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

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

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

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

Relieve Constipation, Pacify Pitta and Boost Immunity with Triphala

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While constipation is often associated with winter and Vata aggravation, it can also become a problem in the summer months. Vacation travel can aggravate Vata and soaring temperatures reduce our internal fire, leading to sluggish digestion. Add in the temptation to eat ice cream and enjoy iced drinks and it is not surprising that despite the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, constipation can be a summer time hazard.

One of the best herbal remedies for keeping the digestive tract healthy and toned is the traditional Ayurvedic formula, Triphala. The name “Triphala” means “the three fruits”. It is comprised of the Indian fruits amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. These three fruits work together to support the elimination process. They also help to balance all three doshas.

Amalaki is a fruit that supports intestinal repair. Amalaki has a sour flavor and is cooling, astringent and mildly laxative. It is used to treat Pitta imbalances, including ulcers, inflammation of the stomach and intestines, liver congestion and constipation. In various studies, Amalaki has been shown to have a mild anti-bacterial property, as well as pronounced expectorant, anti-viral and cardio-tonic activity. It has been shown to help lower cholesterol and is high in vitamin C, having 20 times the vitamin C content of an orange. While appropriate for all doshas Triphala is particularly effective for balancing Pitta.

Bibhitaki acts to pull the old mucus off the intestinal wall. Bibhataki is astringent, tonic, digestive and anti-spasmodic. While its primary flavor is astringent, it has secondary flavors of sweet, bitter, and pungent. It targets imbalances associate with Kapha dosha. Specifically, Bibhataki purifies and balances excess mucus. It is helpful in treating asthma, bronchiole conditional and allergies.

Haritaki strengthens the intestinal muscles so that it can contract more efficiently when the bowels need to move. Traditionally it is used for heart conditions, spastic colon and other intestinal disorders. It’s believed to have a variety of positive health effects on the heart and brain. It has an anti-inflammatory and is calming to Vata.

Most laxatives act as irritants to the bowel, and over time can actually cause the body to require the use of more laxatives. During each meal, the intestinal tract produces a certain amount of mucus that helps lubricate it. If we are not eating enough fiber or if we are eating foods that create ama or compromise our digestion, digestive mucus can up in the digestive tract, clogging the little hair-like villi that help the body absorb its nutrients. With the overuse of laxatives, the mucosa can become desensitized. This creates a very sluggish and non-responsive bowel. Triphala helps to cleanse the mucus off the digestive villi, making for a more efficient digestive process. Triphala is designed to restore the muscular function and contractibility of the intestinal wall.

In traditional Ayurveda medicine, Triphala has important uses beyond its ability to stimulate digestion, relieve constipation and cleanse the gastrointestinal tract. It is also is said to:

Reduce serum cholesterol

Improve circulation

Stimulate the immune system

Contain 31% linoleic acid

Have a marked cardio-protective effect

Reduce high blood pressure

Improve anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties

Ayurveda also recommends Triphala in the treatment of diabetes and in the treatment of eye diseases.

Contemporary research on Triphala has shown preliminary evidence that Triphala has significant immunostimulatory effects on cellular immune response. Increases in the absolute number of these cells may provide a novel adjuvant therapy for HIV/AIDS positive people in terms of immunological improvement.

Triphala is available in power and tablet form. The powder can be quite bitter in taste, so many people prefer to take it in tablet form. The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Spa sells an organic version of this traditional formula in their herb shop under the name of Digest Tone.

Visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa herb shop:

www.theraj.com

The Raj Herb Shop

Stimulating Tips for Kapha Season

As the weather changes from winter (Vata season) to spring (Kapha season) you may notice changes in your mind and body. During the wet and cool Kapha season, which lasts from March to June, you may feel the onset of spring fever or the need to take more exercise—and you also may be more likely to catch a cold or flu.

Lifestyle Tips

Here are some lifestyle tips to help you stay balanced, warm and dry during spring:

Eat hot food—hot in temperature and in spices as well.

Drink hot, stimulating drinks, such as teas with ginger.

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Cut down on refined sugars. Substitute raw, unheated honey instead. Honey is the only sweetener that is also astringent and has the ability to reduce Kapha. Be sure not to heat your honey and only add it to hot drinks when they are at “sipping temperature”.

Favor foods that with the following tastes: astringent (such as beans), spicy (chili peppers or curry powder, for example) and bitter (bitter greens and spinach). While you may find yourself tempted to start eatting more salads, be careful about avoiding cold foods.

Early to bed, early to rise. As Kapha season progresses, the sun rises earlier and earlier. If we are constantly waking up after the sun rises, we will feel sluggish and tired. This habit can result in the build-up of impurities (ama) which predisposes us to allergies and congestion.

Try to exercise in every morning. Getting some good, brisk exercise during the Kapha time of the morning (6:00 – 10:00) will help you maintain a healthy balance during this wet and cold season. Just as sleep is the number one took in balancing Vata, and diet the number one tool in balancing Pitta, exercise is the number one tool for balancing Kapha.

Get the Most from Your Food

Digestion tends to be sluggish during Kapha season. Here are some ways to help you perk up your digestive fires:

Try eating a ginger pickle before lunch or dinner. To make a ginger pickle, slice a thin piece of fresh ginger root (peeled). Sprinkle the slice with lemon juice and salt and eat it about 15 minutes before a meal.

