Summer Cool Down: Ayurveda Seasonal Guidelines for Pitta Season

During the summer months, both Pitta dosha and Vata dosh 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. 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

Protecting the Eyes with Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, the eye is the seat Alochaka Pitta, one of the five subdoshas of Pitta. Pitta governs heat, metabolism and transformation. Whenever our eyes are open, they are involved in the complex process of transforming light into ideas: distilling foreground from background, recognizing objects presented in a wide range of orientations, and accurately interpreting spatial cues. In fact, researchers estimate that the human retina can transmit visual input at about the same rate as an Ethernet connection, at roughly 10 million bits per second.

Given the Pitta nature of our eyes, it follows that they become sensitive and irritated when we are exposed to excess heat. Regardless of whether you have a predominance of Pitta in your constitution, everyone should take extra caution in protecting their eyes in the summer.

Tips For Protecting Your Eyes in the Summer

Wear sunglasses and a hat during the day. Bright light can actually cause an inflammatory response in the eyes which can lead to damage of the optic nerve. Sunglasses will also help protect the eyes from the dust and other environmental particles that increase in the summer months. Look for a label that says 99-100 percent UV absorption or UV 400 (which means they block all UVA and UVB rays).

144292788.jpg

Cool compresses can help draw out Pitta from the eyes. There is a reason for the traditional spa image of a lady relaxing with slices of cucumbers over her eyes. Cucumbers not only have high water content, they also have an anti-inflammatory effect. Cotton balls with sprayed with rose water or chamomile water can also be used as compresses to reduce heat in the eyes.

Air conditioning, dry winds and dust can cause eye dryness or irritation. If your eyes are feeling dry, see an Ayurvedic expert regarding lubrication for the eyes, and drink lots of room temperature water and fluids.

Getting a good night’s sleep will help refresh and rejuvenate the eyes. Your eyes are very busy during the day and need a good night’s sleep stay healthy. Additionally, a lack of sleep tends to increase the retention of blood and fluid around the eyes, leading to dark circles under the eyes.

During the Pitta season, everyone should eat a Pitta reducing diet, even if Pitta is not your main dosha. Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits. Cucumbers, cilantro, dill, fennel are all are very cooling. Rice, especially white basmati rice, and barley are ideal grains for summer. Emphasize foods that are liquid rather than dry, and cool or lukewarm rather than hot.

Stress, anger, anxiety, alcohol, spicy food, pollution will all increase your risk for eye irritation.

If you spend long hours in front of a computer, your eyes can become strained. Be sure to look away from the computer every thirty minutes or so. If you are able, take time to stretch and look out a window. Switching focus from near to far allows the ciliary muscles in the eye to relax. The ability of our eyes to change shape to allow for near-focus or far-focus is high when we are young and decreases with age. Doing focused work for hours on end can increase eye strain and decrease our overall ability to change focus.

Netra Tarpana

Netra Tarpana is a special Ayurveda treatment that strengthens and protects the eyes against the sun’s rays, relieves tired, achy eyes, and improves vision. This treatment is known to be very rejuvenating for the eyes and is an ancient remedy for many eye and sight ailments.

Freshly made dough rings filled with fragrant oils are placed around the eyes, and gently filled with herbal healing to bathe and lubricate the eyes and surrounding area. As a side benefit, Netra Tarpana also helps address sagging around the eyes and crows feet.

Ayurveda Consultations

Burning, red, or bloodshot eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, and a yellowish tinge in the whites of the eyes are all signs of excess Pitta circulating in the system. If you have any of these symptoms, it is best to consult with an Ayurvedic expert.

To schedule a consultation with an Ayurveda expert or to learn more about Ayurveda treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

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.

Lassi_med_jordbær_og_rosenvand_(5598021969).jpg

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.

juicing-2.jpg

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

Ayurveda Tips for the Spring-to-Summer Transition

hot.jpg

Now that the cool, wet Kapha days of spring are behind us, it is time to adjust to the increase in heat in our environment. The hot, sunny, and dry days of summer mean that that same heating, Pitta influence is increasing in our physiology. Pitta is hot, sharp, sour, pungent, and penetrating. It is a fundamental principle of Ayurveda that like increases like. To balance Pitta, we need to opt for choices that are cooling, sweet and relaxing.

