Live Longer, Be Happier with…Fruits and Vegetables!

I love when modern researchers spend time and money to tell us things that our parents and grandparents took as basic common sense. That said, it is fascinating to learn the specifics of why certain things are good for you. I have to admit; every time I come across a new study I gain a new appreciation for various foods. This week I’m going to share a few studies that especially tickled my fancy.

An_opened_pomegranate.JPG

Pomegranates = The Fountain of Youth!

After experiments with worms and mice produced results that researchers called “a miracle…nothing short of amazing”, studies are now starting on humans. Apparently the fruit contains chemicals that our stomach bacteria turn into urolithan A — a compound that helps strengthen muscles and extend life by supporting our mitochondria. Mitochondria are rod-shaped structures within our cells in which the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur. They are known as the power generators of our cells. Pomegranates seem to have the ability to keep these “battery packs” charged. And to recharge aging cells, which tend to weaken and run down over time.

This information adds to past research on the health benefits of pomegranates. Pomegranates have anti-oxidant, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. They contain vitamins A, C and E, as well as folic acid. They have been show to help lower high blood pressure and strengthen bones. They also have anti-angiogenic properties, meaning that they may help to prevent growing tumors from acquiring a blood supply, preventing those tumors from receiving the nutrients that would allow them to grow large. In those with mild memory complaints, individuals drinking pomegranate juice daily performed better on a memory task compared to placebo and displayed increased brain activation.

Eating More Vegetables Can Make You Happy. Really!

A recent study in Great Britain found that a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables resulted in higher life satisfaction scores. In fact, going from “none” to eight portions was likened to getting a job if unemployed. The lead researcher observed, “‘Eating fruit and vegetables apparently boosts our happiness far more quickly than it improves human health.” Researchers adjusted the effects on incident changes in happiness and life satisfaction for people’s changing incomes and personal circumstances. They believe it may be possible eventually to link this study to current research into antioxidants, which suggests a connection between optimism and carotenoid in the blood.

Watercress Has It All

This peppery-tasting green tops the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of powerhouse foods. Why? Because it has been found to be the most nutrient-dense food. Watercress is an excellent course of vitamin C, containing a denser concentration of the vitamin than an orange. Watercress also is an excellent course of vitamin A, B6 and K, as well as calcium, iron and folate. A recent study showed that a daily portion of watercress could have a significant impact on reducing DNA damage to blood cells — an important trigger in the development of cancer.

Can Watermelon Help Weight Reduction?
Watermelon is the perfect summer snack. It has many wonderful health benefits: it contains L-citrulline/L-arginine, an amino acid that lowers blood pressure, thus reducing your risk of heart disease It is also rich in vitamins A, C, B-6 and thiamine, as well as lycopene, a phytochemical that’s responsible for watermelon’s red color and might offer protection against some types of cancer.

And it also turns out that watermelon may help with weight loss. As its name implies, this fruit is almost 92% water, making it a great source of hydration in hot weather. A recent study has shown a connection between weight loss and hydration. Among the people involved in the recently published study (July, 2016), the less hydrated they were, the more likely they were to have a higher body mass index (BMI). Researchers concluded that water might deserve greater focus in weight management research.

Watermelon only has 88 calories in a two-cup serving and one gram of fiber, which slows digestion and helps keep you feeling full longer.

Basil

One of the herb’s medicinal properties comes from the antioxidant eugenol. Lab studies found that this compound sparks anticarcinogenic activity in cervical cancer cells, causing them to self-destruct. A recent study indicated that the antioxidant content of basil was highest right before flowering. Growing your own basil allows you to pick basil at its point of peak medicinal value.

Are you inspired? The Ayurvedic texts remind us that fresh foods are optimal, as they contain more of the life energy that our body needs stay healthy and vital. Foods consumed in a state as close to nature as possible provide the most nutrients and the greatest benefit to your health. Do you know that more than half of what American’s eat is “ultra-processed”? These foods, researchers agree, are replacing more nutrient-dense foods and leaving people “simultaneously overfed and undernourished.” No wonder Americans die sooner and experience unhealthier lives than residents in other high-income countries. A return to a more natural diet allows us to take advantage of the perfect nourishment that nature provides.

