Toxic Food According to Ayurveda

One famous Ayurvedic proverb states –
“The one who eats proper food does not need any medicine
The one who eats improper food will not benefit from any medicine”

According to Ayurveda, digestion is the key to strong immunity and healthy metabolism. When we eat improper food, it first affects the most important pillar of our health – our digestion.
Therefore good food is the basis of all health. Ayurveda states that food in its most natural form is the most nutritious, but food which is environmentally incompatible is toxic for the human body too. According to the above rule, the modern Ayurvedic standards for non-consumable food are defined as follows –

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Non-Organic Food

Vedas state that the food and water available to all human beings should be the same. Today this statement is so relevant in terms of non-organic food. Non-organic grains and vegetables are grown with the help of a bulk of pesticides and insecticides. These food items are hardly suitable for consumption. They can cause a variety of health issues, including multiple types of cancers. Therefore the new mantra for the Ayurvedic life is the organic food.
Most of the people are unaware that some of the pesticides and insecticides are designed to disrupt the physiological functions of the insects/pests. For example, an insecticide called “Roundup” acts on the intestines of the insects and tear the internal linings of their intestines. The insect population soon dies and the crops are thus saved. However, imagine what will happen when such food is ingested by the human. When we eat food that is sprayed with such pesticides, it affects our intestines in a similar way it affects the pests. Now it is scientifically proven that these chemicals cause severe damage to the intestines. They can make the intestines leaky after regular use for a long term. When the undigested food material oozes out of the leaky intestines into the abdominal cavity, it can cause severe allergies. Interestingly, a few decades back very few people would be suffering from allergies but nowadays people can develop an allergy to almost anything, right from peanuts to pollen, thanks to the non-organic food.

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Genetically Modified Food

The newest and the most overlooked health threat is the Genetically modified food. This is a more serious threat than the use of pesticides and insecticides. In case of genetically modified food, the genes of one organism are planted in the DNA of another organism, for example, genes of fish are planted in the DNA of rice so that the genetically modified rice crops will not rot in the case of floods. But this is good only for the farmers and more so for the seed manufacturing companies. It is neither good for the consumers or for the environment.

The Myth of GM Food

For a long time, it was propagated that genetically modified food is crucial to bring an end to the food security in the poor populations of the world. Therefore for decades, there was no open opposition against GM food, but Gm food does not solve any problem of the world. In fact it has added many severe problems that are more complicated than the food crises. What good is the food but that causes diseases when consumed?
The body has the natural potential to determine foreign objects and expel or kill them. Genetically modified food is not natural in its constitution. When it is consumed, the body fails to identify it as a nutritional substance. Genetically modified food is different in constitution than its natural counterpart. For example, if you see a person who has 3 eyes and 2 noses, you would definitely be scared and would run for protection. The body produces a similar response when it sees an unidentifiable object, which is basically a genetically modified food item. The body tends to attack the GM food and get it out of the body, instead of trying to absorb nutrition from it. Just imagine what will be the state of your health if your body is trying to kill your food!

The list of diseases that genetically modified food can produce is very long. The health problems caused by genetically modified food are –

  • Cancer
  • Allergies
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Intestinal Infections
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Auto-immune disorders (Rheumatoid Arthritis, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune hepatitis, scleroderma, celiac disease and many more)
  • Inflammatory disorders (asthma, peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, sinusitis, Crohn’s disease etc.)
  • Dementia
  • Autism
  • Developmental delay

For more information, please visit the link – Genetically Modified Food – The New Poison

2000px-Dharma_Wheel.svg.pngUnhealthy Karma

According to Ayurveda, the source of the food is very important. If the source of food is corrupt and evil, the food will bring the consequences in terms of karma. Because of this reason, in earlier times people refrained from eating in the house of anyone who is evil and corrupt.

In case of genetically modified, non-organic food, the farmers who buy the genetically modified seeds are forced to buy them again and again because genetically modified crops fail to produce seeds with similar qualities, as their parents. These genetically modified seeds not only require more fertilizers and other chemicals, they also consume more water than the natural seeds. Thus after a few years, the fields under farming for genetically modified food become infertile and the region faces the drought problem. Therefore we must stay reminded that if we are buying non-organic food, we are contributing to the problems of large-scale farmer suicide in our country.
It is important that all ardent supporters of Ayurveda should say no to non-organic and genetically modified for the sake of their health as well as for nature. What is Evil, is evil for all. It does not bring good to anyone. Let’s save ourselves and our environment from the evil GM food, generated out the greed of few people.

