Ayurveda is About Choice

The most important contribution to that anyone can make to their overall state of health is their every day lifestyle. Every day we have a choice in our diet and our routine. These choices ultimately create our body, our mind, and our consciousness. The more we understand these choices, the more we support our continued health and happiness.

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Choosing the optimal Ayurvedic diet and routine begins with understanding not only your underlying body “type” but also your current state of balance and imbalance. For instance, given the fast pace of our modern lives, even those with a predominately Kapha constitution may find themselves with a Vata imbalance. To simply choose foods and activities that reduce Kapha would end up exacerbating that imbalance. If you do not have an Ayurvedic expert in your area to help you determine your current state of balance, you can base your choices on an understanding of the basics of the Ayurveda daily routine that apply to everyone, no matter what your body type.

Foundational to following an ideal daily routine is understanding which dosha predominates at the different hours of the day. There are two cycles, in the morning and in the evening:

From 6:00 to 10:00, both morning and evening, Kapha predominates

From 10:00 to 2:00, both morning and evening, Pitta predominates

From 2:00 to 6:00, both morning and evening, Vata predominates.

Ideal Times for Sleeping

There is a saying, “The day starts the night before”. Only by going to bed early can the next day’s activity be fully supported. By going to bed during Kapha time, (before 10:00 P.M. when the evening Pitta period begins), we take advantage of Nature’s natural cycle of healing and rejuvenation. The qualities of Kapha, (heaviness and dullness), allows us to get to sleep most quickly, and to have the deepest, least interrupted sleep.

The Pitta that begins to dominate at 10:00 PM is meant to be directed towards metabolic cleansing. The body needs to be inactive at this time so that it can focus its intelligence and energy on restoring and rejuvenating the body. If we are up and active during this time, we may enjoy an effective spurt of energy but we cheat our bodies on much needed self-repair. Over time this can take a serious toll on our physical and mental health.

Going to bed on time allows us to easily rise at the proper time, before 6:00 A.M. The period before 6 AM is the time when all of Nature is waking up, and a time when Vata is enlivened in the environment. If we start our day in Vata time, our mind will experience more of the qualities of balanced Vata throughout the day: increased energy, clarity, intelligence and alertness.

If we sleep past 6 AM, we sleep into the Kapha time of the day. When a person sleeps until 7:30 AM they have been lying dull and dormant for one and a half hours in Kapha time and they wake experiencing the qualities of Kapha: dullness, heaviness and lethargy.

Understanding and following the ideal times for eating and sleeping means harmonizing our behavior with the rhythms and cycles of the body and the cycles of nature. This is the key to living a health-promoting life. If we live a lifestyle that disrupts our natural biological rhythms, we are sabotaging our own health, breaking down the resistance of the body and contributing to the creation of disease.

Ideal Times for Eating

Breakfast

Digestion is not strong when we first awake, so breakfast should not be a heavy meal. Cooked apples and pears are a perfect way to begin the day. It is best to avoid cheeses, meats and other heavy, hard-to digest foods at breakfast.

Lunch

In the middle of the day the transformational element in nature is at its peak. This activates that same principle, Pitta, in our own bodies. Pitta is responsible for our digestion and metabolism.

For this reason we should eat our largest meal at noon. The ideal time for lunch is between 12:30 and 1:00, as this is the period of highest Pitta and greatest digestive power. Lunch should be a warm, cooked meal, with all six tastes. Take at least 30 minutes, eat in a relaxed setting, and then sit comfortably for 10 to 15 minutes after you finish.

Dinner

In the evening, digestion is less strong. In a few hours we should be sleeping, which further slows the digestive and metabolic processes. Therefore dinner should be a lighter meal. Heavy foods like cheese, ice cream and meat are best avoided at this meal.

It is better to eat earlier in the evening than later. The later you eat, the less food you should consume and the lighter the food should be.

If we have been living a life that is out of tune with nature’s laws, it is never too late to make healthy changes. A consultation with an Ayurvedic expert can pinpoint imbalances that have built up in the physiology, and provide specific recommendations for restoring a healthy balance. The traditional purification and detoxification treatments of Ayurveda, known as Panchakarma treatments, can remove accumulated imbalances and blockages from deep within the tissues.. These treatments offer a giant step forward as a technology to maintain and create a deep level of health.

