Few of us expected the Pandemic of 2020 to last this long and affect us so deeply. At the moment, there is no vaccine. No magic pill. No single superfood guaranteed to protect against coronavirus.
However, there ARE ways to help your immune system function well, increasing the likelihood of staying healthy, and giving you a sense of control in a very uncertain season.
Over the next several blog posts, we'll explore tried-and-true methods for supporting a healthy immune system, including diet and lifestyle adjustments. Today's tips come from the traditional medicine system of India: Ayurveda. This form of care uses a comprehensive approach that integrates the body, mind, and spirit, describing practical daily routines that can help you maintain optimal health.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule: Try to wake at the same time daily. Avoid day-sleeping, unless you've been up with small children during the night! Switch off screens a couple of hours before bedtime, allowing your brain to switch into night-mode. A melatonin supplement can help you drift off more easily.
Gargle: After you brush your teeth, gargle with warm salty water. Your throat is the gateway to your lungs. Salt water can eliminate excess phlegm, kill microorganisms in the mouth and throat, and soothe irritation from seasonal allergies and coughs.
Care for your nose: As a last step in your get-up-and-ready routine, apply a little sesame oil to the inside of your nostrils using a clean little finger. This helps to maintain the mucus membranes that protect you from harmful bacteria and viruses. Sesame oil has anti-phlegmatic properties. If you are stuffed-up, boil water and add any of the following: lemon, boiled coriander seeds, the leaves of citrus plants or basil. Remove the steaming pot from the stove and lean over it, draping a towel over your head to trap the steam. Close your eyes to protect them from the vapor. Breathe deeply.
First drink of the day: Before breakfast, drink a glass of warm water. It helps to remove phlegm obstructing the throat and, according to Ayurevedic medicine, wakes up your digestive system.
Time for tea: Coriander-ginger tea is traditionally used for respiratory system support. Try lightly roasting coriander seeds for a few minutes to bring out flavor and clear phlegm. Aim for two to three cups of herbal tea daily.
Eat healthy: Cook your own meals from fresh ingredients, using aromatic spices. In our next blog post, we'll share key foods and herbs to include in an immune-supporting diet - including a quality organic elderberry syrup like Sweet's.
Exercise: Ayurveda recommends yoga as the best full-body form of exercise. If yoga does not appeal to you, choose something that does: walking, jogging, Pilates, HIIT routines on YouTube. Regular daily movement and stretching is essential. Some of us over-exercise during stressful times, seeking those endorphins that give us a sense of well-being. Be mindful that excessive exercise can actually deplete immunity. Balance is key.
Be still: Stress causes us to secrete hormones that deplete immunity. Sit quietly for a few moments each day. Meditate on an encouraging statement, a scripture verse, or the rhythm of your breath.
Breathe well: Traditional Ayureveda recommends fumigating your home daily with a little charcoal and Neem oil. Since charcoal is a known carcinogen, we've chosen instead to diffuse essential oils. Thieves is commonly used to purify the air. Consider adding a few drops of an oil that supports you emotionally at this moment. Citrus notes can uplift and energize. Wood oils are grounding when we feel scattered. Floral scents like lavender soothe and prepare us for rest.
This fall, Sweet's founder Stephanie will travel to Sri Lanka to meet with organic spice growers and purchase the cinnamon, cloves, and ginger that make Sweet's Syrup so delicious. She's really excited about the spices, but even more so about the authentic Ayurveda yoga and retreat center she'll visit, and sharing what she learns there with you!
Be well, friends.