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Non Seasonal Food

Today we find almost all vegetables and fruits in almost all the seasons; we find greens around the year, which were naturally available only in winter. However, according to Ayurveda, this is a completely unhealthy trend. Ayurveda strictly prohibits one from consuming non-seasonal food. Non-seasonal food is considered to be unnatural and devoid of its original nutritional value. But unfortunately, because of the use of chemicals and genetical modification, many original and naturally occurring species of edible plants have become extinct. What we eat today might not exactly be food, it is “FOOD LIKE SUBSTANCE”.
Let us take the example of green leafy vegetables. Greens, unlike general knowledge, are hard to digest and cause a lot of digestive problems if not digested properly. The greens are naturally produced in winter, and winter is the season when the digestion is at its best. Therefore, the greens are full of their best nutritional qualities and also, the body is able to extract the best nutrition from them. Thus the perfect match of digestive power and nourishment is naturally achieved. On the other hand, digestive power if the weakest in the rainy season and thus not many food options are available in terms of vegetables and also fruits which can be consumed raw.  Watermelons are naturally produced in summer and help to prevent dehydration. Coconuts grow in hot and humid weather and are cool in temperament. Nature has a perfect match for all our nutritional requirements. Therefore, let’s follow nature for a perfect health.

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Global Food

According to Ayurveda, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and grains are best suitable for the native people. For example, Kesar (saffron) is a spice that is abundantly found in the cold regions of Kashmir. Kesar is a hot temperament herb according to Ayurveda and is naturally good for the local people. Dates are naturally found in the desert area and they are sweet and provide instant energy to the local people, where other kinds of vegetation might be scare. Therefore, according to the law of nature, everything grows naturally in the place where it is most required. Ssomething that is grown in a different climate than that of the place where you live, is not naturally compatible with your health. Therefore, if you do not have the money to buy exotic vegetables like zucchini or squash in India, or Quinoa in the USA, or Basmati rice in Canada’ consider yourself lucky! Local food is the best for you.

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Packaged/Junk Food

The packaged food contains dried vegetables, preservatives, acidity regulators, stabilizers, and a host of other chemicals apart from the real food substance. Packaged fast food also contains a lot of excess fat, sugar, and unwanted chemicals.

If we can avoid all of the above food items, then there is a huge possibility of our staying alive and active for a minimum of 100 years. Besides, we will save a lot of pollution caused by unnecessary transportation.


Jivem Shardah Shatam!
(May we live a 100 years)

Good Food and Bad Food According to Ayurveda – I : Food that should not be consumed

Keeping in mind that food cannot be cooked separately for all persons in a house, Acharya Charak describes the food quality that should be taken regularly for all seasons and all prakrati, along with food that should be used very rarely by all prakrati individuals. However, it is particularly important to refrain from the bad food even if you have to stay hungry, as it is said that one should not eat poison even if he has nothing left to eat!

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Food that should not be eaten regularly (occasionally, once or twice a year or for the medicinal purpose)

  • Dried Meat
  • Dried Vegetables
  • Lotus roots
  • Non-vegetarian diet for the weak

Dried Meat and Vegetables

It is very convenient and sometimes cheap to store dried meat or vegetables for easy use later. Many times people store dried vegetables to be used during the offseason. Dried or dehydrated meat/vegetables are now being frequently used in “Ready to cook” food. But such products should not be used every day.

The food should be consumed in its fresh or natural form as much as possible. According to my personal hypothesis, food that is naturally juicy, like most of the meat and vegetables, when consumed in dried form,  tends to absorb extra water from the intestines for getting into its original digestible form. It might swell in the intestines. If the adequate amount of moisture is not available, it might not be digested properly. Such food might create toxins due to incomplete digestion.

Dried Vegetables

Most of the vegetables that grow above the ground like cabbage, cauliflower, brinjal, beans, peas, bottle gourds,  etc. are dry in nature and they cause Vata imbalance(dryness in the body) when consumed without hot spices/oil etc. Also, most of the green leafy vegetables are heavy, dry and have a tendency to cause bloating (esp during the rains) if not cooked along with proper spices. When these vegetables are used in the dried form, the dryness produced in the body is multifold. Besides, it can seriously derail the digestive system. This is true for almost all the vegetables.

