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:

WWW.THERAJ.COM

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:

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

Increased Digestive Power Equals Increased Health

familydinnervnd

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, fatigues 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 all the necessary nutrients to every cell, and burns off and eliminates waste products without leaving any toxins behind.

If our agni is weak, it doesn’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 all our body’s cells. The 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

Rose Petal Lassi to Aid Digestion and Cool Pitta

Lassi is a traditional Ayurvedic drink that aids digestion. Made from yogurt, water, and spices, it is good for all mind-body types. It is best to drink lassi after you have finished your main meal at lunchtime. Remember that the increase of Pitta in our environment and in our body during the summer causes our own internal fire of digestion to become diminished. The Pitta-pacifying influence of roses and the digestion-enhancing quality of lassi makes this drink the perfect summertime refresher.

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Rose Petal Lassi (serves 4)

2 cups fresh yogurt

2 cups water

1/2 tablespoon Rose Petal Jam

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 cup sugar or honey (to taste)

Blend ingredients in a blender until frothy. Serve immediately and enjoy.

As an alternative to Rose Petal Lassi, try the traditional Digestive Lassi served at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa.

Digestive Lassi (one glass)

1/2 cup yogurt

1/2 cup water

1 pinch black salt

1 pinch freshly ground pepper

1 pinch cumin

1 pinch ginger

Blend all the ingredients and drink it after your meal.

Yogurt in and of itself is not recommended in the summer because it aggravates Pitta. When made into lassi, however, yogurt’s Pitta qualities enhance digestion without increasing Pitta elsewhere in the body. Store-bought yogurt is more sour and Pitta-aggravating than homemade yogurt. For this reason, fresh yogurt is ideal for making lassi. Convenient yogurt makers are widely available in stores. Or you can make it easily with what you already have in your kitchen.

Fresh Yogurt

Heat 1 quart of milk to 185-195 degrees.

Take the pot off the stove and let it cool for a bit. Then place it in a sink filled with cool water until the milk cools to 120-115 degrees.

Once the milk cools to 120°-115°, add plain yogurt as a starter (1/4 cup). Do not use Greek yogurt. Mix well.

Pour milk with starter into a sterilized quart-sized canning jar.

Place the yogurt in a warm place and leave it undisturbed for 10 to 12 hours. Wrap the jar with a towel if your house is cool.

Here are some options:

Some people turn their oven on to 200° for about 5 minutes, turn off the oven and put the towel-wrapped yogurt in the oven with the oven light on.

Others prefer to put their yogurt in a cooler filled with 120° water and close the lid. Make sure the water comes to the top third of the jar.

Another approach is to wrap the towel-wrapped jar in a heating pad set to “high”.

Refrigerate your yogurt for at least 3 hours before eating.

www.theraj.com

Getting the Most Out of Our Food—Helpful Tips from Ayurveda and Modern Science

With the fullness of summer comes bustling farmers’ markets and overflowing shelves in the fruit and vegetable sections of our grocery stores. It is the time of the year when the availability of local produce is at its peak. Indulge! Studies have shown that eating seven or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day can extend life expectancy a staggering 42%.

To cook vegetables or to eat them raw is the question of the season. According to Ayurveda, this decision is best made with an understanding of your body type, your state of balance or imbalance, and the quality of your digestion.

Ayurveda’s main text, the Charak Samhita, recommends primarily cooked foods because cooking increases the element of agni that is essential for the assimilation of nutrients and their transformation into the bodily tissues. The higher proportion of nutrients available in raw food doesn’t count if you can’t digest, absorb and assimilate them. Let’s look first at body types and who can eat what. Then we’ll move on to specific foods and how to best make their nutrients available to us.

In order to choose the best option for your physiology, not only do you need to evaluate your individual physiology, it also helps take into account seasonal influences. In the summer, for instance, our body reacts to the high external heat by turning down our metabolism. This means that for many the ability to digest food is severely diminished.

