Ayurveda, the healing branch of yogic science, is an ancient system of natural healing from India, similar in many ways to Chinese medicine. Ayur means life and Veda means knowledge — the knowledge of life and longevity.
Today’s alternative medical blog is about knowledge of the best way to eat, for better satisfaction and better health. Central to Ayurvedic philosophy is a way of eating where food becomes medicine.
An Ayurvedic “diet” is more of a lifestyle, a way of living and eating that includes :
- Healing foods
- Natural herbs
- Pranayama (Breath Practices)
- Mantric chanting, starting with OM
- Ayurvedic massage
Ayurvedic meals are packed with fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and seasoned with healing herbs like turmeric and ginger. For non-vegetarians, salmon is a top choice, a heart-healthy source of protein, loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Red meat is to be avoided.
A typical Ayurvedic breakfast might feature oatmeal with honey and walnuts, tofu scramble with turmeric and veggies, toast, mango smoothie and hot tea with lemon and ginger.
Lunch and dinner start with a dinner plate mostly covered with colorful vegetables, sautéed or steamed.
Add a side salad and a bean dish, like lentil curry over rice. Finish with a small banana pudding for dessert and you have a simple ayurvedic meal.
Ayurveda places great importance on timing. Have lunch, your largest meal, between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm when the digestive fire is strongest. Have dinner as your smallest meal, between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm, when your digestion is weakest. Eating three meals a day, without snacks, encourages the most calorie burning.
An Ayurvedic Chef’s Recommendation
“Keep it simple,” says Patti Garland, a master Ayurvedic chef, and owner of Bliss Kitchen in Palm Desert, Calif. “Eat leafy green vegetables every day, and drink a lassi (mango-yogurt smoothie). Playing around with spices — turmeric, cumin, coriander, and fennel — will expand your palate instantly. Add quick-cooking lentils to your diet with a whole grain like brown rice.
Use the entire antioxidant arsenal found in your spice rack: black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, clove, rosemary, and turmeric. Be sure to cook with healthy fats like coconut or ghee.
The food you eat today becomes your bodily tissues (dhatus) of tomorrow. You can see the results of a nourishing diet reflected in more youthful looking skin. Junk food gives the skin, the largest organ of the body, a poor lustre. It doesn’t give your body much to work with, like building a house out of cardboard instead of bricks.
Here are seven more superfoods commonly found in any ayurvedic regimen:
1. Dates and Figs – an excellent source of healthy energy; eat 1-2/day
2. Lassi – a nutritious mix of yogurt, water and mango (or other fruit)
3. Almonds – for strength, energy, and protein
4. Green Leafy Veggies – like kale, add a bitter flavor that “helps balance blood sugar and aids skin conditions.” (Prepare with a little ghee.)
5. Mung Beans – a yellow lentil-like legume, a high source of protein, fiber, and antioxidants; among the most nourishing of beans and most easily digested
6. Ghee (clarified butter) – is a nervine, a tonic for the nervous system. It also helps transport nutrients from foods to the tissues
7. Tart cherries – good for gout and reducing the inflammation that goes along with joint and muscle pain
Kitchari (kitch -ah-ree), also spelled kitchadi, is porridge made of yellow lentil beans, rice, and ghee. Literally, kitchari means a mix or a mess, like we in the South say “a mess of greens.”
It’s an Ayurvedic superfood, used for cleansing the body of toxins while supporting deep spiritual practice and sattva (harmony). Often referred to as “Indian comfort food,” kitchari is given to babies, the sick and the elderly as a healing tonic.
The recipe calls for split yellow lentils (mung dal) and basmati rice, along with ghee and turmeric. The split yellow lentils digest easily and, unlike other types of beans or lentils, produce little if any intestinal gas. Kitchari recipes and ingredients are readily available on the web.
This blog introduced Ayurveda, the healing branch of yogic science. One of its core principles is that foods and spices are medicines, instead of just fuel. Ayurveda is about conscious eating — being aware of everything we put into our bodies. It’s about true satisfaction. Food cravings decrease when the body consumes all six spices (sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter, and astringent) on a regular basis.
With Ayurveda we can take charge of our own health, optimize body weight and have better resistance to disease.
The goal is a healthy physical body, a calm (sattvic) mind and a heart connection with Spirit. How is this goal achieved? With natural herbs, healing foods, yoga and a contemplative lifestyle.
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Alternative Pain Relief: A Pill-Free Tool Kit
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