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Fall is here, which means cold and flu season is also on its way. But no, you don’t necessarily have to take your sick days this winter. These Ayurvedic tips and techniques can help you support your immune system and avoid nasty bugs throughout the colder months.
1. Eat well, be well.
John Douillard, co-leader of Yoga Journal’s Ayurveda 101 course and founder of LifeSpa.com, says fermented foods like cheese, yogurt, and sauerkraut support gut microbial immunity during the winter months. Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner Talya Lutzker also suggests consuming superfoods like black pepper, coriander seed, garlic, ginger, and plenty of Vitamin C (think oranges, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lemons, and strawberries).
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2. Give yourself an Ayurvedic self-massage every day.
Self-massage (abhyanga) with immunity-boosting oils like sesame oil calms the nervous system and reduces stress, which can help support your immunity, Douillard says. Learn how to do abhyanga. Douillard also recommends immunity-boosting Ayurvedic practices like nasya and oil pulling.
3. Get on your mat (and do some inversions).
Tias Little, director of Prajna Yoga, believes supported and inverted yoga poses increase the circulation of lymph and drain germs from your body, Elizabeth Winter reports in this Yoga Journal article. Whenever your head is below your heart—such as in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) or Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand)—lymph moves into the respiratory organs, where germs often enter the body, Little says. When you come back to an upright position, gravity drains the lymph and sends it through your lymph nodes for cleansing, he explains.
Bonus: Zinc Gluconate May Prevent Colds Altogether!
Research shows that zinc gluconate or zinc acetate lozenges can cut the duration of cold symptoms in half, if administered within the first 24 hours of cold symptoms. “Administration of zinc lozenges was associated with reduced duration and severity of cold symptoms, especially coughs,” state the authors of the study, headed by A.S. Prasad of Wayne State University. Another study found that taking zinc lozenges on a daily basis may even prevent you from getting a cold to begin with.
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