OJAS + IMMUNITY
One of the most important concepts in Ayurveda is Ojas. Ojas is said to be the end product of perfect digestion. It is the subtle life essence that provides vitality, longevity, strength and youth.
There are seven tissue layers, or dhatus, present in the body – Rasa (plasma), Rakta (blood), Mamsa (muscle), Meda (adipose/fat), Asthi (bone), Majja (bone marrow/nervous system) and Shukra (reproductive fluids - sperm and ovum).
When we eat food, it is digested through each of the dhatus, beginning in the rasa dhatu and finally being digested through the shukra dhatu, where ideally it produces ojas.
Making sure we are nourishing all of the tissue layers and supporting overall digestion is of the utmost importance when it comes to immunity and health.
IMPORTANT: Consult a doctor or health professional before beginning any new supplements or dietary protocols, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, on medications or have any other pre-existing health conditions.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Nature provides a myriad of essential nutrients that we need to stay healthy and strong. Making sure to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis is an easy way to support your health. Try to include at least 3 different vegetables at each meal, making sure to emphasize dark leafy greens, which are nutrient powerhouses.
Eat primarily warm, cooked foods
Digestion and immunity are one in the same. To understand this, we must understand the function of digestion (and its counterpart - elimination). When your body is digesting food, it is breaking it down so that it can absorb the healing nutrients your body needs and eliminate the harmful toxins it doesn’t. When your body can’t properly break down food and absorb vital nutrients, immunity is naturally hampered. In addition, when elimination is impaired, ama (toxins) build up in the body and eventually cause disease. If you are suffering from weak digestion, prioritizing warm, cooked, easy to digest foods like broth based soups/stews, cooked vegetables/lentils with rice and warm porridges are going to serve you much better than cold, raw foods. In addition, sipping on warm water throughout the day will help to keep your digestive muscles fluid and functional. You also want to reduce or avoid refined sugars, alcohol, too much caffeine and packaged/processed foods.
Rasayanas are a class of herbs and herbal formulas in Ayurvedic medicine that are known to rejuvenate and revitalize mind and body. They work on nourishing the dhatus and support overall immunity. You can learn more about Rasayana Ayurvedic Medicine on our site.
Two of the most well known rasayanas are Shilajit and Chyawanprash.
Shilajit is said to be the “Ojas of Mother Earth.” When the Himalayas were formed millions of years ago, due to the collision of the Indian Plate and the Eurasian Plate, plant matter became trapped within the rocks. Over time and from the extreme tempurature changes, this mineral-rich plant matter transformed into the dark, oozing substance called Shilajit.
Minerals are necessary for every essential function of the human body. Many health issues can be linked to some type of mineral deficiency, including decreased immunity, fatigue, digestive issues, irregular heart beat, anemia, PMS, depression, and cognitive difficulties. Because the soil in the United States is so depleted of minerals due to overfarming, even the fruits and vegetables we eat have less minerals than they did 30 years ago.
Shilajit is a powerful substance that is rich in trace minerals that our bodies need. Considered to be the ultimate adaptogen, it has a wide variety of benefits, including supporting immunity, boosting energy, promoting muscle recovery and supporting cognitive health. In addition, the naturally occurring fulvic acid in Shilajit helps to deliver the minerals directly into the cells where they are needed. Shilajit also contains a property known as Yogavahi, which means it increases the absorption and efficacy of any herb it is taken with.
Our gold grade Authentic Shilajit™ is praised for its ability to create the essence of any dhatu. For example, it will bring shape to the mamsa dhatu (muscle), life to the rakta dhatu (blood) and knowledge to the majja dhatu (bone marrow/nervous system. Learn more about the benefits of our Shilajit here.
This ancient formula was cognized by the Rishi Sage Chyawan about 5000 years ago, as a means to reverse the aging process and restore youth. It is considered to be the ultimate Rasayana in Ayurvedic medicine. Chyawanprash has many benefits including supporting digestion, immunity, cognition and skin health.
Our Authentic Chyawanprash™ multi-herbal jam is made from 35 ingredients including herbs, botanicals and alpha-linoleic rich fats. Its main ingredient is Amla Berry (also called Amalaki), which is an extremely rich source of Vitamin C - a powerful immune supporting antioxidant. In addition, the variety of spices including pippali, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom are natural antivirals and are excellent for supporting digestion. The ethically procured ghee and sesame oil provide heart healthy fats excellent for cardiovascular health. You can read more about the amazing benefits of Chyawanprash here.
Triphala is an ancient herbal remedy that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for supporting digestive, oral and skin health. It is made of three berries that are rich in antioxidants: Amalaki, Haritaki and Bibhitaki.
Some studies have shown that triphala mouthwash may reduce plaque and gingivitis. Other studies have shown triphala to potentially lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels and also improve the production of collagen and reduce inflammation.
One of the most popular uses of triphala, however, is for digestive health. It helps to support proper digestion and elimination. Unlike laxatives, which do the body’s job for it, triphala taps into the body’s innate knowledge and encourages it to function as it should. Supporting regularity and natural cleansing is essential for immune health.
OTHER IMMUNE BOOSTING HERBS + AYURVEDA SUPPLEMENTS
Black cumin seed oil (Nigella Sativa)
This potent oil has been used for centuries. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks would use it to treat various ailments from headaches to parasitic infections. Black cumin seed oil is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as various minerals, phytochemicals and B vitamins.
It has many benefits including reducing inflammation, supporting digestive and cardiovascular health, supporting the immune system and healthy lung function, promoting joint health and reducing free radical damage. It even contains anti-bacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.
Zinc is an essential nutrient that has long been known for its positive effects on immune health. It is responsible for proper immune cell functioning and the reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation, therefore a zinc deficiency can lead to a weakened immune system.
Studies have shown that if zinc is taken within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms, it can reduce the duration of the illness.
Zinc is also known for its role in growth development, metabolism, protein synthesis, digestion, nerve function and wound healing. It is found naturally in a variety of plant and animal foods such as legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, dark chocolate, kale, peas, asparagus and mushrooms.
Always consult a physician or health professional to assess the proper dosage as too much zinc can also lead to deficiencies in other nutrients.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the cells of the body from free radicals that can cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been shown to contribute to many diseases and chronic conditions including:
- Heart disease
- Age-related macular degeneration (vision loss)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's
Vitamin C is also a key player in the production of collagen that helps to heal wounds, and aids in the absorption of iron.
While studies haven’t shown that Vitamin C alone will prevent any diseases, they have shown that it may:
- Reduce the duration and severity of the common cold
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Lower the risk of heart disease
- Lower the risk of iron deficiency
- Boost the immune system by encouraging the production of white blood cells, which help to protect the body against infections
- Reduce wound healing time
- Protect memory and cognition as you age
It is important to note that getting Vitamin C in the form of whole foods has been shown to be more beneficial than supplements as there are other essential antioxidants and nutrients in whole foods that support its delivery and absorption.
Immunity boosting foods in Ayurveda that are high in Vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruit)
- Dark leafy greens (kale, mustard greens
- Acerola cherries
- Bell Peppers
Immune Boosting Tonics
Next week, we will be sharing some immune boosting Ayurvedic tonics. Don't forget to sign up to our newsletter so you can be the first to get this information and more!