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Raw Food vs Body Type

In general, those with Pitta, or Pitta/Kapha body types who do not have significant Vata imbalances can handle raw foods in their diet, especially in the late spring and summer seasons. This is because the element of “fire” or “agni” is very lively in their constitutions and they benefit from a cooling diet.

The overly cold, dry, light qualities of raw foods, however, may create problems for anyone with a severe Vata imbalance. They may find an increase in symptoms of abdominal gas, bloating, constipation, worry and anxiety, and dryness. Those wishing to balance or counter Vata imbalances do better with a diet that is warm, moist and easily digestible.

Those with Kapha imbalances may find that the cold nature of raw foods leads to allergies, sinus problems or asthma.

One solution for those who prefer raw foods but lack a strong Pitta component is to enjoy raw juices. Juicing or blending with “super blenders” that basically pulverize foods allows you to break down the cellulose the surrounds the outer layer of fruit and vegetable molecules, thus allowing you to derive optimum nutritional benefits.

Nutrient Availability in Foods 

It turns out that many vegetables only offer their full nutritional value when they have been cooked. Let’s look at how to get the most out of this summer’s fresh, organic vegetables.

It is important to note that when I refer to cooking vegetables, I am usually referring to steaming for 4 or 5 minutes or baking in the oven with a slight drizzle of oil. Obviously, mushy, over-cooked vegetables are not going to provide many healthful nutrients. Boiling vegetables removes many important minerals and nutrients.

Cooking vegetables reduces the mass of the vegetable, concentrating more nutrients with less bulk. Bitter greens like spinach and kale are generally more edible when cooked because cooking also eliminates the oxalic acid, which interferes with calcium absorption.

Cooking significantly improves the digestibility and bioavailability of starchy foods such as potatoes and yams, squashes. This is also true with grains and legumes.

(One note about whole grains: the phosphorus in bran is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. According to the book, Nourishing Traditions, phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. This is why many traditional ways of cooking grains include presoaking or fermenting grains before eating them. These processes neutralize the phytates, essentially predigesting the food so that their nutrients are more available. Phytic acid is also present in nuts, which also should be soaked before eating.)

Green beans always need to be cooked until soft otherwise, they are actually toxic. Raw beans are poisonous because they contain prussic acid, which is deactivated only by cooking.

Cooked carrots, spinach, asparagus, cabbage, and peppers supply more antioxidants such as carotenoids and ferulic acid to the body than they do when raw,

Mild heating, such as steaming, appears to improve the extractability of beta-carotene from vegetables, along with increasing betacarotene’s bioavailability. Beta-carotene absorption can be as low as 1-2% from raw vegetables such as carrots.

Lycopene in tomatoes is thought to be responsible for reducing the risk of some cancers and heart disease. Studies have shown that the absorption of lycopene is greater from cooked tomatoes. However cooking tomatoes can destroy other vitamins, so it is good to include raw tomatoes in one’s diet as well as cooked tomatoes.

Steaming asparagus ignites its cancer-fighting potential.

If you have any questions about which form of vegetables is best for you, check with an Ayurveda expert in your area. Ayurveda pulse assessment will reveal what kinds and forms of vegetables will be most helpful in creating a healthy balance for your mind/body system. Ayurveda recognizes the unique differences of each individual. In order to correctly determine your optimal requirements, it is important to understand your level of balance and imbalance. For information on Ayurvedic consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

http://www.theraj.com

The Ayurveda Approach to Cholesterol: Natural Ways to Keep Your Heart and Brain Healthy

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2015 saw a big shift in the official medical views on cholesterol. The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reversed their 30-year stand to say that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

It turns out that 30 years’ worth of research failed to find a correlation between eating foods with high cholesterol and heart health. And some studies actually found a correlation between longer life and higher cholesterol. A Norwegian study showed that as cholesterol increased, so did life-span. A 2015 Japanese study came up with the same conclusion: the higher the cholesterol levels, the longer the longevity factor.