For more information on Ayurveda consultations and treatment programs, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Pepper and Turmeric: Enhancing Heart and Brain Health with Ayurvedic Spices

“Bioenhancer” is a term that has become very important to drug and food supplement companies. Bioenhancers are substances that increase the “bioavailability and bioefficacy” of other substances. What is “bioavailablity”? In terms of both pharmicudical and herbal supplements, it means the quantity or fraction of an ingested dose that is actually absorbed by the body. Because of either differing digestive capabilities or because of our body’s cellular membranes that block foreign particles, much of what we take in orally is actually not absorbed by our body. While we can see why this is of concern to drug companies, this concern should extend to our every day life and our ability to extract vital nutrients from our food.

Peririne was the first bioenhancer to be discovered by modern science. It is found naturally  in pepper. Peririne, along with cucumine (found in turmeric), and gingerols (found in ginger) are now being isolated and sold by numerous pharmacutical companies in order to improve the bioefficacy of their products.

This “new” science is in fact age-old wisdom offered by Ayurveda, the 5000 year old health science of India. Spicing has always been a key part of both Ayurvedic cooking and Ayurveda health recommendations. Not only do spices make our meals taste delicious, they help our bodies stay balanced and healthy. Spices help us better absorb nutrients in our food. They have been found to be antioxidants, prevent cancer, lower cholesterol and blood sugar, improve memory, flush out toxins, and enhance digestion During consultations at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa, spices are normally a part of the individualized recommendations given to help restore balanced health.

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Let’s look at these “new” bioenhancers:

Pepper Helps Feed Your Brain

Perinine is found in cracked black pepper. Perinine has been found to help carry nutrition across the blood brain barrier. The blood brain barrier is a layer of tightly packed cells that make up the walls of brain capillaries and prevent substances in the blood from entering the brain. This protects the brain from “foreign substances”, helps maintain a constant environment for the brain and protects the brain from hormones and neurotransmitters in the rest of the body.

Because our brain is made up of almost 60% fat, it needs high quality fats to keep the lining of the brain cells flexible so that memory and other brain messages can easily pass between cells. Getting fat to cross the blood brain barrier can be a challenge. If we are using healthy oils in our diet, adding freshly ground pepper helps us make the most of oils and other nutrients. Bioenhancers increase the absorption of oils and nutrients for our body, as well as our brain, supporting cell growth, protecting our organs and helping manufacture hormones in our body.

Perinine also helps strengthens the functioning of the heart and kidneys. It effective against colon cancer and inflammation and generally enhances immunity. Pepper it is very stimulating to the digestive system. It is also inherently heating and should be used cautiously by those with a Pitta imbalance.

Pepper is most efficient when it is fresh. A pepper grinder and organic pepper corns will allow you to get the most out of this important spice.

Turmeric

Cucumin is found in turmeric, the spice that gives curry its yellow color. Ayurveda considers turmeric a medicinal herb as well as a cooking spice.

Curcumin is said to have powerful anti-oxidizing effects. Because of its chemical structure, curcumin can neutralize free radicals. In addition, it supports and boosts the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Curcumin, however, is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. To get the most out of turmeric it is recommended that you add freshly ground black pepper to your spice mixture. The piperine in black pepper has been shown to enhance the absorption of curcumin by 2000%.

Curcumin is also anti-inflammatory. Because inflammation and oxidative damage are contributors to many diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, arthritis and various cancers, turmeric is gaining world wide interest in the world of science. It has been noted that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s and certain cancers in India is among the world’s lowest. Turmeric has been shown to have an effect in blocking the growth skin cancer, and inhibiting the spread of breast cancer into the lungs.

Curcumin has recently been shown to strengthen and order cell membranes, making cells more resistant to infection and malignancy. There is new evidence that curcumin can help keep away neurogenerative disease through its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and act as an antioxidant.

