Thursday, May 24, 2012

Improve Your Life With Ayurvedic Nutrition

Improve Your Life With Ayurvedic Nutrition

Conventional medicine forms the cornerstone of our lives. But in the rush to medicate ourselves, most of us forget that we need to improve our health in general by eating natural foods and increasing the amount of exercise that we do. Conventional medicine will first treat the disease and then nudge you towards lifestyle changes but Ayurveda is completely different. Most alternative methods of medicine focus on complete health and body care to prevent disease instead of treating disease. Prevention forms the basis of Ayurveda and it does seem to work.

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is an extremely popular and ancient method of medicine that is practiced in India. In these fast paced times, where people prefer to eat ready-made meals and eat on the go, Ayurveda focuses on specific foods that are meant to feed the mind, body and soul. In Ayurveda, food items are prepared according to set rules which can also act as medications to improve overall health.

How Can Ayurveda Balance the Body?

Ayurveda is considered a holistic stream of treatment. Practitioners first diagnose the physical, mental and spiritual makeup of a person. This is referred to as the prakruti or the constitution of the individual. Ayurvedic practitioners first consider the prakruti of the individual by investigating several factors like astrological signs, genetics, birth time, season of birth, birth location, etc.

They also consider the five elements of the world: earth, fire, wind, water and space as essential contributors to the physical make up of the individual. These elements can be found in different quantities in individuals and this leads to differences in character and temperament and they are called as doshas. The three main doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Most people will have one predominant element with other elements being subdued. Due to the predominant element, people can be steady like the earth element, short-tempered like the fire element, calm like the water element, etc. Ayurveda believes that all of these elements (or doshas) can be balanced within the human body. Modifying the elements is possible with special Ayurvedic food preparations which will remove extra toxins while boosting the overall vitality of the body.

How do Ayurvedic Practitioners Manage These Food Principles?

Ideally, Ayurveda recommends growing your own food through organic cultivation methods that are free of chemicals and pesticides. Processed foods are high in chemicals, herbicides, preservatives, flavor additives and a range of other chemicals which pollute the body and extremely difficult to excrete. You might not be able to grow your own food but what you can do is find a source which provides fresh and chemical-free food.

Ayurvedic food balances the doshas by balancing the six major taste groups of food: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, astringent and pungent. Each taste can influence the dosha of the patient and fine-tune. As a result, practitioners will first evaluate the dosha of a patient and then suggest a list of foods which have to be incorporated into day to day diet. Practitioners also advise fruits and legumes which may have to be consumed raw to get the highest benefit. Most practitioners will explain your dosha to you and use it to explain any chronic medical conditions that you might have. Understanding your dosha and the foods you have been prescribed could really help to improve your chronic medical condition as well as your long-term health.

A General List of Foods For Each Dosha

Vata Dosha is characterized by petite frames and body types that are generally smaller in size. These patients usually have a problem with digestion resulting in constipation, diarrhea, bloating, flatulence and eructation. Ayurvedic doctors recommend the intake of warm, fresh home cooked food items that have a predominantly sweet, sour and salty taste. Vata doshas are prohibited from consuming hot, cold and raw food items which can exacerbate the digestive problems.

Pitta Dosha is characterized by strong digestive capabilities and a good appetite. However, patients may have an increased tendency for inflammatory diseases, acidity and long term chronic conditions. For this dosha, it is recommended that the patient avoid all fatty, oily, deep-fried foods which can increase the acidity problem. Food items rich in astringent, bitter and sweet tastes are recommended for these patients.

Kapha Dosha is characterized by a sluggish digestion which manifests in obesity and large body types. For these patients, simple foods that are low in sugar, fat, and oil are recommended. Fresh fruits and vegetables that are easy to digest and a lot of water are considered to be the best for Kapha dosha individuals. They can also increase their astringent, pungent, and bitter food items to help their digestion.

Ayurvedic Foods and Their Healing Properties

A large range of foods are recommended for their healing properties. For example, these below mentioned food items are considered ideal for balancing doshas.

• Dates and figs are rich in vitamins and minerals and they are extremely beneficial to any dosha. Consuming one or two per day is considered the most beneficial.

• Mung beans are easily digestible and very nutritious when combined with rice.

• Lassi is a yoghurt-based beverage made by adding two parts water to one part yoghurt. It is a rich source of probiotics, vitamins and minerals. For a slightly exotic flavor, you can add powdered cardamom, cinnamon or sugar.

• Boiled and cooled cow’s milk is ideal as a revitalizers and it should be consumed daily. Lactose intolerant patients should choose a healthier alternative.

• Almonds are a super food for any dosha. They should be blanched and skinned before consumption.

• Ginger is often referred to as a universal medicine. It can reduce bodily toxins and improve digestion. Ginger is particularly useful for upset stomachs and for nausea.

• Seasonal fruits, vegetables and water can be consumed in unlimited amounts. These are rich in natural minerals and they are excellent for health.

Natural Herbal Remedies

Eating a balanced diet is paramount in Ayurveda but you can also combine it with custom-made Ayurvedic preparations. For example, Herbal Di-Gest is a wonderful digestive aid and detoxifier.

Organic Digest Tone is also considered good for digestion as it clears out toxins. It also acts like a mild laxative and it can be safely used for prolonged periods of time.

We suggest that you get in touch with an expert Ayurvedic practitioners who can guide you on what to do and what to eat!
By: Ingrid Snodgrass

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