Are you prone to colds, coughs, flu, and dry skin during winter? It’s time to enhance your immunity with Ayurveda.
The cold winds of winter negatively affect your immune system and increase your chances of falling sick. Therefore, it is crucial to boost your immunity during this season to stay healthy. But before going into the details of boosting immunity in the winter, we must first understand why it is so necessary to boost immunity during the winter season. Let’s learn:
Boosting your immunity in the winters: Why is it needed?
- To avoid falling sick with cold and flu frequently
- To avoid absenteeism in school and offices due to sickness
- To stop yourself from spreading the sickness to others
- To enjoy the winter fiestas instead of lying sick on the bed
- To experience improved overall health
- To raise energy levels and brush aside laziness
Studies show that malnutrition can affect your immunity negatively.  Therefore, eating a nutritious diet should be the first and foremost step to bolster your immunity. You can increase your immunity power with nutritious foods and therapeutic herbs from Ayurveda during the chilly winters. In other words, the primary focus of this article will be on ‘how to increase immunity Ayurveda with the power of food and herbs. However, before we find out what these foods are, let’s see what Ayurveda says about the winter season.
Ayurveda and the winter season
According to Ayurveda, staying in harmony with changing seasons is the key to living a healthy and balanced life. Each season brings the dominance of specific elements of Panchmahabhoot and Doshas. Panchmahabhoot in Ayurveda stands for the five elements: Earth, water, fire, air, and ether. The concept of Doshas is intricately linked with these five elements. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends a diet and lifestyle based on seasons to prevent and fight diseases arising from the loss of harmony between the Panchmahabhoot and the Doshas. It is also called Ritucharya. Ritu means seasons, and Charya means regimen.
The winter season is characterized by cold weather and moisture. It is also known to be the season of lethargy and hibernation. Therefore, this season is believed to be a Kapha season. Kapha brings stability to the body and mind. However, the cold weather also brings dryness, which is a quality of Vata Dosha. Hence, your Vata may also get aggravated if you do not diet properly.  Keeping your Vata in balance is the key to boosting immunity during winter.
Ayurvedic diet to boost immunity in winter
The winter season is an ideal time to boost immunity.  By eating immunity-boosting Ayurvedic foods, you can easily prevent diseases. The following tips will help you eat a balanced diet in the winter season.
- Eat fresh, seasonal, easily digestible, and wholesome foods in this season
- Include milk and milk products  in your diet, especially ghee 
- Eat seasonal fruits, vegetables and include whole grains in your diet
- Avoid eating processed food from outside
- Avoid eating cold food
- Eat light, warm, slightly cooked, and less oily food with mild spices. 
- According to Ayurveda, in winter, you should eat foods with a sweet, sour, and salty taste. 
- Ayurveda also recommends that you should avoid eating foods with astringent (Kashaya), bitter (Tikta), and pungent (Katu) tastes during this season
Some of the best immunity-boosting foods Ayurveda for the winter months are:
- Vegetables such as turnip, onion, carrots, spinach, etc. help to produce heat 
- Hot spices like Ginger, black pepper, garlic, cloves, etc.
- Cooked grains such as millet, oats, barley, wheat, etc. 
- Milk and milk products such as ghee, butter, etc. 
- Legumes and lentils
Immunity boosting herbs in Ayurveda for winters
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of turmeric make it an excellent Ayurvedic herb to boost immunity in winter. The best way to use turmeric is as a spice while cooking your meals. You may also use turmeric in milk and have Haldi Doodh during winter. 
Packed with vitamin C and zinc, Tulsi or holy basil is known to be one of the best natural immunity boosters. The best way to use Tulsi is by chewing 3-4 fresh leaves in the morning. You may also make yourself a cup of Tulsi tea by boiling Tulsi leaves in water for 5 minutes. It will help to keep infections at bay. 
