Ayurveda – the science of life – is a system of preventive medicine and health care that was developed in India more than 5,000 years ago. Its purpose is to heal and maintain quality and longevity of life. It is a personalized approach to health; providing you a better control on your health through better choice of diet, lifestyle and exercise.
‘Ayuh’ means life, ‘veda’ means knowledge. Many scholars feel that Ayurveda is an upa-veda of Atharva Veda; some feel that it is part of Rig Veda. The knowledge of Ayurveda has been passed down to us in form of sutras or small phrases, which needs to be contemplated upon to unlock its wisdom
The Pancha maha bhutas – five great elements – Ether (Akasha), Air (Vayu), Fire (Agni), Water (Apas) and Earth (Prithvi) are the building blocks for the universe. The elements exist in all matter with varying ratios, including the cells in our bodies. Ayurveda groups these five elements into three doshas/types of energies or operating principles – Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the foundations of Ayurveda. Vata is considered broadly as the air principle, Pittas as the fire principle and Kapha as the earth principle. Although they have thousands of functions in the body, the main function and emotion associated with it are described here:
Vata is ether and air; it governs the movements and symbolizes creativity and flexibility; when out of balance, it produces fear and anxiety, and abnormal movements.
Pitta is fire and water; it governs the absorption, metabolism and transformations. It symbolizes intelligence and understanding; when out of balance, it arouses anger, hatred, jealousy and inflammations.
Kapha is water and earth; it governs the structure, lubrication to the body; it symbolizes love and forgiveness; when out of balance, it produces greed, attachment and congestions.
Each of us is born with different proportions of the three doshas, and there could be one or two predominant doshas. For example, each individual could be single dosha type – such as Vata type/Pitta type/Kapha type, or two dosha type or sometimes even tri-doshic.
As long as the doshas are normal in quality and quantity, they maintain good health in us. When doshas go out of balance, we start experiencing discomfort and minor symptoms; and when doshas are out of balance for a long time, we start experiencing more serious ailments; if we do not take care of balancing the doshas back to normal, chronic conditions start setting in.
Fortunately, nature has its own way of healing itself, our bodies and minds are endowed with innate intelligence to balance our doshas; if you observe animals, they balance their health based on their body’s innate intelligence; they eat when they are hungry, and sleep when they are sleepy, and they are not stressed about the future or the past, They eat a certain plant/leaves/food based on their bodily urges to satisfy the authentic cravings. They are following the natural principles of Ayurveda and balancing their doshas.
Many of us are able to utilize this intelligence – listening to the body, and able to remain in balance. Some of us get into imbalances and remain imbalanced due to social conditioning and life situations, which we do not have control of. The recommendations for correcting the imbalances can be obtained in consultation with a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.
For now, I leave you with one tip on eating: Eat at regular times and eat only when you are hungry.
Raising kids with healthy eating habits in junk-obsessed environment!
We do periodic cleaning of our house. How about cleaning our kids’ diet this spring? Clean eating is more of a lifestyle change than one of the fad diets springing up each quarter.
Foods that are marketed as healthy but are junk in disguise!
Fruit yogurts – The No. 1 ingredient is low-fat milk, it’s followed by sugar and high fructose corn syrup and funky colors. For daily nutrition, it has vitamins A, D3 and calcium, but less than 10 percent of the daily recommended dose of each. It’s more like a candy.
Cereals – Most cereals contain sugar; high fructose corn syrup; GMO (genetically modified organisms) products corn and soy; and BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene) chemical additive that may trigger ADHD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Annatto can cause headaches and exacerbate allergies. Once you digest the cereal, the blood sugar levels fall back down, which signals the brain that it needs more sugar, so throughout the day kids may turn to candy, juices and other sweets. When blood sugar keeps rising and falling, it makes the body feel hungrier and makes concentration more difficult. The sugar that doesn't break down is eventually converted into fat.
Cereal bars or granola bars: Granola bars marketed to kids lack nutritional value more than the adult focus brands — they’re loaded with sugar and added ingredients such as chocolate chips, marshmallows, candy, high fructose syrup, and artificial dyes, which makes one granola bar about as good as two cookies.
Fruit snacks: Whether they are organic or conventional, put down those fruit rolls! It likely doesn’t contain any real fruit anyway. Nutritionists attest that most fruit snacks are actually candy masked in a health label — and no, “fruit juice” doesn’t count.
Sports drinks: These are loaded with sugar, salt and color. Most of the sports drinks contain a snicker’s bar worth of sugar. A piece of fruit and good old water is the way to go during an exercise. Salty snack and water post exercise is sufficient to help recover the kids from the electrolyte losses during the game. Without the protective fiber, the sugar in the juice is absorbed quickly and spikes the sugar level in the blood, reason of all the reasons for obesity, ADHD, etc. Juice is natural, but healthful certainly not.
A recent study in the United States sheds light on the worth of feeding fiber to young girls to decrease the chances of breast cancer. Researchers analyzed data on more than 44,000 women participants. They discovered that the ones who consumed the most fiber during high school and in the beginning of adulthood were nearly 20 percent less likely to develop breast cancer by middle age as compared to the ones who ate the least fiber while young.
The way to make sure your kids get the nutrition they need:
Make or buy health bars with fewest ingredients as possible, which you can pronounce and understand.
Pack lunches for your children to take to school.
As much as possible, make everything from scratch at home.
Soak, sprout or ferment grains and beans before cooking.
Ideas for quick lunches/snacks for kids:
With tortillas as shell, make filling with sprouted boiled chickpeas and seasoned potatoes add cheese. Make hot pockets on griddle.
Black bean burger with sprouted mung beans, oats and red potatoes.
Lentil pancakes with lots of greens or shredded tofu.
Pack fruits instead of fruit juices.
Pack shelled edmame (preparation of immature soybeans in pod) as snack.
Add grated squash and quinoa in idli.
Recipe of the month
Wholegrain super tasty pasta with veggie rich sauce:
Super easy and quick to make!
- Tomatoes 5
- Carrots 1
- Zucchini 1
- Onions 1
- Garlic 3-4 cloves
- Green chili optional 1-2
- Handful cashews optional
- Fresh basil and rosemary
- Italian seasoning and salt to taste.
Wash and lightly peel all veggies except for tomatoes. Cut the top part of tomato and stick all veggies in the oven at 350 0F for 25 minutes.
Blend veggies with cashews. Heat light olive oil and add the fresh basil, rosemary and add the sauce. Heat for few minutes add the Italian seasoning and serve it with any wholegrain pasta or use it on wholegrain flatbread.
To our health!
Bhavi Nirav is a Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., certified yoga practitioner, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org