People often greet winter with a sigh because of the cold temperatures and health issues the season brings with it. The skin can get dry, joints might start feeling painful, and an overall feeling of lethargy, fatigue, and laziness can set in. You might catch a cold, run a high fever, have stomach issues, or contract some contagious disease. All such negative health aspects of winter can be combated to a good extent by adhering to some simple age-old Ayurvedic principles.
Ayurveda recognizes three types of immunity. Sahaj is the immunity you are born with. Kalaj is the immunity that keeps changing with age, seasons, time, and so on. Yuktikrit refers to the immunity that one develops through a disciplined diet and physical activity. During winter, Ayurveda recommends the following regimen for developing Yuktikrit immunity.
Foods to avoid
All pre-cooked, canned, refrigerated, and processed foods must be avoided during winter as they are heavier to digest and therefore sap the body of its life force. Excessive consumption of such foods can make a person dull. Meat is also best avoided during the season as the body takes a long time to digest it. Sweets and aerated drinks rich in carbohydrates can raise blood sugar levels and must, therefore, be avoided. Though there is a general perception that it is good to consume spicy foods in winter, be careful to not overdo it so as to prevent a Dosha (bio-elements) imbalance.
Improve digestive strength
The strength of your body’s immunity will largely depend on how well the digestive system works. According to Ayurveda, digestive strength is the Agni (fire) in the stomach. As long as you keep its potency alive, your body will remain strong and healthy. During winter, this Agni will lose some of its natural strength. To prevent this, you have to constantly keep it stimulated. This can be done by including good amounts of ghee, butter, and natural oils in your diet.
Any foods you eat and liquids you drink must also be warm. Cold items dampen the fire and slow down the digestive processes in the body. This is especially true during extremely cold conditions. Hot, slow-cooked soups made from a wide variety of vegetables are highly recommended during the season. As far as drinks are concerned, opt for herbal teas rather than soft drinks.
Disciplined daily life
Wake up at 6 a.m. every day when the sun typically rises. This is an ideal time for practices like meditation and Yoga since you can get the maximum benefit from such activities. The main meal and the most important tasks for the day must be finished between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., as this is the period when your mental and digestive strength are at their peak.
The time between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. should be used for planning or creative activities. Between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., unwind your body by indulging in light exercise, walking, reading, and so on. Be in bed by 10 p.m. Follow this regimen during winter and your body should function at optimum level.
Massage and sunbathing
You should try out some Ayurvedic massage oils. A massage allows oils to penetrate the skin, thereby releasing chemicals and other toxins trapped inside the tissues. This can help to get rid of the feeling of lethargy and laziness. A massage using sesame seed oil is said to be excellent for the elderly. In addition to massages, try sunbathing for at least a few minutes on a daily basis. This will give your body the necessary Vitamin D, while also replenishing melanin stores.