Ginger

Ginger is another spice that Ayurveda recommends for its medicinal properties. The active ingredient in ginger is gingerol, a compound that is thought to relax blood vessels, stimulate blood flow and relieve pain. Traditionally ginger has been used as a remedy for poor circulation, colds, flue, arthritis, heart disease, and poor digestion, as well as nausea and motion sickness. Gingerol is a is also potent anti-inflammatory agent, which means it may be useful in fighting heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis. Antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anticancer activity have also been reported. Gingerol has been reported to not only reduce pain levels in individuals suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, but also to improve mobility.

Ginger is also heating by nature. If you have Pitta imbalances such as ulcers or heartburn, check first with an Ayurveda expert to see how best to use ginger in cooking.

Purchasing Spices

Turmeric, black pepper and ginger are all sold in the supermarkets in a ground form. While the pre-packaged, ground forms of black pepper and ginger may add flavor to your food, they are mostly deficient in their health benefits.

Ideally black pepper and ginger should be bought in their whole form and then ground or chopped at the time of cooking. To purchase high quality herbs, visit a local organic grocery or spice shop, or order them from a spice retailer online. Always use organic herbs that have their full range of nutrients and are not irradiated or sprayed with pesticide.

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Kapha Detox Diet — Act Now to Avoid Springtime Allergies and Colds

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During late winter and early spring (when the weather is cool and wet) Kapha predominates in our environment. This is the time when all of us need to put attention on balancing Kapha dosha. Additionally, this is the key time of the year to put attention on creating a strong and balanced digestive capability. Why? Because springtime is when “ama” (toxins) that have accumulated in our bodies over winter start “melting” and being released throughout our physiology. A strong, healthy digestion will help us metabolize and eliminate these deposits of wastes and impurities. This, in turn, will help us to avoid allergies and spring colds. Try this diet for 2 to 3 weeks before winter transitions into spring. (Please note that this is specifically a detox diet that is not meant to be followed for  extended periods of time.)

Main Principles of Spring, Kapha-Reducing Diet

  • Food should be freshly prepared, preferably in your own home.
  • Do not use frozen or canned foods
  • Try to avoid leftovers (food that has been cooked and then refrigerated. This includes most deli foods, such as pasta salad, potato salad, etc.)
  • Use organically grown foods as much as possible

Items to Avoid: During the Kapha detox diet, avoid the following:

Red meat

Oily or heavy food preparations such as fried foods, cream sauces or heavy desserts.

Raw vegetables and salads (! I know! But raw foods can be difficult to digest if you do not have a robust digestive capacity. Remember, this is a 2 or 3 week diet designed to boost and balance your digestion as well as reduce ama and balance Kapha.)

Hot spices such as chilies, hot peppers or jalepeno

Carbohydrates: this means cutting out pizza, bread, cookies, candy chocolate, cocoa, pastries and baked goods. Freshly made chapattis or flatbreads are the exception to this rule.

Be selective with diary: avoid curdled milk products such as yogurt (except if you are drinking lassi), cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream. Do not ice cream, or any frozen desserts. Opt for ghee over butter.

Only eat fresh fruit. Avoid jam or dried fruits, except soaked figs and raisins. In this case, raw is fine. Ayurveda considers ripe fruit to be “cooked by the sun” and easy to digest. Cooked apples or pears is a perfect breakfast choice, recommended by Ayurvedic experts to “create bliss” in the body.

Cold anything: No cold water or iced drinks.

Other drinks to avoid: carbonated drinks, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, bottled or canned fruit or vegetable juices.

Sour foods: avoid vinegar or vinegar-containing condiments such as catsup, mustard, pickles, olives, relishes, etc.

Avoid processed soy products like tofu, tempeh, soy dogs, etc.

If you feel the need to follow a non-vegetarian diet, freshly cooked chicken is the best option during this Kapha-reducing diet.

What CAN You Eat?

Enjoy cooked vegetables, grains, legumes (beans, dals), most fresh fruits (better to eat sweet fruits rather than sour. Also, avoid heavy fruits such as bananas and avacodo), nuts and seeds.

Proportionately, eat more vegetables and less grains. Green, leafy greens are a great option at this time of year. Try to include one cup every day.

Barley is the ideal Kapha-reducing grain. Millet, oats, rye, and kashi are good grains at this time of the year. Couscous and quinoa can be enjoyed several times a week, but not every day. Rice and pasta should only be eaten once or twice a week and only at noon.

