Ayurveda medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. It was developed over 5,000 years ago in India. In Sanskrit Ayurveda means “The Science of Life.” Ayurveda provides an integrated approach to preventing and treating illness through lifestyle diet, herbs, yoga, meditation and body treatments.
Ayurveda understands the immune system to be a composed of not only the physical body but of the mind, and spirt. In Ayurveda immunity is called OJAS. Ojas refers to our underlying strength. The way that we think and live have an effect on our Ojas. The role of ojas in the physical body is that it is the essence of our immune system. Ojas gives our body the ability to endure physical and chemical stress. Ojas is the reserve that we draw upon dring active or stressful times.
There are 3 Areas of Building Our Ojas (immunity): Physical, Mental and Spiritual
(Physical) Ojas of Foods
In Ayurveda the understanding of assimilation of the foods is likened to a stair case. The Ayurveda perspective is that the nutrients we consume go through 7 layers of tissues (Called Dhatus in Ayurveda). They are Rasa (plasma), Rakta (blood), Mamsa (muscle), Medas (fat), Asti (bone), Majja (nervous system), Shukra (reproductive). Each layer of tissues depends on the previous (like a stair case) for nutrients. The essence of the nutrients of the food that we consume after it is assimilated through the 7 tissues is called Ojas. Ojas strengthens and nourishes each layer of tissue. However, there may be nutrients that do not go through to the 7th tissue due to poor quality of food or poor digestion.
If we eat foods and digest foods that have natural intelligence (close to how they are created) then all of the tissues become nourished. If not then the foods that we consume may provide very little to the tissues of the body and not provide the end product of Ojas that will strengthen the body. Foods that are poorly digested have a name called Ama. Ama is the residue of foods that are overly processed, or not digested. It may be from taking too many supplements, foods that are overly processed, eating foods late at night, eating fast, eating to slow, eating stressed, eating unconsciously in front of TV.,Computer, ect). Ama weakens the immune system and is said to leave the digestive system and relocate to weaker areas of the body creating diseas
How to improve OJAS/immune system with diet
How we eat: Strive for 3 meals a day, Strive to eat about the same time daily your body will get used to it and become more efficient in digesting foods. Breakfast should be smaller, as the digestion is not working as well at this time, Lunch should be the largest meal of the day because our metabolism is up and working and can digest food. Dinner should be smaller, as we are preparing to go to bed in a few hours. If you eat a large dinner, it is hard to digest the food as the body prepares to rest. Take time to eat your food to nourish and strengthen your body. Avoid eating in front of TV, computer, newspaper, reading materials, discussing upsetting subjects with others, or talking too much. Be conscious when you eat that you are strengthening your physical body. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to know it is full. The saliva has digestive properties, chew your food properly to make sure that it is liquefied. If you are eating faster than 20 minutes for main meal then you are eating too fast. If you are eating longer than 30 minutes you are eating too slowly. Make eating a practice to strengthen the body. Drink a small amount of warm water or herbal tea with meals to help digestion. Avoid iced drinks. Eat proper quantity, not too much or too little. Eat in nature, in a nice setting; make eating an important part of your life to strengthen the body and nourish your being. When you begin to consciously eat (verses eating to keep going to next project), the amounts you eat will be less, digestion and assimilation will be more efficient, and you will feel nourished. This is how ojas is built.
Choose intelligent foods
Choose foods that are in their most natural created state. They are easier for the body to digest. Choose whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, light dairy, nuts, and seeds. The natural intelligence of these foods is easily assimilated into the body. Foods that are cooked are easier on the digestion than a raw food diet. Cook your foods but not overly. If cooked too much it decreases nutrients. Steaming vegetables retains vitamins and nutrients.
-Apples, (antioxidant with insoluble fiber), which cleanses the bowls.
-Sweet fruits: (ripened) apricots, oranges, pears, peaches, plums, sweet pineapple mangos, and pomegranate, and papaya.
Vegetables: choose root vegetables to improve Ojas. Carrots, turnips, beets, celery root, yams and sweet potatoes. Vegetables such as Cauliflower, cabbage Broccoli, zucchini, are best steamed.
-High iron and calcium foods: Leafy greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens,kale, Bach choy, sesame seeds, tofu, Tempeh.