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

www.theraj.com

Summer Foods that Protect and Heal

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

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

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

Red_capsicum_and_cross_section.jpg

Foods with Vitamin C

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

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

Red and Orange Vegetables and Fruits

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

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

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

Spinach

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

Other Health Creating Fruits and Vegetables

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

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

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

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

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

Ayurveda Tips for Summer

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

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

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

www.theraj.com

Eating at Night Puts on the Pounds~ How an Ayurvedic Routine Can Lead to Weight Loss

circadian_clock.jpg

Regular eating after 8 PM leads to weight gain, according to modern research. The most recent study on this subject showed that those who dine late in the evening typically have waistlines two inches larger than those who dine earlier. The results of these kinds of studies underscore the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda gives the knowledge of how to live one’s life in accord with the natural rhythms and cycles of nature. The classic Ayurvedic daily routine is based on a foundational understanding of nature’s functioning and the acknowledgment that we are a part of nature. When we are living in tune with nature’s cycles it means that all our mind/body systems are supported by the same cosmic forces that maintain the world around us.

In this recent study, researcher Patricia Lopez-Legarrea analyzed data on almost 5,500 Chileans. She noted that “the body clock produces optimal levels of appetite enzymes and hormones during daylight hours.” Those who ate late had an average Body Mass Index (BMI is a measure of weight in proportion to height) that was at least a half a point higher than those who dined earlier.

Understanding the Ayurvedic daily routine means understanding the three doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and how their influence changes throughout the day. (If you are not familiar with the doshas, please read The Raj blog, Understanding the Doshas.) Pitta, which is responsible for transformation and metabolism, peaks in the daylight hours from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. For this reason, Ayurveda recommends eating one’s main meal at noon, when one’s digestive powers are at their peak.

The second Pitta cycle is from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM. This Pitta cycle is a more subtle cycle of transformation. This is when the body repairs itself from the activities of the day. Research has found that even our joints contain little biological clocks that trigger repair mechanisms to heal aching joints at night if we are asleep. If we are active during this late hour Pitta time, the energy that is meant to be used for regeneration and repair ends up being spent in other ways. If we are trying to digest food from a big, late-evening meal, the results will be sluggish and it will not be as effective as the mid-day process. Not only does the body not process the food efficiently at night, the process of digestion draws energy away from what the body wants to be doing at night: healing and regenerating on a cellular level.

Going to bed before 10:00 is one of the greatest health tips on record. Sleep is right up there with nutrition and exercise in terms of its importance in keeping us healthy.

While we sleep, our body is hard at work performing repairs on the heart, blood vessels, brain and other tissues that help keep chronic disease at bay. When we cut back on sleep, we cut back on the body’s all-important nightly maintenance schedule. Eventually, this neglect will take its toll, setting the stage for major problems.

(As an aside, Ludwig van Beethoven kept an early bedtime routine, going to bed at 10 p.m. at the latest. He was able to optimize his early-morning routine (a time when Vata predominates, encouraging creativity) because he was fresh and vitalized from a properly timed night’s sleep.)

Modern research has been making the connection between the body’s natural biorhythms and weight gain for some time now. A 2013 study showed that when we don’t get enough sleep we trigger reactions in the brain that confuse the signals of tiredness and hunger, and that this can lead to increased cravings for sugar and starchy foods. In Ayurvedic terms, we would say that an increase in Vata (due to a lack of rest) causes the body to crave Kapha foods in order to reestablish balance. Another study found that sleep loss not only boosts hunger but also slows the rate of calorie burn, promoting weight gain.

Yet another study took a look at “night owls”; people who ate the same amount of calories per day as those who went to bed at normal times, but who ate a larger proportion of those calories at dinner or after 8:00 p.m. Researchers found that calories consumed after 8:00 p.m. were most strongly associated with weight gain, and concluded that it’s not only the quality of your diet that matters but the time of day you’re eating.

Lead author on the study noted, “The study suggests regulating the timing of eating and sleep could improve the effectiveness of weight management programs.” This is why Ayurvedic weight loss programs can be so successful. They not only take into account your individual body type and the way your body reacts to specific foods, but also your entire daily routine and your relationship with the world around you. Getting back in step with the cycles of nature means that your body can function in a more effortless and effective mode, no matter what you want it to accomplish.

For more information on The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa Weight Loss program, visit:

www.theraj.com

Drinking from a Copper Cup—A Healthful Ayurvedic Tradition

** The week after we published this blog, an study was released showing that copper is key in the metabolization of fat. The more copper there is, the more easily fat is broken down to be used for energy. The researchers feel it would be worthwhile to study whether a deficiency in copper could be linked to obesity and obesity related diseases.

