Taste: Your Mind/Body Messenger

savor

When you sit down to eat, slowly savoring the blends of spices and sauces, the freshly cooked foods and delicious dessert, instantaneous messages from your taste buds prepare your stomach for digestion.

How Taste Talks

Ayurveda describes the deep link between health and taste. It posits that taste “speaks” to Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas, the three governors of your body’s functioning. For example, if you eat a hot chili pepper, your eyes water, your body heats up and your mind gets a shot of mental clarity. The spicy taste increases Pitta, which is hot by nature. If you ate some mint chutney, it would cool off the hot Pitta. In this way, various tastes increase or decrease Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Ayurveda has long considered food as medicine. The tastes you choose to eat have the power to help bring your body into a health balance—or to create imbalance.

Which Tastes Are For You?

Ayurvedic texts divide all foods into six tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent. Sweet doesn’t just mean sugary—it includes breads, milk and cream, and rice. Astringent means dry foods such as beans, broccoli and apples. Bitter tastes include grees such as spinach. Pungent foods are spicy and hot.

How do you know which tastes to eat? The main guideline is to include all sixe tastes at every meal, to satisfy all three principles.

Besides making sure that you are eating all six tastes, favor—meaning, add more—of the tastes that balance your particular mind/body type. For instance, if you have more of slow-moving Kapha in your constitution, you will probably feel lighter, more active, and mentally sharper by eating more of the the tastes that decrease Kapha. Thus your diet should include more pungent spices such as ginger, bitter foods such as leafy greens, and astringent foods such as bean soups.

Here is an overview of how tastes influence the doshas:

Vata Balancing: sweet, sour, salty

Vata Aggravating: bitter, astringent, pungent

Pitta Balancing: sweet, astringent, bitter

Pitta Aggravating: sour, pungent, salty

Kapha Balancing: bitter, pungent, astringent

Kapha Aggravating: sweet, sour, salty

So, if your mind/body type is more Vata, favor sweet, sour and salty foods. And if you have a lot of fiery Pitta, eat more sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and avoid large quantities of pungent, sour and salty foods.

It is helpful to also pay attention to the time of year and which dosha is dominant in your environment. During the cold, dry, windy weather of fall and early winter, Vata dosha is naturally enlivened. At this time, start to reduce the amount of foods that increase Vata and begin to favor those spicy Pitta foods that you were avoiding all summer. Kapha increasing foods can also be enjoyed at this time. But as the late winter and early spring become increasingly wet, Kapha dosha begins to dominate and it is better to shy away from Kapha foods and add in more foods that increase Pitta. Continue to balance Vata, which may have build up over the past season. During the hot days summer is it best to minimize heating foods.

One easy way to make sure you are eating the right combination of tastes is to use Vata, Pitta and Kapha herbal seasonings, or churnas, which contain traditional spicy mixtures that target specific doshas.

Above all, Ayurveda says to enjoy your food. Whatever you are eating, relax, take your time, and enjoy. Savor the taste. Then your body’s important messenger can do its job.

For more information on creating a healthy balance in the body through Ayurveda treatments and consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

http://www.theraj.com

 

 

 

 

Summer Foods That Protect and Heal

For the US and other mid-latitude countries north of the equator, the sun’s rays in the summer months hit the Earth at a steeper angle than in the winter. Because the sun’s rays at this time are not as spread out, they hit the earth more directly. Therefore the environment absorbs more of the sun’s energy. As we are exposed to increased heat from the sun, the quality of Pitta, or heat, in our own physiology increases.

The sun gives off three kinds of ultraviolet waves throughout the year: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Only the UVA and UVB rays actually hit the earth. UVA rays are fairly consistent in intensity all year round. The amount of UVB rays that hit the earth, however, increase from April to October, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM. During this time we are essentially getting a double dose of light rays. If we expose our skin during this time it can contribute to conditions such as premature skin aging, eye damage, and skin cancers. UVB rays can also suppress the immune system, reducing our ability to fight off other maladies.

Luckily, the perfect organizing power of nature provides summer fruits and vegetables that actually have the capacity to protect our skin from damaging effects of UV rays.

Foods with Vitamin C

A medium-size red bell pepper provides more than 200 percent of the daily recommended amounts of vitamin C. Researchers have suggested that vitamin C can promote the repair of DNA that has been damaged by UV rays.

It also triggers the production of white blood cells. White blood cells are the cells of the immune system that help fight off germs and bacteria. One study found that people with diets high in vitamin C were less prone to wrinkles.

red-orange_t

Red and Orange Vegetables and Fruits

Red fruits and vegetables are rich in lycopene. a natural pigment and carotenoid, or antioxidant, responsible for the red color. Lycopene can combat free radicals (ions or molecules that can damage healthy cells and suppress our immune system.) In addition, it turns out that consuming lycopene can protect skin from sunburn. One study showed that the intake of 2.5 tablespoons of tomato paste daily can reduce the UV rays damage up to 50%.

