While there is an endless depth to the ancient teachings of Ayurveda, there are some fundamental principles that are so beautiful in their simplicity, and perfectly relevant for us today; timeless wisdom.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurvedic medicine comes from ancient Vedic culture and has been practiced as the traditional medicine system of India for over 4000 years. It is often referred to as the sister science to Yoga. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means ‘The Science of Life’ or ‘The Knowledge of Living’ or ‘The Art of Longevity’.
Why do we Love it?
What I particularly love about Ayurveda is the way it describes simple ways of restoring and maintaining our health that emphasise being more in tune with ourselves and with nature. The best way I have found to maintain good health is to get back to basics and tune into myself and nature using this wisdom from Ayurveda.
How Can it Promote a Strong Immune System?
The underlying principle here is that a healthy digestive system is the MOST fundamental aspect underpinning wellness. There are many ways we can upset our digestion which results in poor health, lethargy, illness and poor immune strength e.g. stress, poor diet, lack of routine, bad sleep, poor breathing. But, thank goodness (!) using some of this simple, but profound wisdom, we can look after our digestion and have a hugely beneficial impact on our health.
Here are just 5 of the timeless wellness secrets that Ayurveda has to offer to keep us healthy, happy, immune-fit and full of energy.
Keep Stress in Check
- Hands down, stress is the single biggest disruptor to digestion and to our overall health.
- When stressed our body thinks we are in an emergency and operates as such, activating our Sympathetic Nervous System so we are on alert. This effectively shuts down our digestive system – not great if we operate like this most of the day, everyday.
- Notice when you are stressed, anxious, speedy. Slow down and breathe.
- Can you change anything about your life to reduce the amount of stress? If so, do it!
The Food you Choose
- All food is medicine but give preference to wholefoods, mostly vegetarian.
- Add herbs and mild spices to your cooking, they will aid the digestion of your food.
- Eat mostly warm, cooked food; not too much raw or cold food (it is harder to digest).
- Cook with good quality oil, especially Ghee!
- Don’t overeat! Aim to fill your stomach at each meal with: ½ food + ¼ liquid + ¼ empty (to allow for digestion). Overeating strains our digestion and can lead to accumulation of toxins.
What to Drink?
- Avoid too much caffeine, sugar, alcohol – too much has a depleting effect on your immune system.
- Drinking hot/warm water throughout the day has an amazing effect on digestion!
- The benefits of drinking herbal tea throughout the day and night are numerous! They are good for your digestion, immune strength, energy levels, toxin elimination and more. Try Tulsi, Ginger, Turmeric, Ashwagandha, Rose, Peppermint, mix it up!
- A little tip: If you’re looking to cut down your alcohol intake, drinking herbal teas is so incredibly effective at helping you through – have a range of different flavours so you don’t get bored.
Your Routine; yes you need a good one!
- As Dr Svoboda says: “The human organism loves routine and thrives when it is fed, exercised and rested regularly”.
- Try to get up and go to bed at similar times every day (early to bed, early to rise).
- Stick to meal times, eat the biggest meal at lunch (because when the sun is strongest, our digestion is strongest). This makes a big difference!
- Stay with the rhythms of the season – e.g. get up earlier in Summer with the sun.
- Exercise a little every day (but don’t over exercise).
- Create a good bedtime routine (try to eat at least 3 hours before bed to aid sleep).
- Stick to a good routine and you will notice the difference in your digestion, your quality of sleep and your energy levels.
- Check in with your breath throughout the day. Many of us spend most of the day doing shallow upper chest breathing. Quick, shallow breathing is said to contribute to aging, and is detrimental to physical and emotional wellbeing and balance.
- Taking regular, slow, deep diaphragmatic breaths can profoundly improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
- When the diaphragm contracts it pulls air into the lower lungs and activates parasympathetic nervous system function (rest and digest), whereas shallow breathing activates sympathetic nervous system function (fight or flight), reducing the function of digestion and immune function.
If we keep these 5 things in mind we are giving ourselves a huge helping hand in supporting a strong immune system. What better time than now to take a leaf or two out of these wise, ancient books?!
Frawley, D. (1999). Yoga and Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization.
Saraswati, N. (2009). Prana and Pranayama.
Svoboda, R.E. (1988) Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution.
The Mudita Institute https://muditainstitute.com/index.html