One of the traditional recommendations of Ayurveda is to drink water from a copper cup. According to the ancient science, water stored in a copper vessel has the ability to balance all the three doshas (Vata, Kapha and Pitta). Ideally water should stay in the copper container for at least eight hours. Ayurveda recommends starting the morning by drinking room temperature water that has been stored in a copper vessel overnight.

Copper is a mineral essential to the healthy functioning of our body. It is required in most processes that occur in our body, from cell formation to aiding in the absorption of iron. However, our body cannot synthesize copper. We need to get it from outside sources. Only about 25% of the US population is getting adequate copper in their diet each day.

Before I delve into the benefits of copper, is important to point out that, as with many things in life, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. According to the FDA, about 10 mg/day is enough to provide the benefits without causing any harm. Drinking one or two cups a day should be enough for you to enjoy all the healthful qualities of copper. If you are eating large quantities of foods that naturally contain copper, one cup in the morning will probably suffice. (See list of foods at the end of the blog.)

Benefits of Copper

Copper is known for its immense anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to be “oligodynamic” in nature, meaning that is has a sterilizing effect on bacteria. It has been shown to be especially effective against E.coli and S.aureus, two common bacteria that are known to cause severe illnesses. At the end of one study on copper, researchers recommended copper water storage as a solution to cleaning water in countries that do not have good sanitation systems.

Copper-mugs-hammered.jpg

Drinking water from a copper vessel is said to help the digestive system perform more effectively. This is because copper has properties that stimulate peristalsis (the rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the stomach that is needed to digest our food and to move it along the digestive tract.)

Research has shown that storing drinking water stored in copper pots kills harmful bacteria and reduces inflammation within the stomach. For this reason the practice is said to help detoxify the stomach, regulate the working of the liver and kidneys, aid with the proper elimination of waste and ensure the absorption of nutrients from food. Traditionally drinking from a copper cup is recommended for infections, indigestion and ulcers.

Drinking from copper is also said to help with weight loss. Apart from improving digestion, copper is thought to help the body break down fat and eliminate it more efficiently.

Copper is used to heal wounds because of its anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, copper is known to strengthen our immune system and aid in the production of new cells.

Because of this property —the production of new cells — some swear that copper helps reduce signs of aging. Due to its strong anti-oxidant and cell forming properties, copper fights off free radicals, one of the main reasons for the formation of fine lines on the face. Copper also helps in the production of new and healthy skin cells.

According to the American Cancer Society, copper has been found to help regulate blood pressure, heart rate and can help lowers one’s cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It also helps prevent the accumulation of plaque and has the documented effect of dilating blood vessels to allow better flow of blood to the heart.

Can copper help fight cancer? Studies have shown that copper complexes have considerable cancer-fighting abilities. This may be due to copper’s antioxidant properties that help fight off the ill effects of free radicals. Free radicals are associated with the development of cancer.

Copper stimulates our brain: Our brain works by transmitting impulses from one neuron to another through an area known as the synapses. These neurons are covered by the myelin sheath, which acts as a conductive agent, helping the flow of impulses. Copper assists in the synthesis of phospholipids that are essential for the formation of these myelin sheaths, thereby, making the brain work faster and more efficiently.

:Because copper has potent anti-inflammatory properties, it can be helpful in relieving the aches and pains caused due to inflamed joints

Finding a Copper Cup

Copper cups and vessels are easy to find. Be sure that you buy cups, mugs or pots that are pure copper. Avoid glazes that help keep the copper looking shiny and new. Rinse your new vessel with boiling water before you use it.

Don’t store your copper water in the refrigerator. Make it fresh every day.

How to Clean your Copper Vessel

Do not use a coarse sponge and soap to wash your vessel. Squeeze most of the juice out of one half of a lemon and rub the lemon on the inside of the vessel. Allow it to stand for a few minutes and then wash off with plain water.

Or, if you prefer, make a mixture of baking soda and water to coat the inside of the vessel and allow it to stand for a few minutes and rinse away the excess baking soda.

Foods Containing Copper

According to Wikipedia, foods contribute virtually all of the copper consumed by humans. The best dietary sources include seafood,organ meats, whole grains, legumes, and chocolate. Nuts, including peanuts and pecans are especially rich in copper, as are wheat and rye, lemons and raisins. Other food sources containing copper include potatoes, peas, red meat, some dark green leafy vegetables, coconuts, papaya and apples. In general, copper bioavailability is low in most plant foods.

