Daily Habits to Support Immune Health
The onset of winter has us thinking about hunkering down and hibernating in our homes, tea in hand and blankets at the ready with warm soups on the stove and the hearth keeping you warm. In Ayurveda, the transition from fall to winter is significant as we shift from crisp, dry autumn weather to cold and damp winter with an undercurrent of slowness that exemplifies the qualities of Kapha. This is an abrupt transition, and these quick and unpredictable changes in weather and routine are often a trigger for illness or imbalance to set in. This is one reason why colds, flu and seasonal bugs are at their peak in winter months.
For every dosha this season - especially kapha - staying in balance will support optimal digestion and a strong immune system: two essential areas we should pay extra attention to during winter.
We can balance the winter qualities of heavy, dense and cold by increasing movement and stimulating our body to keep the hot heat of summer flowing for as long as possible and to prepare for the long cold damp of winter. Keep your immune system strong in the colder months with some daily habits and herbal supports to encourage your inner strength and vitality - even while you're hibernating.
Stay hydrated. Water is KEY for all of our organs to function optimally and for movement, detoxification, elimination and circulation to stay fluid. When the outside environment is cold and damp, balance your body by consuming warming beverages such as Elderberry Echinacea Tea, warm water with lemon and honey, or broths in soups or porridges. This is a foundational practice of balancing our internal environment (our body) with our external environment (our seasonal environment) to encourage a healthy immune response.
Devote 8 hours to sleep when possible. Sleep is our body’s rest and repair time. The winter months can bring holiday travel, increased stress, and changes in our diet. We need optimal rest and recovery time for our immune system and our digestion to process the stress of the day, and for our nervous system to realign. When we feel exhausted physically and mentally, this is when our immune system is most at risk. Prioritize your rest this winter.
Add ginger to your day! Keeping with the importance of BALANCE, ginger encourages robust circulation, stimulating internal movement and toasty warmth from the inside out. Our lymphatic system houses much of our immune system, and this needs constant movement and circulation to clear and eliminate any seasonal bugs. When we are cold and stagnant (primary qualities of winter), our lymphatic system follows suit, so balance this with warming, stimulating ginger in your goods and through delicious Three Ginger tea throughout the day.
Get outside for at least 15 minutes each day. Stay connected with your natural environment to support circadian rhythm, get your vitamin D, and enhance your mental health. Bundle up outdoors and enjoy this season of rest and quiet. Staying connected with our environments keeps our body in rhythm and balance and is essential for getting our vitamin D - a key hormone to maintain immune health. A cozy and optimal way to get your outside time may be to brew up your favorite pukka tea and take it with you on a walk outside.
Enjoy Elderberry every day this winter. Elderberry is rich in vitamin A and C which provide a robust antioxidant quality, along with being rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids within elderberry support a healthy inflammatory response while protecting your cells from seasonal bugs taking hold. Daily use of elderberry can be a great ally in supporting your immune health this winter, and is a delicious addition to your morning water intake. In addition to tea, we love adding 1 teaspoon of Elderberry Syrup to a bit of warm water and sipping after breakfast!
The most helpful winter habit is to allow your body and mind time to adjust to its new environment, and allow time to nourish yourself from the inside out. Ensure that you receive adequate periods of rest and sleep, take regular appropriate exercise and try to maintain a healthy routine. By working towards this, you will continue to build vitality and strength within your body and stay in tip top shape throughout this beautiful season.