Indian Winter Diets As Per Ayurveda Health

Understand winters and what our body requires

Winter gets a bad rap. It's called the flu season, the cold season, and the season when contagious diseases abound. Yet according to Maharishi Ayurveda, considers winter to be the king of all seasons. Winter is actually the best season to improve immunity. It's not a weakening season if you know how to strengthen immunity.

In Ayurvedic terms, immunity is connected with the digestion. When digestion is strong and appetite is good, then immunity is strengthened. Whatever weakens digestion weakens immunity. It's that simple. Besides diet and lifestyle, there are other factors that determine your immunity quotient. These include your heredity, the season of the year and your age. It is even possible to develop an established level of immunity that remains stable throughout all the ups and downs of life.

Winter is the season when nature is ready to nurture us. Due to the digestive level being very high, people feel hungrier, and can actually digest food better in winter, thus nourishing their bodies more.

For this reason, it's more important that people eat immunity-boosting foods in winter, and that they follow the Ayurvedic daily routine. This should be the regimen in winter, to nourish the mind and body by getting more rest and eating well. Other seasons are better for purifying, but winter is the time to build up and nourish all systems--the hair, the nails, and the skin. It's also the best season for taking Rasayanas and herbal products, because the high level of digestion helps people to assimilate them better.

Immunity-boosting Foods and Lifestyle Tips for Winter

Eat fresh, organic, easy to digest, pure and wholesome food to increase your immunity.
Your diet should include:
  • Fresh, organic milk and yogurt, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and ghee (clarified butter).
  • Avoid commercially processed foods, as well as canned, frozen, and packaged foods are old and difficult to digest, so they weaken immunity. Leftovers, foods grown with chemicals, and foods laced with preservatives tax the digestive system and clog the channels of circulation, creating a sluggish, compromised immune system.
  • Warm, home-cooked, unctuous foods are ideal, as long as they are not deep-fried and are cooked with easy-to-digest oils such as ghee or olive oil. Avoid cold or ice-cold foods, as cold foods and drinks douse the digestive fire and decreases immunity.
  • Doing a daily self-massage (abhyanga) will also help enhance immunity. Self-massage stimulates all of the organs of the body, flushes out impurities, and builds resistance to stress and disease.
  • Drink plenty of hot water through the day. Warm water helps flush toxins out of the body through the urine. To derive healing benefits from the water you drink, add detoxifying spices to the water.
  • Spices: Ginger, turmeric, coriander, fennel and fenugreek help open up the channels of the body and support the flushing of toxins via the skin, urinary tract, colon and liver. Add spices to soups and dahls as they cook, or sauté the spices in Ghee and add to dishes when the cooking process is completed.
  • Detoxify your body

