Q: What do you recommend we do to stay healthy and beat colds? I’m currently drinking some fresh turmeric ginger tea but wondering what else I can do.
A: Hey hey love! Thank you for your question. It gets to the very heart of healthy lifestyle. What can we do keep our immunity strong? And the answer lies in our daily rhythm and functional health. That is to say, our metabolic and digestive function. And the cultivation of balance.
We always want to think of cultivating balance by responding to our environments and the season we are in.
We are entering into the season on the wind. Cold, dry, increased air element- (Vatta in Ayurvedic medicine), which means that it is important to slow down, ground our energy, stay warm- in our diets, in our lifestyle.
I personally am someone who has increased air or vatta energy in my body to begin with. Highly creative, prone to anxiety and addictive behavior… I’ve always had work hard to ground, slow down, be more intentional.
Winter can be especially compromising for my immunity. As a kid growing up, like clockwork, I would get bronchitis every January until my mid-twenties when I really focused on daily self care and balance.
These are some of my most helpful strategies for protect immunity in challenging winter days.
Sinus & Oral Hygiene- Irrigate & Lubricate
Because winter is cold and dry, it is important to make sure the sinuses don’t overly dry out. When they do, our bodies overcompensate and overproduce phlegm, creating a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and increased risk of sickness.
I follow an Ayurvedic regimen- from gargling salt water, to oil pulling, to sinus irrigation and lubrication to keep my sinuses clean and healthy. Try to do this at least once or twice weekly as prevention. And when you feel like your immunity is compromised, do it immediately. I swear that I have stopped colds dead in their tracks after feeling at initial tickle in the back of my throat or ear.
Holidays can be a stressful chaotic time. And stress is perhaps the most caustic toxin in our bodies- creating an environment of increased oxidation and compromised immunity, leaving us vulnerable to sickness.
Find calm, quiet time when possible amidst the excitement of the holiday merrymaking circuit.
I recommend a daily meditative practice of just 10 full mindful breaths each morning, or whenever you need, before bouncing out the door and starting your day.
Eat Grounding Foods Like Root Veggies
Because winter is a cold and dry time, you want to enjoy a diet rich with warm, grounding, lubricating foods in the digestive tract to create balance and support immune function.
Now is not the time to get into a raw foods/juicing diet. These feeds are inherently cold and will only exacerbate an imbalance in cold winter days.
Root veggies on the other hand- beets, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, sunchokes, and so forth – are energetically grounding, literally harvested deep down from the nutrient-dense soil of the earth.
And wouldn’t you know, nature provides us these foods in abundance during the cold, dry fall and winter months as an antidote cultivate balance. There is great wisdom in the natural cycles of the earth!
Keep Your Core Warm and Strong
Your core is the energy seat of power, wisdom, gut intuition and immune function in the body. Attending to its optimal function and vitality is *everything* when it comes to your everyday health.
Keep your belly warm with layers.
Do core work to keep your metabolic fire strong and support strong digestion and immune function.
Recently I’ve been opening my yoga classes with kapalabhati or breath of fire practice designed to fire up into the power of the core and warm the body. If you want to get into more core focused group exercise classes like pilates and what not, that cool too!
Hot Water Hydration
While I do love anti-inflammatory turmeric ginger teas, I recommend a hydration practice of plain hot water when possible in this season. At least room temp but ideally hot water- the same temperature of your gut – to keep metabolic function strong.
Cold water can be especially disruptive for digestive function.
Plain hot water, without lemon, without honey, without cayenne.
But why plain? Well, your digestive system must work harder to extract all the additives from the water and get it back to the base H2O that comprises most of your body composition. Drinking plain hot water is like an ambrosia bath for your vital organs and digestive system.
And that’s what I got ma!