A number of vitamin supplements include copper as small inorganic molecules such as cupric oxide. It is better to avoid these. These supplements can result in excess free copper in the brain as the copper can cross the blood-brain barrier directly. Normally, organic copper in food is first processed by the liver, which keeps free copper levels under control.

Ayurvedic Traditions

Ayurveda is a rich, living health science, While this ancient wisdom may be expressed in somewhat foreign terms compared to the technical medical language of today, it has stood the test of time. Week after week we see new research from modern science that backs up traditional Ayurvedic principles. The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa is proud to offer an authentic Ayurveda approach to healing to help restore balance and reawaken the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

www.theraj.com

 

 

Rise and Shine!

rise-and-shine.jpg

During springtime, when Kapha is becoming lively in our environment, getting up early becomes more important than ever. There is reason why early risers are said to be healthy, wealthy and wise. If you haven’t made the adjustment already, spring is the time to go to bed earlier and get in the habit waking up by 6:00 or 6:30.

  1. You’ll feel more energetic: The principles of Ayurveda recommend getting up an hour before sunrise to synchronize the body cycle with the rhythm of the sun. This time is called Bhrama Muhurta in Ayurveda and is believed to be an auspicious time where significant shifts in energy levels of the body take place. By getting up before the Kapha time of the day exerts its heavy influence (6:00 AM), you’ll feel more energetic throughout the day.
  2. You’ll have time to meditate and exercise If you wake up late your morning begins in a rush to get dressed and leave the house. Key activities that can support your quality of thought and activity through out the day, like mediation and exercise, get put aside. Waking up early in the morning gives you time to meditate, practice yoga and get some exercise, all activities proven to create a foundation of well-being.
  3. You’ll feel happier: While the energetic feeling after an early morning meditation and workout itself may be enough to keep you happy throughout the day, there is increasing evidence that early risers feel positive and more confident in their work, which results in long-term happiness. A study published in the journal “Emotion” noted that those who had their daily routine in sync with the sunrise and sunset pattern experiences more happiness than late risers.
  4. You’ll be more productive: The morning Vata period is one of the most productive times of the day. Your brain has rested well and neuronal connections and pathways have been re-charged during the night. Studies show you can think faster and have more focus during the morning hours. If you follow the rule of ‘early to bed, early to rise,’ you’ll find that much of your important work will get done in the first half of the day.
  5. You’ll get better sleep: Obviously, if you wake up early in the morning and begin your daily activities at an early hour, your body will be primed to go to bed earlier at night. According to Ayurveda, it is ideal to go to bed during the Kapha time of the day. This means closing the eyes before 10:00 PM. Evening Pitta time begins at 10:00 PM. The transformative qualities of Pitta should be used to repair the body from the wear and tear of the day’s activities. If you stay up late, you’ll find that Pitta ends up used for mental stimulation and /or late night snacking. Don’t rob your body of this important period of rejuvenation.
  6. You’ll feel happier: A study published in the Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences showed that people who stayed up late were three times more likely to experience depression as compared to those who went to bed early.

Factors That Affect Our Sleep:

Regular routine: One of the most important strategies for getting a good night’s sleep is getting in sync with our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day makes us feel much more refreshed than getting the same number of hours but at different times.

Exposure to Light: Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure, helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Our brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark—making us sleepy—and less when it’s light—making us more alert. This means that spending long days in an office, shielded from natural light, can impact our daytime wakefulness. And lights at night—energy-efficient LED lights and blue light from TV and computer screens—can tell body that it is time to wake up.

Exercise: Research shows that regular exercise leads to better sleep at night and increased alertness during the day. Regular exercise also improves the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea and increases the amount of time you spend in the deep, restorative stages of sleep. Even light exercise—such as walking for just 10 minutes a day—helps to improve sleep quality. It is good to note that exercise is not a quick fix. It can take several months of regular activity before you experience the full sleep-promoting effects.

Eating habits: It’s especially important to watch what you put in your body in the hours leading up to your bedtime. Caffeine can cause sleep problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it. If you drink coffee or tea, try enjoying it only in the morning hours.

