All's well when you eat well

Health experts harp on the importance of boosting immunity as a way to avoid getting viral infections that are taking the world by storm. While there are many ways to achieve this, a healthy daily regimen, especially intake of the right food, is key to keep diseases at bay.

Dr. M.S. Noushad gives us an insight into ‘Ayurvedic Diet plan’.

According to Ayurveda, food is one of the three pillars of health, the others being sleep and controlled sex. What you eat has a significant role in the pathya and apathya (dos and don’ts) being advised as part of various treatments since food alone can often be a causative factor for diseases.

Maintaining an equilibrium of vata, pitha and kapha (tridoshas) is the key to wellness and their imbalance can lead to illness. A diet according to the body constitution will help counter the onset of diseases.

People with vata dosha should include liquid food or those that are unctuous to balance dryness in their diet. The three tastes that help balance vata are sweet, sour and salty. Minimize foods that are pungent, bitter or astringent.  Milk, citrus fruits, dried fruit or salted, toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds make good snacks for this group.

It’s also vital to include more vegetables in diet. Carrots, asparagus, tender leafy greens, beets, sweet potatoes and summer squashes such as zucchini and lauki are the best. Rice and wheat are best grains for balancing vata. Basmati rice is ideal. Cook it with a little salt and ghee for added flavour. Reduce the amount of barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, and rye.

Take a hot or herbal tea with snacks in late afternoon. Avoid drinks with high caffeine as they aggravate vata.

Nuts are vata-pacifiers. Soak ten almonds overnight. Blanch and eat them early morning for a healthy burst of energy. Walnuts, hazelnuts and cashews are also good.

The lifestyle recommendation for balancing pitha is to stay cool both physically and emotionally. For that, have cool foods. Sweet, bitter and astringent are the right tastes for this condition. Milk, sweet rice pudding, coconut and coconut juice, milkshakes made with ripe mangoes and almonds or dates are the best options.

Protect yourself from heat. Stay cool in warm weather by wearing loose cotton clothing. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes when you go out. Include asparagus, tender and bitter greens, bitter gourd, carrots, fennel, peas, green beans, cauliflower, beets and sweet potatoes in your diet. Drink lassi with lunch. It will help improve digestion and cool the body.

 The lifestyle recommendation in Kapha group is to get moving. Physically, do some exercises daily. To improve mental power, learn a new skill, solve some puzzles or take a class.

Protect yourself from damp and cold. Drink lot of warm water infused with warming spices such as turmeric, dried ginger and black pepper. Vegetable soups with beans and diced vegetables, and stews are good dishes for pacifying kapha dosha.  Try to include vegetables such as carrots, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower in diet. 

Also honey is a good option to pacify kapha. Take a tablespoon or two (not more) of raw honey every day. It will help release excess kapha. But do not cook with honey. Favour lighter fruits such as apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and apricots. And reduce heavier fruits such as bananas, avocados, pineapples, oranges, peaches, coconuts, melons, dates, and figs.

(The author is Deputy Manager, R & D wing, Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Group, Kerala)  

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