Diet

Because the hot weather of summer increases Pitta within the body, we need to begin to favor foods that pacify (decrease) Pitta. Include more foods with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Include the fresh, sweet fruits and vegetable that grow in this season. Foods such as cucumbers, sweet fruits, and melons are considered very cooling. Dairy can help balance the heat of Pitta. This includes milk, butter, and ghee.

Opt for fewer foods with pungent, sour and salty tastes. Sour, fermented products such as yogurt, cheese, sour cream, and vinegar should be used sparingly as sour tastes aggravate Pitta. Eat fewer tomatoes and hot spices. Rice (especially white basmati rice), barley, wheat and oats are the best grains to reduce Pitta. Eat less corn, rye, millet, and brown rice.

Switch over to cooling herbs such as coriander, cilantro, fennel, cardamom, and saffron. Hard liquor, red wine, and red meat are too heating for the summer.

Enhancing Digestion

As the heat increases outside our body, our physical system tries to maintain balance by lowering our internal fires. As a result out metabolism becomes lower and our ability to digest food diminishes. While may seem natural at this time to indulge in colorful salads and plates of uncooked vegetables, unless your digestive capability is exceptionally strong, your body may not be able to absorb nutrients from raw foods. Ayurveda recommends cooked foods to strengthen one’s digestive power and optimize nutrient absorption. Ripe fruits are considered to be “cooked by the sun” and are fine to eat. Avoid sour tasting fruits, however, as they will increase Pitta.

Ayurveda recommends never eating iced or cold food and drinks. While it can be tempting to grab a drink from the refrigerator or enjoy some ice cream on a hot summer day, these foods will pretty much “put out” our already diminished digestive fire. If you must, indulge in ice cream in the late afternoon, after your lunch has been thoroughly digested.

Stay away from carbonated drinks, as they also act to slow down digestion.

Meal Times

To keep Pitta dosha from becoming aggravated, do not skip meals or wait until you are ravenously hungry before you eat. In the summer months it is good to follow good eating habits: Breakfast is important. Cooked apples or pears are a light yet nourishing way to start the day. If you need a heartier breakfast, include cooked cereal.

Eat your main meal at noon when your digestive fires are at their peak. While yogurt is not recommended in the summer, yogurt in the form of lassi can actually help boost digestion. Drink it at the end of your meal.

Stay Hydrated!

Pitta is drying by nature. It is important to drink 4 – 6 cups of water daily, as well as enjoying other cooling beverages.

Daily Routine

Those who enjoy daily Ayurvedic massage may want to switch from sesame oil to a cooler oils such as coconut oil or olive oil.

Avoid direct exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Save your exercise for the early morning or late evening. Avoid extreme sports.

Go to bed on time. Because the days are longer in the summer, it is easy to stay up late. Unfortunately, because the sun rises early (along with the birds), we also tend to get up earlier. This lack of sleep can aggravate both Vata and Pitta. In addition, staying up late at night to watch television, or use the computer can aggravate the Pitta located in our eyes. Try to switch off electronic devices early in the evening to give your eyes a rest.

Favor aromas that are cooling and sweet. Sandalwood, rose, jasmine, mint, lavender, chamomile rose and geranium are recommended.

And don’t forget to meditate! Regular meditation will help lower your mental/emotional temperature.

Signs of Pitta Aggravation

The doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, are primary forces that are responsible for the characteristics of both our mind and our body. Pitta imbalance can manifest emotionally as well as physically. Anger, jealousy, and finding ourselves being increasing critical of others are as much signs of Pitta imbalance as indigestion, rashes, skin irritations, and burning eyes. Other signs of Pitta imbalance include diarrhea, burning sensations, sweating, fever, inflammation and problems with the small intestine and the stomach. Excess Pitta can lead to acidity, ulcers and liver disorders. If you suspect any health problems, seek a qualified practitioner.

