Influenza is another name for the flu. The flu is a virus with symptoms of fever, cough, mucus, chills, fatigue and an achey body. According to 32 years of data, the CDC (Center of Disease Control) indicates that flu season peaks from December to March. February is the highest flu incidence.  Seasonal vaccines are recommended by the CDC to prevent the bug. Since 2010, they have recommended everyone over the age of six months old get influenza vaccination. Flu shots have become readily available at the supermarket and drug stores as well as doctor's offices, clinics and offices.  However, vaccinations are not completely fool-proof because the influenza virus adapts and changes.
One of the best methods of influenza prevention is building the body's own defense system or immunity! In Ayurveda, this is referred to as ojas.
Below are five simple diet and lifestyle recommendations to build ojas and ward off the flu this season:
1. Strong Digestion - The digestive fire is called agni in Ayurveda. Strong agni is imperative for good health and high levels of ojas. Ojas is the byproduct of perfect digestion. When agni is weak, the digestive fire is unable to process food fully which creates toxins or ama. Stoke your digestive fire by eating when you are hungry and not eating when you are not. Trust your body's intelligence!
2. Diet - Eat whole foods as much as possible. As a general rule of thumb, cooked foods are easier to digest, but listen to YOUR body. Gas, bloating and indigestion are all signs that digestion may not be strong enough or that the food may not be best for your dosha or mind-body type. Familiarize yourself with your dosha as this guides food choices that are supportive to your constitution. You can take a free dosha test through the Shri Wellness website. Regardless of your dosha, it is best to avoid anything packaged, processed, dyed and refined. Opt for freshly prepared meals that are full of prana or life energy.
3. Sleep - According to Charaka, "Happiness and misery, growth and wasting, strength and weakness, virility and sterility, knowledge and ignorance, life and death all depend on sleep." Sleep is considered a main pillar of health along with digestion, elimination and purification. However, in our society, sleep is many times the first thing to go in order to make room for work, socialization, exercise, etc. However, it really should be prioritized! Proper sleep promotes detoxification and repair of the body as well as a reset for the mind.
4. Immune Supporting Herbs - Chyawanprash and amrit kalash are quintessential formulas to support immunity and longevity in Ayurveda. Both of these classic Ayurvedic pastes are a combination of various foods, herbs and spices. Consider taking 1 tsp each morning on an empty stomach to support immunity. You can eat alone or enjoy in water or water. If on medications, check with a physician before consuming. I like Lotus Blooming Herbs for Chyawanprash. Amrit kalash can be ordered through MAPI.
5. Regular Seasonal Cleansing - As mentioned above, purification is a pillar of health. As a byproduct of existing as living beings on our planet, we are sure to accumulate ama from the environment and foods we eat. For women, the menstrual cycle is a great monthly cleanse. For women and men, consider seasonal cleansing or panchakarma at the change of season. Ayurveda is a science of longevity, and panchakarma has been practiced for thousands of years to support seasonal detox and cleansing. Ayurvedic cleansing releases physical ama, mental ama and emotional ama. It is a powerful means to release and renew for the upcoming season.