Eat a light evening meal: Ayurveda recommends a light evening meal. We want the transforming quality of Pitta in the evening to be used for self-repair and not for digestion. In addition, heavy, fatty foods take a lot of work to digest and may keep us up at night.

If you have long-term problems with insomnia and are unable to switch to an early morning routine, you may be suffering from deep-seated Vata and/or Pitta imbalances. Check with an Ayurveda expert experienced in pulse assessment to find out the specific imbalances that are keeping you from a good routine. They will be able to give you individualized recommendations to culture a more healthful sleep cycle. For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Spring Diet to Remove Ama and Balance Kapha Dosha

balance.jpg

While we always want to keep all three doshas in their proper balance, it is good to focus on balancing Kapha in the cooler, wet days of spring when Kapha predominates in our environment. Additionally, this is a good time to put attention on creating a balanced digestive capability. Why? Because springtime is when “ama” (toxins) that have been stored in our bodies over winter start “melting” and being released throughout our physiology. A strong, healthy digestion will help us metabolize and eliminate these deposits of wastes and impurities. This will help us to avoid allergies and spring colds. Try this diet for 2 to 3 weeks at the beginning of springtime.

Main Principles of Spring, Kapha-Reducing Diet

  1. Food must be freshly prepared, preferably in your own home.
  2. Do not use frozen or canned foods
  3. Do not consume any leftovers (food that has been cooked and then refrigerated. This includes most deli foods, such as pasta salad, potato salad, etc.)
  4. Use organically grown foods as much as possible

Items to Avoid: During your spring diet, try to avoid the following:

Red meat

Oily or heavy food preparations such as fried foods, cream sauces or heavy desserts.

Raw vegetables and salads

Hot spices such as chilies, hot peppers or jalepeno

Carbohydrates: this means cutting out pizza, bread, cookies, candy chocolate, cocoa, pastries and baked goods. Freshly made chapattis or flatbreads are the exception to this rule.

Be selective with diary: avoid curdled milk products such as yogurt (except if you are drinking lassi), cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream. Do not eat butter, ice cream, or any frozen desserts.

Only eat fresh fruit. Avoid jam or dried fruits, except soaked figs and raisins.

Cold foods: No cold water or iced drinks.

Other drinks to avoid: carbonated drinks, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, bottled or canned fruit or vegetable juices.

Sour foods: avoid vinegar or vinegar-containing condiments such as catsup, mustard, pickles, olives, relishes, etc.

Avoid processed soy products like tofu, tempeh, soy dogs, etc.

If you feel the need to follow a non-vegetarian diet, freshly cooked chicken is the best option during this spring, Kapha-reducing diet.

What CAN You Eat?

Enjoy cooked vegetables, grains, legumes (beans, dals), most fresh fruits (better to eat sweet fruits rather than sour. Also, avoid heavy fruits such as bananas and avacodo), nuts and seeds.

Proportionately, eat more vegetables and less grains. Green, leafy greens are a great option at this time of year. Try to include one cup every day.

Barley is the ideal Kapha-reducing grain. Millet, oats, rye, and kashi are good grains at this time of the year. Couscous and quinoa can be enjoyed several times a week, but not every day. Rice and pasta should only be eaten once or twice a week and only at noon.

Low-fat milk is fine to eat if it is boiled with a pinch of ginger or turmeric.

A vegetarian diet is helpful in maintaining a healthy weight and good digestion.

Fresh soups are easy to digest and nourishing.

If you like deserts, cooked fruit or homemade fruit crisps are recommended.

Spice your food at every meal. This will help the digestive process. Favor ginger, black pepper, mustard seeds, oregano, sage, thyme, mint, basil, turmeric, cinnamon and cloves.

Panchakarma Treatments

Spring is the ideal time to enjoy Panchakarma, the traditional detoxification and rejuvenation therapies of Ayurveda. Panchakarma treatments will help to remove toxins and imbalances from deep within the tissues.

For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Center website:

www.theraj.com

Panchakarma: the Ultimate in Mind-Body Healing

Panchakarma is one of the specialties of Ayurveda. Literally translated as “five actions”, Panchakarma is series of integrated procedures that, together, dislodge impurities from the tissues and cells and flush them from the body. This sequence of massage, heat treatments and internal cleansing helps to balance the doshas and allows for a more normalized flow of nutrients, blood, hormones, etc. Developed thousands of years ago to give long life to the the rulers of India, Panchakarma is the cornerstone of rejuvenation programs at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa.