Low-fat milk is fine to eat if it is boiled with a pinch of ginger or turmeric. (Honey can be added when the milk is cool enough to sip. Honey has an astringent quality that makes it the ideal sweetener for Kaphas.)

A vegetarian diet is helpful in maintaining a healthy weight and good digestion.

Fresh soups are easy to digest and nourishing.

If you like deserts, cooked fruit or homemade fruit crisps are recommended.

Spice your food at every meal. This will help the boost your digestive process. Favor ginger, black pepper, mustard seeds, oregano, sage, thyme, mint, basil, turmeric, cinnamon and cloves.

 

Panchakarma Treatments

Spring is the ideal time to enjoy Panchakarma treatments, the traditional detoxification and rejuvenation therapies of Ayurveda. Panchakarma treatments will help to remove toxins and imbalances that have accumulated within the body’s tissues over the winter months. Late winter Panchakarma can help you to avoid allergies during the spring and early summer.

For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Center website:

www.theraj.com

Ayurvedic Treatments Help Combat Heart Disease

 

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Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS) are fragments of molecules that are electrochemically unstable. They are like tiny molecular “sharks” that damage every living cell and help cause problems such as heart attacks, cataracts, arthritis and cancer.

Pollution, poor diet, smoking, second-hand smoke, alcohol, pesticides, excessive exposure to sunlight, chemotherapy, and stress are know to contribute to the uncontrolled formation of free radicals, which can then initiate chain reactions capable of causing extensive damage to normal cells and tissues.

Free radicals are damaging because they are unstable molecules containing oxygen. Just as oxygen rusts automobiles and contributes to the burning of forests, so the oxygen in free radical molecules “rusts” and “burns” biological molecules within each cell. The resulting damage tears apart cell membranes, destroys the cell’s energy-producing mechanisms and disarranges the genetic code in the DNA.

This damage not only helps cause 80% to 90% of all diseases, but is also produces wrinkles, grey hair, stiffness and other signs of “normal” aging.

Panchakarma Removes Free Radicals, Promotes Heart Health

Studies on the Panchakarma treatments (traditional Ayurveda detoxification and purification therapies) given at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa found that Panchakarma:

  1. Reduces lipid peroxide levels. Lipid peroxides are fat molecules that have been damaged by free radicals. They are thought to be important in the initiation of atherosclerotic heart disease. Lipid peroxide levels in the blood are uses as a measurement of free radical activity.
  2. Balances biochemistry and improves cardiovascular risk factors: a) *VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide) rose 80% three months after Panchakarma treatment; this is significant because VIP is responsible for dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the heart. b) *HDL, or “good” cholesterol increased 75% three months after treatment. HDL protects against atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and is associate with decreased incidence of heart disease.

It is proposed Panchakarma achieves its results through tree possible mechanisms.

  1. The special, pure oils used in the cleansing program, massage and heat treatments of Panchakarma replace damaging lipid peroxides in the cells.
  2. Panchakarma treatment loosens lipid peroxides from the cells and sets them into the bloodstream from where they can be eliminated.
  3. The deeply soothing and relaxing influence of Panchakarma reduces biochemical stress factors that contribute to free radical formation.

Panchakarma fights free radicals with unique effectiveness. For more information on Panchakarma treatments, visit the The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

 

Improve Digestion, Improve Health—Tips for Healthy Eating

According to Ayurveda, the two most important pillars of good health are diet and digestion. Add proper sleep and you’ve got a very simple template for creating health and vitality. What you eat and how your body processes what you eat are key factors in determining not just your level of health, immunity, but also our emotional mindset.

Did you know that over 90% of our body’s serotonin is located in our digestive tract? And 50% of our body’s dopamine? The enteric nervous systerm (ENS) consists of a mesh-like system of neurons that governs the function of our gastrointestinal system. It manufactures more neurotransmitters than the central nervous system and has been referred to as our second brain. This amazing system alters its response depending on factors such as nutrient composition and bulk. There is no longer any challenge to the statement, “what you are what you eat.”

