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5 Tips for Immunity and Digestive Health in Spring

Photo ℅ William and Susan Brinson

Spring is a time of celebration, but it’s also uniquely challenging for our bodies. It’s the perfect season for a detox, but it’s taxing for our digestive and immune systems due to its predominantly cool and wet qualities. On top of that, spring weather is highly variable. One day it’s clear, dry, and gloriously warm. The next day the rain blows in and the temperature drops.

So the question is: How do we stay healthy, balanced, and strong in such a dynamic season?

According to Ayurveda, the answer lies in the link between our immunity and our digestive/gut health. The stronger and healthier our digestive capacity is, the more resilient our immune system will be (and vise versa).

5 tips

With that in mind, here are some 5 tips for enhancing both:

  1. Eat foods that you can easily digest. Undigested food matter (called ama in Ayurveda) lingers in the body, becoming an acidic sludge that causes chronic inflammation. This, in turn, lowers immunity.We recommend our Bold Kitchari–it’s easy to digest and perfect for spring. Add a handful of kale, asparagus, radish or broccoli for extra digestive support.
  2. Incorporate probiotic and prebiotic foods into your diet. We recommend fresh homemade yogurt, buttermilk, and fermented foods. You can also take a good probiotic supplement for about three months. The friendly bacteria in these foods and supplements fight and destroy the bad microorganisms that can colonize the gut.Our Cultured Ghee is one of the best prebiotic foods on the planet–it’s a natural fertilizer for the friendly bacteria and it helps repair the gut lining. Both of these actions support a stronger immune system.
  3. Incorporate fresh ginger or Ayurvedically cured Sunthi Ginger into your cooking. Ginger is another powerful antibacterial and antiviral herb that can destroy the “bad guys” while not bothering the good, friendly bacteria. Choose Vaidya Mishra’s special Sunthi Ginger if you tend to have fiery, sharp digestion. 
  4. Get quality sleep, ideally going to bed by 10 pm. Ayurveda has been stressing this point for thousands of years, but there is also a lot of modern research that shows that lack of sleep weakens the immune system.
  5. Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily. Whether it is fast walking, yoga, stretching or any other workout that suits you, move daily. This keeps the lymphatic system (one of the body’s “garbage disposal” for toxins) in good working order.

Looking for more ideas?

There is an excellent recipe for Immune Boost Tea in Divya’s upcoming book, Joy of Balance: An Ayurvedic Guide to Cooking with Healing Ingredients. The cookbook will be released in the fall.

In the meantime, we carry Vaidya Mishra’s Immuno-Support Tea, which takes only 3 minutes to make.

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How to Detox this Spring

Spring is coming – and as we transition from the heaviness of winter to the busyness of summer, it’s the perfect time to consider a detox. That’s because spring is when our microchannels naturally expand and soften, making it easier for us to release the toxins that have built up in our system.

It also happens to be the season of bitter greens and other foods that support the liver – our primary detoxifying organ.

Sounds simple. Spring time = detox time, right? Not exactly.

Poke around the internet and you’ll notice that most detox regimens are based on juicing, fasting, colonics, and other highly restrictive diets. According to Ayurveda, these methods are often too harsh for our complex, delicate digestive systems. In fact, Divya compares them to blowing up a bomb in the body.

But we don’t need to blow up anything in order to detox. The body already has its own process for the elimination of toxins – we just need to support it with certain food and lifestyle changes. The nature of those changes depends on your unique body and your specific imbalances, which means we can’t possibly know the perfect protocol for you. But with that in mind, here are some general protocols and guidelines to help you plan your next detox.

The Kitchari Fast

This simple, gentle detox program relies on the classic Ayurvedic one-pot meal: 

For one to five days, whenever you feel hungry, eat only freshly cooked kitchari and drink only herbal teas and hot water. Refrain from eating or drinking anything else. This simple, gentle fast helps reset your digestive system. 

How to prepare for a detox

  • Understand the different types of toxins and their sources. This article has a great explanation of toxins, and detoxing in general
  • As much as possible, reduce your exposure to these toxins.
  • Make sure your physical and vibrational channels are open. Eating well, exercise, meditation, and making time for fun are all excellent ways to prepare your system.
  • As a pre-cleanse, choose balancing foods that you can digest well; avoid foods that clog your channels or disrupt your body’s natural intelligence. If you need help understanding which foods are right for you, we recommend this book by Divya.
  • Consider seeking the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner.
  • Follow your detox with proper nutritional and lifestyle practices that support rejuvenation and balance.

When you should NOT detox

Although it’s a safe and natural process, there are times when it’s best to avoid a detox protocol.

Do NOT detox if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • Inflammatory intestinal/bowel disease
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Exhaustion or weakness
  • A consistently stressful schedule
  • Winter or summer seasons
  • Serious illness, taking medications, etc.
  • A lack of time to adequately prepare your body
  • Your menstrual period

That’s it. We hope this helps you find your perfect way to cleanse and reset. When in doubt, contact an Ayurvedic practitioner who can help you develop a personalized protocol. And remember, the body already knows how to do this work – it just needs a little support.

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Managing Your Sweet Tooth

Photo c/o Briana Balducci from Divya’s Kitchen

We all crave sweets from time to time. The question is: what do you do when the urge strikes? Do you indulge? Begrudgingly abstain? Or do you enjoy them fully, but in moderation? 

Most importantly: How do you feel after each of the above scenarios? Noticing how you feel after eating sweets (or any other kind of food) is essential for maintaining good health. It allows you to understand your ever-shifting needs and to make the right decisions about what to eat.

Most of the time, we turn to sweets when we’re tired, unmotivated or emotionally drained.  Unfortunately, these foods are limited in how much they help and overindulgence can lead to further imbalances.

5 simple tips

As an alternative, here are some simple tips for transforming sugar cravings (as well as the root feelings of fatigue and emotional heaviness):

  1. Incorporate foods of predominantly pungent, astringent, and bitter tastes. For example, you could use more spices, sunchokes, and dark leafy greens.
  2. Eat wholesome, nutritious meals like our kitcharis and soups with a moderate amount of ghee or olive oil (You can also find more seasonal recipes in Divya’s cookbook What to Eat for How You Feel).
  3. When you’re craving something sweet, ask yourself: Am I really deficient in sugar, or am I craving nourishing food? Am I actually seeking feelings of love, satisfaction, and pleasure that sweet foods seem to provide?
  4. If you can’t avoid giving in to your sugary pleasures, enjoy a small amount mindfully. Try to eat it slowly without distracting yourself. Feel the pleasure the sweetness creates and then tell yourself, “I’ve had enough. Thank you.” 
  5. When choosing sweets, aim for high quality and unprocessed options. For example, you can satisfy your craving by slowly licking a small teaspoon of raw honey. With its astringent-sweet taste, it’s an excellent choice when you feel heavy and sluggish. As a bonus, honey is low-glycemic and can help you lose weight!

Finally, you can find some excellent teas here at divyas.com that help balance blood sugar after eating sweets and reduce sugar cravings: Gymnema Brew, Vaidya’s Cup, Tripti Tea. Drink any of these after a meal and you will feel energized!

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