Clear sky, low temperature, pleasant climate, shorter days and cosier nights…there’s so much to love about winter! However, the dry weather and plummeting temperatures are also a concern among parents, as children are more susceptible to colds and flu during this season. Have you ever wondered why the transition of seasons brings about changes in the body? Is there any preventive approach to well-being? Well, yes, Ayurveda has all the answers!
From an Ayurvedic perspective, during the onset of winter (October to January), the atmosphere around us becomes cooler, lighter and drier, which further progresses to cold, wet and damp, weakening our immune system. A weakened immune system further falls prey to cold and flu causing viruses more easily than someone with an optimum immune system.
The early winter is governed by Vata while the late winter, by Kapha dosha. According to Ayurveda, one should follow nature as the guide, and match one’s routine to the season.
To set up your kids for optimal health, balancing of the doshas is essential. The first step to staying healthy in winter is favouring foods that oppose these actions.
Avoid including raw and cold foods in your children’s diet. Incorporate more of warm foods such as warm spices (dry ginger powder, black pepper, ground cinnamon), root vegetables (carrots, pumpkins, beets, sweet potatoes etc.), legumes, whole grains, healthy fats (coconut oil or olive oil) and hot beverages (warm milk, warm water). Foods such as amla, turmeric milk, garlic, nuts, seeds and citrus foods also enhance the body’s immunity.
Children should also be encouraged to perform regular exercises or engage in playful activities as it helps improve circulation and bolster the detoxification mechanism of the body.
Chyawanprasha is an excellent immunity booster for kids and adults too! This herbal jam contains amla, which has the most concentrated sources of vitamin C. Amla and other herbs in Chyawanprasha have rejuvenating and revitalizing properties. One teaspoon of Chyawanprasha when consumed daily will strengthen your children’s immunity and prevent them from contracting respiratory system disorders.
You can give a teaspoon of honey mixed with a pinch of powdered spices (turmeric, cinnamon or black pepper) to kids daily to counter excess Kapha in the body. However, avoid giving honey to babies who are less than one year old.
Ginger contains an active compound gingerol that has analgesic and anti-bacterial properties that help combat flu and cold. Serve ginger tea with a spoonful of honey to your kids as it supports both the digestive and respiratory tract.
Use garlic infused ear drops to get rid of ear infections and sinus congestions in winter. Take a garlic clove and saute it in 30ml of olive oil until the garlic pops. Mash the garlic in oil, remove from heat and strain. Once cooled, store it in a dropper bottle. Put 1 to 2 drops of it in each ear. Leave it for a few minutes or overnight. It will help drain infected sinuses and clear ear infections.
Tulsi has great medicinal value and tremendous healing power. Chewing some Tulsi leaves daily helps mobilize mucus and provides relief from cold and flu.
Add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder to one cup of milk, stir and mix well. Let your child have this every night before going to bed. Turmeric milk help boost immunity, repair wounds faster and cures cough and sore throat.
Hot Steam and Baths are very beneficial, particularly when children experience an accumulation of mucus in the respiratory tract.
Fostering optimal health
Ayurveda is an ancient wisdom that lays importance on healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle. This art of science and living can help our children remain in tune with nature, the seasons, their body’s circadian system and prepare them for a lifelong journey of optimal health and well-being.
This article is reviewed by Dr. Neena Sharma