Support Brain and Heart Health With Ayurveda

While most people now understand that cholesterol is not uniformly “bad”, not everyone knows that cholesterol, a fatty acid produced in the liver, is actually essential to many bodily functions. Without cholesterol the body could not build cell membranes or synthesize vitamin D, or hormones.

Western medicine teaches us that cholesterol is available in two forms: high-density cholesterol (HDL) (“good” cholesterol) and low-density cholesterol (LDL) (“bad” cholesterol).

LDL (Bad) Cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible.

HDL (Good) Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries. It is believed that HDL acts as a scavenger, carrying LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and eliminated from the body.

From the Ayurveda perspective, cholesterol is only “bad” when it is out of balance. It is “good” when it is balanced, supporting and lubricating the body’s numerous circulatory channels, known as the shrotas. There are many kinds of shrotas. There are micro-shrotas, which carry nutrients to the cells and waste from the cells. There are larger shrotas, such as the arteries and veins, which carry blood to and from the heart. And there are delicate shrotas that lead to our brain.

For our physiology to be healthy and functioning well, all of these shrotas must be flexible and elastic. When in balance, cholesterol plays an important role in lubricating and maintaining our shrotas.

“Good” cholesterol becomes “bad” cholesterol when we have large amounts of ama in our system. Ama is the sticky waste product of poor digestion, absorption and metabolism. It accumulates as a toxin in the fat tissues. Ama thatis present for a very long time and is not cleansed from the system begins to spread throughout the body, and blocks the important channels of circulation, nourishment and detoxification.

For years, high levels of “good” cholesterol and low levels of “bad” cholesterol has been linked to a healthy heart. In December of 2013, a study was released linking high levels of “good” cholesterol and low levels of “bad” cholesterol to good brain health as well. It was established that high “bad” cholesterol levels were linked to brain deposits that cause Alzheimer’s. A healthy ratio of good vs. bad cholesterol was associated with lower levels of the plaque in the brain. An unhealthy ratio was associated with higher levels of plaque. The findings were independent of age or presence of specific a specific gene that has been linked to some forms of Alzheimer’s.

Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol: Diet and Purification

Diet

To lower “bad” cholesterol Ayurveda recommends a two-pronged approach: Improve digestion and follow a Kapha-balancing diet to enhance fat metabolism.

A Kapha-pacifying diet favors bitter, astringent and pungent foods. Astringent foods include dried beans such as lentils, split mung dhal, and garbanzo beans. Astringent tastes also include many vegetables, such as the cruciferous family (brussels’ sprouts, food52_06-12-12-5121broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower) and fruits such as apples and pears. Bitter foods include greens such as spinach, chard, kale and mustard greens. The Kapha-pacifying grains include barely, quinoa, amaranth and oats (whole oats, not processed oats.) Avoid sweet tastes, including rice, wheat, pasta, breads, and sweet milk products. Avoid sour foods such as sour fruit (lemons), yogurt, cheese, tomatoes, vinegar, salad dressings, ketchup, mustard and pickles. Oddly enough, while it is recommended to avoid yogurt, digestive lassi, made of yogurt and water, turns out to be good for balancing cholesterol. Avoid sweet lassi and mango lassi and opt for the digestive lassi. Favor warm foods cooked with small amounts of ghee or olive oil.

Purification

Detoxification is a natural body process to reduce ama. Our natural ability to detox, however, can become compromised when our system becomes overloaded from stress, poor diet and environmental toxins. So what can we do to support the body’s natural process of detoxification? Panchakarma, the traditional purification treatments of Ayurveda, help remove ama from deep within the tissue beds. Cleansing and detoxifying the body also helps build up our natural digestive fire, which itself naturally burns ama from the body.

For more information on Panchakarma, the traditional purification and detoxification treatments of Ayurveda, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center:

www.theraj.com

 

 

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Foods with Zip: Ayurveda Tips for More Energy

If you are living in an area where winter is still transitioning into spring, you are experiencing the end of Kapha season. And while you may have lots of plans for activities such as gardening or exercising, some people may find that the season’s accumulation of kapha produces feelings of lethargy or depression. While we all might notice a bit of these symptoms, an individual with a predominant Kapha dosha will notice it much more.

This is a time when we might want to pay special attention to our diet to include energizing foods. Ayurveda has traditionally classified certain foods as either energizing (sattivic) or energy-draining (tamasic). Tamasic foods drain your energy because they are difficult to digest, produce impurities in your body and contain little vitality.