-Whole grains: quinoa, amaranth, barley. They have immunity fighting effects and cleansing fiber for Gastrointestinal track. They include many essential nutrients including B vitamins that are beneficial to nervous system.
-Ghee is cherished in Ayurveda for improving ojas. Ghee is the most easily digest fat and aids in carrying nutrients from spices deeper into the tissues.
-Milk improves ojas, but it should be brought to a boil and consumed with a pinch of cardamom drink alone or away from meals.
Add immune boosting spices
Cook with immune boosting spices. Add to cooked vegetables, grains, legumes. Spices add good flavor and support digestion. They help support digestion and make nutrients easily available to the body.
-Turmeric detoxifies anti-inflammatory, mild anti-biotic and enhances the intelligence of the immune cells.
Cummin burns ama (toxins)
-Black pepper clears channels so Ojas can reach deeper into tissues
-Ginger improves immunity, and is an anti-inflammatory
-Fennel Aids with digestion
Basil, Cardamom and Sage, decrease inflammation of the lungs , sinusitis, chronic rhinitis, and asthma
Rosemary Natural antimicrobial and antibiotic
Coriander Beneficial for urinary track, digestion and absorption.
Immune boosting mixture:
Mix together and sprinkle on meals
- 6 part Turmeric
- 6 part Fennel
- 3 part cumin
- 3 part coriander
- 1 part Ginger
- 1 part Black pepper
(Mental) Ojas of the Mind
The mind is the controller of the actions of senses. (Eyes, nose, tongue, ears and touch. If the mind is not calm, the senses began to control and can cause loss of Ojas due to poor choices.
Activities that create poor clarity of the mind (poor Ojas)
-Living a high pressure lifestyle, fast food diet and sedentary habits.
-Not getting adequate sleep to restore the body
-Drinking caffeine from tea or coffee
-consuming excess sugar, packaged, canned, frozen foods, or hard to digest foods, (pizzas, hamburgers).
-snacking too much, does not give digestive track time to fast between meals). There should be at least 3 hours between meals.
-The tongue likes to rattle, talking too much when you’re eating
Eyes: watching media while eating means you are digesting the media as you eat the food.
Ears: listening to unhealthy topics, too much media or loud noises (music, loud construction loud arguments etc.)
Activities to improve clarity of the mind (Creates good Ojas)
-Go to bed early wake up early; strive for about the same time daily. Get adequate sleep for your constitution.
-Have a morning routine that is consistent and sets you off for a clear thinking day.
-Meditate every morning before the day begins.
-Practice pranayama, (breathing controls and calms the mind)
-Practice daily yoga asanas. The body mind combination brings both into harmony
-Walk daily this helps the mind unwind and clear.
-Take time daily to do creative activities, writing, painting, gardening, singing, or whatever creative art you would like to express.
-Read ½ hour daily spiritual or uplifting book or scriptures. This trains the mind to think positive and see differently.
-Play the Gayatri mantra every morning (greeting of the sun) the Sanskrit vibrations of the chant increase the higher vibrations when listened to.
-Have a daily routine, of waking. Sleeping, meals, work, exercise,
(Spiritual) Ways to Cultivate Ojas of the Heart
According to Ayurveda the heart is the seat of Ojas and the soul.
-Understand that you are a spiritual being in a physical body. The body is not permanent but your spiritual being is.
-cultivate faith, compassion, letting go and forgiving
-Let go of attachment, fear and judgement
-Happiness, peace and love are medicine for the heart.
-Practice loving thoughts towards self. There is a place within you that has never stopped seeing yourself through the eyes of love.
-Be still every day. Practice meditation which calms the mind and brings one deep within to inner peace.
-Read the Bhagavad-Gita or other spiritual books of your background to understand yourself as a spiritual being.
-Spend time regularly in nature. Nature is love created. We are no different than nature
-create a home environment that brings peace and harmony
-Practice unmotivated service to help others. Look for opportunities, to help organizations you believe in or those less fortunate.
-find others who have the same spiritual understanding of life as you do. This becomes inspirational.
-Spend more time in silence. Make it a practice to have 1 hour of silence a day (no talking, or outside noise).
-Practice love in all of your interactions.