Therefore, if you have the option of using dried red chilies for the fresh green ones, please choose the fresh green chillis. Dried methi leaves, normally used as a flavor enhancing agent in Indian cooking, also should be used once in a while.

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Meat, esp pork is supposed to be extremely heavy in nature and can cause severe digestive problems (Vata derangement) if consumed in the dried form. Beef is recommended only in diseased conditions, not otherwise. Most of the meat is heavy to digest. Dehydrated meat is harder to digest and can cause severe Vata vitiation in the body.

It is said that such food takes a long time to get digested and after digestion does not fuel the digestive fire, instead leaves it weakened. Therefore such food is classified as Dhatupradushak or contaminator of the metabolism/tissue systems. In order to understand this concept, let us take the example of throwing sand on the fire. The sand does not get burnt but brings down the intensity of the fire. It might even extinguish a weak fire!

Ideally, we should stop using the packaged ready to cook masalas which contain dried vegetables like onion, garlic, or dried chicken pieces.

dosakaya-pickle-recipe.jpgInstead, meat or vegetables stored in pickled form are oiled, tender and better option for easy cooking than the dried ones.

However, dried meat and vegetables, even when used rarely, should be cooked in water/moisture/oil in order to make them soft and easily digestible. They should be served hot in order to stimulate the digestion. Digestive herbs like ginger, black pepper, asafoetida, cumin etc. should be used to make them easy to digest and absorb.

ginger-1191945_960_720That reminds me about dried ginger powder! There are some exceptions to everything. Dried root vegetables like potato chips can be kept for long duration and consumed after frying. The use of water or oil for proper cooking is indispensable. Still, a fresh potato is a 1000 times better than the dried potato. The dried ginger powder is an Ayurvedic medicine, easy to digest and produces heat in the body and therefore is not a bad food choice. Pumpkin in dried form is not damaging to health, therefore Vadi(a dried Indian curry material) made by sun-drying the chunks of pumpkin paste and spices, are not harmful.

Also, this concept is not applicable to the medicinal herbs(aushadhi) like Ashwagandha to coriander seeds. They can be stored in the dried powdered form of at least one year. However, their other preparations like jam (chavanprash), tablets, alcohols are more useful and have a longer shelf life.

Dried meat and vegetables are not great everyday food, but they might be used for medicinal purposes, as according to Ayurveda, everything in the universe can be used as a medicine. For example, dried radish soup is used to relieve severe bronchitis.

Considering all the health dimensions of dried vegetables and meat, it is best to avoid most of the dried vegetables and meat, unless prescribed by a trained physician.

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Lotus Roots

Lotus roots are considered to be very heavy and not digestible in the human system. Therefore they should not be consumed at all.

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Non-vegetarian diet for the weak

Normally a person who is weak and thin is advised to consume a non-vegetarian diet, as according to Ayurveda also, flesh is the best diet to increase flesh. However, a weak person with a bad digestion should never consume non-vegetarian diet, as it can seriously hamper his digestion capacity. Ideally, according to the Ayurvedic procedure of weight gain, a very weak person should improve his digestion and health primarily on a vegetarian diet and digestive medicines. After that, he should gradually move to a non-vegetarian diet. A non-vegetarian diet for a weak person with retarded digestion is like a college assignment for a school kid. The chances of successful completion are almost nil. Besides, such a diet will cause further retardation of the already weak digestion.

The central idea of the above guidelines is to preserve the digestion. Digestion is the fuels the life-force in the body and anything that hampers digestion should be avoided at all cost.

 

Know thy food – Basic Ayurvedic Classification of Food

According to Ayurveda, the one who eats healthy food will never need any medicine; and the one who eats unhealthy food will never benefit from any medicine. Therefore it is important to know thy food!

According to Ayurveda, every edible substance on earth has 3 properties –

Doshashamak (Pacifier of Dosha)- It balances the dosha (physiological systems of the body). Herbs like turmeric, ginger, black pepper can be classified as Doshashamak. Turmeric balances Kapha and Pitta, ginger and black pepper balances Vata and Kapha.

