Often we think about boosting our immune system during cold and flu season, but throughout the entire year things come up that can throw us off-kilter and create havoc to our system and energy levels. Today I’d like to share some strategies that I use with my clients to help them stay healthy and energized 365 days a year.
Ojas, Ama and Toxins
In Ayurveda, we refer to the essences that help keep our immune system strong as Ojas. When we eat healthy, nourishing, organic, non-GMO food, the nutrients are absorbed in our body and the end product of those wonderful essences creates Ojas. This then helps us complete our digestion and create radiant skin and good health, as well as instilling a sense of happiness and well-being.
If the food we eat is full of pesticides, or if we don’t eat the right food for our body type, we can build up Ama, which are toxins. The goal is to always try to keep your body as free from Ama as possible because it’s so debilitating and can cause illness.
The term “toxins” in Ayurveda doesn’t only refer to chemicals like pesticides. It also refers to toxins we take in through our environment, things that we see and hear. This might look like a violent television show or music with aggressive or sexually explicit lyrics. Toxins, or Ama, are anything that assaults our sense of wellness and balance.
When our system is under attack or working very hard, our bodies become fertile ground for illness. The goal is to keep the seeds of disease from sprouting in the first place by maintaining low levels of Ama and high levels of Ojas.
One of the most basic and important things to look at in building Ojas is food choice. It is optimal to choose intelligent, immune-boosting types of food that are easy to digest. When I say “intelligent,” I mean fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lite, fresh, organic, non-GMO dairy products.
When you choose foods that are unaltered by genetic modification and pesticides, you give your body a great foundation to absorb the nutrients. These foods help us wake up the intelligent nature of our bodies and create Ojas.
The foods to stay away from are processed, canned, frozen or packaged goods. They are the hardest to digest and create Ama in our digestive tract since they are so difficult to break down. When food stays in our colon, it petrifies and can be harmful to our immune system and deplete our energy.
Preservatives, pesticides and GMO’s deplete foods of their intelligence. When we consume them, they deplete our intelligence on a cellular level and set us up for illness and disease.
When cooking, it’s important to be mindful of how long different foods need to be cooked. Steaming vegetables can make them more easily digestible for the body, but when they start to lose their natural color they’ve been cooked for too long. Overcooking reduces the immune-producing part of the food, depleting it of important vitamins and minerals.
Meat does need to be cooked to a certain temperature in order to kill harmful bacteria, but it should also be eaten in moderation, as it can be difficult for some body types to digest.
Stay tuned! Next week, I’m going to talk about how cooking with spices, eating certain fruits, and essential oils can all help boost the immune system.
In the meantime, if you want to take a more personal look at boosting immunity for your body type, click here for some great starting tips.