Cholesterol is an important fatty acid produced in the liver. It is essential to many bodily functions. Without cholesterol the body could not build cell membranes or synthesize vitamin D or hormones. Cholesterol is also vital for our brain, playing a key role in the formation of memories.

What does Western Medicine’s new take on cholesterol mean for those trying to improve their heart health and/or support healthy brain functioning? It means that the findings are now more in line with the 5000 year old science of Ayurveda. It is not that foods with a high cholesterol content are, in and of themselves, “bad”. The important consideration is how your body processes those foods.

Understanding Cholesterol

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

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. Low levels of HDL cholesterol have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been linked to higher risks of depression and stroke.

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. High levels of “bad” cholesterol has been linked to brain deposits that cause Alzheimer’s Disease.

What Western Medicine continues to consider important is the ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol. 3.5 to 1 is the standard. A healthy ratio of good vs. bad cholesterol is associated with lower levels of the plaque in the brain and heart health.

Ayurveda Approach to Cholersterol

Ayurveda has always taken the view that 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.

The health of the circulatory channels, or shrotas, is essential to a well-functioning physiology. 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. All of these shrotas must be flexible and elastic if we are to remain healthy. And cholesterol, when it is balanced, plays a critical role in lubricating and maintaining all these channels of circulation. With this perspective, one can see why high amounts of good cholesterol would be associated with longer life-span.

“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. When it continues to accumulate over time, ama  spreads into other parts of the body, including the important channels of circulation, nourishment and detoxification.

According to Ayurveda, the production of cholesterol does not necessarily need to be lessened, but instead needs to be balanced. Which comes down to maintaining a healthy and well-functioning power of digestion. In Ayurveda, digestion is king. When our digestion is balanced and healthy, the body will produce the right amount of cholesterol, in the right proportion to nourish the body.

Natural Ways to Lower “Bad” Cholesterol Through Diet and Improved Digestion

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

Diet

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,broccoli, 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.

Digestion

Ayurveda offers many tips on improving digestion:

Eat your main meal at noon and a smaller, freshly cooked meal (that is easy to digest) in the evening.

Allow 3 to 6 hours between meals. Do not eat before the previous meal is digested.

Sip hot water between meals. This enlivens digestion and helps the food to be better dissolved and absorbed.

Do not drink cold liquids or foods with a meal, as they suppress digestion.

Chew your food well.

Do not drink milk with vegetables, meat, fish, sour foods, salt or eggs. Milk should be taken alone (preferably having been boiled first) or with other sweet tastes (like cereal, bread or sweets). Do not drink cold milk.

Sit comfortably for 10 to 15 minutes after finishing your meal. This allows the digestive process to get well underway. If you immediately jump up from a meal, digestion will be disrupted and the food will be improperly processed.

Purification

Detoxification is a natural body process. Our natural ability to detoxify, however, can become compromised when our system becomes overloaded from stress, poor diet, a compromised digestion, and environmental toxins. 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 and also from the innumerable shrotas, or circulatory channels. Cleansing and detoxifying the body also helps build up our natural digestive fire, which can then do its job of naturally burning up any ama that accumulates in 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

Self-Referral Eating for Weight Loss and Improved Digestion

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Poor digestion, being overweight, excess gas and bloating are all problems that can be triggered by poor eating habits. At The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa, what is taken into account is not only what you eat but also how you eat.

Self-Referral Eating means being aware of what you are doing during each meal.

