Health experts from around the world suggest, all the different seasons in the year call for certain changes to one's diet and lifestyle during those times. Ayurveda relates specific doshas to specific seasons and winters are associated with the Vata and Kapha dosha. This follows that a winter diet is one that would help balance or regulate the Vata and Kapha doshas in the body and strengthen immunity. Sahaj (hereditary), Kalaj (seasonal), Yuktikrit (established) are the 3 types of immunity recognised by Ayurveda. During winters, we would want to strengthen our Yuktikrit immunity through a regular and balanced diet and lifestyle, and systemic practice of yoga.
According to Ayurveda, there are certain food groups that are unsuitable for consumption during winters, like bitter, astringent and pungent tasting foods. Cold foods and drinks like ice cream should be avoided. Incorporating sweet, salty and sour foods, as well as warm, well-cooked food in our winter diet is a great idea to keep the digestive system functioning properly. Consumption of fats, oils as well as fresh dairy products is also recommended. This is because the cold weather leads to the body attempting to retain heat and preserve, thereby strengthening the digestive system. Ayurveda talks about digestive fire or Jatharagni that becomes increasingly strong during winters, thereby enabling the easy digestion of rich fatty foods and dairy products. Other food items that can be consumed during winters are a variety of legumes like kidney beans (rajma), black beans (urad dal) and jaggery (gud), considered to increase the warmth in one's body, and grains like wheat and rice. Hot beverages, stews and soups, lukewarm water and different kinds of tea- especially ginger tea- are also considered very beneficial.
Foods to be incorporated into the winter diet according to Ayurveda can be broadly categorised into:
1.Good fats and natural oils:
The health of the digestive system is in large parts responsible for the immunity of one's body. Ayurveda recommends adding natural dairy products, fats and oils (sesame or mustard oil), A2 ghee to our diet in winters in order to retain heat and facilitate the digestive process of the body. Winters may lead to our body becoming lethargic due to a loss of heat and the only way to remedy that is to have a rich and warmth-inducing diet that incorporates good fats in it.
Also Read: 9 Benefits Of Ghee You May Not Have Known
2. Warm, well-cooked winter vegetables:
Winters are a wonderful time to have steaming hot broths, soups, stews, etc., made simply with delicious seasonal vegetables like carrots, beets, parsnips and leafy vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, etc. Pre-cooked or ready to eat meals should be avoided as far as possible and as mentioned earlier, warm, well-cooked food is an absolute necessity in winters, in order to regulate the vata dosha in our bodies.
3. Dry fruits:
It is no mystery why people from places known to record freezing temperatures during winters have dry fruits featured as a permanent part of their diet. Dry-fruits have a myriad of health benefits- they help to keep the mind sharp and improve memory, but they also help keep one warm from within. Nuts and fruits like cashews, pistachios, dates, almonds, walnuts and the oil they secrete have amazing health benefits and keep the body's spirits up during the winters.
Author Bio: Dr Partap Chauhan is an Ayurvedacharya and Director at Jiva Ayurveda.
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