Colds and flues seem to have been particularly virulent these past few years, but there are some great ways to help us build and keep our immunity strong, and to ward off the dreaded seasonal lurgies. Today is the first day of Autumn and winter is once again on her way. Last winter our house was teeming with flu, everyone, except for me, had not just one instance, but succumbed several times over to colds, flues and winter ills and chills. It’s a great time now to start preparing for winter by keeping your immune system healthy and firing on all cylinders.
I credit my increased resistance with this:
Inversions – getting upside down is great for your immunity. Shoulder stand, headstand, handstand, & legs up the wall pose are great poses for our health. With Salamba Sarvangasana – shoulder stand and Setu Bandhasana – bridge pose, you get a double whammy of healing as these poses stimulate many acupressure points on the upper back and neck which help build resistance to colds and flu. A big part of my personal practice last winter was inversions, and I’ll be going back to that this coming winter as well.
Having the legs higher than the heart helps to stimulate lymph flow. They lymphatic system is kind of like the garbage collection system in the body. As lymph fluid moves around the body it picks up greeblies and unwanted invaders to our bodies, aka pathogens, and then dumps them into lymph collection areas, you know those places your doctor checks when you are feeling unwell, throat, groin, under the arms. Once here, good guy/gal cells called lymphocytes, kill those suckers dead, and that is why we get swollen glands, they become wee battle grounds. That’s the simple version, for anatomy and physiology buffs, here’s a longer version and some great info on why keeping it clean is so important.
If the lymph is not moving well, then it can’t do it’s job, and the lymphatic system unlike the circulatory system i.e. your blood, doesn’t have a pump to move it around the body. Your blood is pumped around the body by your heart, your lymphatic fluid is pumped around your body only with the help of body movement. This means moving those legs and arms, a lot. Which is one of the reasons that walking, yoga, swimming and all exercise is so great for us, and those all important upside down yoga poses.
I think one of the reasons we may be so vulnerable to colds and flues in the winter months is because often the amount we exercise really reduces in the colder times of the year. In summer we are out at the beach, out walking, the weathers good, we’re feeling fine, we move a lot. During winter, it’s colder, darker, and the motivation for keeping up the walks and outdoor activities really reduces, we don’t swim as much, because let’s face it, the water is too darn cold, come on public pools, heat those indoor pools up. We also tend to avoid going out at night, again because its dark, cold, maybe windy and rainy. So that yoga class that was so easy breezy to get to in summer, becomes less easy to walk out the door to.
So the exercise you do in winter may be even more important than what you do in summer, all that time indoors means bugs have a much easier time spreading from person to person, and our resistance is down because of less exercise.
And then there’s this, this is what I think of as my secret weapon, though there is so much on the internet now about the benefits of turmeric it’s really not so secret. One of my Indian friends told me about the superpowers of turmeric years ago, and I cannot get enough of the stuff. It’s super yummy in porridge, and my very favourite is Turmeric Tea.
I drink a cup of this every day. 1/4 to 1 tsp turmeric, juice of 1 whole lemon or any citrus fruit,
1 Tblsp cider vinegar, ginger (fresh grated 1 Tblsp or dry 1/2 tsp), a pinch of black pepper, honey and hot water, sip and enjoy, not only is it super good for you, it tastes yum too.
Dry frying the turmeric and black pepper will make this mixture even more potent, but you can make it without doing that. Just good old supermarket spices will do just fine.
Research shows turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, anti-oxidant, antiseptic, anti cancer, great for the digestive system, great for your heart, and your brain, what more can I say, except, be sure to use hot water when making your tea, turmeric needs heat to activate it’s superpowers.
Don’t forget natures pharmacy, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, lots of garlic, ginger, herbs and spices, and one of the best veges of them all, cabbage, eat lots and lots of cabbage.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
This amazing vegetable is very rich in vitamin C, even more so than oranges, it is immune system boosting, and great for defending against cough and colds. Kimchi is my favourite way to eat cabbage, but if that’s a little spicy, you could try one of my very favourite salads.
Pressed Vegetables – It’s kind of like a quickie kimchi/pickled vege salad. Great for you as the raw veges have all those great live digestive enzymes, and sooo delicious. I love eating this, it is fresh, still a bit crunchy and super good for you. I use cabbage and carrots for a simple version, but you can use just about any veges. If you don’t have umeboshi vinegar, use apple cider vinegar, or rice wine vinegar, or even lemon juice, just use something! and let me know what you think. There’s a fancier recipe here.
And perhaps the most important thing of all, keep your heart happy. I am not kidding, the heart is everything. I do believe your beautiful soul may reside there. When we do things that go against our true nature, when we don’t speak our truth, when we stay in situations that are damaging to us, when we mix with people who no longer fit with our beliefs and convictions, our hearts ail. And when the heart ails, the immune system ails.
Eat good food, get lot’s of exercise, love lots, hug lots, do yoga, do stuff you love, be with people you love.
Please note: All yoga poses are not safe for everybody, and some people are allergic to yellow spices. Always consult your doctor before beginning yoga or any exercise programme, and before taking herbal supplements.
The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease”. – Thomas Edison