The Best Winter Foods

Try these if you want to improve your immune system for the big freeze…
  • Eat oystersOysters may be renowned for boosting the sex drive, but these slimy molluscs are also ideal if you’re looking to improve your immune system. Oysters are crammed with zinc, which can really enhance your immunity by helping white blood cells reproduce more quickly. Zinc also strengthens antibodies, making them more efficient at warding off infection.
  • Eat carrotsCarrots aren’t just for rabbits, you know. Try and munch a few if you’re looking to avoid the curse of a nasty cough or cold. Carrots are full of beta-carotene which bolsters the number of white blood cells in the immune system, as well as T cells. So if you’re looking to go to war with an evil disease microbe, it might well be time you crunched on a bit of orange…
  • Eat yoghurtJudging from their frequently bad press, you might assume that all forms of bacteria are out to get you. Thankfully, this couldn’t be further from the truth. ‘Good’ bacteria is great for regulating the immune system, by increasing its antibodies and preventing the rise of pathogenic organisms like salmonella and E.coli. Many yoghurts include a high volume of ‘good’ bacteria so if you want to develop your flagging immune system, a few quick spoonfuls could really help you out!
  • Eat spinach and leafy greensSpinach is excellent for boosting the body’s immunity from illness. Spinach and other leafy foods like kale and collard are high in folate which is vital in preventing DNA and blood vessel damage. It may not be the most appealing dish to come home to of an evening, but a plate of spinach really could keep you healthy through the dark winter months ahead.
  • Pomegranate: Pomegranate seeds are high in polyphenols, plant chemicals that fight inflammation. Mix the seeds into oatmeal for more flavor and crunch.
  • Brussels Sprouts: Remove the outer layer of leaves, trim the stems, and toss with olive oil and sea salt. Place them on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degree-F until they're nicely browned.
  • Kiwifruit:One kiwi contains about 100 milligrams of immunity-boosting vitamin C. Add kiwi slices to a spinach salad.
  • Guava: One cup of raw guava contains more than 8,500 micrograms of the antioxidant lycopene, which may help prevent coronary artery disease.
  • Kale: To temper kale's bitter taste, gently sauté it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic, and pine nuts.
  • Brussels sprouts: Brussels sprouts contain nearly 50 percent more vitamin C -- a powerful antioxidant and potential cold-fighter -- than oranges. Brussels sprouts also contain nitrogen compounds called “indoles” that have been linked to anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory actions. Brussels sprouts are also a great source of folate, fiber, vitamin K, and magnesium.
  • Grapefruit: Tart and tangy with a hint of sugary sweetness, grapefruit are the perfect winter fruit. Grapefruit are not just loaded with vitamin C – they are also packed with lycopene, an antioxidant also found in green tea. Lycopene appears to have anti-cancer properties and has recently been associated with reducing the risk of prostate cancer in men.
  • Cabbage: A cruciferous veggie that comes in a handful of different varieties, the cabbage -- particularly the red cabbage -- is a winter nutrition powerhouse. Packed with vitamins A, B6, C and K, red cabbage is probably best known for its anti-inflammatory action, which is driven primarily by glutamine (an amino acid that’s also thought to boost the immune system) and anthocyanins (the plant pigments that give red cabbage its color). Served raw or boiled, this versatile veggie has been associated with the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Rapini (or broccoli rabe): Rapini is a bitter-tasting, herb-like veggie that is less popular than its distant relative, the turnip, but its nutritional content is just as impressive. Rapini comes fully loaded with vitamins A, C, K, and folate, and also contains a healthy complement of minerals like calcium, manganese and even iron. Rapini is also a great source of lutein, an antioxidant thought to protect the eyes from oxidative damage, reducing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Sweet potatoes: Typically orange- or yellow-fleshed, sweet potatoes offer all the versatility of white potatoes with incomparable nutritional content. With very few calories and virtually no fat, just one medium sweet potato contains 0.14 ounces of fiber plus 0.07 ounces of vegetable protein. But sweet potatoes also stand out for their vitamin and mineral content. Alongside all that fiber is loads of vitamins A, C and B6, as well as potassium and manganese. Sweet!
  • Leeks: Like onions or garlic, leeks are part of the allium family of vegetables, a family that’s rich in disease-fighting phytonutrients as well as vitamins and minerals. More specifically, leeks are loaded with antioxidant polyphenols like kaempferol that are thought to protect blood vessels. With a healthy complement of vitamins A, B6, C, K, folate and iron, leeks rival other allium family members in nutrient content.
  • Turnip greens: Everyone's heard of turnips, but can you honestly say that you knew their leaves were often sold and eaten separately? If not, then it’s time you got acquainted with turnip greens, because these pungent leaves are just what the doctor ordered. One cup alone provides over 100% of the daily value (DV) of vitamins A and K, 55% of the DV of vitamin C, 27% of folate, and around 10% of calcium and manganese. No wonder turnip greens rank among the strongest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods you could eat.
Detoxifying Tea
  • Boil two quarts of water in the morning.
  • Add 1/4 t. whole cumin
  • 1/2 t. whole coriander
  • 1/2 t. whole fennel to the water and let steep for ten minutes with the lid on.
  • Strain out the spices and pour the water into a thermos.
  • Sip throughout the day.
  • Make a new batch of tea every morning.

Useful herbs & spices best to beat the winter chill

1. Mint: A piping cup of Mint tea is really effective in opening up clogged nose and ease sore throats because mint is one of the best sources of naturally occurring menthol. Having it quite often in winter season reduces the need for medications for pulmonary congestion. Menthol from mint also helps in bringing down the fever. Mint is also beneficial for the stomach. The best way to consume mint is by using chopped mint leaves for garnishing or by having mint tea.

2. Ginger: The warm and spicy taste of ginger makes it a chef’s delight all around the world. For long people have used it to improve digestion, moreover, various studies have also verified its effectiveness against nausea. Ginger also has tremendous antiviral as well as antimicrobial properties, so having ginger will definitely help you get well soon whenever you feel sick. Again ginger is best in its raw form; hence topping any meal with minced ginger will do wonders for you health in the winter season. You can also enjoy hot ginger tea in this cold whether to soothe the chill (Boil one teaspoon of crushed ginger in water, strain the water, add honey and sip it like tea while its still hot.) Just like garlic, talk to your doctor is you are about to undergo a surgery or if you are on any prescribed drugs. Herbal ginger tablets are also quite easily available.

3. Chili Peppers:
Every time I eat chiles I get those watery-eyed and runny nose as well as strange sensation in my throat. Chili peppers have anti inflammatory attributes, they may be successful in providing you with relief when you feel kind of achy. Next time you are having soup add little chiles to it, the runny nose will help you get rid of blocked mucous.

4. Garlic: This is one herb that has been labeled as a panacea in each and every herbal journal I have come across. Garlic has loads and loads of healing properties, but its best known for its anti cold properties. Lots of studies have proved it time and again that Garlic has antiviral, antifungal as well as antiprotozoal attributes. Garlic is best consumed raw, cooking it reduces its medicinal properties. Chopped garlic can used to whip up delicious sauces and as seasoning over most dishes. You can also add garlic to the medicinal chicken soup for multiple benefits. Garlic is best consumed raw, however, if you find the smell unpleasant you can also take herbal garlic supplements. But always keep in mind to consult your doctor if you are about to undergo a surgery or you are taking anticoagulant drugs.

5. Chamomile: This is a little flowered herb that comforts the stomach and unwinds the mind, body and soul. It has active mind-musculus calming properties, thus it aids in easing aches in winters. So this winter, try giving your immunity a shot in the arm - and spend the cold season staying warm and healthy.
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