It may seem premature to be thinking about the winter and cold and flu season, but now is the ideal time to take actions to avoid getting sick later this year. I know most of us are still reminiscing about the summer days that only just now are beginning to slip away into the early hours of fall. But there is a very powerful practice in Ayurvedic medicine that helps to avert the health risks of the coming season by treating them one season in advance. So diving into fall with a few of these helpful tips could help keep you healthy and sniffle-free throughout the winter. This advice also has the added bonus of boosting your energy and fighting the winter blues, which also affects so many of us.
In Ayurveda, the strength of your digestion plays a significant role in immunity and overall vitality. Even within conventional, Western medicine we know that the majority of the immune cells in your body are located in your gut, which puts your GI tract and the immune cells it hosts in regular and direct contact with compounds from the outside environment. That makes taking care of your gut can be an important part of maintaining your overall health when winter comes around.
Drink Ginger Tea
As soon as the weather begins to get a little cooler (typically in early October), begin sipping some ginger tea throughout the day or just add some fresh ginger to any tea you’re already drinking. Ginger is one of the most commonly used Ayurvedic foods to help boost digestion and boost immunity. It’s cheap, widely available, and delicious. There are several high quality ginger teas available at most grocery stores, but it’s very simple and inexpensive to make at home. Just cut an inch long, circular piece of ginger and cut that piece into fourths. Place the cut ginger into 4 cups of water and boil in a pot for 10 minutes. You can strain the mixture and place into a thermos and sip all day long, or for a stronger taste, keep the ginger pieces with the liquid in the thermos. For an additional boost, squeeze a quarter of a lemon into the thermos. The combination of ginger with lemon can be particularly good for reinvigorating a sluggish digestion and preventing a cold.
Eat Before 7 p.m.
Your digestive system, just like all of your organ systems, has a daily rhythm. According to Ayurveda, digestion is strongest in the middle of the day and weakest at night. Ayurvedic teaching says that after about 7 p.m., your body is the least efficient at digesting food, which tradition says can affect your immune function. Making sure you eat dinner by 7 p.m. could therefore help your gut and immune system run more effectively. You can even take this advice one step further and make your dinner your smallest, lightest meal and make lunch your largest meal. This can help bring you more in tune with your digestive rhythms.
Add Some Spice
Most people are familiar with turmeric, the Indian spice that gives dishes a yellowish tint. In Ayurvedic tradition, turmeric doubles as an immune booster on top of its function as a flavor-enhancer. The vast medicinal properties of turmeric are being widely studied within Western medicine, but a simple way to incorporate its healing effects is to just add a quarter teaspoon to your food once a day during the fall and winter to help boost your immunity during cold and flu season. Whenever you are cooking your favorite dish—whether it is rice, vegetables, or meat—just add a quarter teaspoon of powdered turmeric along with any other seasoning you’re using. It will add a wonderful, savory taste to your dish and help you fight winter’s onslaught. If you don’t care for the taste of turmeric in your food, just add a quarter teaspoon to a glass of warm water, pinch your nose, and drink once a day. Still can’t do it? Just add some honey to a quarter teaspoon of turmeric, mix together, and take once a day until the weather gets warmer again.