Ancient Health Secrets: Ayurveda Diet

Photo: photographer23 For over 5,000 years, people in India have followed the Ayurveda diet to promote wellness and vitality. This ancient medicinal practice originated from the Hindu scriptures called the Vedas. The word stems from the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit; ayur meaning life, and veda meaning knowledge. People who follow this diet philosophy consider it a sacred way to nourish the body, mind, and soul. In short, they believe food that enters the digestive system not only effects how the physique feels but the spirit too.

Photo: marketing deluxe

According to the lead dietitian at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Annie B. Kay MS, RD, RYT, “Ayurveda has an expansive definition of nourishment that goes beyond food, think of it in terms of all things that fuel our life force, including relationships and doing the things we love.” The nutritional aspects of this early diet asks that each participant reflect not only on what they eat, but how, when, and why too. To learn more about the basics of the Ayurveda diet, read the following paragraphs, and apply them to your daily life.

Know your doshas. Ayurveda centers around the energies named Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and are known as the doshas. These “energies” govern mental, spiritual, and physical health. Each person identifies with a particular Dosha more than the others, but contains aspects of each of them.  When these doshas are properly balanced through foods, experiences, and emotions a person shall then reach optimal bodily and spiritual health.

Kapha: This energy encompasses density, languidness, oiliness, and stability. People who are Kaphas posses caring and patient qualities. When they are balanced Kaphas are nurturers and providers. When they become out of balance they have a tendency towards depression, neediness, and secrecy. Physically they may suffer from congestion disorders, high cholesterol, and weight gain. To keep this body type in balance it is suggested they eat bitter, dry, and light food such as beans, citrus, salads, and whole grains. Also, it's suggested that they avoid salt and sugar.

Pitta: This Dosha is associated with fire and water and comprises drive, confidence, and sharpness. People that are mostly Pitta appear to be competitive, expressive, and powerful. When balanced they are inspirational leaders, but once unstable a Pitta becomes arrogant and difficult. The physical problems a Pitta may experience upon becoming unbalanced consists of acid reflux, inflammation, and overheating. An Ayurveda practitioner may recommend that they consume a diet of cool foods such as juice, salads, and seeds while avoiding alcohol and spicy foods.

Vata: The Vata energy comprises air and circumscribes creativity, dryness, and lightness. Those who are predominantly Vata are reportedly adaptable, positive, and spiritual, but may become indecisive, fearful, and restless. According to Ayurveda, Vatas may suffer from dry skin, constipation, gas, and stiffness, and a diet of warm, wet food like soups, oils, and herbal teas may help balance them out.

For more Health and Wellnesss stories:

Changing the Way Our Children Eat

Health Benefits of Lemon Water

Is the US Good for Immigrant's Health?

Health Benefits of Cherries

Newark School Puts Focus on Food

What To Eat After Yoga

Yoga is a great activity, but too often a class can be affected by a full stomach or dehydration. To make sure that you feel as great as your sun salutations look, we've compiled a few tips for best eating before and after yoga.

Since the practice of yoga began, it has been tied with Ayurvedic eating. As ayurveda hinges on the concept of three different kinds of eating, this means that there is no right or wrong diet associated with yoga. However, there are a few things to keep in mind for the best possible class. Here are some simple tips for eating well for the best possible yoga practice.

Your stomach should be empty. Leave a comfortable cushion of time between eating and going to your yoga class. If you're a post-work yogini, have a healthy snack around 2 or 3 pm, letting your system digest enough before practicing. If you're starving before class, choose a snack of watermelon or other

Stay hydrated. Drink 2-3 glasses of water in the morning before your class, or if you're going at lunch or after work, make sure to drink plenty of H2O throughout the day.

Bring a snack for after class. On the way home, dig into a stash of nuts and dried fruits. Or bring some homemade granola for a delicious pick-me-up treat. The protein and fiber in either option are great post-yoga foods.

Eat well for dinner. After exercising and treating your body well at yoga, there's no reason to slack in the kitchen! Pair whole grains with vegetables and a healthy protein such as eggs or fish.

What are your tips for eating before and after yoga?

Photo: lululemon athletica on flickr

Find The Right Balance In Your Life With Ayurveda

Looking for more balance in your life? Perhaps you should learn about ayurveda! Popularized by models and trendy fitness consultants, ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine. Ayurveda focuses on balancing five elements-space, air, earth, fire, and water-in the human body. These elements combine to form three main types of people: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Ayurvedic eating uses body type to diagnose balancing and soothing foods. Proponents of an ayurvedic diet believe that it keeps them healthy and serene in the modern world. Although determining whether you're Vata, Pitta, or Kapha is difficult without the assistance of an ayurveda specialist, there are some ayurvedic eating principles that everyone can follow.

Just as there are six elements in the world, there are six tastes. Ayurveda dictates that each meal includes sweet sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent elements. Maintaining a balance of tastes helps bring digestive peace and fight cravings. Similarly, balancing "warm" and "cold," "heavy" and "light," and "thick" and "thin" foods is an important step towards keeping the elements in harmony.

Food has an effect on the mind, not just the body. "Sattvic" foods have a positive effect on the spirit. Try including more almonds, rice, honey, and vegetables in your diet to improve focus and energy levels. Choosing fresh, natural foods instead of processed options helps as well.

Adventure is a critical element in ayurvedic eating. Introducing new, exciting foods in your diet is a fun way to stimulate the mind and body. Ginger, lemon, cilantro, mint, and Indian spices add interest, too.

Americans could benefit from one ayurvedic tenet-eat only what can fit into two cupped hands. Ayurvedic diets emphasize moderation and balance, principles that characterize healthy eating traditions across the globe. For an ayurveda-friendly dessert, check out this recipe for lemon cobbler.

Sources: About Healing Ayur Balance AltMedicine