm, or "kapha", combined with toxins or "ama" makes mucus. Result: a case of the a-tissues!

Ayurvedic vaidyas say your body at this time is a land ripe and ready for virus attack. When your immunity is strong, the "beej bhoomi" or "body soil" is infertile -- it does not let virus grow. But when manured with "ama", the body soil becomes fertile. Time for virus and bacteria to start taking root.

So much for the cause. Now for the cure.

The key, obviously, would lie in keeping the body fires burning bright. This is easily achieved, once you understand that a lot of Ayurvedic advice is plain common sense and logic. We give you the must-dos and don't-evers for this winter:

Dietary tips:

  • Winterrrrr. Common sense should tell you it's the season to stay away from cold foods like ice-cream and yogurt. So will a vaidya (Ayurveda Consultant). He or She will add that you should avoid tomatoes, eggplant and bananas – for they are "cold" foods that slow down the "agni".
  • Keep your insides warm with warm spices – cumin is considered the ace "ama" burner. Stack up your spice rack with "thermogenic" or heat-generating spices like black pepper, coriander, and cumin. Clove, boiled with milk, is excellent too.
  • Vaidyas say cakes and desserts need more fire to digest. But that doesn't mean you have to ignore your sweet tooth all winter. Metabolize the sugar better with bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom. The ideal winter dessert? Apple stewed the Ayurveda way: one Red Delicious apple, pierced with 4 cloves and boiled. Once done, remove the cloves and savor the clove-warmed, energy-enhancing fruit.
  • Trust in turmeric, the yellow spice that kills "ama" and builds immunity. All it takes is a quarter teaspoon of turmeric in your lentils and veggies. Crushed fresh ginger will combat the heaviness of a "rich" meal.

Lifestyle Advice:

  • Follow the middle path: don't skip meals or overeat.
  • Eat fresh, well-cooked food.
  • Start your day with two glasses of warm water.
  • Do not fast during winter -- fasting weakens the body's defenses.
  • Eat a timely lunch and an early dinner for good digestion.
  • Sleep on time – try for not later than 10 p.m. Restful sleep builds essential energy or "ojas", boosting immunity.

Don't be the one who comes down with a flu this winter. With these few adjustments you can naturally improve your resistance to sickness and enjoy a healthy season.

Read part 2

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