This time of the year marks the transition in seasons and the human body tends to be more prone to viral attacks and bacterial infections. As per Ayurveda, this calls for an overhaul of our diet and lifestyle to stay healthy through the transition period. The diet during April days must also be changed to suit the changes in the climate. In Ayurveda, this time marks the transition from Shishir Ritu (extreme winter between mid-January to mid-March) to Vasant Ritu (spring from mid-March to mid-May).
According to Ayurveda, imbalance in the three bio-energies or doshas who get their identities from the five elements- vata, pitta and kapha over time lead to illnesses. The three doshas combine in differing proportions to make up an individual's constitution or prakriti. This includes all factors-- physical, mental and emotional-- that express an individual's uniqueness.
During Shishir or deep winters, the kapha dosha (earth element) tends to accumulate and then after the onset of spring, it tends to spiral into aggravation. So our diet must switch to kapha-balancing foods and recipes around this time.
Before the recipes, here are a few Ayurvedic diet tips for the season:
1. Reduce your sweet intake, especially, white sugar in this season and take plain, easily digestible foods like Jawari Pops (recipe explained below), baked gram and dates and coconuts to your heart's content. This diet has the ability to dry up kapha, as they are non-greasy and kapha-destroying.
2. Foods ideal for the season according to Ayurveda include barley wheat, honey, grains like jawar or sorghum, bajra, pulses like green gram, brown-skinned lentil, pigeon pea, carrot, (Daucus carota), snake gourd, mustard, fenugreek leaf, spinach, coriander and ginger-all in moderated amount.
3. Avoid: new grains, cold, unctuous, sour and salty food, curd, black gram, potato, onion, sugarcane, new jaggery, buffalo's milk.
4. Avoid consuming sweet, oily and heavy to digest food.
5. Do not give peppermint, chocolate or ice-cream cones to young children, as they produce kapha. The kapha dosha is known for maintaining body resistance. Kapha is primarily responsible for anabolism, the process of building the body, growth and creation of new cells as well as cell repair.
6. Do not sleep during the day. It aggravates kapha.
7. Get a pulse diagnosis done and if you find you have excessive kapha, stick to an alkaline diet. Alkaline diet dilutes and dissolves cough, and is subsequently discharged. Steamed or raw vegetables could also be effective.
Now that you have your diet sorted, we share some extremely simple and easy-to-make recipes along with diet tips keeping in mind the change of seasons, and how it affects our body:
-Roasted Chana - 1 cup
-Dates - 1/4 cup
-Desiccated coconut - 1 tbsp
-Rub the chana on a plate to get rid of the brown skin.
-De-seed the dates.
-Grind chana and dates in a grinder.
-Take the mixture out on a plate.
- Make small balls out of it by rolling them in between your palms.
-Coat the balls with the desiccated coconut.
-The dish is ready to be served.
-Heat a deep non-stick pan, add the jowar puffs and saute them on medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes.
-Remove the puffs and keep them aside.
-Heat the oil in the same pan, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida and saute on a medium flame for 30 seconds.
-Add the roasted chana dal, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 1 minute.
-Add the turmeric powder, chili powder and salt, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 10 seconds.
-Add the roasted jowar puffs and roasted chana, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 1 to 2 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
-Cool completely and store in an air-tight container. Use as required.
This is actually a Holi recipe and the the ultimate flavour of the dish comes from the traditional cooking process wherein the roots get cooked overnight on low heat in the Holi fire's burnt coal.
Alternatively, the other process could also be steaming the roots.
-Wash and cut the roots in big pieces.
-Steam ratalu for 25 to 30 minutes and sweet potatoes for 15 minutes.
-Peel and grate them.
-Obtain finely chopped green garlic and fresh coriander leaves.
-In a pan heat the oil, add mustard seeds and sesame seeds, then add green chilies and ginger. Cook for half a minute.
-Add raisins, mashed roots, green coriander leaves, green garlic and salt.
-Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.
-Turn off the gas and add lemon juice. Mix it well.
-Give round shape and serve.
-Roast spices lightly on a tawa.
-Soak all ingredients except milk in enough water to cover.
-Set aside for 2 hours. Grind it into a fine paste.
-Add milk to the paste and stir in a jar.
-Pour the liquid through muslin cloth in glasses.
-Decorate with rose petals and serve chilled.
So try these recipes to bring in good health and happy summers!
Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that dates back to ancient times across many cultures. This is a practice where concentrated oils are used to treat many imbalances and disorders within the body. The oils emit a fragrance or aroma, through which many important molecules enter your blood stream which have a healing effect. The oils can be applied on the skin and the aroma is then absorbed directly into the body through it. They can also be used as an aromatic agent where you need to sniff them in order for the molecules to get inside the body and then be absorbed into your blood.
What kind of oils are generally used in aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy uses essential oils similar to the ones used for massage in many other forms of alternative medicine such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. These oils have the organic compounds within the plants or respective sources concentrated into a small dose so it can pass on the benefits of those compounds to you, healing your body. Some of the types of oils used in aromatherapy are –
1. Peppermint oil
2. Tee tree oil
3. Lavender oil
4. Frankincense oil
5. Lemon oils among many others
How are essential oils made?
Essential oils are made from natural ingredients such as herbs and resins of different plants. These can be extracted from the following sources of a plant, tree or herb:
7. Stems etc.
Aromatic oils tend to be powerful as a lot of ingredients go into the making of a small quantity of oil. It is estimated that it takes multiple kilos of an ingredient to make only a few milliliters of an essential oil. Due to the immense concentration of the powerful organic compounds created by this, organic oils are very effective and thus potent in curing ailments. The compounds are separated through a distillation process that separates the oils from the other components.
How and where are essential oils in aromatherapy effective?