Here are Ayurveda food tips for boosting your energy levels:

Energizing (Sattvic) Food

Fresh fruit and vegetables

Juice made from fresh fruit and vegetables

Sweet dairy products such as milk and ghee (ideally organic)

Freshly prepared yogurt

Rice and wheat products such as bread, pasta and barley

Honey (unheated)almonds and honey

Raisins, dates, figs

Almonds

Olive oil

Split mung beans

Energy Draining (Tamasic) Foods

Red meat

Aged or fermented foods, including vinegar, pickled foods, and sour cheeses such as Swiss and cheddar. (Most sweet cheeses, such as cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese, mozzarella and ricotta are not tamasic.)

Smoked foods

Leftover foods

Frozen, canned and packaged foods

Onions and garlic

Mushrooms

Vegetables that grow below the ground (except for carrots and beets, which are energizing foods.) Potatoes are mildly energy-draining

Alcohol

Coffee (surprisingly!)

The old adage “You are what you eat” does not just refer to vitamins and proteins. Choosing primarily sattvic foods will affect rev up your energy levels and help maintain a balanced, happy state mind and emotions.

Visit an Ayurveda expert to learn more about the specific foods that will help create perfect balance in your individual physiology. The times of seasonal changes can be challenging to  our bodies and this is the perfect time for purification and dietary alertness.

www.theraj.com

 

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Choosing the Ideal Ayurveda Diet for Weight Loss

1342968_12234562_picGiven all the information on doshas and imbalances, on the six tastes, and on various food qualities, how do we ultimately decide what food is best for us? While it is true that a person with a particular mind/body balance is most likely to over-accumulate the dosha that predominates, this is not always the case.

Due to our modern lifestyle, filled with so much sensory stimulation, computers, travel, stress, multi-tasking and irregular sleep habits, a large percentage of people end up with some kind of Vata imbalance. So while it is true that a Vata dominated type will most likely develop Vata imbalances, Pitta and Kapha types can also  find themselves with Vata imbalances.

Those trying to lose weight often assume that they should avoid Kapha-type foods. But in fact it could easily be that an underlying Vata or Pitta imbalance is causing poor digestion, triggering food cravings and comfort eating, thus leading to weight gain. Eating light salads, raw vegetables and other light, cold foods (and in some cases spicy foods) would only serve to aggravate these imbalances and work against weight loss. In creating an Ayurveda weight loss program or any other kind of targeted health regime, it is recommended to see an expert in Ayurveda pulse assessment before committing to a particular diet.

It is important to defer, initially, to an intellectual understanding of recommended foods. Suppose you are craving chocolate. The taste of chocolate is both bitter and sweet. When we get cravings it usually means our body requires the nutrients naturally provided by foods with those tastes (especially the bitter taste which tends to go missing in our western diet). Rice and spinach provide sweet and bitter tastes and are probably the kinds of foods that what the body is actually looking for. But the mind turns that craving for sweet and bitter into a craving for chocolate. Bad habits can create “false” desires. Sometimes retraining the mind/body is necessary before we can trust our instincts to lead us to the proper diet. Once we develop truly natural eating habits, the body itself becomes the best Ayurvedic authority.

There are two different approaches to diet: balancing and purifying.  A balancing diet includes all six tastes but favors more of those that will help pacify the one or two doshas that are out of balance. A purifying diet targets the build-up of ama in the system. Ama is the end product of poorly digested food. It is said to be at the basis of the vast majority of illnesses and disorders. Because ama contributes to the early stages of so many diseases, reducing ama and enhancing digestion is a critical part of the Ayurvedic understanding of balanced health. Next week we’ll look at an ama-reducing diet and how we can promote ideal digestion.

To find information about Ayurveda Consultations, visit the website for The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center:

http://theraj.com/ayurveda/ayurvedic-diet.php

 

 

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Ayurveda: How Food’s Taste and Qualities Affect Balanced Health

Last week we looked at the Ayurveda principle of including all six tastes in every meal in order to assure balanced nutrition — and balanced doshas. This week we will explore the building blocks of both the doshas and the six tastes: the five “mahabhutas” or primordial elements of creation. These elements are earth (prithivi), water (jala), fire (tejas), air (vayu) and space (akasha). These elements combine in different ways to make up the three doshas and the six tastes.

Doshas

Vata is a combination of space (akasha) and air (vayu).