Beta-carotene — another type of carotenoid found in red and orange produce (like carrots) — has been linked to reduced reactions to sunburns.

Orange and pink citrus fruits contain flavonoid, which has also been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against UV rays.

Spinach

Spinach contains lutein, a carotenoid that protects your skin from UV damage.

Other Health Creating Fruits and Vegetables

While not directly linked to protecting us from the increase in UV rays, many fruits and vegetables pack a lot of other health benefits. Since overexposure to UVB rays can suppress the immune system, it makes sense to enjoy foods that can help give our system an extra boost. Here are just a few:

Blackberries are high in rutin, a type of antioxidant that has been found to block an enzyme linked to the formation of blood clots, thus lowering the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Brussels sprouts contain sulfur compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation and activate cartilage-protecting proteins. These qualities suggest the vegetable may be helpful in treating rheumatoid arthritis.

Basil contains the antioxidant eugenol, which has been found to have cancer-fighting properties.

Kale contains 12 times the recommended daily amount of vitamin K. Vitamin K has been linked to decreased heart disease and osteoporosis.

Ayurveda Tips for Summer

Staying out of the mid-day sun, eating meals on time, choosing Pitta-reducing foods, avoiding strenuous activity, keeping well hydrated with room temperature water and other drinks, and eating lots of fresh produce are all simple steps you can take to help keep your Pitta pacified during the hot summer months.

Signs of an aggravated Pitta include excess stomach acid, gastritis, heartburn, skin eruptions, insomnia, and irritability. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, a visit with an Ayurveda expert can help to identify foods or habits that are aggravating Pitta and give recommendations to avoid more serious imbalances.

For more information on consultations with Ayurveda experts, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

 

Cleaning Fat Cells of Harmful Toxins

You can eat right, exercise regularly, take vitamins and herbal supplements, even meditate to get rid of stress—but in our modern industrial age, this it is still not enough to stay healthy. More and more research suggests that reducing environmental toxins is necessary to stay healthy.

Hazardous industrial chemicals absorbed by the body have been linked to immune, reproductive, endocrine and nervous system disorders. Every year more than 84,000 chemicals are put into American food and products. The Environmental Working Group, an American environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy, found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of infants born in the US.

Tests detected a total of 287 chemicals from pesticides, consumer products, food packaging and environmental waste, including BPA, flame-retardants, PCBs, and even DDT.

The culprit: “Lipophilic toxicants”

Lipophilic toxicants are chemicals that are stored in lipids, or fats, in the body. This means that they are not water-soluble. They attach to, and can only be removed by, fat. These chemicals generally have a half-life ranging from 2.5 to 15 years. A half-life is the time required for the concentration of a substance to decrease by half.

Because they are fat-soluble, the human body is unable to efficiently process these man-made chemicals, so they accumulate in the body over time, cause a wide range of symptoms and disorders. These chemicals also put stress on the liver, as they must be converted by the liver to become water-soluble.

The solution: Panchakarma

The traditional detoxification treatments of Ayurveda (Panchakarma) have been shown to be uniquely effective in ridding the body of these fat-soluble toxins. These treatments utilize non-toxic oils to loosen and remove lipid-soluble toxicants from their deposited sites in the body, allowing for their excretion.

No other detox treatment has been demonstrated to reduce these by sign cant amounts. Published research has shown a 50% reduction with a 5-day treatment.

Common Fat-Soluble Environmental Chemicals

PCBs

PCBs are only one of over 200 dangerous manmade chemicals that we are exposed to every day. Despite the fact that PCBs have been banned for over 30 years, 95 percent of Americans have light levels of PCBs and other toxic chemicals stored in their blood and organs.

Thousands of medical studies have linked PCBs to thyroid disease, diabetes, heart disease, liver damage, memory problems, etc. Breast milk may become contaminated, affecting infants.

BPA

A chemical used in plastics, BPA imitates the sex hormone estrogen in your body.

This synthetic hormone can trick the body into thinking it’s the real thing –has been linked to breast and others cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease. According to government tests, 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies!

Dioxins

Dioxins are by-products of a wide range of industrial processes such as paper manufacturing, mineral production, oil refining and chemical and municipal incineration. Dioxins affect our health by interfering with a cell’s ability to turn on and turn off genes. When dioxin in present in a cell, gene function can either be blocked or kept on continually.

