Top 10 tips to avoid illness over winter

It's winter, it's cold, and we need to start looking after ourselves to avoid illness, and what better way to do it than to give your body, and your mind a boost.  

  1. One of the easiest and most effective ways of boosting the digestive fire is to eat fresh ginger. Place a few strips of thinly sliced ginger into a bowl with the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of rock salt. Eat a slice about 15 minutes before meals to stimulate your digestive enzymes.
  2. Get herbal man - Trikatu and triphala are Ayurvedic herbal formulas known for boosting metabolism, stimulating digestion, and cleaning out the body. You can find them at places like Whole Foods or online through Bayan Botanicals.
  3. Bowls of soupy goodness - One of the best and easiest ways to feel great while lightening up during the winter months is to eat more soup, particularly at night. Make lunch your largest and heaviest meal, and enjoy a steamy bowl of brothy barley vegetable soup at night. Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to the soup while cooking. Turmeric helps purify the blood, helps stimulate digestion, and reduces kapha in the body.
  4. Spice up your life - Try to incorporate more black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger and mustard seeds into your meal preparation. These powerful belly medicines help remove toxins from the body and promote digestive enzymes in the gut.
  5. More greens, less cake - During the winter months, we need to eat foods that are slightly drying and bitter. These two tastes balance the heavy, cold, wetness of the season, and the foods associated with it such as red meat, coffee, cheese, wheat, sugar, and wine. Instead, indulge in delicious and nutritious dandelion greens, arugula, spinach, amaranth, barley, and pomegranate, which have both dry and bitter flavours.
  6. Get out in the elements - Breathe deeply as you take a daily 30-minute brisk walk outdoors. Move your body and let the sun shine on your skin.
  7. Lube up - Speaking of skin, if indoor heating leaves you looking like dry, cracked-desert earth, avoid hot showers, using lukewarm water instead, and perform abhyanga - a warm-oil massage, traditionally used to balance the vata element or the cold dryness that comes with the early winter. It is a lovely skin soother for any time you feel dry and parched. Using warmed organic sesame or sunflower oil, massage your entire body before you shower, rubbing it in well, and leaving it on for at least 20 minutes before taking a shower. You can add a few drops of a stimulating essential oil to the base oil for an extra pick-me-up such as holy basil, lemon grass, lavender and eucalyptus.
  8. Salute the Sun and the fire - Around this time of year, start incorporating more rhythmic flows like Sun Salutations into your yoga practice to help heat the body. Twists in particular will help stoke belly fire, and burn away sluggishness and lethargy. End your practice by meditating on a fire in your belly. Throw in any old grievances into this inner flame.
  9. Loosen the lymph - Sipping hot water throughout the day helps loosen and detoxify the lymphatic system, which tends to get sluggish during the winter months. Make tea by boiling water and then adding the following spices, allowing them to steep for at least 15 minutes before straining the water and drinking the tea: Digestive Booster – 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds. Winter Spice – 3 thin slices of fresh ginger, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, 2 black peppercorns, a pinch of cardamom.
  10. In house steam room - Make your own home detoxifying vapour cave to help clear congestion in your lungs, sinuses, and skin. Boil at least 2 quarts of water. Pour into a large bowl with a few drops of eucalyptus oil and cover with a towel. Place your head under the towel and inhale the hot vapours for at least 10 minutes. Follow with a good moisturiser.

These quick and easy steps can help you to feel a lot healthier and happier during winter!