Ayurvedic Dietary Guidelines to Prevent Colds
Cold Foods/Warm Foods. Avoid cold foods like ice cream and yogurt. Some yogurt is fine at noon, but not at night. Follow the general Ayurvedic advice to drink liquids room temperature or warm/hot. If you drink milk, drink it hot, simmered with ginger root, cardamom, or clove. Mediterranean Sage Tea is excellent for warming up after being out in the cold. Get it at Greek, Persian, or Arab markets.
Fruit: Stick to apples, pears, and other stone fruits. Persimmins and dried fruits like dates. Stewed fruits like cranberry sauce and apple sauce are good. Bake fruit also. Again, try using spices. Avoid bananas and too much citrus, as these are quite cooling.
Veggies: Avoid cold veggies like cucumber, raw tomato, salads. These are “cold” foods that dampen Agni. In Summer they are fine, because Agni is naturally strong then. There are regional exceptions. A long hike in the desert sun in San Diego might lead to a small amount of cucumber with lunch, for example.
Favor warming veggies like baked hard squash, root veggies like daikon and parsnip, and as always, green leafy veggies, lightly cooked. Drink lots of soup! Soups are easy to digest and moisten and lubricate the mucosa in the nose and throat, making it harder for Rhino viruses to penetrate. This is a good time for warming fish or meat soups with veggies in them like bouillabaisse made with salmon, or chicken soup with garlic and onion and dill.
Spices: Keep your insides warm with thermogenic spices. Cumin is an excellent burner of Ama. So are ginger, black pepper, coriander, oregano, thyme, sage, fenugreek, fennel. If you drink milk, drink it hot simmered with ginger, cardamom, clove, cinnamon. Add tea and you have Masala Chai!
Tumeric is an excellent spice that builds immunity and reduces Ama. So is fresh ginger. Use them in lentils, beans, meats and veggies. Any Indian cookbook or cook website will have great recipes. Substitute black pepper for chili pepper unless you are very Kapha dominant.
Desserts: Sweet foods are naturally dampening to Agni. Have them in moderation, especially in early Winter, but take them separate from a meal, in small amounts at the end of a meal, and have them with something that stimulates the digestive fire, such as green or black tea, or herb tea made from ginger, fennel, or chai spices. Make your homemade cookies and cakes with less sugar and with spices like cardamom or cinnamon. Stewed fruits are a better choice than cakes. Stew with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or clove. No ice cream or frozen yogurt in Winter, please.
Honey is the most warming and least Ama-building sweetener so it is a good choice in tea and beverages with colds; also it acts as a mild expectorant. But don’t cook with it; it transforms this wonderful medicine into what Ayurveda considers a poison.
Copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. 2013, San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego http://new.bodymindwellnesscenter.com