You can’t open social media without being bombarded with tips on how to increase your immunity. But can you, really? What is the Ayurvedic perspective on this?
Well: No, and Yes.
No if you are talking about taking a load of vitamines, hoping that it will make you stronger overnight. Vitamines need time to be processed in the body so they surely won’t increase your immunity overnight. But more importantly, I feel confident to say that most of us don’t have the capacity to digest additional vitamines or other supplements. In this case the supplements might even cause you more harm than do good. If supplements can’t be digested, they are an additional load on your system. This can create extra waste products of your digestion, which we call Ama in Ayurveda. You can think of Ama as sluggish material that sticks in your intestines and could accumulate there, further taxing your ability to digest and your immunity! You could say that taking any supplements only makes sense if you have the digestive power to digest and assimilate them.
Digestion is the number one element to work on if you want to increase your immunity. With a strong digestive power, your body is better capable of fighting any virus if they enter your body in the first place. Doing a cleanse is a great way to increase your digestive fire. Traditionally, spring is the season where we recommend doing a more intensive cleanse. Cleaning your body just like you are cleaning your house, to get rid of all the accumulation that happens in the winter. Doing a spring cleanse leaves you feel refreshed, lighter and with a stronger digestion.
However, personally I do not recommend a rigorous cleanse in the situation we are facing right now. We are already challenged by our homestay, spending most of our hours inside the house on each others lip. Or maybe you live alone, and long for community and touch. And we feel collectively uncertain and maybe even a bit anxious about what this all means for us individually and for our lives as we know it. It is important that we try to keep ourselves as comfortable as we can and refrain from things that activate our sympathetic nervous system even more. We want to be in the rest&digest mode as much as we can, to be able to deal with the situation as best as we can. To stay calm, loving and positive.
How to improve your digestion
That said, you can already increase your digestion by doing a few simple things, which i would like to share with you. Maybe you can apply a few of them for a few days and help your digestion to work more effectively:
- Eat as much fresh, seasonal, local and organic as possible. Your digestive enzymes are naturally better equipped to deal with these foods as opposed to processed, non local and non seasonal food.
- Only eat if you feel physical hunger. That might mean you skip snacking for a few days. Or that you eat your breakfast a little later in the morning.
- Cook with mild spices to aid digestion. Like ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cumin, thyme, rosemary, oregano etc.
- You can eat a slice of ginger with a little bit of lemon juice and a pinch of salt half an hour before your meals. This encourages your digestive fire.
- If you feel mentally stable; maybe you do 1 or 2 days of mono diet of kitchari.
- Alternatively, just make your meals for 1 or 2 days a little lighter than usual. Think about a hot porridge for breakfast, and for lunch and dinner rice with steamed seasonal veggies.
- Drink warm liquids during the day. You can make yourself a nice tea like ginger tea or ccf tea that you can sip throughout the day. Make sure you avoid drinking cold drinks with your food.
- Do a daily exercise practice. This can be anything from going around the block for 30 minutes till doing an online yoga class. Choose a pace that suits you, but don’t overdo it. We like to say till sweat starts to form on the face or on the chest/back.
- Breathing exercises. Breath work can be very beneficial not only for your physical wellbeing, but also working directly on the mind and the nervous system. I feel calming, grounding yet effective practices like Nadi Shodana, 4-7-8 breathing technique, Ujjayi breath or a slow and conscious Kapalabhati are good ones to go to right now.
Applying these principles certainly will benefit your digestive capacity. If you feel digestion is strong you can start to build the body by eating and drinking substances that are known to build you immunity. More on that soon!
By the way; how do you know your digestive fire is strong?
Generally: You feel a sense of hunger at certain times throughout the day, you don’ t suffer from flatulance, bloatedness, diarrhoea, a heavy feeling in the stomach, lethargy, heartburn or any other disturbance in your GI Tract. And you would feel the urge to go to the toilet every day in the morning after waking up.