With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) all over the news, now is a great time to do what you can to boost your immunity. Ayurveda has always taught that the host (human body) is the most important tool to defend any invasion. The concept of “individual immunity” (Vyadhi Kshamatva) depends upon your diet and lifestyle. Especially during a change of season (Ritu Sandhi), you should try to be very careful with your diet, lifestyle, and emotional health. We are currently transitioning from winter to spring, from a Vata-predominant season to a Kapha season. The common quality here is cold, and the best quality to counterbalance is heat.
Here are some Ayurveda tips to boost your immunity and add some heat during this season.
1. Avoid Heavy, Oily, and Cold Foods
During this season, it is best to avoid foods that are cold, heavy, soft, and sticky. Not only can these foods weaken your immune system, but they can also produce excess mucus. Your body’s mucus production is actually meant to lubricate your organs and trap dust, bacteria, and other potentially harmful airborne particles so that it can get rid of these things more easily before they have a chance to settle into your lungs. However, too much mucus can also restrict your breathing.
Here are some foods you should stay away from:
- Dairy: milk, yogurt, ice cream, pudding
- Red meats
- Oily/fatty foods like nuts, nut butters, and fried foods
- Breads and pastas
- Packaged and processed foods
Instead, favor hot, pungent, and dry foods. For example, stock up on warm soups, steamed bitter greens, pungent spices, and, ideally, a home-cooked meal.
2. Add Heating Spices to Your Food
To combat the “cold” effects of this season, turn to heating spices. These can include the following:
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne pepper
These spices not only reduce mucus buildup but also kindle your digestive fire by speeding up your metabolism. Some of these spices, like garlic and ginger, can also combat inflammation.
3. Eat At Least One Citrus Fruit a Day
Eating citrus fruits like oranges, tangerines, or grapefruits are a great way to boost your immunity. They contain vitamin c, which is an essential nutrient for your body.
You can also add freshly squeezed lemon or lime to hot water during your morning routine. While water has many advantages of its own, the health benefits of lemon water include nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is a great way to do a gentle cleanse.
4. Stay Active
The coronavirus doesn’t do well with heat. According to a Chinese study, high temperature and high humidity reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Dr. Stefan Baral, an epidemiology expert at Johns Hopkins University, was quoted by the Boston Herald as saying he expects “a natural decrease” of the disease as the United States moves into warmer weather.
The best way to boost immunity is to keep moving, stay active, exercise in fresh air, and get some sunshine. Sweat it out.
5. Add Steam Inhalation to Your Bedtime Routine
Before bed, practice steam inhalation followed by two drops of sesame oil or eucalyptus oil in each nostril. To do this, grab a pot of boiling water, cover your head, and inhale the steam. Dry nasal passages trap infections more easily, so keep them moist and lubricated.
6. Practice Brisk Breathing Exercises
7. Indulge in a Daily Oil Massage
Apply oil, like sesame oil, to your whole body and follow it with a hot shower. Oil massages to the skin can boost neurotransmitters that regulate your feeling of well-being.
8. Try Oil Pulling and Tongue Scraping
Both of these Ayurvedic techniques are excellent practices that will improve health and vitality.
Oil pulling promotes oral hygiene. It involves swishing oil in your mouth to remove bacteria. To try oil pulling, gargle with hot water plus salt and turmeric every morning.
Tongue scraping removes any buildup, including bacteria and other toxins, on the tongue. Since your mouth is one of the main gateways between your mind-body and the environment, maintaining its health is important to your general well-being.
9. Make Flavor-Fresh, Home-Cooked Meals
Minimize eating any frozen, leftover, or quickly reheated food. This is because these foods, while convenient, generally have fewer nutrients than fresh, home-cooked meals. Fresh is best!
10. Be Sure to Have at Least One Good Bowel Movement Daily
Seventy to eighty percent of your immune system is in your colon and gut lymphatics. Eliminating your body's impurities on a daily basis is very important. If you don't eliminate your waste daily, it turns toxic and breeds inflammation. This adds stress to your body, breaking down its immune system.
Take two capsules of triphala with warm water at bedtime. Triphala is a traditional Ayurvedic medicine that is often used to treat constipation.
The most important thing to learn from this situation is to understand that your health is your own domain, and the best way to prevent the outbreak is to radiate health.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.