The ultimate goal of all Ayurveda modalities is to restore balance to the level of biological intelligence in the body and to remove blockages and impurities that block free flow of communication and circulation. This allows perfect coherence of the body’s innate healing mechanisms.

Ayurveda believes that the functioning of the body breaks down as impurities and toxins (caused by diet and poor digestion, stress, environmental toxins and other factors) accumulate in the cells and tissues. Over time these impurities begin to obstruct various channels of the body (blood vessels, lymph circulation, capillaries, cellular pores, etc), limiting the flow of biological intelligence.

Panchakarma provides the ultimate mind-body healing experience. By removing the build up of impurities, it helps to restore the connection of any weak or diseased area of the body with the mechanisms of biological intelligence responsible for healing. Sounds intense? It is surprisingly luxurious and gentle, especially considering the profound results that this ancient detoxification treatment provides.

Studies on the effects of Panchakarma have shown reductions in cholesterol levels and a decreased risk of heart disease. Many doctors recommend PK to their patients as a follow-up to chemotherapy, once the patient has regained his or her strength. (The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa recommends allowing 6 months from the end of one’s chemotherapy treatments or radiation treatments before undergoing any Ayurvedic massages and therapies.) Guests have also reported relief from fatigue, depression, digestive disorders, and stress.

A study published in the Sept./Oct. 2002 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine showed that a 5-day course of Panchakarma treatment decreased blood levels of fat-soluble toxins (such as DDE, PCBs and dioxins) by 50%. Western medicine offers no means of removing these harmful chemicals, which are associated with hormone disruption and immune system suppression.

Panchakarma treatments can be taken for as few as 3 and as many as 30 consecutive days. Participants always begin with a consultation with an Ayurvedic expert who then creates a customized program based on their individual levels of balance and imbalance.

Panchakarma uses three types of therapies:

1) The first group stimulates the release of toxins from the cells using various types of massage, many of which involve herbalized oil.

2) The second group uses heat to dilate the channels of the body, allowing the impurities that were loosened through oil massage to be drawn into the intestinal tracts.

3) The sequence ends with a gentle internal cleansing treatments consisting of either warm herbalized oil or water-based decoctions.1. Shiro#3

This sequence of treatment occurs every day. As an example, one day may start with an herbalized sesame oil massage followed by an herbalized steam treatment, ending with gentle elimination therapy. Another day may begin with a massage with warm rice and milk packs, followed by Shirodhara, the pouring of warm oil over the forehead, followed by elimination therapy. Treatments will vary from day to day, depending on one’s needs.

Never had detoxing felt so good! Sometimes it is hard to remember that behind the pampering there is a powerful restructuring of the physiology taking place. And even though I’m ready to take on the world after my treatments, I’ve found it’s better to take it slow for a week or so after you return home, so the body has a chance to integrate all the changes.

For me, my yearly treatment is my opportunity to reset my diet and my daily habits. To make the most of your Panchakarma treatments, a low-fat, vegetarian diet is recommended starting one week before, and continuing through treatments. If I’ve gotten into any bad habits during the year (sugar, snacks, late nights on the computer) I emerge from my treatments with a new resolve. And the new state of balance in my physiology naturally helps to support that resolve.

I’ve managed to have Panchakarma treatments once a year for the last 25 years. It is like spring-cleaning for one’s house. I can’t imagine going without.

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

www.theraj.com

Reduce Kapha to Enjoy a Healthy, Active Spring

Spring is the ideal time to get in tip-top condition for a healthy and active year. At the beginning of spring we leave the cold, dry Vata season behind and make the transition into the humid, cool Kapha season. At this time many experience feeling tired, heavy and sometimes lethargic. This is the perfect time for Panchakarma treatments.

maxresdefault.jpg

As the environment transitions into spring, a considerable metabolic change begins to take place in the body. When we support the removal of toxins from the body with Panchakarma, it facilitates our body’s natural tendency to “spring clean” with noticeable results. This is very helpful in preventing typical springtime complaints such as allergies, fatigue, asthma and colds.

Healthy Tips for Spring

In order to combat typical springtime complaints such as colds and hay fever, Ayurveda recommends reducing the influence of Kapha at the end of the winter. This process will help see you through to a healthy spring.

Eat hot food: hot in temperature and spicy too

If you are not using a tongue cleaner to remove mucous, bacterial and debris from the tongue, this is the time to begin. Find one that is stainless steel or silver.