Pitta is a combination of fire (tejas) and, in lesser amounts, water (jala)

Kapha is a combination of earth (prithivi) and water (jala)

Tastes

Sweet is dominated by earth and water (prithivi and jala)

Sour is dominated by earth and fire (prithivi and tejas)

Salty is dominated by water and fire (jala and tejas)

Pungent is dominated by air and fire (vayu and tejas)

Bitter is dominated by air and space (vayu and akasha)

Astringent is dominated by air and earth (vayu and prithivi)

How the Tastes Affect the Doshas

Sweet, sour and salty tastes increase kapha and decrease vata

Pungent, bitter and astringent tastes decrease kapha and increase vata

Pungent, sour and salty tastes increase pitta

Sweet, bitter and astringent tastes decrease pitta.

As an example, we can see how vata, being made of the combination of air and space, would be aggravated by the bitter taste, which is dominated by air and space, as well as by the pungent and astringent tastes, which both contain the element of air. Qualities are increased by similar qualities and reduced by their opposites.

There are also additional pairs of food properties that can affect the balance of our doshas. These pairs are: heavy and light, cold and hot, and oily and dry.

Heavy and Light:

Heavy foods increase kapha and reduce vata

Light foods increase vata and reduce kapha

Cold and Hot

Cold foods increase kapha and vata and reduce pitta

Hot foods increase pitta and reduce vata and kapha

Oily and Dry

Oily foods increase kapha and reduce vata

Dry foods increase vata and reduce kapha

Not only do these qualities affect the doshas, they can also be natural signals regarding the nutritional value of the food. For example, heavier foods are harder to digest than lighter foods. If a person has a low digestive capacity, that person should take care to favor lighter foods. In the same way that a large log can snuff out a fire, too much heavy food can overload even a normal digestive system. This will result in the creation of ama, or impurties in the body. Common heavy foods include meat and oil and fatty foods.

Next week we will look into improving digestion, avoiding ama, and look at the difference between balancing and purifying diets. Ideally an Ayurveda consultation with an expert in pulse assessment will allow you to pinpoint the tastes and qualities of food that are best suited to balance your doshas and to enhance your digestion.

Find more information at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center:

www.theraj.com

Creating Balance Through Taste

One of the most basic principles in Ayurveda is that all of the six tastes should be included in every meal. This helps to assure that the food we are eating gives us complete nutrition, that our diet is balancing all three doshas, and that our food gives us a sense of satisfaction. Eating all six tastes has also been said to stimulate the proper sequence of the digestive process.

If you repeatedly omit some of the six tastes you may develop food cravings or find yourself searching the cupboards for “something more”. This can lead to weight gain or binging. The simple step of making sure you have included all of the tastes can help to overcome unnatural eating habits, often leading to easy and natural weight loss.

The six tastes are: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent (dry and puckering) and pungent (spicy).  If you have one or more doshas that are out of balance or that tend to go out of balance you will want to include greater quantities of certain tastes in order to balance your individual constitution. Different combinations of tastes bring different doshas into balance.  For instance, vata dosha is balanced by increased amounts of salty, sour and sweet tastes. Pitta is reduced by bitter, sweet and astringent tastes. And kapha is balance by pungent, bitter and astringent tastes.

Next week we’ll look at the six tastes and their connection with the five “mahabhutas”—the primordial elements of creation (earth, water, fire, air and space). This week we will review the six tastes one by one:

The Six Tastes

Sweet foods include: Sugar, rice, milk, cream, butter, ghee and wheat products.

Sweet foods, because they are cold and heavy, increase kapha. If eaten in excess they can cause weight gain, a dull or sleepy mind, and congestion. Vata types benefit from sweet foods because sweet adds steadiness and physical energy. Sweet can also help pacify pitta because it cools the body.

Sour foods include: Lemons, cheese, yogurt, tomatoes, grapes, oranges, berries and other sour fruits.

Sour foods enhance digestion and increase thirst. Excessive thirst is a pitta characteristic, but because sour foods trigger the desire for more water, they can also make your body heavier (more kapha). Too much sour food can create sharp, acidic problems such as ulcers, blood chemistry imbalances, acne and rashes, and heartburn. Vata types benefit from eating sour food because it stimulated digestion.