How to Avoid Environmental Chemicals

  1. Avoid eating animal products. Fat-soluble chemicals build up in the fat cells throughout the food chain. When you eat fish and animal products, you are ingesting their life accumulation of toxins.
  2. Buy organically grown fruit and vegetables.
  3. Get a drinking water filter certified to remove atrazine.
  4. Go fresh instead of canned – many food cans are lined with BPA. – or research which companies don’t use BPA or similar chemicals in their products.
  5. Say no to receipts, since thermal paper is often coated with BPA.
  6. Avoid plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7. Not all of these plastics contain BPA, but many do – and it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to keeping synthetic hormones out of your body.
  7. Buy or create your own natural cleaning products. natural-cleaning-products-salt-vinegar
  8. Avoid products containing bleach.
  9. Do not use pesticides and herbicides in your garden and lawn.
  10. Enjoy regular yearly Panchakarma treatments. Sweating and other traditional forms of detox will not help with fat-soluble toxins. Even dieting alone (reducing fat cells) will not help, because remaining fat cells absorbs their toxic load. Ayurveda detox treatments reset digestion, and help eliminate fat-soluble toxins from the cells, brain and liver.

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

www.theraj.com

 

Summer Cool Down: Ayurveda Seasonal Guidelines for Pitta Season

During the summer months, both Pitta dosha and Vata dosha can become aggravated. The increasing power of the sun’s rays takes away the earth’s cooling qualities and allows dryness and heat to predominate. It also causes an increase in wind, which further decreases the quality of Kapha and increases Vata.

Exercise during the summer should be moderate because heavy or excessive exercise increases heat in the body. It can also aggravate Vata.

Staying up late also increases dryness, which is already being aggravated by the hot weather.

The intake of salty, pungent or sour foods and excessive exposure to sunlight will increase the accumulation of Pitta and Vata. Sweet, easy to digest foods, cool foods (never iced) and liquids tend to help bring the body back into balance. Remember that as in heat outside increases, our body automatically lowers its own internal temperatures. This means our power of digestion is lower in the summer. Eating light, cooked foods will help us get through the summer months without accumulating ama, the toxin that is created by  poorly digested food.

Light perfumes and fragrant flowers have a cooling influence on the mind and decrease the tendency toward anger, as well as other manifestations of increased Pitta.

Walking in the moonlight is recommended during the summer.

51c2888f81d4172aa540ef044acea126--beautiful-things-beautiful-moon

Try to stay out of the sun during the peak sun hours of the day.

Drink lots of pure, fresh water. Room temperature is best. Iced drinks (and food) will further compromise our ability to digest our food. While hot water can increase the heat in our body, hot water can also help ease Vata aggravation, and may be tolerated by those with more Vata or Kapha constitutions.

Remember that eating properly is one of the most important things that you can do to maintain a healthy balance. When we properly digest our food, it brings nourishment throughout all the systems and organs in the body. The old adage “You are what you eat” is indeed true.  Ayurveda gives us the knowledge to understand how to choose what will best support our unique mind/body system.

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

www.theraj.com

Ayurveda Provides a Leading-Edge Approach to Arthritis

Ayurveda often connects joint pain to Vata dosha. While other factors contribute to the development of arthritis and joint pain, an imbalance in Vata dosha is almost always involved. For this reason, one of the most important Ayurvedic recommendations for balancing Vata is regularity in one’s daily routine: eating at the same, exercising at the same time, and going to bed at the same time every day.

Modern science now lends strength to this seemingly simple Ayurvedic “fix”.

Research studies conclude that regular meal times, exercise and bed times could help keep help avoid and/or minimize the pain of arthritis. According to researchers, tiny biological clocks exist within our cartilage cells, which control thousands of genes that are involved in keeping in keeping our cartilage healthy and strong.

The most common form of arthritis is caused by the wear and tear of cartilage that helps our joints withstand the strain of lifting, kneeling, bending, gripping, etc. When the biological clocks in our joints are working properly, the genes are timed to be activated at different times of the day and night. This allows the daily repair to happen in progressive and sequential steps.

Older-Black-woman-rubbing-her-hands-Arthritis.jpg

As we age, however, our biological clocks in our joints can stop working properly and the repair process no longer gets carried out as it was designed. Researchers found that the simple act of keeping a regular daily routine actually helped keep the cartilage clocks working properly, allowing them to support the self-repair of the cartilage.

The study concluded that not only can a regular routine delay the onset of arthritis, it could also help relieve pain in those already suffering from the condition.

Ayurveda has long understood the role that the body’s circadian rhythm (our built-in body clock) has in maintaining proper functioning of the physiology. Now modern science supports this understanding disruptions to this process can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

In many cases, wear and tear in the joints are aggravated by the accumulation of ama. When ama, the toxic residue that results from poorly digested food, enters the blood stream, it can build up in areas of the body, including the joints. To remove ama from the joints and tissues, the traditional Ayurvedic treatments for purification and detoxification, known as Panchakarma, can be very helpful. These treatments help bring the aggravated doshas and accumulated ama back into the digestive tract for elimination. Once ama has been cleared, a program of prevention can be recommended. This will include lifestyle, diet and herbal recommendations that will help keep Vata in balance while supporting proper digestion so that ama no longer accumulated in the body.

For more information on programs for arthritis at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa, visit the web site:

www.theraj.com