18 Jul Diet and Disease: An Ayurvedic Prescription for Health
Looking back into your family health history might display to you a shocking amount of disease including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, I.B.S., thyroid dysfunction, infertility, Alzheimer, and the list goes on…
You might see that your maternal grandmother, and your mother both ended up with breast cancer and assume you as well will experience this later on in life because your family must be prone to this dysfunction. The truth is, these diseases are not contracted genetically, but rather through a similar environmental upbringing where unhealthy norms are pasted along through the generations of your family creating similar unfortunate outcomes once these culturally accepted bad habits catch up to you later in life.
Ayurveda has shed light on how to steer clear of disease for at least 5,000 years by introducing mindfulness into your diet. Ayurveda is a scripture within the Hindu Vedas revealing wisdom on how to maintain vitality and health throughout your life. Ayurveda is also a practice and lifestyle that can be integrated into the modern western lifestyle easily and accessibly with a few basic facets of understanding within the philosophy.
Ayurveda suggests that you quite literally are what you eat/consume. If you consume adopted negative behaviors of your parents you are spreading disease in a mental way, just as if you eat processed meats you are creating disease in a very physical way. The two are obviously closely linked together as mental illness and depression lead to overeating, Bulumia, Anorexia, and don’t forget Orthorexia which is less commonly criticized, but still very obsessive and unhealthy. As you consume foods, the nutritional value of that food is absorbed by your cells through digestion and ultimately become the cells of the tissues in your body such as skin, and organ systems. The rest is excreted, but what if the nutritional intake is so low that your body begins absorbing subpar food material, and creating subpar cells, to become subpar tissues, and overall function at a very unhealthy level? Disease.
Fortunately, Ayurveda dives deeper into diet by demonstrating that each individual is made up with a different constitution or body type that requires a diet and lifestyle specialized for them to promote wellness in turn, repelling disease.
There are three basic body constitutions in Ayurveda, which are called Doshas each relating to the five elements that show up in our body chemistry. Everyone contains each of these five elements, but some are more prone to excess of one or of the others. The Doshas are Kapha (Water/Earth), Vata (Infinity/Air), and Pitta (Fire). Each Dosha responds differently to a certain diet, and therefore knowing your own body is key to balancing the elements and creating harmony among your organ systems.
Kapha is the manifestation of cool grounding earth energy, and the sea. Kapha body constitutions tend to have trouble loosing weight, and experience instantaneous weight gain when they stray away from healthy eating habits. They also tend to run cool in body temperature, experience oily skin, constipation, and lower energy. If you are Kapha, you would benefit from a warm diet filled with spices to kick start your digestion. Drink warm lemon water with meals to aid in digestion and stray from cold water at all costs.
Vata is the conglomeration of the expansive infinity, and the dry, light air qualities within nature. Vatas tends to run at a cooler body temperature, have trouble gaining weight, and excess air also causes constipation. Adding in heavy, warm foods like beans, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes will weigh down Vatas. Including healthy fats will promote healthy cognitive function, and drinking warm lemon water with meals will increase digestion. Avoid cold water.
Pitta is the essence of transformation, as the digestive fire is working at it’s strongest potential. If you are a Pitta, you certainly do not see constipation, you may experience inflammation in your gut, have sensitive skin, and a tendency towards being warm-bodied. Eating cooler foods such as alkaline fruits and dark green veggies will benefit Pitta well. Cool greek yogurt filled with Lactobacillus bacteria (the good bacteria for your gut) will also help you to simmer down a bit. Even considering a vegan or raw vegan diet as a Pitta would be highly beneficial as meats tend to cause more inflammation when digesting. Steer clear of red meat and spicy foods.
Slowly beginning to integrate more and more of these guidelines for your body type into your diet you will begin to see a drastic positive change in your energy levels, cognitive function, mood, and body. Staying connected and learning more about Ayurveda, it will become easier for you to pick and choose food options perfect for you and lifestyle choices that will serve your highest good as well.
Wishing you wellness,
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