Salty foods include: Salt, soy sauce, seaweed, and kelp

Salt is hot and spicy, increasing Pitta in the body. It also attaches itself to water molecules, making tissues heavier—a kapha function. Too much salt can lead to pitta disorders, such as inflammation, acne and overeating. Kapha disorders, such as becoming overweight, are also aggravated by too much salt. Salt is a good taste for balancing vata b because it stimulates and steadies digestion.Foods_(cropped)

Bitter foods include: Bitter greens (endive, chicory, mustard greens, parsley, sprouts), leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard), brussels sprouts, zucchini, celery, sprouts, beets and grapefruit.

Because of their light, cool, dry quality, too much bitter foods can put vata out of balance, diminishing the appetite and causing weight loss, headaches, unsteadiness, dry skin and weakness. Like sweet tastes, bitter foods cool the body and are therefore pitta pacifying.

Astringent foods include: Beans, lentils, dal, pomegranates, apples, pears, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, grains such as rye, buckwheat and quinoa, turmeric, marjoram and tea and coffee.

Astringent foods are dry and cooling. For vata types, astringent food can cause constipation or gas. Like bitter, this taste is effective in pacifying pitta and kapha.

Pungent foods include: Cayenne, chili peppers, radishes, ginger, anis, onions, horseradish and spicy foods.

Pungent foods are hot and spicy. For kapha imbalances, pungent foods are ideal for heating up your body and clearing congestion. Too much spicy food can cause excessive thirst, irritation, or anger in pitta types or in anyone during hot weather.

One simple option is to use “churnas”, special spice mixtures that are formulated to include all six tastes. However this shortcut has its drawbacks. Getting the bitter taste from spices is not going to give your the same exposure to the health-creating vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting components contained in foods such as brussel’s sprouts and kale.

A consultation with a Vedic expert can help you determine which tastes should predominate in your meals in order to provide optimum balance. For more information on  consultations at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center, visit

www.theraj.com

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Nature’s Wonderfood…Brussels Sprouts?

brussel-sprouts-92240_640I’ve never understood why brussels sprouts have such a bad reputation. Smothered in butter and sprinkled with salt, they have always been one of my favorites. Lately I’ve switched to olive oil and still love them. Given their long list of amazing health benefits, brussels sprouts are vegetables that should be added to everyone’s grocery list.

I’ve come across a few tips for cooking brussels sprouts to get the most out of their health-improving benefits and the most out of their flavor. You’ll find them down at the end of the blog. But first, let’s look at what this wonderfood does for us.

1. Researchers now believe that brussels sprouts have a unique ability to protect DNA. Daily consumption of 1.25 cups of brussels sprouts was linked with the improved stability of DNA within white blood cells.

2. Brussels sprouts help fight cancer. They beat out kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage (all part of the cruciferous vegetable group) in providing glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are the chemical starting points for a variety of cancer-protecting components. Two examples:

–Sinigrin is a glucosinolate that prompts pre-cancerous cells to “commit suicide” – a natural process called apoptosis. According to scientists at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, the effect is so powerful that even the occasional meal of brussels sprouts can destroy precancerous cells.

–Sulforaphane (another glucosinolate in brussles sprouts) has been proven to trigger the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify the body of cancer-causing chemicals. They have also been shown to inhibit chemically induced breast cancers in animal studies. Research published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that sulforaphane can halt the proliferation of breast cancer cells, even in the later stages of their growth.

3. Brussels sprouts, especially when steamed, can help lower cholesterol levels. Apparently steaming the mini-cabbages allows them to better bind with bile acids in the digestive tract. This makes it easier for bile acids to be excreted from the body. The result is a lowering of cholesterol levels.

4. Protein! While many vegetables contain small amounts of protein, brussels sprouts have enough to make them a meat-substitute.

5. Brussels sprouts are full of things that we need: Vitamin A helps the body fight against infection (and promotes a glowing complexion).  With three times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, this super-vegetable helps maintain healthy tissues and organs. The vitamin D in brussels sprouts aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphate, allowing for stronger bones. It also supports brain cell functioning. The vegetable is also an excellent source of vitamins B6 and K and contains iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.

6. Brussels sprouts boost fertility in men and women due to their high levels of folic acid. Folic acid helps line the womb with the proper nutrients, thus raising sperm survival chances. Folic acid has also been associated with increased sperm levels.

The Washington Health Foundation recommends eating 1 1/2 cups of brussels sprouts two to three times a week. They also recommend adding additional cruciferous vegetables twice a week and upping their amount to 2 cups.

Here’s a more expanded list of health-promoting cruciferous vegetables:

Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, daikon radish, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, rutabaga, turnip, watercress.

