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As Long As You Do These 5 Little Things This Winter, You'll Avoid The Flu
by Georgina Berbari

During flu season, it can often seem like no matter which way you turn, you're somehow being exposed to the nasty virus. In subway cars, offices, classrooms, and literally when you're just walking on the sidewalk and minding your own business, people are coughing and sneezing up a storm — like, the act of breathing itself can sometimes feel contagious, you feel me? It's during this time of year that you need tips for avoiding the flu the most, so you can stay your healthiest and happiest throughout the busy holiday season.

Before we get into some of these tips, though, let's be clear that it's definitely important to get your flu shot first before anything else — not even just for your own health, but for the well being of everyone you come in contact with.

Once your flu vaccination is done and dusted, it certainly doesn't hurt to be extra careful about protecting your health. Erin Casperson, dean of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health's School of Ayurveda, has a few natural tips to share that'll help you feel your best when germs, sneezes, and sniffles seem to be lurking around every corner.

All of Casperson's suggestions come from Ayurveda, which, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), is "one of the world’s oldest medical systems." The Eastern medicine, which the NCCIH says is still practiced today in India, focuses on "universal interconnectedness (among people, their health, and the universe), the body’s constitution (prakriti), and life forces (dosha)."

Here are some of Casperson's Ayurvedic flu tips to keep in mind this season.

Balance your digestive system

Keeping your digestive system balanced is great for your immune health, according to Casperson. "Ayurveda describes the disease process moving through six stages," she tells Elite Daily over email. "The first three stages are located in the digestive system. If we address imbalances in the digestive system, the imbalance will be easy to eliminate."

To address that imbalance, Casperson explains, try changing some of the foods you eat, or taking care to get restful sleep or more exercise. Overall, she says, it's best to stick to foods that are warm, cooked, easy to digest. "When we cook foods, we pre-digest them, which changes the foods' qualities," she tells Elite Daily."

This being said, be mindful to add lots of soup, steamed veggies, and hot tea to your diet if you feel flu-like symptoms coming on, Casperson recommends.

Try out a neti pot

If the flu is going around at home, at the gym, or at the office, using a neti pot is a great way to keep your nasal passages clean and clear, says Casperson.

"The neti pot isn’t for everyone, but [for] those who benefit from a neti, it’s a godsend," she says. The combination of warm, purified water and salt, the Ayurvedic expert explains, cleanses your nasal passages and helps to prevent colds and infections.

In terms of learning how to use a neti pot, Casperson admits there's a bit of a learning curve for beginners. "The trick is to be relaxed," she suggests. "Lean way over the sink and breathe through the mouth. There are tutorials on YouTube, [too]."

Always keep a hat and scarf handy

Protecting your head and neck in the winter probably just seems like one of those things your parents nagged you about when you were little, but as far as Casperson is concerned, it does the body good to be bundled up in the face of cold weather. "In Ayurveda terms, covering the head is most important for the ears," she tells Elite Daily. "The ears are a site of vata (aka cold, dry, light and windy energy), which in winter, vata is the dominant energy."

According to Casperson, when the chilly temperatures reach your ears, Ayurvedic principles say this can, in turn, increase the cold, dry qualities in your body or mind.

Hey, consider it an excuse to wear your fuzziest beanie all winter long, you know?

Use the right seasonings in your food

Casperson tells me that adding turmeric to your diet can help to build your immunity — especially if you cook with it. Plus, she says, "adding black pepper can increases turmeric's absorb-ability by 2,300 percent," so don't be shy with that seasoning, girl.

To add these spices to a meal, according to Casperson, you can use ghee or another high quality oil to reap some extra fat-soluble, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Specifically, Casperson recommends a delicious sounding orange soup for a yummy winter treat.

Always have a warm mug in hand

There's nothing a warm mug of tea can't heal, amirite?

Luckily, Casperson has shared a couple of of her favorite tea recipes: For one, mix two parts coriander seeds, two parts cinnamon, and one part ginger in a glass jar. "Add one teaspoon to a cup of hot water and steep covered for 10 minutes," she says. If you're drinking the tea while you're sick, "strain and drink every two to four hours until the fever breaks," she suggests.

For all my savory lovers out there, you'll definitely want to try Casperson's other tea recipe: "Mix equal parts of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, [and] fennel seeds, and place them in a glass jar," the Ayurvedic expert explains. "Add one teaspoon to a cup of hot water and steep covered for 10 minutes."