Winter: the best time to improve your health

  • Shikha Sharma, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Dec 21, 2014 16:03 IST

If you’re coughing and blowing your nose while you read this, you probably think I’m crazy. But it’s true. Winter is the best time of the year to improve your health and pump up your immunity. Here’s why:

* Your digestive function is at its best, assimilating more foods and foods that are richer in nutrients, such as dry fruits and nuts.

* Being outdoors in the sunshine raises levels of vitamin D which makes your bones stronger. If you have weak bones and poor skeletal strength, try to make the most of the sun.

* This is the best time for ayurvedic body massages that improve blood circulation, muscle strength and overall health.

Courses and treatments

* Abhayangam with a mix of herbal oils including the warming til (sesame) oil. This improves blood circulation, stimulates blood flow and helps assimilation of nutrients. It also releases toxins accumulated in the muscles. This treatment is recommended for joint aches, improving skin tone and tissue flexibility.

* Medicated steam – taken through the nose and mouth as part of ayurveda’s nasyam therapy. Steam prevents or improves ailments like sinusitis, lung congestion, dry cough and headaches; improves the complexion and is good for voice clarity.

Skin is the largest channel of cleansing and detoxification because of its pores. During steam therapy, the head is always covered with a cool cloth. Ayurveda believes the sign of good health is when the head remains cool and the feet remain warm.

* Exercise in the sun. The major reason of weak bones is a low level of vitamin D and poor calcium absorption by the body. Simply consuming calcium does not lead to good bone health. Calcium is only absorbed when gravity-based exercises and vitamin D are combined.

* Ayurveda recognises three types of immunity: inherent, seasonal and acquired. Only acquired immunity is in our control, so since the digestive system is stronger in winter, this is the time to concentrate on nutrition.

To increase immunity, consume chyawanprash, nuts and oil seeds (flaxseeds, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, etc), dry fruits (dates, raisins, figs, etc), and organic ghee (ghee made from the milk of free-range cows fed with chemical and hormone-free foods).

From HT Brunch, December 21

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