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How to improve digestion and immunity in winter

by Suguna Lorenzo, Health and Wellness Coach

women forming the shape of a heart with her hands on her stomach

Winter is here and oh baby, it's cold outside! This time of year can be challenging for some of us. Even if you love the cold, this season can put a strain on your health and energy levels. The food you eat has a direct impact on your digestion which plays a key role in your immune function. If you are not eating the right foods during this cold season it may result in low energy, moodiness or illness.

The ancient Indian healing practice of Ayurveda can help us understand how to optimize our eating habits for each season. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, there are three different types of energies that exist in everything and in everyone: Vata, Pita and Kapha. The key to your personal health lies in creating a harmonious balance between these energies in your body. Winter is the season of Vata which has the following characteristics: airy, dry, cold,irregular and sharp. Therefore you want to balance these Vata elements with the warmth and softness of Pita, and the moist, steady, grounded, attributes of Kapha.

It's ok if you find yourself eating a bit more in winter. Cold weather stimulates digestion and your body needs more filling, warming, and slightly richer types of food. These include cooked root vegetables (ie: winter squash, beets, turnips, carrots and yams) soups, stews, porridge, nuts, and pasta – NONO Pasta! Healthy fats are also important like ghee which is clarified butter. Avocado oil and sesame oil are good plant-based options too. Sweet, sour and salty flavors are optimal. Season your food with items such as garlic, onions, ginger, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.

Fruits and Vegetables all colors

Stay hydrated with warm liquids. Non-refrigerated water is better for your digestion than ice water. Avoid cold or dry foods like raw salads, raw fruit, cold cereal, dry snacks and ice cream. These foods are less nourishing in the winter. Some of these foods may be more appropriate for the summer when your body needs help cooling down. Not only is it important to be mindful about what you eat but when you eat. Having a basic routine around eating, sleeping and movement can help your body stay more balanced during the winter season. When your body is balanced it helps you feel healthy, happy and look great!

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