Also known as Yashtimadhu and licorice, Mulethi is an ancient Ayurvedic herb known to prevent and fight infections and boost immunity in winter. The best way to use Mulethi is by making Mulethi tea. You may easily make it by boiling Mulethi sticks in water for 5-6 minutes. 
Amla is the best immunity booster in Ayurveda. Amla is rich in high levels of antioxidants, making it highly effective in boosting the immune system. You may drink Amla juice in the morning or eat Amla Murabba to include this immunity-boosting herb in your diet. 
The antioxidants found in Ashwagandha make it one of the best herbs to boost immunity. Also known as Indian winter cherry, it significantly helps to prevent infections during winters. It is available in capsules, tablets, and powder form. You may use it with milk, honey, ghee, water, etc. 
Lifestyle tips to boost immunity power
Along with a healthy diet, you need to adopt a healthy lifestyle to fast-track the functioning of your immune system. Here are some lifestyle tips to boost your immunity in the winter.
Get sun exposure
Getting enough sun exposure is crucial. Sunlight can supply you with adequate amounts of vitamin D, an essential nutrient for healthy immune functioning. The heat from the sun can also reduce inflammation of the joints and bring down aches and pains, a common problem in the winter season. 
Drinking adequate water can help with the transportation of nutrients to every part of your body. Water also helps in proper blood circulation. All these factors play an important role in boosting your immunity power. 
Wash your hands frequently
You must use soap and warm water to wash your hands frequently in the winter. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. This will eliminate the germs from your hands and prevent them from entering your body through the nose, eyes, or mouth. 
Exercising regularly can help with the circulation of the immune cells. When immune cells are moving throughout your body, they can help you fight infections effectively. 
Getting sufficient sleep is important. Studies show that when somebody is sleeping, the immune system releases a kind of protein called cytokine. This protein supports healthy cell growth and helps the immune system fight infections effectively. 
1. Is cold air harmful to your immunity?
Your body’s natural defense system is your immunity power. But in the winter season, when cold air enters through the nostrils and reaches the upper airways, your immune system may find it difficult to face the barrage of germs that stream in through the cold air. That increases the risk of cold and flu.
2. Can humidifiers help in managing colds and coughs?
Dry air is one of the main culprits behind cold and cough in the winter season. Using a humidifier that adds moisture to the air can help in managing the problem of a stuffy nose. But, make sure to use the humidifier correctly. If the humidifying level is too high it might do you more harm than good.
3. Can ginger help with nasal congestion?
The medicinal properties in the ginger root can help with nasal congestion. Studies show that ginger has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Intake of ginger in the form of raw root or as ginger tea can help in thinning the mucus and rinsing it off easily. 
4. Can I use Neti Pot to relieve cold symptoms?
Yes, neti pot can be used for relieving cold symptoms. But you must fill the pot with boiled water or distilled water to avoid the risk of further infections.
5. Can NS be used as a nasal drop or spray?
Yes, you can use NS to rinse your nose and clear the mucus.
Boosting your immunity in winter is very important to prevent diseases that are rampant during the winter season. The best way to boost immunity in winter is by following a Ritucharya diet and lifestyle. It will help your body combat seasonal changes and boost the immune system. Many herbs also help to boost the immune system Ayurveda during the winters. Including those herbs and foods in your daily diet can shield you from the winter woes.
This article is for general knowledge only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult a trained medical professional before initiating any treatment or changes in your lifestyle.
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- AYURVEDA BASED DIET AND LIFESTYLE GUIDELINES FOR PREVENTION OF CARDIAC DISORDERS
- Traditional and ayurvedic foods of Indian origin
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- Ayurveda offering Herbal healing
- Cyto-protective and immunomodulating properties of Amla (Emblica officinalis) on lymphocytes: an in-vitro study
- Healthy Foods in Winter
- Strengthening immunity through healthy lifestyle practices: Recommendations for lifestyle interventions in the management of COVID-19
- Immune Function: Basic considerations of exercise and hydration
- Sleep and immune function
- Impact of malnutrition on immunity and infection