Be sure to remain seated for 5 to 10 minutes after you finish eating in order to give your digestion a chance start processing the meal.

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. The astringent tastes of turmeric and honey help to dry up congestion and prevent a sore throat. Of course, if the symptoms last more than two days, be sure to see your doctor.

This is also the perfect time to check in with an Ayurveda expert or to schedule Ayurvedic detoxification and purification treatments (Panchakarma). For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

www.theraj.com

The Healing Powers of Hot Water

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Ayurveda considers removing toxins and impurities from the physiology, and preventing their build-up in the tissues, to be a key part of staying healthy. Ayurveda refers to these toxins and impurities as “ama”. Because ama disrupts the delicate biochemistry in the tissues and blocks the channels of circulation and communication within the physiology, it is a contributing factor in many physical disorders. The build-up of ama often starts with poor digestion. A sluggish digestion creates toxins and poor elimination, which allows the toxins to be absorbed into the circulation system and transported throughout the body.

Many of the recommendations given by Ayurveda experts during a consultation address the need for internal cleansing or detoxification. Of those that can be done at home, sipping hot water throughout the day is easy and effective.

Hot water flowing through the digestive tract helps to dissolve impurities and cleanse the digestive and eliminative systems. The result is an improvement in digestion and assimilation of food, improved elimination, and prevention of the formation of ama.

In addition, the hot water is absorbed into the circulatory system and travels throughout the entire body. The extra warmth and fluid aids in opening all the various channels of circulation, dissolving accumulated impurities and washing them from the body.

Many people report that after just a few weeks of sipping hot water throughout the day, digestion and elimination has improved and they feel fresher, lighter and more energetic.

Drinking hot water (water which just cool enough to be sipped comfortably) is especially helpful during vata and kapha season. During the hot summer months, warm or room-temperature water may be preferred, especially for those with pitta body types or with pitta-related disorders.

Ideally, Ayurveda recommends that water be boiled for ten minutes. Boiling the water allows excessive minerals deposits and impurities to precipitate out and increases the water’s lightness and its cleansing influence.

A slice of fresh ginger root, a pinch of turmeric or a few fennel seeds may be added to the boiling water if desired. These herbs can help increase the cleansing influence of the water in your system. Lemon may be added if it is not upsetting to the stomach.

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

www.theraj.com

Ayurveda Approach to Overeating or Binging

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According to Ayurveda, compulsive overeating or binging comes from cravings. An ideal weight loss program addresses imbalances in one’s physiology and in one’s diet that may be at the root of cravings and binge behaviors. Cravings can arise from imbalances in our body or from actual nutritional deficiencies. It is better not to try to suppress cravings, because they will only return with increased intensity. Instead, in order to eliminate cravings we need to learn to identify what our body really wants, and then thoroughly satisfy that need.

Ideally the first step in dealing with food cravings or binging would be to consult with an Ayurveda expert (or with your doctor) to make sure that your nutritional needs are being addressed. If you are a vegetarian, are you getting all the necessary amino acids? Vitamin B12? Remember that absorption of B12 can diminish with age. Even if you are eating animal products, if you are over 60 you might want to get your B12 levels checked. If you are not a vegetarian, are you getting enough fruits and vegetables? Keep a log of what you are eating at breakfast, lunch and dinner in order to objectively assess whether or not your diet is balanced and healthy.

If you are eating a balance diet, the second question is, are you absorbing the needed nutrients from your meals? Proper digestion is the key to transforming your food into all the essential elements your body needs to function properly. (See Raj Blog post “Digestion, Digestion, Digestion“)

The third question is, are you getting all 6 tastes (sweet, sour, salty, astringent, pungent and bitter) in your meals? Not only does eating all 6 tastes ensure that all the major food groups and nutrients are represented, it also gives us the feeling of satisfaction. As we eat, our taste buds send messages to our brain letting it know that we have taken in the energy and nutrients that we need. The six tastes are the codes that inform our brain of our meal’s nutritional content. If we take foods that correspond to each of these tastes throughout the day, our meals will provide us with a wide assortment of health-promoting nutrients. If we do not take in the proper nutrients, our brain sends us hunger signals.

The average American diet is short on astringent, pungent and bitter tastes. If our brain does not get the signal from our taste buds that all the important nutritional content has been consumed, the brain will continue to send signals telling us to eat more. Due to longstanding habits, our intellect may misinterpret these signals. A lack of bitter taste, for example, may lead to the consumption of chocolate or coffee, when, in fact, the body is craving the bitter taste of spinach. If we are alert to having all six tastes in our meals we are much less likely to find ourselves searching through our cupboards for “something more” an hour after dinner. (See Raj Blog post “Creating Balance Through Taste

When you feel the desire to eat, ask yourself if you are truly hungry. Notice the sensations in your body. Do you feel hunger or something else? If you are indeed hungry, eat. If you are not sure, try the following:

  1. Notice any physical sensations that come up. Where are they coming from? Do you feel some tension or discomfort? When you feel a sensation, your mind will naturally be drawn to the area of the body that is feeling uncomfortable. This is nature’s way of facilitating the healing process. Because attention by itself has healing power, it brings wholeness to the area. With a few minutes you may find that the discomfort completely subsides.
  2. Drink some plain warm water to see if that settles your system. Also, make a habit of drinking water throughout the day. People often mistake thirst for hunger.
  3. Schedule a consultation with an Ayurveda expert.

For information on consultations with an Ayurveda expert, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

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