In addition, according to Ayurveda, if we are not able to properly digest our food, either because of the poor quality of the food we are eating or because of the poor quality of our digestive fire, a sticky toxin (ama) is created that gets absorbed into the body and ends up building up in the joints and tissues, blocking the proper circulation of nutrition and information to those areas. Ama can also trigger an immune response, leading to disorders such as chronic fatigue, asthma, and psoriasis.

Here are some simple Dos and Don’ts for improving your digestion at home:

  1. DO Savor your meals

Don’t divide your attention by reading, working, watching television, and specially driving. Eating mindlessly doesn’t allow you to properly taste and digest your food. You’ll feel unsatisfied and want to eat more, even though you are full

  1. DON’T bolt from the table immediately after finishing your meal.

Sit quietly for a few minutes so that your body can settle into its digestive rhythm.

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  1. DO include all six tastes in a meal

Sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each taste satisfies a different need. Missing one or more of the tastes can result in cravings.

  1. DO drink plenty of warm or room temperature water throughout the day (although during meals you should only sip water moderately.) Sipping water during the day helps keep the digestive tract flushed of accumulated toxins.
  2. DON’T eat heavy foods

Red meat, leftovers, processed foods and deep-fried foods are either hard to digest or lack energy-giving freshness, and will sit in your digestive tract causing toxins to accumulate.

  1. DO favor light, nutritious foods. Fill up on sweet, juicy fruits and vegetables. The fresher and purer the produce, the better.
  2. DON’T drink cold beverages

Cold drinks and foods douse the digestive fire.

  1. DO eat freshly cooked meals whenever possible
  2. DO visit an Ayurveda expert

An Ayurveda expert can determine your individual mind/body balance and pinpoint any areas of imbalance. An individualized diet and routine will help address imbalances and put you back on the road to health.

10 DO have regular Panchakarma treatments.

Panchakarma, the traditional purification and detoxification treatments of Ayurveda help remove accumulated toxins while nourishing the physiology.

For more information on Panchakarma treatments and programs to improve digestion, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

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Is Aging Necessary? Ayurveda Approach to Maintaining Youth and Vitality.

What is the aging process? In some cases it is the inevitable result of wear and tear on our system. But in many cases, what we consider normal effects of age are really the results of years of accumulated toxins and impurities taking their toll on our bodies.

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Stiffness, chronic disorders, memory loss, insomnia, decrease in skin tone…too often the myriad of problems that confront us in our later years are in fact manifestations of deep underlying imbalances that may have been deposited in our physiology as long ago as childhood. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, chemicals from food, water and our environment—any of these influences may still be buried deep in our tissues. If fact, the earlier our exposure to these, the more likely it is that their effects are present at deeper, more fundamental levels in our physiology.

Addressing Deep-Seated Imbalances

The traditional purification and detoxification therapies of Ayurveda, Panchakarma, are designed to dissolve and remove impurities from the dhatus or tissues of the body. The longer the program, the deeper level of purification can be provided. At The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa, Panchakarma programs range from three days to 21 days. Over the last years we’ve seen a growing trend towards longer treatments, reflecting the growing need of a maturing population to address deep-seated imbalance that are beginning to show themselves as “signs of aging” or worse, as chronic disorders.

Different levels of Purification: Understanding the Dhatus

To understand the levels of purification it is helpful to understand the Ayurvedic understanding of the sequential creation of tissues in the body. Ayurveda recognizes seven levels of bodily tissues:

  1. Rasa: blood plasma, lymph
  2. Rakta: red blood (hemoglobin, or oxygen-carrying compound)
  3. Mamsa: muscle
  4. Medha: fat
  5. Asthi: bone
  6. Majja: central nervous system and bone marrow
  7. Shukra: ova and sperm

Each tissue level is constantly reformed and nourished on a daily basis. Each level of the tissues nourishes the next. Thus a balanced rakta level can only be created from a fully developed and balanced rasa level, and so on. Impurities within one level of tissue can interfere with the ability to create balanced tissue at the next level.

Levels of Panchakarma

A three-day purification treatment can be very powerful in refreshing and energizing the physiology, ridding the body of day-to-day stress and fatigue. The effect of a three-day treatment would be most likely to be experienced more on the rasa and rakta level of the body.