Cooking Brussels Sprouts

Overcooking brussels sprouts has two disadvantages. Not only do you lose much of their nutritional value and taste, they also begin to have an unpleasant odor. To get the most out of the vegetable, cut each sprout in quarters and let them sit for 5 minutes, then steam for an additional 5 minutes. (There is a whole science behind letting them sit after you chop them — some even suggest adding lemon juice at this stage. For now lets just say it helps activate healthy enzymes). Or chop and add to a stir-fry mix. Or, if you really don’t like the taste, chop them into tiny pieces and sprinkle over a salad. While raw brussels sprouts won’t yield the vegetable’s full nutritional value, you will still get a great deal of the benefits of this wonder-food.

To take a dosha test and find out what vegetables best support your body type, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

http://www.theraj.com

Healthy Diet, Healthy Brain

Continuing our celebration of fruits and vegetables, it turns out that there is a direct correlation between a healthy diet and a healthy braIn.

Days before  a first-ever G-8 summit on dementia in London, leading English physicians wrote an open letter to the Health Secretary saying that the benefits of diet far outweighed “dubious drugs” in the battle against dementia.  They urged that the best strategy for preventing Alzheimer’s and other memory-affecting diseases was a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil.

The link between diet and healthy brains is not new. Back in 1991 a study at California’s Loma Linda University suggested that meat eaters had double the risk of developing dementia as vegetarians. (No difference was observed between lacto-ovo-vegetarians and vegans.)

Good Diet Key to Regaining Memory

In 2011, researchers from VA’s Puget Sound Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center documented an important link between diet, exercise, and the development of Alzheimers.

According to lead author Laura D. Baker, PhD, for those who are aging normally, regular exercise can help offset the “potential pathological effects of a western-type diet on Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in the brain”.  But for adults who have already have an existing condition of mild cognitive impairment, improvement only came when a change in diet was added to the regular exercise routine. Switching to diet low in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates actually improved memory function.

Results in Only 4 Weeks!

The team found that a diet low in saturated fat and high in foods such as whole grains and vegetables could favorably alter the levels of certain markers for Alzheimer’s in only four weeks. This diet improved visual memory not just for older adults with mild levels of Alzheimer’s disease but for healthy older people too.

While these studies have been small in scope, they all lead to the encouraging conclusion that we do not have to wait for a magic drug to appear on the market to protect us from dementia. Instead there are simple life-style changes that we can make today to keep our brains alert and functioning in good order. By favoring regular exercise and a diet of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and by keeping sugar and refined carbohydrates to a minimum, we can reduce the risk of dementia and at the same time significantly increase our level of physical health and well being. Win/win!

To take a free dosha quiz and find out more about what fruits and vegetables create balance for your physiology, visit The Raj website:

http://www.theraj.com

Your Sugar or Your Health?

The New Year is approaching and it’s time for that commitment to better life choices: the New Year’s Resolution.  I like the “fresh start” approach to a new year. A while ago I discovered a great recipe for success. I start the year with a week of Ayurveda detoxification treatments, known as Panchakarma, and pick one New Year’s resolution. The treatments remove imbalances that trigger food cravings and the resolution resets my thinking in one manageable area. It is a winning combination. This year my resolution is to cut down on my sugar intake.

Recently a London cardiologist was in the news saying sugar is so addictive it should be considered a danger to society and should be regulated like alcohol.  The biggest surprise in reading the story was the long list of health woes connected with eating too much sugar. I expected to hear about obesity and diabetes. But reading about the link to heart disease, dementia, liver damage and cancer was a shocker. It turns out that a sugary diet messes with a number of important hormone levels, chemicals and processes in the body.  Today I’m just going to look at two studies that inspired my resolution.

Sugar makes you depressed and lethargic

Most of us know that a high sugar intake signals the pancreas to produce large amounts of the hormone insulin, often causing a huge drop in energy after the initial “sugar high”.

But did you know that sugar blocks the action of orexins — neurotransmitters that regulate appetite, energy expenditure and wakefulness? (The most common form of narcolepsy is caused by a lack of orexin in the brain.)  High levels of orexin have been linked with happiness while low levels are linked to sadness and depression. The suppression of orexin cells has been associated with obesity because that chemical has the responsibility of telling the “good fat” in our bodies to burn calories. Blocking orexins can lead to dullness, depression, lethargy and obesity.