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Dhatupradushak( Contaminator of Dhatu)- It contaminates the vital tissue systems. Ayurveda believes that the diseases can occur only when there is a suitable environment for their incubation inside the body system. A contaminated dhatu is the ignorant king who unsuspectingly allows the trojan horse of diseases inside the body. It is like the traitor of Sparta who gave away the strategic secrets and led to the defeat of his kingdom. Therefore, all diseases have roots inside the body and these roots are formed by the Dhatupradushak food and lifestyle habits we practice.

Onion can be considered as an example of Dhatupradushak, as it is Guru (heavy to digest). Anything that is heavy to digest is taxing for the digestive system to absorb. It has a hot temperament and helps to balance Vata. However, it is heavy, sweet in taste, and unctuous. Therefore, onion has a tendency to vitiate Kapha Dosha. Onion is also sharp in action and has bitter as its secondary taste. Therefore, it can vitiate pitta dosha by disturbing the physiological processes.

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Swasthyahitkarak(Beneficial for Health) – It is the substance that is indisputably good for health. It is important to note that all Ayurvedic guidelines should be considered in a context. Sutra is the system that provides a comprehensive context for all rules. Ghee, Honey, rice, moong dal are some of the swasthyahitkarak foods, that cause almost no harm to the body in the widest range of situations.

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Now, there is no physical substance that when taken in any quantity, any time and in any manner will be incontestably good for health. For example, rice is considered good for health and according to Ayurveda, one should have it every day. But uncooked rice is disastrous if consumed, an excessive amount of cooked rice is not good, polished rice is unhealthy etc. Therefore, there is a context where a substance is doshashamak, dhatupradoshak or Swasthyahitkarak. This is the broad view.

Now for practical purposes, how can we classify day to day objects in these 3 categories? Well, we can do that in the same way as we classify the solid, liquid and gas. Everything that exists on this earth can acquire any of the 3 states of physical existence, in specific conditions. For example, oxygen is a gas in normal circumstances. However, it can be transformed to liquid when compressed, or even solid. But still, for all practical purposes, it is classified as a gas, because that is its natural form of existence. In the same way, even arsenic can be good for the body. It is actually used in many of the Rasa Shastra medicines. But, for all practical purposes, it is classified as a toxin. Because it has a natural toxic effect on the body. Similarly, haritaki (Terminelia chebula) is extolled to be as benevolent as a mother towards the stomach but it is not supposed to be consumed more than a specific period of time. Still, for all practical purposes, it is a swasthyahitkarak herb.

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Besides, it is important to note that each human body is different. What is good for one person might not be good for the other. For example, eating curd might be good for a person with good digestion, but buttermilk is better for a person with weak digestion. But this classification is still applicable for everyone. For example, as swasthyahitkarak substance, Ghee is invariably good for all humans, (pure and natural) milk is nourishing for all children. Similarly, too much acid like vinegar is dhatupradushak for all people. And Amla is pitta doshashamak for everyone.

Therefore, irrespective of the body type, this classification is the basis on which we can choose the food that we should eat or the food that we should avoid, in general.

  • Swasthyahitkarak food items should be consumed every day.
  • Doshashamak food items should be consumed according to requirement.
  • Dhatupradushak food items should be consumed rarely or not at all.

If we follow these plain and simple rules of eating, we will never fall sick.

The most interesting thing about substance(dravya) as described in Ayurveda is Kal (time), Disha(dimension), Mana(mind) and Atma (soul) are classified as substances. Therefore the above 3 classifications are applicable to the lifestyle and the thought process also.

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Prakriti : Code of Body Physiology

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Dosha governs the health patterns and susceptibility to diseases of a person. 3 Dosha Vata, Pitta and Kapha are like 3 legs of a tripod on which the health is based. Any of the legs is disturbed, the health gets imbalanced. In every person, there is a constitution based on the 3 Dosha, which is also called the Prakruti or the health pattern of the person. Prakruti depends on the natural tendency of Dosha in the person. There are total 10 kinds of Prakruti depending on the combination of the 3 Dosha. More about Dosha

Qualities Of Dosha

General Functions of Balanced Dosha:

Dosha and The Subprime Crises

Some examples of Prakruti –

  • Vata Pitta Kapha
  • Vata Kapha Pitta etc…

The Prakruti is made of 3 Dosha in a hierarchy according to their importance in the body; the most prominent, lesser and the least effective Dosha, according to the extent of the effect they have on overall constitution respectively. Every person is born with his Prakruti.

