I always heard that people start to get allergies as they age and I all but prided myself on being such a picture of health that I "did not have allergies". But a young healthy woman in her teens and twenties SHOULD be healthy and free from allergies, right? This is the prime of your life. Honestly, if you want better health as you age, you must claim it for Yourself. Health is not something that is handed out to anyone on a Silver Platter.
Now, in my mid-thirties, I suffered my first allergic reaction to the spring pollen. Despite my recent tumbles or the dance injury over 12 years ago that brought me to yoga, I still consider myself to be in relatively good health. However, allergies suggest a weakened immune system, for whatever reason, be it chronic or acute, ongoing or temporary; your immune system cannot fight off something that has invaded your body.
Not only does this make sense because our immune systems naturally weaken with age. This is just part of the natural aging process. But we can consistently engage in practices that enhance our immune system's functioning. Here are 6 things you can do to improve your immune system.
1. Eat Fresh and Eat Local - We have all heard the phrase. Fresh food while not only absolutely delicious alone, is where our BEST source of vitamins, minerals and nutrition come. Ideally, it is grown by You! It's consumer. The plant provides you its medicine and nutrition. When you eat local, you are ingesting the hays and grasses and pollens in your area; a homeopathic dose of the local environment, so your body can identify it bacteria, both good and bad.
2. Clear Mucus by Eliminating processed foods- Mucus is what the body wraps a foreign invader in to kindly escort it out of the system, usually quickly, in the form of a sneeze or cough or more slowly through the digestive track. This means we want to remove mucilaginous foods from our diet, namely processed foods. Our bodies cannot properly digest processed flour, sugars and salts, substances which are found in ALL processed foods. So, what does it does the body do? It wraps the undigested food in mucus to kindly escort it out of the body which slows down the digestive system and inhibits the body's ability to absorb vital nutrients
3. Drink Herbal Tea - This is one way to get the local flowers, leaves and roots into your system. In Central Virginia Springtime, we have Red Clover - for blood cleansing, Mullein - for the lungs, and Nettles for the immune system. Get to know a local herbalist who can show you the local medicinal herbs in your unique region of the world. Take 1 part of your local fresh herbs to 4 parts almost boiling water in a mason jar and allow to steep for twenty minutes - Strain the herbs and drink warm or cool. Delicious!
4. Flush With a Neti Pot - This is an ayurvedic remedy for removing mucus and infections from the nasal passages, by pouring briny water from one side of the nostril to the other. It is best to practice this with a friend or teacher who can show you the technique. But here is a video which helps explain the process.
5. Use an Herbal Steam - Steep one 1 part fresh or dried rosemary, eucalyptus leaf, and/or lavender leaf or flower with 4 parts almost boiling water in a large ceramic or glass vessel. Place the vessel on a kitchen table. Sit comfortably in a chair and place your nose over the bowl and a medium size towel over your head and the bowl. Be careful not to burn your face with the steam - it can be very hot, so move carefully. If you are lucky, have a friend massage your shoulder and back while you are in this somewhat hunched over position. Mucus will begin leaving your nose and lungs, so have some tissues near by.
6. Consciously Rest - Practice Savasana for 30 minutes. Prop the head up so mucus does not pool in the face and head. Practice a Simple Supported Backbend with knees, ankles, shoulder blades and head propped on support. Consciously resting, reducing stress and getting adequate sleep all help improve immune function.