Some people find that insomnia can increase during the summer months. Pitta-based insomnia is associated with waking up in the very early hours of the morning and not being able to get back to sleep.

Making changes in our diet and daily routine at the beginning of the season can help us avoid Pitta imbalances and allow us to enjoy a healthful and blissful summer.

For more information of programs to address Pitta imbalances, such as insomnia, gastritis, and ulcers, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

http://www.theraj.com

Summertime Cooking Tips

Cooling Herbs and Spices:

One easy way to prepare Pitta-pacifying foods is to add cooling spices and herbs to your foods and drinks. During the next hot months:

Add more: Anice, cardamom, coriander, cilantro, fennel, fenugreek, licorice, mint and turmeric. Simply adding mint leaves to your drinking water can provide a cooling influence.

Avoid heating spices: Cayenne, garlic, chilies and black pepper.

These are obviously general tips. Individualized recommendations for your specific state of balance and imbalance can be given to you by an Ayurveda expert in your area.

images

Ghee: The Perfect Summer Cooking Oil

Although most oils increase Pitta, ghee (clarified butter) has the unique property of stimulating digestion and cooling Pitta at the same time. Ghee is a cherished in Ayurveda as a nutritional food for all body types. Ghee does not burn at high temperatures, so it works great as a cooking oil.

Sweet Lassi

Although yogurt is a sour food that you’ll want to avoid in summer, when blended with water and sweetener, it becomes a healthy, cooling drink called lassi. Try this recipe for delicious sweet lassi:

3 parts room-temperature, pure water

1 part freshly-made yogurt. (The fresher the yogure, the less Pitta it will have)

Raw sugar or honey or stevia to taste

Rose water to taste

Pinch of freshly ground cardamom powder

Pour ingredients into a blender and mix thoroughly

Coconut Water

Coconut water is a great thirst quencher that comes with a long list of health benefits. High in fiber, it aids in the prevention of indigestion. Coconut water contains five essential electrolytes present in the human body: potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and sodium. This makes coconut water an excellent choice for rehydrating after exercise. Coconut’s amazing ability to rehydrate was recognized in WWII, where coconut water was actually used for blood transfusions in remote Pacific outposts.

Coconut water has a soothing anti-inflammatory effect in our digestive system. Its creamy quality helps soothe inflamed mucosal membranes throughout our entire digestive tract.

Try adding some raw sugar, lime and a pinch of cardamom to coconut water for a refreshing summer drink.

www.theraj.com

Special Summer-Time Foods

Cooling Herbs and Spices
One easy way to prepare Pitta-pacifying food is to add cooling spices and herbs to your foods and drinks. Here are a few to try in the hot months: anise, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cilantro, fennel, fenugreek, licorice, mint and tumeric.

Ghee: the perfect summer cooking oil
Although most oils increase Pitta dosha, ghee (clarified butter) had a unique property of stimulating digestion and cooling Pitta at the same time. It is cherished in Ayurveda as a nutritional food that is good for all body types. Ghen doesn’t burn at high temperatures, so it works great as a cooking oil. Or you can use it on toast or vegetables instead of butter.

Making ghee at home:
It is becoming increasingly more common to find ghee (even organic ghee) in grocery stores. It can also be ordered from The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa’s Herbery and Gift Shop. Or, you can make your own ghee at home. Melt one or two pounds of unsalted butter (ideally organic butter) in a stainless-steel saucepan. Raise the heat to medium and allow the butter to cook slowly until foam rises on top. Skim this off. Reduce heat and allow the butter to cook slowly until all the moisture is cooked out and the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn light golden brown. Be careful not to let the mil solids burn. Remove the pan from the burner, let the ghee cool, and pour it in a glass jar. It will be solid at room temperature and can be stored outside the refrigerator for a few weeks without spoiling.