Longer treatments dissolve ama (impurities) and stresses, and nourish deeper tissue levels; the medha, asthi, majja and shurkra levels. This helps in transforming the vital organs, the brain, nervous system, and eventually the reproductive tissues. As impurities are loosened in each tissue level, more intelligence can flow into these areas. This level of restoration, at the very basis of each organ and tissue, can help reset the essential functioning of the body.

(Although this is not relavant to the theme of aging, you can see why minimum of seven days of Panchakarma is recommended to those who want to have children. Because shurka (ova and sperm) is the final tissue level, nourished by every other tissue level, all seven tissue levels should be healthy and balanced before conception.)

If it is not possible to participate in longer, extended treatments, start with a consultation with an Ayurveda expert to find out your level of balance and imbalance. Ultimately, the most important contribution to our overall state of health is our every day lifestyle. Daily oil massage, the proper diet and routine and herbal recommendations that target specific imbalances can help extend our experience of health and vitality throughout our entire life.

For more information on Panchakarma treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

 

Keeping Balanced During Kapha Season

The change from Vata season to Kapha season is not as clear as the change from Kapha to Pitta or Pitta to Vata. Both Vata and Kapha are characterized by cold. When the dry cold of fall and early winter transforms into a wetter cold, this heralds the switch of seasons. Often this change occurs in February or March. But if your climate is exceptionally cold and dry, the increase in Kapha may not happen until March.

During Kapha season, cold is accompanied by increased moisture (snow or rain), cloud-covered days and a feeling a heaviness. You may feel a tendency to “hibernate” during this time—and you may also be more likely to catch a cold or flu.

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Lifestyle Tips for Kapha Season

Here are some lifestyle tips to help you stay balanced, warm and dry during Kapha season.

Eat hot food—hot in temperature and in spices as well.

Drink hot, stimulating drinks, such as teas with ginger.

Cut down on refined sugars. Substitute raw, unheated honey instead. Honey is the only sweetener that is also astringent and has the ability to reduce Kapha. Be sure not to heat your honey and only add it to hot drinks when they are at “sipping temperature”.

Favor foods with the following tastes: astringent (such as beans), spicy (chili peppers or curry powder, for example) and bitter (bitter greens and spinach). While you may find yourself tempted to start eating more salads as spring arrives, it is better to avoid cold foods.

Early to bed, early to rise will help maintain health in both Vata and Kapha seasons.  As Kapha season progresses, the sun rises earlier and earlier. If we are constantly waking up after the sun rises, during the Kapha time of the morning from 6:00 am to 10:00 am, we will feel sluggish and tired all day. This habit can result in the build-up of impurities (ama), which can predispose us to allergies and congestion.

Try to exercise in every morning. Getting some good, brisk exercise during the Kapha time of the morning (6:00 – 10:00) will help you maintain a healthy balance during this wet and cold season. Just as sleep is the number-one tool for balancing Vata, and as diet is the number-one tool for balancing Pitta, exercise is the number one tool for balancing Kapha.

Get the Most from Your Food

Digestion tends to be sluggish during Kapha season. Here are some ways to help you perk up your digestive fires:

Try eating a ginger pickle before lunch or dinner. To make a ginger pickle, slice a thin piece of fresh ginger root (peeled). Sprinkle the slice with lemon juice and salt and eat it about 15 minutes before a meal.

Be sure to remain seated for 5 to 10 minutes after you finish eating in order to give your digestion a chance start processing the meal.

Diet

Eat More

Light, dry, and warm foods

Foods that are spicy, bitter and astringent

Fruits which are lighter, such as apples and pears

Raw, uncooked honey: honey is the only sweetener that decreases Kapha because it has an astringent quality along with sweetness. (Do not cook with honey. Honey can be added to drinks such as tea when the temperature is “sip-friendly”. Heated honey can interfere with digestion and create ama.

Lighter grains such as barley and millet

Eat Less

Heavy, oily and cold foods

Sweet, sour and salty foods

Heavy or sour fruits, such as oranges, bananas, pineapples, avocados, coconuts, melons, figs and dates

Sugar and sugar products

Nuts

Wheat, rice or oats

Tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potato and zuchini

Salt

Sore Throat Relief

If you feel a sore throat coming on, try taking 3/4 teaspoon of raw honey mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric. The astringent tastes of turmeric and honey help to dry up congestion and prevent a sore throat. Of course, if the symptoms last more than two days, be sure to see your doctor.

