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Improving your immunity during winter

Winter is often called the flu season, or the cold season, and is considered the time when contagious diseases abound. As per Ayurveda, winter is actually the best season to improve immunity.

3 Different levels of immunity

1. Hereditary (Sahaj) – the innate level of immunity which you are born with.
2. Seasonal (Kalaj) – fluctuating levels of immunity due to the change of seasons, different stages of life, and planetary cycles.
3. Established (Yuktikrit) – a balanced, permanent level of immunity that can be realized by following an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle.

Ayurveda focuses on strengthening the second type of immunity, which fluctuates with the seasons, age, and planetary cycles.

Winter is a good season for building immunity

One reason that winter is a good season for building immunity is that the digestion is stronger in cold weather. Just as your home’s heating system works harder in cold weather, so your inner digestive fire stokes up when the air turns chilly.

Winter is the season when nature is ready to nurture us. Due to the digestive level being very high, people feel hungrier. Food can be digested better in winter, thus nourishing the body more. It’s more important that people eat immunity-boosting foods in winter, and that they follow the Ayurvedic daily routine. This should be your goal during winter – to nourish the mind and body by eating well and getting proper rest.

In general, immunity-boosting foods include those that are fresh, easy to digest, pure and wholesome. These include fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and Ghee (clarified butter). Foods that are hard to digest should be avoided if you want to increase your immunity. Commercially processed foods, as well as canned, frozen, and packaged foods are old and difficult to digest, so they weaken immunity.

Which taste is good during winter?

Foods that nourish and balance the body in the cold, dry, winter season are sweet, sour and salty tasting. It’s best to eat less of the astringent, bitter, and pungent tasting foods in winter, although all six tastes should be included in your diet. Warm, home-cooked, unctuous foods are ideal, as long as they are not deep-fried and are cooked with easy-to-digest oils such as Ghee or olive oil. Avoid cold or ice-cold foods, as cold foods and drinks douse the digestive fire.

You can develop an established, permanent state of immunity, where sickness is no longer a threat, if you follow Ayurvedic dietary guidelines and lifestyle for each season.

Stay well!