The fall and winter season is when many of us suffer from colds and flus. It is the time of the year when Ayurveda advices us to eat warm foods such as soups, steamed and baked goods and use spices such as ginger and black pepper to gently heat up the body from within.

This is especially important for those with a vata body (if you are thin and active) and a kapha constitution (if you are big boned and less active), as both body types have relatively slow digestive fire. If you have a vata body, the cold season requires lots of warm liquids and three regular meals a day.

For kapha folks, this time of year requires lighter, drier and warmer foods and especially to stay away from or reduce the use of dairy products.  

For pitta constitutions (those of us with a medium size body and a strong digestive fire), the winter season is not as troublesome, perhaps, but warm foods and a chai would still be a welcome addition to the diet.

Speaking of chai, this is a great daily drink to avoid getting the flu or a cold. The reason is that all the spices in chai have very strong digestive and healing properties.  Ginger is a great digestive and reduces cholesterol; fennel is a mild diuretic and also great for digestion; cinnamon is wonderful for regulating blood sugar and is also a warming spice; cardamom soothes the mucous membrane and is also a good digestive; black pepper also increases the digestive fire and helps absorbing nutrients in the body better, and finally, clove is perhaps the herb with the most antioxidant properties of all, and it is also antiseptic.

I usually brew a pot of chai daily during this season by using an inch of fresh cut or shredded ginger and about a teaspoon of the rest of the other herbs. I let this brew simmer for about 10-15 minutes, then I add either black, green or rooibos tea to round off the taste.

Depending on your constitution, taste buds and food philosophy, you may add milk (not the best for kapha), coconut milk or almond milk for better taste and honey or stevia as sweetener. This tea is strong, soothing and incredibly healthy.

But even if you drink this healthy brew daily, you may still get a cold. Why is that?  We are prone to colds when we have too many toxins in the digestive system. In a way, there is only one disease, and that is “toxicity,” too many undigested foods in the body making it acidic, bloated and overloaded.

Hence, the number one best remedy for curing a cold is to get rid of the toxins. And the number one best and quickest way to do that is to do the same as your cat or dog does when he or she gets sick: To simply go on a liquid fast. Yes, as soon as you feel the symptoms of a cold or a flu coming on, then start a lemon juice or vegetable and fruit juice fast right away.

If you are relatively healthy, you are most likely to cure the cold within a day or two. Sometimes even by the afternoon of the day the cold starts.  

According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, and others, fasting is nature’s way of curing a disease. Most common acute and chronic diseases (headaches, sinus trouble, colds, flus, artirhitis, acidity, acid reflux, etc), according to them, are caused by an overloaded and toxic digestive system, and when we fast, we relieve the body of the accumulated toxins and we feel quickly cleansed and healed.

Fasting is not as easy as popping some pills and drinking a cup of delicious tea, but from my own experience, and that of many others, it is certainly much more effective. However, it requires work, planning and self-discipline. That’s why a fasting retreat at a the Prama Wellness Center is a great alternative to doing it at home. At Prama you get the group support and the knowledge of a great staff to help you with a relaxed and an even more effective fasting experience.

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Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh is the Director of the Prama Wellness Center where lifestyle is considered our best medicine. Ramesh is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurveda at California College of Ayurveda and is a certified yoga detox theraphist from the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of four books, including Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra:The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India).

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