Kapha season is also the perfect time to check in with an Ayurveda expert or to schedule Ayurvedic detoxification and purification treatments (Panchakarma). For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

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Improving Digestion Without Increasing Vata

According to Ayurveda, good digestion is the key to good health. When one’s digestion has been compromised, a light diet is often a recommended step in helping to get agni (the digestive “fire”) back in working order. Recently someone expressed concern about adopting this light diet. His concert was that he did not want to lose weight or increase Vata, which was already out of balance.

Eating light does not necessarily mean eating less—it means eating substantial quantities of lighter foods. Foundational to Ayurveda’s dietary advice is becoming attuned to your body’s signals. If your body is telling you that it is hungry, you need to eat. Otherwise, your agni (digestive fire), not having any food to digest, will start to digest your bodily tissues and you will lose weight. If you are trying to maintain a constant weight, eat when you feel hungry, even if the sensation is not very strong.

As you become more and more balanced, that feeling of hunger should begin to appear at mealtimes, especially at noon when your digestion is naturally stronger. And over time, you’ll find that at each mealtime you will have developed an appetite that suits your ability to digest and that maintains your weight.

Your ability to digest will be helped by a regular exercise program.

Of course when the advice is given to eat when hungry, this means to eat fresh, pure foods. Ayurveda recommends foods that are abundant in prana — the universal life-force that gives life to all life. These would include organic fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy oils. Foods such as canned and processed food, foods prepared with chemical fertilizers or sprays, and left-over foods would not be considered foods that contain “life-force”.

To increase muscle mass, favor fleshy fruits like raisins, dates, figs and mangoes, all of which specifically nourish muscle tissue.

Also helpful for digestion is lassi, a drink made from freshly prepared yogurt mixed with water. You can add sweetener and spices such as cardamom to taste.

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PURE FOODS

Fruits

Apples, Kiwi, Prunes, Apricots, Loquat, Tangerines, Bananas, Lychee, Pomegranate, Cantaloupe, Mango, Papaya, Cherries, Melons, Nectarines, Cranberry, Honeydew, Oranges, Grapefruits, Watermelon, Pineapples, Grapes, Peaches, Plums, Guava, Pears, Persimmon

Vegetables

Artichokes, Eggplant, Lettuce, Beets, Mustard, Greens, Asparagus, Daikon, Onions, Endive, Fennel, Maitake, Parsnips, Bok Choy, Peas, Broccoli, Green Beans, Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Radishes, Cabbage, Leeks, Lima Beans, Shallots, Carrots, Celery, Spinach, Cauliflower, Chard, Chanterelles, Sprouts, Corn, Squash, Shitake, Mushrooms, Watercress, Turnips, Yams

Sprouted Whole Grains

Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Millet, Quinoa, Rice: Basmati, Brown and Wild Rice.

Oils

Olive, Safflower, Sesame, Sunflower,

LEGUMES/BEANS

Garbanzo, Lentils, Mung and other Dals

Spices

Asafoetida (hing), Coriander, Basil, Cumin, Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Fennel seed, Parsley, Cardamom, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger

Nut/Seed

Brazil nuts, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts

Milks & Cheese

Unhomogenized Cow’s Milk, Seed milk, Hemp milk, Almond or other nut milk

Sweetners

Cane juice, Raw honey, Stevia, Fruit Juices, Maple Syrup

For more information on programs to improve digestion, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

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Staying Flexible And Pain Free as We Age

I’ve noticed that many friends over the age of 60 have switched their modes of exercise to less aggressive or intensive sports. Most of them were prompted by whispers from sore elbows and knees and/or aching muscles. This growing stiffness reflects in increase in Vata dosha that inevitably accompanies age.

According to Ayurveda, there are three stages of life. The first stage is Kapha-predominant. Childhood is all about growing and increasing structure. The second stage is Pitta-predominant. This stage begins at puberty and continues until we are around 50. The third stage is Vata-predominant and continues through the rest of our life. Many times what we consider signs of normal aging are actually the results of a growing imbalance of Vata: stiffness, memory loss, insomnia. By putting extra attention on keeping Vata in balance, as we grow older, we can often eliminate these symptoms.

