Blue Lotus Ayurveda Newsletter

Let Your Food Be Your Medicine!

January 2006

According to Ayurveda, there is no separation between body, mind and consciousness. Therefore, the concept of health must address all of these aspects. The best preventive medicine and support of the natural healing process is a diet and lifestyle specific to the constitutional needs of the individual and in line with the seasons and cycles of nature.

Ayurveda sees food and spices as medicinal substances. Food should be as fresh and organic as possible and, if available, locally grown. Preparation of food with love and gratitude will pervade it with a healing energy. The concept of shad rasa (six tastes) is a central point in Ayurvedic cuisine. These six tastes —sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent— should be present in balanced proportions. Through the use of culinary medicinal spices, food is made more digestible and easier to assimilate. The most common spices used in Ayurvedic cuisine are cumin, coriander (cilantro), ginger, garam masala, hing (asafoetida), ajwan, turmeric and fenugreek.

All of these aromatic, stimulating and carminative spices are also used in traditional herbal medicine. Ingesting small quantities of them on a daily basis helps maintain the health of the digestive fire (agni) and the entire GI tract. Toxins that accumulate from improperly digested food can be greatly reduced by slowly introducing these spices into the diet.

Ayurveda offers some basic dietary guidelines that can benefit everyone’s health. For instance, it is important to eat at the appropriate times of the day and in accordance with the natural rhythm of the body. If this is not possible, you should at least try to eat bigger meals in the daytime and smaller meals at night, preferably before 7 p.m., so that the food can be digested before going to sleep. Ayurveda discourages eating on the go and at odd hours of the day.

Self-control is the key here. We must discipline ourselves to stop eating before feeling sated. A stomach gorged with food weakens the entire digestive process and causes indigestion and accumulation of ama (toxins) in the GI tract.

Because foods have different qualities and require different digestive energies, food combining is of the utmost importance in Ayurveda. For example, fruits digest quicker than grains, so eating the two together confuses the digestive process and creates fermentation and ama. When a food that digests easily and quickly (such as fruit) is made to stick around in the stomach while other, heavier foods (such as grains and carbohydrates) finish their “cooking” process, a mixed message that disrupts the agni (digestive fire) is sent to the internal organs. Foods that have a predominantly sour quality or fermented foods such as yogurt, should not be eaten with sweet foods such as milk or fruit. The sour quality can cause the milk to separate and ferment in the stomach leading to toxic buildup in the GI tract and the deeper tissues over time.

As the seasons change, and the qualities in the environment change, food should also be chosen so as not to increase the dosha that is increasing. For instance, cooling foods such as dairy should be taken in moderation during the cold kapha months to avoid the formation of mucus and the tendency to colds and respiratory conditions.

These are general concepts in Ayurveda that can be followed by the average person. If you have specific health issues or concerns, food combining and food choices can be central aspects of your daily regime. An Ayurvedic clinician can provide you with the appropriate guidelines for your individual situation as far as diet and lifestyle are concerned.

Basic Guidelines for Good Digestion

*Eat at regular times:

Breakfast:  before 8 a.m.

Lunch:  10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Dinner:  5 – 7 p.m.

* Allow 5-6 hours between meals for complete digestion. People with a strong digestion and good appetite can have a light snack, such as fruit, juice or nuts, between meals.

* Avoid cold drinks. This will "put out" your digestive fire.

* Avoid drinking too much water during meals. This can wash away digestive enzymes and weaken the digestive fire (agni).

* Sip on small amounts of room temperature water while eating. This benefits the break down of food and aids the digestive process.

* Avoid overeating.

* Avoid eating when constipated.

* Avoid foods you can't digest.

Pranayama, Mula & Bandha Workshop

with Vishnu Dass

Learn the classical application of these Vedic breathing techniques and energy locks to enhance your yoga and meditation practice!

February 5, 2006

9:30 am- 12:30 pm

$30/person

Asheville Yoga Center
239 S. Liberty St.
Asheville, NC 28804
828-254-0380
www.youryoga.com

Ayurvedic Cooking Series

Breakfast - March 4th

Lunch - April 1st

Dinner, April 29th

Learn to prepare a variety of recipes and make a healthy feast out of every meal!

All workshops are 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

in weaverville, NC

$50/person

Pre Registration required

For more information or to register,

click here.

Contact Information

Blue Lotus Ayurveda
(828) 713-4266
or via e-mail through our web site
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