The word “Ayurveda” might conjure up images of bitter boiling herbs, unfamiliar neti pots and messy oil massages, and be dismissed for its impracticality for use in our busy modern lives. But we can all use some basic principles from this 5,000 year old system that originated in India, for holistic health and prevention of illness. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that means “knowledge of life” (Ayu = life, veda = knowledge) and takes holistic medicine a step further by not only treating individuals as a whole instead of isolated symptoms, but also recognizing them as an inextricable part of the entire universe.
Ayurveda understands our inherent relationship with nature and its laws and rhythms and guides us to live in balance with the particular qualities of each season. Here are some simple, self-care remedies and preventive tips that you can easily incorporate in your family’s lives during the cold and flu season.
1. Bundle up
This might seem obvious, but deserves a mention especially since many of us neglect covering up our heads and necks. Use your favorite chunky scarf and wrap yourself before you step out into the cold. For you knitters out there (if you’re not one, maybe it’s worth trying – it’s a great winter activity that you can even involve your kids in!), here’s a simple scarf pattern that you can start at the beginning of a movie and finish before the final credits roll!
2. Eat nourishing foods
Think warm soups and stews flavored with warming spices. Eat foods rich in protein and high-quality fats, to preserve moisture and maintain warmth. Choose warm food and drink over cold, moist and oily over dry and nourishing over light. Who doesn’t love a warm bowl of rice and mung dal “khichdi” drizzled with ghee? Here’s a recipe for a basic khichdi, a one pot meal that’s easy to make. Add your favorite chopped vegetables and you have a hearty winter dinner.
3. Stay hydrated
We all know about the importance of staying hydrated and increasing our intake of fluids to get rid of colds and flu quicker. Choose to drink warm, room temperature water instead of cold water and supplement with warm and soothing teas. Treat yourself to a tasty tea, using fresh or ground spices. Steep some ginger and cinnamon in hot water for 10–15 minutes and when the tea has cooled down, add a little raw honey.
4. Maintain a moderately moist indoor environment
Using a humidifier can remove bacteria, dust, and allergens from the air; prevent dry skin and lips and respiratory problems; and contribute to a better functioning immune system. Adding eucalyptus and or lavender essential oils to the humidifier can clear the air of lingering pathogens and provide an aromatherapeutic experience.