Vata also increases when the weather is cold and dry. This is why many people experience more pulled muscles and joint problems in the winter, as well as during their later years.

As Vata increases, an imbalance in Vata can make the joints drier and more stiff. When Vata moves from its proper location is can start to dry out Kapha dosha, cutting down on Kapha’s natural lubricating abilities. To counter this tendency, daily oil massage can be extremely effective. Using warmed sesame oil (or olive or coconut oil for those with lots of Pitta); massage the joints in a circular motion each morning before your bath. If you are already experiencing joint pain, follow your massage by applying three to five minutes of moist heat to the joint.

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In addition, regular stretching of the joints and muscles through yoga and sun salutations helps keep the body limber. No matter what form of exercise you prefer, adding regular yoga exercises to your routine will help you enjoy your favorite sport for years to come. Yoga is unique in that it can strengthen and lengthen the muscles. Most forms of exercise that strengthen muscles also tend to shorten them. Shorter muscles tend to become stiffer due to the increase in collagen. Yoga, however, lengthens the muscles while they are being strengthened, and can prevent the increase of collagen.

Avoid straining when you exercise. Yoga (and any other form of exercise) should always be comfortable. Feel the stretch, but ease up if there is discomfort.

If you have significant joint problems, be sure to get medical attention. Joint problems commonly reflect ama in the system. Specific recommendations regarding diet, herbs, Ayurvedic topical preparations and Panchakarma can be made by an Ayurvedic expert.

For more information on consultations and Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Increased Digestive Power Equals Increased Health

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While many of us put great thought into choosing healthy foods to eat, consideration of our ability to digest our meals is less common. Ayurveda considers good digestion to be central to our health. The best way to maximize the health-promoting benefits of the food we eat is to increase our digestive power.

How do we know if our digestion is working well?

One of the easiest ways to judge the strength of our digestion is to notice how we feel after eating. If we feel light and comfortable after eating a full meal, the chances are good that we are processing our food well.

If we feel dull, heavy, fatigued, or have an uncomfortable feeling in the abdomen, this could mean that our agni, or digestive fire, is weak

Why does Ayurveda consider a strong digestion to be so important?

Our agni, or digestive power, must be strong in order to metabolize our food properly. When agni is strong, the body processes food efficiently, distributes the necessary nutrients to every cell, and burns off and eliminates waste products without leaving any toxins behind.

If our agni is weak, we don’t completely metabolize the food that we take in. The end product of partially digested food is a sticky, noxious residue that Ayurveda calls ama (impurities). When ama is absorbed into our body it blocks the channels of the body, inhibiting the normal functioning of Vata, Pitta and Kapha — the three governing principles of the physiology. One example of ama is the cellular debris that has been observed by Western medicine to build up over time in our body’s cells. This waste material impairs cellular functions and accelerates aging. It could even be a factor in causing the DNA to make mistakes, an etiological component in most cancers.

Because ama contributes to the early stages of many diseases, Ayurveda considers keeping our agni strong and our digestion healthy to be an essential component of prevention.

If you wake up in the morning with a white coating on your tongue, you need to start attending to your digestion. (And buy a tongue scraper to remove the build-up of toxins on your tongue.)

Other signs that your agni needs attention include bad breath and digestive complaints such as constipation or diarrhea.

Tips for Strengthening Agni

  1. Eat a “ginger pickle” before meals. Slice thin pieces of fresh ginger root, then sprinkle with lemon juice and salt. Eat a few pieces several minutes before your meal.
  2. Sip hot water throughout the day. Avoid cold or (worse) iced beverages.
  3. Get regular exercise. If you feel sleeping during the day, it is better to take a brisk, 30-minute walk rather than indulge in a daytime nap.
  4. Always eat sitting down and remain sitting for 10 minutes after you have finished your meal.

The traditional Ayurveda detoxification treatments, Panchakarma, offered at The Raj help dislodge toxins from the cells and flush out the ama that has been lodges in the system. The recommendations for diet and daily routine given by the Ayurveda experts will help prevent future accumulation of ama.

For more information on Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com