Are you taking herbs and supplements to support your immune health? If you answered "yes," that’s wonderful and a great place to start. But, it’s important to remember that herbs work most effectively when your diet and lifestyle are also optimized for immune strength.*
Agni, the Sanskrit word for "digestive fire," refers to your body's capacity to effectively break down and digest food. According to Ayurveda, it is cultivated through diet and lifestyle practices that support your unique constitution, modify with the seasons, and address any current imbalances that you may be experiencing. Healthy Agni leads to healthy digestion, which, in turn, leads to a healthy immune system.
Modern science and medicine are now affirming what Ayurveda has been advocating for thousands of years, the close connection between your gut health and your overall health. New research shows that cultivating a diverse and healthy gut microbiome is key in supporting immune function. That’s because your immune system and your gut are separated by only one cell layer of thickness.In our world today, immune health is even more essential. That’s why it’s important to develop and maintain an effective daily routine that optimizes your digestion and supports immune health. Watch the video below for my tips or continue reading below for some simple strategies to help you do this.
Simple Strategies for a Daily Routine That Supports Digestive & Immune Health
One way to optimize your gut microbiome is to eat at least 30 different plant foods each week. That includes veggies, fruits, whole grains, fermented foods, and spices/herbs. It’s a fun challenge to take on to see if you can hit 30 or more each week!
In addition to diet, daily routine (Dinacharya) also plays an important role in strengthening digestive fire, and therefore, immune health. Here are my suggestions for an optimal daily routine that is based on Ayurvedic principles to optimize digestion and immune health:
- Wake up early: 7 am at the latest. According to Ayurveda, the later you sleep in the morning, the more heavy qualities you bring into your body and mind, which is not optimal for digestive fire.
- Scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper, from back to front at least seven times. This helps to get the bacteria out of your mouth and also stimulates digestion.
- Brush your teeth.
- Drink a cup of warm lemon water. This is super hydrating and is a great cleanser that stimulates your digestive fire.
- Exercise: yoga, walking, or your favorite outdoor activity. Move your body early in the morning before breakfast.
- Breakfast no later than 9 am, and make it a small meal.
- Fast until lunchtime.
- Eat your lunch between noon and 2 pm, and make it your biggest meal of the day.
- Take a walk, or do some type of gentle movement, preferably outside, between 3 – 4 pm.
- Eat your dinner no later than 7:30 pm, and make it a small meal. This gives your body enough time between dinner and bedtime to start digesting your food and will help you sleep better.
- Lights out by 10 pm. You need to prioritize your sleep and make sure you’re getting enough rest for your body to function optimally.
Try this daily routine to help get you started toward optimizing your digestion and immune health. Remember that if you do this only 51% of the time, you will still experience positive benefits. And the better you feel, the more you’ll want to do it. Eventually, you can build up to following this optimal routine the majority of the time.
Let Your Body Be Your Guide
Ayurveda is a journey toward greater self-awareness. Remember to stay curious as you make changes. Notice how your body and your mind respond. As you tap into your natural intelligence, it will become your greatest ally in strengthening your immune health.
Anna is the author of Yoga for Paddling, and an internationally celebrated paddling, yoga and Ayurveda health coach. She creates empowering experiences that help women build courage and confidence through mind, body and adventure. Anna has been featured in mainstream publications such as Outside Magazine, Time, Shape and Self, and was named one of the most inspirational paddlers alive by Canoe and Kayak Magazine. Anna lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband Andrew and adventure schnoodle, Ceiba.