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Now’s the time to take the Ayurveda route to stay healthy

Diet plays an integral part of health during winter.

For most of us, winter is loaded with potential health setbacks, so it’s important to stay vigilant and aware of the health risks associated with winters. Keeping oneself healthy is of utmost importance for us to safely overcome the potential health risk that is common now. Shorter days, colder weather, reduced light and holiday binging give us plentiful reasons to be lazy. Even those who are highly health conscious take a back seat during the winter reason. The excess food intake and lack of physical activity along with other environmental factors result in toxic buildup eventually leading to winter-borne diseases such as asthma, sinusitis, respiratory infections, common cold, aches and pains, arthritis, immunity-compromisingx infections, weight gain, sleep issues, hypertension, and even heart attacks.

What to eat

Diet plays an integral part of health during winter. It is advisable to eat a variety of foods from the major five food groups. A diet rich in micronutrients and fibre is important for maintaining a positive lifestyle. Winter is the best time to build up your immunity. During winter, we are strong, our digestive fire becomes powerful because of the obstruction from flowing outward due to external winter. The peak in digestive fire may cause emaciation of body tissues. According to Ayurveda, the increased digestive fire demands heavy-to-digest food such as meat soups, food prepared with grains and pulses, freshly harvested vegetables, etc.

During this season, dried fruits are acceptable in small quantities, so as not to further accelerate the fire causing rapid digestion. Fruits to avoid are those that are exceptionally heating or sour (like bananas, cranberries and green grapes). Also to remember that fruits and fruit juices are best enjoyed alone — 30 minutes before, and ideally at least 1 hour after any other food. This helps to ensure optimal digestion. However, this rule does not apply to fruits that are usually considered as vegetables (avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes). The other vegetables and fruits favoured during winter are sweet apples, apricots, berries, cherries, coconut, dates, figs, grapes, limes, ripe mangoes, melons, oranges, pears, papaya, pumpkin, beans, cucumber, zucchini, winter squash, etc.

Wondrous herbs

• Basil or tulsi provides relief from chest congestion by dilating the airways in the lungs. One of the easiest and most convenient ways of boosting your immunity system is to have about one to two cups of tulsi tea daily. The hot tea neutralises the cold coming into your body and hence regulates your internal temperature.

• Turmeric is great for your health and you must include it in your diet. During winters, this magical herb works wonders in improving your immunity keeping the diseases at bay. Turmeric is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Try including it in your food and you can even add it with hot milk and drink every night.

• Triphala, a combination of three herbs (amla, beheda, harde) is a potent antioxidant. This aids the digestive capability of the body which tends to go down during winter.

• Licorice is associated with curing respiratory issues since ancient times. It’s one of the finest cures for colds, sore throats and related problems.

• Ginger contains anti-inflammatory gingerols and shaogals that will help to relieve a sore throat quickly, and they also kill rhinoviruses which cause respiratory infections like a cold.

• Pepper is added to tonics for treating cold and cough. Pepper also provides relief from sinusitis and nasal congestion. It has an expectorant property that helps to break up the mucus and phlegm depositions in the respiratory tract.

Physical & mental practices

Yoga practices, pranayama and meditations are best suited to build up the immunity and to protect from illness. Fitness activities also help to keep the metabolism high.

(The author is wellness director, Atmantan Wellness Centre)

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