Drink hot, stimulating tea. Ginger tea made with fresh ginger is especially recommended.

Favor foods that taste astringent (such as beans and dals), spicy (chili peppers or curry powder, for example) and bitter (spinach and greens)

If you have been a bit sedentary during the cold winter months, now is the time to restart your exercise routine. If you have not been exercising for a while, you can break the inertia by starting with brisk walking, beginning with half an hour.

Get up! It is important during this season try to get up by 6:00, which is when Kapha begins to dominate in the environment. Waking up during the Vata time of the day (before 6:00) gives an extra lightness and vitality to the day.

Get the Most from Your Food

Since digestion tends to grow sluggish during Kapha season, you can perk it up with these tips:

Try eating a slice of ginger before lunch or dinner to help increase your digestive fire. Sprinkle lemon juice and salt on a thin, peeled slice of ginger and eat it about 15 minutes before your meal.

Sit quietly for a few minutes before you start to eat, to give your digestion a headstart. Don’t jump up from your meal when you are finished. Sit and enjoy for at least 10 minutes.

Sore Throat Relief

If you feel a sore throat coming on, try taking 3/4 teaspoon of raw honey mixed with 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric. Take twice a day. The astringent taste of turmeric and honey help to dry up congestion and prevent a sore throat. If the symptoms last for more than two days, however, be sure to check in with your doctor.

For more information on Panchakarma, visit The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Act Now to Banish Spring Allergies With Ayurveda

4375862210_5054469468.jpg

Although it seems odd to think about spring allergies when the forecast for the next week is snow flurries, mid-February is the ideal time to start taking action.

Our bodies are more susceptible to health problems when the seasons are changing because our body functions differently in each season. For example, our agni (or digestive fire) can fluctuate dramatically during the change from hot to cold or cold to hot. Poor digestion can lead to a build up of ama (or toxins) in the body.

This is why respiratory illnesses and allergies pop up during the autumn and early spring. We especially see this in the early spring. As the weather starts to warm up, any ama that has accumulated in our tissue and circulatory channels during the winter begins to soften and liquefy, flooding the numerous channels of circulation (shrotas) throughout our body and taxing our immune system.

On top of this flood of toxins, our body has to deal with an accumulation of mucus.  From mid-February to May is the Kapha time of the year. As a response to the accumulated drying influence of the cold, dry, windy Vata conditions of late fall and early winter, our bodies start to produce large amounts of lubricating mucus. The sticky liquid can cause congestion in the mucus membranes that line our respiratory and digestive tracts, contributing to allergies and sinus conditions.

This is why late winter/early spring is the optimal time to cleanse mucus and toxins from our body. The classical texts of Ayurveda recommend specific detoxification treatments —called “panchakarma”—during the change of seasons.

Spring is nature’s natural detoxification season. The progression of the cold of winter to the warmth of spring triggers a natural process of releasing the winter’s accumulation of fats and toxins. Going through Ayurveda detoxification treatments at this time provides a boost to what our bodies are trying to do naturally: flushing out toxins and lubricating the channels of circulation. Working hand in hand with our own natural cycle allows for a more thorough and efficient removal of these unhealthy substances.

Signs of Ama

If you have high cholesterol, a coated tongue in the morning, joint pain, constipation, dull skin and eyes, gas, or excess mucus, you are displaying physical symptoms of ama. You may also feel the build up of ama as fatigue, dullness and/or irritability. Panchakarma treatments help remove years of accumulated ama (along with excess Vata, Pitta, and/or Kapha) and also help to return agni to its normal level of functioning.

Enjoying Panchakarma as an in-residence guest allows the body to get a profound rest. Pluses of an in-residence stay being protected from weather conditions, and complete ease in following a prescribed daily routine and diet, allowing you make the most of the rejuvenation experience. If you don’t have the opportunity for a residential stay, however, day treatments are highly recommended. Just be sure to follow the diet that is given to you.

Tips for Kapha Season

There are also adjustments that you can make in your home routine and diet that will help you during this winter to spring transition.