Sweet Lassi
Although yogurt is considered to be a sour food that increases Pitta dosha, when blended with water and sweetener it becomes a healthy, cooking drink called lassi.

Ingredients
3 parts room temperature, pure water
1 part freshly-made yogurt
Raw sugar or honey to taste
Rose water to taste
Pinch of freshly-ground cardamom
Place ingredients into a blender and mix thoroughly

To contact The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa Herbery and Gift Shop visit The Raj web site:
visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

Protecting Your Eyes During the Summer

According to Ayurveda, the eyes are one of the main seats of Pitta dosha. Pitta governs heat, metabolism and transformation. Whenever our eyes are open, they are involved in the complex process of transforming light into ideas: distilling foreground from background, recognizing objects presented in a wide range of orientations, and accurately interpreting spatial cues. In fact, researchers estimate that the human retina can transmit visual input at about the same rate as an Ethernet connection, at roughly 10 million bits per second.
Given the Pitta nature of our eyes, it follows that they become sensitive and irritated when we are exposed to excess heat. Whether you have a lot of Pitta in your constitution or not, everyone should put attention on pacifying or cooling Pitta during the summer, and take extra caution in protecting their eyes.
Tips For Protecting Your Eyes in the Summer
Wear sunglasses and a hat during the day. Bright light can actually cause an inflammatory response in the eyes which can lead to damage of the optic nerve. Sunglasses can also help protect the eyes from the dust and other environmental particles that increase in the summer months.cucumber-eyes-burns-cheap-free-beauty-tips-26-08-2013-png_160107
Cool compresses can help draw out Pitta from the eyes. There is a reason for the traditional spa image of a lady relaxing with slices of cucumbers over her eyes. Cucumbers not only have high water content, they also have an anti-inflammatory effect. Cotton balls with sprayed with rose or chamomile water can also be used as compresses to reduce heat in the eyes.
Air conditioning, dry winds and dust can cause eye dryness or irritation. If your eyes are feeling dry, see an Ayurvedic expert regarding lubrication for the eyes, and drink lots of room temperature water and fluids.
Getting a good night’s sleep will help refresh and rejuvenate the eyes.
During the Pitta season, everyone should eat a Pitta reducing diet, even if Pitta is not your main dosha. Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits. Cucumbers, cilantro, dill, fennel are all are very cooling. Rice, especially white basmati rice, and barley are ideal grains for summer. Emphasize foods that are liquid rather than dry, and cool or lukewarm rather than hot.
Stress, anger, anxiety, alcohol, spicy food, pollution will all increase your risk for eye irritation
Netra Tarpana
Netra Tarpana is a special Ayurveda treatment that strengthens and protects the eyes against the sun’s rays, relieves tired, achy eyes, and improves vision. This treatment is known to be very rejuvenating for the eyes and is an ancient remedy for many eye and sight ailments.
Freshly made dough rings filled with fragrant oils are placed around the eyes, and gently filled with herbal healing to bathe and lubricate the eyes and surrounding area. As a side benefit, Netra Tarpana also helps address sagging around the eyes and crows feet.
Ayurveda Consultations
Burning, red, or bloodshot eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, and a yellowish tinge in the whites of the eyes are all signs of excess Pitta circulating in the system. If you have any of these symptoms, it is best to consult with an Ayurvedic expert.

To schedule a consultation with an Ayurveda expert or to learn more about Ayurveda treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:
www.theraj.com

 

( Picture of Lady with cucumber over eye. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)