Your health is governed by your constitution, your Prakriti!

Imagine a bowl full of matter which you are carrying and you have to prevent the matter from falling, evaporating or freezing. Some substances will have a tendency to fall, some will evaporate and some might freeze in the same environment. So first you need to know which type your matter is and then you need to have different arrangements accordingly to preserve it.

Water in the bowl will have a tendency to spill and fall, so you need to cover the pot and walk slowly (Vata). Consider petrol, it will evaporate or even catch fire so you need a cooler temperature for it (Pitta). If the substance freezes or has a tendency to solidify, then it is very convenient. It is most stable and easy to carry thing (Kapha). Kaphaj people, if they take good care of their body, are considered to be the healthiest people.

Prakriti decides the way your body functions in normal conditions.

Prakruti also decides the ailments that you can be more prone to (but unfortunately it does not decide a disease that you will never catch, that is why Dosha are called so. Dosha means the one which spoils…). Also, the symptoms of the same disease will be different and will have different magnitude according to individual Prakruti.

For example, a person with Vata Prakruti will be more prone to itching; another person with Pitta Prakruti will be prone to more swelling or burning sensation in the same medical condition. Likewise, a person with Kapha Prakruti can feel heaviness or numbness.

Prakruti with the predominance of Vata is called Vataj, vice versa Pittaj and Kaphaj Prakruti.

10 Prakruti types are

  • Vata
  • Pitta
  • Kapha
  • Vata Pitta
  • Vata Kapha
  • Pitta Vata
  • Pitta Kapha
  • Kapha Vata
  • Kapha Pitta
  • Vata Pitta Kaphaj

There are certain features that are characteristic to each Prakruti according to the Dosha governing it.

It is important to know your Prakriti just like your blood group. Prakriti is the single most important decisive factor in all kinds of Ayurvedic treatments.

 

5 Essential Yoga Poses for Rainy Season

Vata Dosha is vitiated in Rainy season. Imagine a heated pan suddenly sprinkled with water! A lot of vapor will be formed. Also, the metal continuously exposed to sudden drastic changes in temperature will erode at a faster rate (faster aging). Same phenomenon happens to our body, only in a more complicated physiological manner. Imagine that you are driving your car on a angular mountain road. If you are driving your car at a speed of 100 km, there is very low possibility that you will be able to suddenly change the direction at a sharp turn, without skidding . The momentum of the car prevents sudden change in direction. Body metabolism also has its momentum. It is in cooling mode during Summer. Suddenly it is ordered to change its functioning because of sudden temperature drop due to rains. The intertia of momentum is the vitiation of Vata Dosha. It causes confusion in the body and thus the diseases.

For details please visit following links :

Vata Dosha

Dosha in Rainy season

Sandhikal

However gradual cooling of the pan instead, will avoid the effervescence as well as the damage. Similarly a gradual food and lifestyle change is required to prevent damage to the body from seasonal changes. The Ayurvedic preventive system for seasonal change is called Ritucharya. In order to prevent skidding into diseases due to seasonal change, one must use the brakes of Ritucharya

Ritucharya

 

Exercise Routine : Important Factor of Lifestyle Change in Varsha Ritucharya.

 

5 Best Asanas for Rainy Season

These are poses which help in pacifying the Vata Dosha which is supposed to be vitiated during the rainy season.

 

Precautions for Varsha Ritucharya Exercise Regime

Avoid rigorous exercises and opt for light and easy exercises.

Do not exercise till you start feeling tired.

Prefer to avoid excessive exercise that might make you sweat profusely.

Keep yourself properly hydrated.

 

Benefits

Yoga is a good option as it is not a sweat inducing exercise.

Lack of sunshine due to clouds might induce SAD related depression ( Seasonal Affective Disorder) in susceptible individuals. Yoga generates a feeling of peace and contentment.

All 5 asanas strengthen abdominal muscles, improve digestion, help to relieve gas and constipation.

With above Ritucharya tips, keep healthy and happy in this rainy season and …

Enjoy the rains!