  1. Sip hot water throughout the day
  2. Eat more leafy greens. Favor the Kapha-pacifying tastes of bitter, astringent and pungent.
  3. Favor organic, fresh foods. Avoid processed foods, cold dairy products, and fried and high-fat foods. Remember, light, warm foods counter the cold, heavy qualities of kapha.
  4. Put a little zip in your food: spices like ginger, chili, cloves, and pepper help counter the cold quality of Kapha.
  5. Try not to sleep later than 6:00 in the morning. Sleeping into the Kapha time of the day can increase kapha qualities in body and mind. This means going to bed by 10:00 the night before.

For more information on Panchakarma treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

www.theraj.com

Why Aging and Disease Aren’t Synonymous: the Value of Panchakarma in Maintaining Health

Carerimage.jpg

It is a fact that the functioning of the body suffers as impurities and toxins accumulate in the cells and tissues. Such impurities can come from both inside and outside the body. From inside the body come internal metabolic and cellular waste products, such as free-radical-damaged cells and tissues. From outside come external impurities and toxins, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants. In the history of mankind, never before have we been faced with such high levels of toxicity in our environment. A variety of man-made toxins often find their way into the deep tissues of our bodies and can wreak havoc on our immune systems. All these impurities (collectively referred to by Ayurveda as “ama”) block the free flow of our body’s inner intelligence. If left to accumulate, such impurities can lead to degenerative disorders and life-threatening disease. While the body has its own effective self-purifying mechanisms, these prove increasingly inadequate as we age, due to our ever-increasing toxic burden.

Western medicine has, for the most part, focused on putting substances (e.g. pharmaceuticals) into the body rather than taking unhealthful substances out. One of the specialties of the ancient science of Ayurveda is Panchakarma, a group of therapies that work together to purify the body of impurities, and thus avert or reduce the development of disease and aging. Panchakarma treatments are designed to first loosen impurities from bodily tissues, then eliminate them from the body altogether.

All Panchakarma treatments are individualized, depending on the doshic balance and specific imbalances of the person receiving the treatments. The treatments can result in a relief from a wide range of disorders, because the series of procedures free the bodies own self-repair mechanisms and remove blockages that are at the foundation of many symptoms and disorders.

The efficacy of these traditional treatments was shown in a two-month longitudinal study on subjects undergoing five days of Panchakarma treatments at The Raj. Researchers Robert Herron, PhD, and John Fagan, Ph.D. compared to tests taken prior to treatment showing blood levels of the highly toxic PCBs and Beta-HCH. These substances, which are known to attach to the lipid layers that surround our cells, were reduced by 46 and 48 percent respectively. Without this detoxification program, the natural expected drop in PCB and Beta-HCH over a two-month period is only a fraction of one percent. No other method has been scientifically verified to reduce fat-soluble toxins in the human body without causing negative side effects. Normally these fat-soluble substances remain in the body for many years, but Panchakarma allows us a healthy alternative for coping with a toxic world.

Once toxins are loosened from the fatty tissue, they need to be safely eliminated from the bloodstream and the body. Panchakarma treatments include specific steps that take care to properly remove the toxicants from the blood stream without so that they are not reabsorbed or able to create more damage. At the end of each day, after impurities from different parts of the body have been loosened and drawn into the intestinal tracts, a gentle internal cleansing treatment, called a basti, is given. These treatments essentially warm herbalized oil enemas that lubricate, and nourish the colon, as well as induce eliminative action. According to the original Ayurvedic texts, “by basti alone, 50% of illness can be cured.”

Panchakarma can be taken for as few as three consecutive days, and as many as 30. It can be done in-residence, or you can visit an Ayurvedic center for a few hours each day and return to your home afterwards. These treatments are most effective when done regularly each year.

Our bodies are designed to maintain a balanced state in which everything functions properly. Both fasting and these drastic detox regimens can alter this homeostasis, often in a harmful way. Liver glycogen stores can become depleted, alterations can occur in the mineral and electrolyte balance in the blood, muscle and bone tissue can begin to break down, changes can occur in the acid-alkaline balance, and immune function may be impaired. Extreme detox can also overtax adrenals, which means that the body will hold on to the calories we ingest after the fast and store it as fat. In Ayurvedic terms, an extreme fast creates high pitta/low agni. This can start a whole new cycle of imbalances.

While Panchakarma can bring big results, the process itself is gentle and even luxurious. In essence, Panchakarma is an integrated sequence of procedures that, together, dislodge impurities from the cells and then flush them from the body. The doshas are brought into balance and the natural healing mechanisms of the body are “freed” to resume full functioning.

For more information of Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

www.theraj.com