As I reflect over the past couple of weeks, it’s had me thinking a lot about immunity and how now is the time to strengthen it with a lot of sickness going around. I consider myself pretty healthy. I haven’t been sick for many years. Well, it hit me, in the past 2 weeks I have been sick 2 times with 2 different bugs.
A wise woman told me recently told me, “We are in charge of our own immunity.” I wholeheartedly believe this and Ayurveda teaches us how to build and keep our immune systems running optimally.
Ayurveda, Sanskrit word for Science of Life, knowledge of life, is the Science of self-healing. It is an ancient holistic healing system that is still the largest healthcare system in the world. It recognizes that we are each unique, so our lifestyle and diet for great health may look different from person to person.
Ojas is Ayurveda’s word for immunity and healthy tissue. It refers to our underlying strength and vitality. Ojas gives our body the ability to endure physical and chemical stress and is a reserve to draw upon during the higher stress times of life. Ojas is affected by the foods we eat as well as our lifestyle habits. There are 3 areas to build Ojas; on a physical, mental and spiritual levels.
What and how we eat are critical to the health of immunity. Ideally all of our meals come from whole, fresh foods that are cooked daily. We should strive to eliminate processed foods and avoid eating too many leftovers.
Additionally, eating three meals a day at the same time every day with our biggest meal at noontime and avoiding unnecessary snacking is best for optimal health. I know there’s a lot of debate between eating smaller meals throughout the day verses three meals without snacking. Our digestive tract needs time to rest and digest before the next meal so that it can properly prepare for the next meal. If we are constantly eating, we don’t give our bodies the time needed for proper digestion and assimilation. Then Ama (toxins) begin to build in the body, relocate to the weak spot in your body, and over time becomes sickness or disease. Ama weakens the immune system.
Then there’s how we eat. Many of us eat mindlessly; while working in the office, in front of the TV, in our cars on the way to work, etc. This is a dangerous habit as we become completely unaware of what and how much we are eating. At the same time, we also ingest the stress and emotions that come with whatever it is that we are doing while eating. We tend to eat at a face pace and don’t chew enough, which is taxing for the digestive system. Working towards eating your meals in a quiet undistracted space and immersing yourself in the experience of eating and each taste will do wonders for health.
Our diets should change through the year, with the seasons. This is one of the things I love the most about a CSA share! Nature provides us what we need, when we need it. If you’ve had the great opportunity to join a CSA, you may notice that it starts light, with a lot of greens. As we come into summer, the bounty changes, yes we still have greens, but cucumbers and squashes are cooling vegetables that are prominent this time of year. As we approach fall, root vegetables, squashes and hearty greens like Brussels sprouts and broccoli are abundant.
Following the cycles of nature is the ideal way to boost our immune system and to have good health. One of the most basic ways to get a start on the road to better health is by eating 3 meals a day at the same time with lunch being your largest meal. Go to bed before 10 and wake before the sun rises. Get outside every day regardless the weather, even if just for a moment. Take time to consciously breathe throughout the day. Give yourself permission to take a break and find silence and stillness each day. Learn to slow down and let go.
In our upcoming Virtual Foundations of Ayurveda & Yoga, we will be talking more about immunity, disease and digestion. Click below to learn more about this 10-week program.