Most people who lose weight gain it back within a few years – with many regaining even more than they lost. What they may not know is that there may be a number of factors triggering their weight-gain that are beyond their ability to control.
According to Ayurveda, different mind/body types have different body shapes and sizes that are natural — and healthful — for that particular physiology. The goal of Ayurveda is simply to maintain or restore one’s natural balance. As one restores balance, weight will naturally shift back to what is normal for that particular physiology.
Diet and Digestion
Crucial to maintaining balanced health is good digestion. Suppressing our appetite means suppressing our digestive “fire”. As a result, the food we eat does not get digested or metabolized property. When the body is not nourished properly it begins to send messages to the brain that it is starving. The dieter gets cravings that cannot be ignored. This can lead to binge eating, creating further imbalances and weight gain.
Toxins: Environmental Toxins and Ama
Environmental toxins are now being recognized as major contributors to obesity and removal of these toxins may be an effective treatment approach for treatment-resistant or chronic weight gain. Researchers are pursuing indications that certain chemicals, which have been shown to cause abnormal changes in animals’ sexual development, can also trigger fat-cell activity — a process scientists call adipogenesis.
The chemicals under scrutiny are used in many products, from marine paints and pesticides to food and beverage containers. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one chemical, bisphenol A, in 95 percent of the people tested, at levels at or above those that affected development in animals.
The suspected link between obesity and exposure to “endocrine disrupters,” as the chemicals are called because of their hormone-like effects, has been called “plausible and possible.”
Exposed mice became obese adults and remained obese even on reduced calorie and increased exercise regimes.
Ayurveda offers a time-tested approach to removing fat-soluble toxins that is comfortable, safe, and, in fact, more effective than any other form of purification approach available today. A published research study (Sept./Oct. 2002 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine) on the Ayurvedic panchakarma (purification) treatments offered at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa in Fairfield, IA showed that 50% of these dangerous toxins were removed with a 5-day program. No other methods of detoxification have been shown to remove this class of fat-soluble toxins from the body.
Not all toxins come from our environment. We actually create some toxins ourselves due to poor digestion or poor food choices. Ayurveda refers to the toxins created by poor digestion as ama, a sticky residue that gradually clogs up the cells and channels of the body. This waste material can impair cellular functions and accelerate aging. It can also cause lethargy, fatigue, dullness, erratic eating habits and compulsive eating.
When ama blocks the channels of the body, Vata, the principle of movement, no longer flows property and can become trapped in the abdomen. This can stimulate an abnormal digestive “fire”. As a result, a person feels hungry and begins to eat excessively, beyond their actual need.
The specialized Panchakarma treatments can help “chisel away” impurities and toxins that have been slowly building up in the body over years. Removing these blockages and toxins allows the natural intelligence of the body to become more expressed. Cravings disappear and more natural eating habits are more easily established.
Five Weight Loss Tips
Ayurveda recommends five actions steps that are helpful for everyone – no matter what your body type. These tips are easy to implement and can bring about great changes in your over-all health and wellness.
- Eat a light evening meal favoring easy-to-digest foods (fresh vegetables, soups, grains such as barley and couscous). According to Ayurveda, digestion is weaker in the evening. Also, going to sleep just a few hours after eating slows digestion, metabolism and circulation. This leads to poor digestion and the accumulation of toxins, fat and promotes excess weight gain.
- Eat the largest meal of the day at lunch favoring a wide variety of warm, cooked, organic food. Digestion is strongest at noon and we have many active hours to metabolize the food before we sleep.
- Drink warm or hot water frequently during the day. This helps flush the digestion tract of accumulated toxins.
- Avoid eating heavy foods such as red meat, leftovers, packaged foods and deep-fried food. These are hard to digest or lack energy-giving freshness. “Eat fresh food, freshly prepared” sums up the essence of Ayurvedic food guidelines.
- Move! Exercise improves digestion, metabolism, elimination, body tone and strength and bone density. It helps us normalize weight gain. Try to take time every day to get out and walk. It is good to walk 15 minutes or so after eating. Walking after the evening meal is especially encouraged.
The basis of successful weight-loss is a deep understanding of the most fundamental causes of weight gain: imbalance of the doshas, poor digestion and accumulated toxins. Ayurveda offers a time-tested approach that ensures that a comfortable, healthy weight can be both established and maintained.
For more information on Ayurvedic weight-loss programs, visit