Try the following tips:

  1. Research shows that eating too quickly can lead to weight gain. If we eat too quickly, we race so far ahead of the mechanisms in our gut that tell us we are full that we end up overeating. While you are eating, focus on what you are doing and how the food tastes — avoid distractions like reading, watching TV, and engaging in intense discussions.
  2. Try eating in silence for a few days to practice being consciously aware while eating.
  3. Chew your food well. Healthy digestion and nutrient absorption begins with proper chewing. Chewing triggers the release of digestive enzymes that help your body break down food so that it can be converted into energy. Chewing also helps break down your food into smaller particles, which can be more easily digested. Large, undigested particles of food can not be processed by the small intestine. They either travel through undigested or seep through fissures in the intestinal lining (leaky gut syndrome) and enter the bloodstream, triggering food allergies and other intolerances.
  4. Sip warm water during your meal. This helps your food to be more easily processed.
  5. Put down your eating utensils after each bite and focus on chewing.
  6. Don’t wait until you are starving or you may find that your hunger will overtake your commitment to eating with full attention.
  7. Eating is one of the great pleasures of life. Take time to savor the tastes and smells of the food. Inhaling your food without savoring the aroma does not lead to a satisfying experience. Digestion begins in the brain. Before you have even taken your first bite, the body begins to release enzymes needed for digestion. This is why your mouth waters at the smell of food.
  8. Always sit when you eat. Never eat standing up. Make sure that everything you need is on the table before you sit down so that you can remain seated and relaxed throughout your meal.
  9. If you have trouble telling whether you are full or not, stop sometimes during the meal, put your hand on your stomach and ask yourself, “Do I feel full or not?” The goal is to reconnectc your awareness with what is going on in the digestive system.

The Raj offers targeted programs to address colitis, constipation, gastritis and weight loss. Contact The Raj Health Office for more information.

800 864-8714 ext. 9000

WWW.THERAJ.COM

Agni vs Ama; the Battle for Good Digestion

In the daily drama of digestion, the two main players are Agni and Ama. -2

Agni, the digestive fire, takes the role of hero in the story. When Agni is burning brightly and steadily, then digestion takes place normally.

When Agni s diminished for any reason, then the villain, Ama, starts to collect in the digestive tract. Ama has opposite qualities of the firey agni. Cold and sticky, a toxic waste product of incomplete digestion, Ama collects in the tissues and creates imbalance wherever it spreads.

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Two other factors are critical to the digestive process: the quality of the food and the way it is eaten. Even if a person had strong Agni, Ama could still be created if the person eats the wrong kind of food or eats in a hurried, unsettled manner.

Good digestion is central to health. Many diseases may arise from poor digestion. When Agni is low and the food is not prepared and eaten properly, then Ama collects in the digestive tract and travels to other areas of the body where it forms the basis for the disease process. Lowered immunity, aching muscles and joints, arthritis, and fatigue may indicate a build-up of Ama. When Agni is at a normal level, it tends to burns up Ama, creating a state of balance throughout the entire system.

And when digestion is functioning flawlessly, Ojas, the final product of digestion, gets created. Ojas is the finest material aspect of the body—the link between consciousness and matter. (We’ll talk more about Ojas next week.) Ojas is responsible for establishing and maintaining balance in the mind/body system. The more Ojas your body produces, the greater your health, immunity, and happiness.

How can you tell if your digestion is running smoothly? One of the main ways to tell is how you feel after eating. A feeling of dullness, heaviness, and fatigue after meals, or symptoms such as gas or bloating, usually indicate poor digestion.

On the other hand, if you feel lightness and bliss after eating, you’re probably producing Ojas.

Another way to tell if your digestion is in good shape is by how your tongue looks in the morning. Ama tends to collect on the tongue, and if the tongue is heavily coated, it is a sign that Ama is present elsewhere in the body. If the tongue is pink and clear, then digestion is probably functioning well.

Other signs of improper digestion are bad breath, body odor, constipation, or diarrhea.

