Flu: Five Things You Can Do to Support Your Immunity

With headlines reporting the spread of the flu, everyone is wondering how to stay well. And while health authorities race to develop vaccines for the specific strains, until then they can only advise us to avoid traveling to affected areas and to wash our hands frequently to avoid the spread of germs.

Yet there is so much more that we can do to build our immunity. In fact, the ancient science of Maharishi Ayurveda specializes in just this area: strengthening the body's natural defense systems. Even now, with this new virus testing our immune systems, there's time to fortify our resistance to colds and flu.

Immunity is closely linked with digestive strength. There is a theory of immunity in ayurveda called the beej-bhumi theory, which means "seed and land." In this case, the body is analogous to the land, and infections or viruses are like seeds.

If your body is filled with toxins (called ama in ayurveda), the infection will find fertile ground for spreading disease, just as land that is suited to a particular plant will sprout many seeds. Symptoms of ama are stiff joints, sluggish digestion, dullness or headaches, and fatigue. If your digestion is strong and there is lightness and strength in the body, then the seeds of infection will not be able to take hold.

Here are five ways to help your immune system shine:

1. Eat Lighter in Spring.

Everyone is more susceptible to respiratory problems during spring. Spring is called Kapha season in ayurveda, when the wet, cool weather can lead to a buildup of Kapha dosha, creating more heavy, cool and lethargic tendencies in the mind and body.

Follow the ayurvedic dietary and lifestyle guidelines for Kapha season. This is the time to eat light (think hot, spicy soups and cooked greens), and exercise (to rev up the digestion and shed unwanted pounds). It's also the time the body is flooded with toxins that have built up over the winter, so spring detox is a must. Drink hot water throughout the day and take Organic Digest Tone, a mild and non-habit-forming herbal laxative, to keep your body's waste-removal systems moving.

2. Eat Immunity-Boosting Foods.

There are certain ayurvedic foods that build ojas, a quality associated with immunity and a feeling of lightness and bliss in the body. In general, immunity-boosting foods include those that are fresh, organic, easy to digest, pure and wholesome. These include whole grains and fresh, organic vegetables and fruits. Light dairy products, such as ghee (clarified butter), and lassi, a probiotic digestion-enhancing drink made with water and fresh yogurt, also enhance immunity.

During spring, incorporate more spices in your diet to stimulate your digestion and raise immunity. The quick-start way to do this is to flavor your soups and veggies with Organic Kapha Churna (spice mixture), or start your day with a cup of Organic Kapha Tea.

Here's an Immunity-Boosting Spice Mix you can make at home.

3. Avoid Immunity-Busting Foods.

If you want to increase your immunity, stay away from hard-to-digest foods. Commercially processed items, as well as canned, frozen, and packaged foods, are old and difficult to digest, so they weaken immunity. Leftovers, fast foods, 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.

4. Get Plenty of Rest.

Lifestyle also impacts immunity. Staying up late, working at night, eating at irregular times, and sleeping during the day can all affect the digestion and body rhythms — and thus compromise the immune system. That's why it's important to follow the Maharishi Ayurveda daily routine, rising early in the morning, (before 6 a.m. is ideal) and going to bed before 10:00 p.m.

Slumber Time Therapeutic Aroma can help you fall asleep at night. During flu season, use Sniffle Free Aroma to stimulate immunity.

5. Power Up with Herbal Supplements Before You're Sick.

Maharishi Amrit Kalash has been shown by research to be 1,000 times more effective than Vitamin C and E as an antioxidant. It is traditionally known to create ojas, the biochemical indicator of high immunity.

"Once I started taking Maharishi Amrit Kalash regularly, I just stopped getting colds," a 45-year-old woman from Iowa said. "And I had been having deep bronchial infections, lasting two or three months every spring before then. It was something of a miracle, to get my life back."

Bio-Immune is another powerful product. It helps to clear away toxins and boosts the digestion and liver functions, and it provides much-needed immune system protection in times of infectious epidemics.

Sarah, an 81-year-old Illinois resident, had fallen sick with the flu twice one autumn. "At my age, when you get the flu, it can takes weeks to recover," she says. "When my daughter suggested the Bio-Immune supplement, I was skeptical. I mean, I had had my flu shots and they hadn't helped. But the Bio-Immune worked. I have now gone through three flu seasons without getting even a sniffle."

Premium Amla Berry is known to strengthen the lungs and immunity. A powerful source of Vitamin C, it contains the amalaki, or Indian Gooseberry that is also found in Maharishi Amrit Kalash. This amazing fruit is considered a powerful rasayana, or ayurvedic elixir, all by itself.

6. And If You Do Fall Sick?

Stay home and avoid exposing others. Drink plenty of hot liquids, get lots of bed rest and follow all of the preventive precautions to help move through your flu or cold quicker.

At the slightest tickle in the throat, take Clear Throat to prevent it from becoming sore. This great-tasting syrup has the right combination of spices and herbs to clear toxins and mucus from the sinuses and lungs, offering immediate relief for a cough and helping to prevent bronchial infection. Sniffle Free, available in tablets and as a tea, helps stop nasal drip, lubricates the lungs to relieve dry cough, and helps stoke digestive strength. It is a powerful help in resisting nasal and respiratory infection from the common cold.

With the help of these ayurvedic guidelines, we wish everyone a healthy spring season.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.