(The good news is that amino acids, or protein, “excite” orexin cells.  So by all means reach for almonds instead of a candy bar if you need a late afternoon energy boost.)

Sugar can addle your brain

Eating too much sugar can affect the brain in other ways.  A study released in 2013 looked at 248 brain scans of people aged 60 to 64 over a period of 4 years. All participants had blood sugar levels in the normal range at the start of the program. At the end of the four years it was discovered that those with the highest blood sugar levels had higher levels of shrinkage in the areas of the brain associated with memory and cognitive function. It is already established that type-2 diabetes is linked with dementia.

As I said, there is additional research linking sugar to heart disease, liver damage and cancer, but the information about sugar’s influence on the brain was enough to inspire my New Year’s resolution.

Alternative choices

Does this mean no sugar at all?  According to Ayurveda, sugar helps to balance Vata and Pitta. So my question is, how much sugar is okay and how much is too much?

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 a day for men. 1 teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams. There are about 10 teaspoons of sugar in a can of Coke Classic. There are about 5 teaspoons of sugar in a single serving of Cherry Garcia ice cream and almost 7 teaspoons of sugar in a single serving of Haagen-Das raspberry sorbet. If a pie requires 1 cup of sugar, divided by eight that means about 12 teaspoons per slice.  In other words, 6 teaspoons doesn’t get you very far if you are in the habit of snacking on sugary foods.

Thankfully there are a few options for those of us with a sweet tooth. Stevia has zero calories and won’t cause a jump in your blood sugar. I have friends who are great fans of Xylitol, which is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in beets, corn and berries. Because it is only partially absorbed by the body, it has a lower glycemic index and only around 9 calories per teaspoon. Honey has a lower glycemic index than white or brown sugar. However, honey should never be used in baking as it ferments when heated and creates a sticky toxin that blocks the body’s channels.

Ultimately the best course of action is simply to get out of the habit of needing sweets. Ayurveda recommends hot milk to counter the urge for sweets. Milk is considered a “sweet taste” but also provides amino acids (exciting the orexin cells!) and classical texts say milk has the ability to nourish all the tissues in the body within 24 hours. Of course always boil your milk first to make it easier to digest.

Later on I will share additional research detailing more ways that an overload of sugar can take a toll on our health. There is certainly a growing pile of evidence out there! In the meantime I look forward to enjoying increasing energy and alertness as I transition into a healthier new year.

Visit The Raj to learn more about Ayurveda

www.theraj.com



Eliminating Toxins Can Lead to Weight Loss

Environmental toxins are now being recognized as major contributors to obesity and recent research suggests that the removal of these toxins from our bodily tissues may be an effective treatment approach for treatment-resistant or chronic weight gain. Ayurveda offers a time-tested approach to removing toxins that is comfortable, safe, and, in fact, more effective than any other form of purification approach available today.

Many of the toxic chemicals that build up in our system over time (scientists estimate we have over 700 environmental chemicals in our bodies) are fat-soluble: this means they adhere to our fat tissues — and can stay there for up to 30 years. When we lose body fat, these chemicals get released from shrinking fat cells only to be reabsorbed by other fat cells.

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 Center in Fairfield, IA showed that  50% of these dangerous toxins were actually removed from the body with a 5-day treatment program.  No other method of detoxification has been shown to dissolve this class of fat-soluble toxins from our cell walls and then eliminate them from the body.

Not all toxins come from our environment. It turns out that we 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 throughout our physiology, 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 Ayurveda detox treatments (Panchakarma) are also helpful for this type of toxin. Panchakarma reduces imbalance Vata as the same time that it helps “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.

For more information on Ayurveda weight-loss programs, please visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Ayurveda Weight Loss Tips

Most people who lose weight gain it back within a few years – with many regaining even more than they lost. What they do not know is that there are a number of factors that may be triggering the weight-gain that are beyond their ability to control.

Mind/Body Types

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.

Of utmost importance in maintaining balance is keeping the channels of circulation in the body clear.  One specialty of Ayurveda is Panchkarma. These specialized Ayurveda detoxification treatments help “chisel away” impurities and toxins that have been slowly building up in the body over years.

Diet and Digestion

Crucial to maintaining balanced health is good digestion. Suppressing the appetite means suppressing the digestive “fire”. As a result, food 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.

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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Drink warm or hot water frequently during the day. This helps flush the digestion tract of accumulated toxins.

4. 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.

5. 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. Eating 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 The Raj Ayurveda Health spa:

www.theraj.com