Simple Tips for Strengthening Digestion

Eat your main meal at noon

Eat light at night

Try to maintain regular meal times

Don’t snack between meals

Go to bed by 10:00

The most accurate way to tell how your digestion is functioning is through pulse assessment. Experts trained in the sophisticated technique can detect irregularities in digestion even before they manifest into symptoms. They can also pinpoint where Ama has built up on the body and identify imbalances throughout the body. For more information on Ayurveda consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Creating Health Bite by Bite: The Wonders of Diet and Digestion

The process of eating and digesting is a wondrous thing. It is magic. It is alchemy. Ayurveda acknowledges this. In our Western culture the process of eating has become mindless or, at best, a form of entertainment. Too often as we eat we watch TV, have meetings or socialize or, worse, we eat standing or on the run. The consequences of this disconnection to the process of eating and digestion are seen in the growing prevalence of problems such as malabsorption, irritable bowel, food sensitivities, bloating, gastritis, indigestion/heartburn, and excess gas. It also leads to lowered immunity. Before opting for a flu shot this winter, think about fine-tuning your eating habits.

There is an ancient Ayurvedic proverb: “Without proper diet, medicine is of no use. With proper diet, medicine is of no need.” When we think of proper diet we need to think not just of what we eat but also how we eat and how we support our ability to digest and assimilate what we have eaten.

Let’s think about what happens when we eat. We take in vegetables, grains, and animal products and we transmute those materials into their fundamental components in a form that our cells can assimilate. From that we create tissues, organs, bones, and fluids. We eat a tomato and turn it into a heart. We are recreating ourselves everyday through a process to which we give little to no thought or attention.

According to Ayurveda, food is a tiny package of intelligence. The reason we eat is to extract and assimilate that intelligence. If digestion is incomplete or if we eat food that is essentially devoid of intelligence, we are deprive ourselves of the basic building blocks needed to create healthy balanced physiologies. What is the secret of good health? Choosing the right diet and maintaining a strong digestion. Everything else is icing on the cake. If you are looking to avoid colds and flues during the winter, if you are trying to avoid binge eating, if you are looking for more energy and focus, the answer may simply be to elevate eating to a position of proper respect and priority.

Let’s look at these two aspects of creating health.

Digestion

Ayurveda focuses on enhancing digestion so that we are able to get the most from the food we eat. Below are some general guidelines. However, if your digestion is compromised, you may benefit from an Ayurveda consultation in which individualized recommendations can be given to address your specific doshic imbalance and state of balance.

Eat only when hungry—when your digestive fire is strong. If you do not feel hungry, try eating a small slice of ginger with salt as you first sit down. This stimulates the digestive process.

Avoid cold foods and cold drinks while eating or immediately after meals. These will “douse the fire of digestion”.

Eat in a settled and quiet atmosphere. Avoid the telephone, television, reading material, and over-stimulating conversation during meals.

Avoid eating when upset.

Avoid eating when standing (or walking).

Savor each mouthful and chew your food well. When you chew your food, your body releases digestive enzymes in the stomach that help to break down the food. Saliva also contains digestive enzymes, so the longer you chew, the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down food, making digestion easier. When large particles of improperly chewed food enter your stomach, they may remain undigested when they enter your intestines. This may lead to gas, bloating, constipation, cramping and other digestive problems.

Eat until you are satisfied—but not full. Avoid overeating.  Leave room in your stomach for the digestive process to take place.

Sip small amounts room temperature or hot water during your meal.

After you are finished, sit quietly for at least 5 minutes. Don’t immediately jump up from the table.

Healthy Foods

The food you eat should contain lively intelligence. Processed food, canned and packaged foods are essentially “dead”. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fresh dairy products can provide the intelligence your body needs to build healthy tissues every day.

Choose organic foods, when possible, so that you are not introducing harmful chemicals into your body. In addition, studies have shown that organic foods contain between 20 to 40% more antioxidant activity than conventional foodstuffs. These antioxidant compounds, which go by names like carotenoids and flavonoids, protect cells from the effects of aging and from the sort of damage that can lead to cancer.

Food without intelligence or heavy foods such as meat and fried foods tax the body’s digestion capabilities and end up creating ama in the body. Ama blocks the body’s channels of communication and delivery. Thus as well as not supplying your body with needed intelligence, these foods end up blocking other sources of intelligence from reaching your cells.

For more information on gastritis, constipation and other digestive disorders or to schedule a consultation, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com