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Many Ayurvedic practices are incredibly simple, and can seamlessly be added to our everyday lives to support our overall wellbeing.
Ayurveda is focused on preventative health – doing the good stuff now, so that we can avoid health challenges later on in life. When we’re young and have general good health and wellness, it can be difficult to understand why we should be thinking that our health will be any different or poorer as we get older.
Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic health educator, Dylan Smith, founder of Vital Veda clinic shares some immune-supporting Ayurvedic practices to support our health now, and into the future.
In Ayurveda, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to which foods will suit our bodies, however, Dylan says that gut health is crucial for a strong immune system, and in Ayurveda, our digestive fire, known as agni, not only digests and metabolises food, but it’s also the transformative fire that permeates all over our body, not just in our gut.
Our inner fire (agni) transforms and metabolises pollutants, pathogens, sensory stimuli and anything foreign that meets our body.
Here are some general dietary and lifestyle recommendations that Dylan says enhances digestive health and supports immune health:
Get into the habit of using kitchen spices daily in your food.
“When we cook with spices, it enkindles your digestive fire to effectively digest the food and any other external factors that may infiltrate the body,” Dylan says.
Most spices also help to metabolise any undigested toxic material that is lodged in the body. Spices that help achieve this are cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fresh ginger, turmeric, garlic and cloves. Curry or kitchari anyone?
Described as the most holy plant on Earth in the ancient Vedic texts, Dylan says Tulsi (a.k.a. Holy Basil) is still revered today as ‘holier than holy’. The benefits of Tulsi were originally undiscovered because the plant was so sacred people wouldn’t ingest it out of reverence and respect. Tulsi as used in traditional Ayurvedic Medicine has properties to help relieve cough, aid digestion and support gut health.
“The tulsi plant is full of Prana (life force), this is why famously its main use is for the respiratory system. It is great for cough, and immune health,” says Dylan.
Tulsi can be used fresh (you can buy Tulsi seeds and grow your own!), or can be made into a tea.
“Ayurveda not only share what food to eat, but also how to eat,” say Dylan. Local foods harvested, prepared and eaten as close to the source and as fresh as possible, will maximise prana in the individual, and support increased immune function.
While packaged, frozen and processed foods are convenient, Dylan says they lack prana, according to Ayurveda, and often leave the body feeling sluggish and dull, and can increase our vulnerability to health challenges.
“Eat fresh – you deserve the best!” says Dylan.
The main time that your immune system regenerates is at night between 10pm-2am. For this reason, Dylan says it is best to be asleep by 10 pm and have fully digested your food so that your body’s biological attention can be directed toward regenerating your immune system, rather than digesting dinner.
Go light at night, to give your body the best chance to do its thing while you’re sleeping.
“The majority of the population are dehydrated,” says Dylan. Dehydration deprives the body of the energy it needs for immune function and resistance. “Properly hydrating means drinking ‘real’ water – spring water or filtered and restructured water, rather than drinking “tap liquid’,” says Dylan. Sipping hot water is a powerful deep hydration technique, while drinking cold water constricts the channels.
Applying oil on your body and giving yourself a massage is a daily ritual in Ayurveda called “Abhyanga” (Ayurvedic oil massage).
“The practice is done in the morning or in the evening, before having a shower,” says Dylan.
He explains that self-abhyanga is a unique form of “movement”, and even exercise, as it improves our muscle tone and cardio-vascular health.
“Also, when you combine Abhyanga with other exercises, the benefits are even more enhanced, as you will experience greater recovery and regeneration from your workout,” he says. While this act of self-care might feel divine, Dylan also explains that Ayurvedic oil massage stimulates the lymphatic system and its drainage. Abhyanga also enhances blood circulation, balances our nervous system and increases self-care and self-love – which all support greater immune health.
Dylan Smith is a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and holistic health educator based in Sydney, Australia, where he runs and operates the Vital Veda clinic for patients and for those who love to nourish themselves with precious herbal elixirs.
Aimed at uncovering the root cause of ailments, Dylan shares wisdom through his podcast, teaching programs and travels the world to share his holistic passion, to teach patients to effortlessly integrate foundational techniques into their daily life so they can thrive.
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