Foods That Protect You From The Sun

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 light is not as spread out (so it hits the earth more directly) the earth —and it’s inhabitants—absorb more of the sun’s energy. As we absorb the increased heat from the sun, the quality of Pitta or heat increases in our own physiology.
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. While UVA rays are fairly consistent in intensity all year round, the greatest amount of UVB rays hit between 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October. As a result, we are getting a double dose of light rays during the summer. This 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 maladies.
Luckily, the perfect organizing power of nature provides summer fruits and vegetables that have a wonderful capacity to protect our skin from UV rays. A medium-size red bell pepper, for example, provides more than 200 percent of the daily value of vitamin C. Researchers have suggested that vitamin C can promote the repair of DNA that has been damaged by UV rays.
HEALING SUMMER FOODS
Red and Orange Vegetables and Fruits
Red fruits and vegetable are rich in lycopene. a natural pigment and carotinoid (antioxidant) responsible for the red color. It turns out that consuming more lycopene can protect your skin from sunburn. A study showed that intake of 2.5 tablespoons of tomato paste daily can reduce the UV rays damage up to 50%. Lycopene also helps rid the body of free radicals.
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 lavanoid, which has been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against UV rays.
Additional healing food
Spinach contains lutein, a carotenoid that protects your skin from UV damage.spinach
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 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, 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:

http://www.theraj.com

 

 

( Picture of spinach. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)

Ayurvedic Summer Recipes

One of the delights of summer is the joyful abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables tumbling off the grocery shelves. According to Ayurveda, sweet fruits and bitter greens help pacify Pitta dosha.  According to the scientific community (and our own common sense) they also protect us from falling ill. A recent international research study conducted by the University of Adelaide found that people who consumed a diet high in fruit, vegetables and certain grains had a lower risk of developing not just one but multiple chronic conditions including anemia, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, arthritis, hepatitis, coronary heart disease, asthma, stroke, fracture and cancer. The study found that people who eat a higher amount of fruit are less likely to develop any chronic disease, while a high intake of vegetables helps prevent people with one chronic disease from developing a second.

So pile your plate high with these health-creating foods! Here are a few fun summer recipes to try out:

Asparagus and /or carrots with lemon-herb sauce

Steam your chosen amounts of asparagus and/or carrots to the point where they are asparagus-and-carrots“fork-friendly”. This means a bit more than al dente but not soft or mushy. Then pour the following lemon-herb sauce over the vegetables.

Lemon-Herb Sauce

Juice one lemon. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of honey (use only unheated honey). Mix together in a blender with a few leaves of fresh basil and mint. Puree until smooth.

Cucumber Raita

This side dish goes well with dal, rice, curries and other Indian dishes.

Combine in a mixing bowl:

1 cup fresh yogurt

1/4 cup cucumber (peel and dice finely_

1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and grated

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (the leaves of the coriander plant)

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

salt to taste

Cooling Mint Tea

mata-peprna-pouziti1 cup fresh peppermint leaves

1 quart boiling water

1 quart room temperature water

2 teaspoons sweetener

Pour the quart of boiling water over the mint leaves. Cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain the tea into a pitcher or glass jar. Add cool water sweeteners. If you are adding honey, make sure the water has cooled down first. This is a great drink for aiding digestion. Drink at room temperature for maximum assimilation. Remember that iced and chilled drinks dampen our digestive fires, making it difficult to properly digest our food.

Dandelion Salad

If your lawn is full of dandelions, stop complaining and start picking. Dandelions are one of the most nutrient-dense plants you can eat. Their leaves, when young and tender, have a slightly bitter taste like arugula. The older the pant, the more bitter the greens. Before you start picking, be sure that the yard in which the dandelions are growing has not been treated with chemicals.

1 cup dandelion greens, washed and dried

8 large leaves of butter lettuce, washed and dried

1/2 cup feta cheese or goat cheese, chopped or crumbled.

Dressing

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 cup olive oil

sweetener to taste (just a bit is needed)

1 tomato chopped

fresh basil

fresh ground black pepper to taste

Boiling the dandelion greens is better for older, larger leaves as it removes their bitterness. Some even recommend boiling the older greens twice: once for 2 minutes, drain and boil again for 2 minutes.

For information on consultations with Ayurveda experts or to take a dosha quiz and discover your individual mind/body type, visit The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

( Picture of the asparagus and carrots. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)

 

( Picture of the mint tea. Source: Google Advance Image Search.
Creative Commons. The image is used under the terms of Googles Creative Commons rules:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)