Aromatherapy is very effective in dealing with lesser ailments and also as a supplementary form of treatment for other larger problems such as recovery form surgery and pain relief. Some of the more common areas where aromatherapy is very helpful are:
1. Relieving and reducing stress
2. Relief from joint pain
3. Resisting Cold and flu like infections
4. Building the immunity of the body
5. Improving the appearance and health of your skin by fighting wrinkles, skin infections and inflammation
6. Reduce pain from inflammation and other disorders
7. Corrects and properly regulates hormone production within the body
8. Helps with gastrointestinal problems as well as improving digestion among many other such benefits
Certain specific types of essential oils and their benefits in aromatherapy
1. Lavender oil: Helps heal burns and cuts quicker, relaxes your body and improves your mood
2. Peppermint oil: Helps with digestion, builds up immunity, and helps with the ability to focus among others
3. Rosemary oil: Helps build hair strength, improves memory and brain function in general
4. Sandalwood oil: Improves skin quality, fights inflammation and wrinkles and also acts a as a libido booster
5. Rose oil: Extremely effective for combatting skin problems as well as for natural glow of the skin
6. Tea tree oil: An excellent immunity booster, Tea tree oil also has antifungal and antimicrobial properties which can fight off infections and cure the ailments much quicker.
Kapha is responsible for governing all body functions related to lubrication. Some of the typical body functions that Kapha has a direct impact upon includes lubrication of lungs and joints, body weight, growth, and formation of the seven tissues- fat, bone marrow, nutritive fluid, reproductive tissues and fat. There could be several symptoms indicating an imbalance of Kapha in the system.
Some of them include the following:
Mind: An increased Kapha of the mind is characterised by symptoms, such as a feeling of lethargy, drowsiness, and sluggishness, excessive sleep, feeling of depression and melancholy, laziness and brain fog. An accumulation of Kapha in the mind can lead to severe depression, withdrawal symptoms, diabetic coma and frequent loss of consciousness.
Digestive tract: Kapha can wreak havoc on the digestive tract. Some early signs of Kapha accumulation in the digestive tract include a heavy feeling in the stomach, indigestion, excess salivation, poor appetite, nausea, slow metabolism etc. As a result of excess Kapha, the stool can be sticky, pale, heavy and oily. This can lead to diabetes and mucoid diarrhea. If not treated early excess Kapha can lead to hyperglycemia, anorexia nervosa, and blood in the stool.
Kapha accumulation in skin, adipose tissue, muscles and circulatory system: An accumulation of Kapha in other parts of the body can lead to hypertension, itching, lipoma formation, cold sweat, swollen lymph, pallor, low strength of the body, itching etc. In the case of long standing Kapha accumulation some serious aggravation from the present condition can lead to obesity, thrombosis, leukaemia, malignant tumours, edema, high cholesterol, blood stagnation, hypertrophy, heart failure etc.
Kapha in respiratory system: Kapha in the respiratory tract can lead to coughs, hay fever, sinuses, nasal crust, chest pain, runny nose, excess mucus and frequent cold. If the existing condition becomes serious and treatment is not done on time, some serious complications can lead to cystic fibrosis, sinus infections, excess phlegm in the throat, chronic sinus etc.
Other parts of the body: If Kapha accumulates in other parts of the body it can lead to symptoms such as excess urination, low libido, premature ejaculation, heavy testicles, swelling of the joints, dental tartar, sex desire, fibrocystic lumps, goiter, enlarged spleen, gallstones, endometriosis, cystic ovary, lordosis, protruded eyes, heavy feeling of the eye, prostate enlargement, white urine, neurofibromas, hydrocephalus, gangrene , prolonged menstrual cycle osteoma, kyphosis, prostatic calculi, bone spurs etc.
Food to avoid Kapha symptoms: Some foods that need to be avoided include carbonated drinks, oily food, chilled food, deep fried snacks, red meat, foods which are heavy to digest, milk especially buffalo milk, sweets, Ghee, fruits like Banana, Mango etc. excess salt and sour, all forms of alcohol except red wine, the latter can be consumed no more than once in a week.
Aloe vera is one of the most popular medicinal plants that have been in use for thousands of years. It is particularly famous for the treatment of skin injuries although it offers a host of health benefits. This short stemmed shiny plant stores moisture in its leaves and is widely used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries. The gel within the aloe vera stem contains bioactive compounds found in plants such as vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids.
Some of the notable health benefits of Aloe Vera include the following,
1. It contains antibacterial and antioxidant properties: Aloe Vera is known to contain the most beneficial antioxidants called as polyphenols. These polyphenols, as well as other similar compounds found on aloe vera, can prevent the growth of bacterial infections in human beings.
2. Helps in healing cuts and burns: Aloe Vera can also be used as a topical medicine by applying the gel on the skin. It has been used since ancient times for the treatment of sores, cuts and burns which also includes sunburns. Aloe Vera is the first FDA approved ointment that got the status of an effective over-the-counter medication in the year 1959. It can, therefore, be used in first and even second degree burns.
3. Prevents dental plaque: Tooth decay, as well as gum diseases, affect almost all individuals over the world. One of the best ways to steer clear of the oral infections is to prevent plaque buildup which is the bacterial biofilms on the teeth. The aloe vera mouthwash is as effective as chlorhexidine solutions in reducing the problems of dental plaque by killing the harmful yeast called Candida albicans and bacterium named Streptococcus mutans.
4. Aids in the treatment of canker sores: Most people have experienced mouth ulcers or canker sores at least once in their lifetime. It mostly affects the area underneath the lip or inside the mouth and can be very painful at times. Several studies show that aloe vera gel helps in accelerating the healing process of canker sores.
5.Reduces constipation: The latex of aloe vera has been found beneficial in the treatment of constipation. The latex is the sticky yellow residue underneath the leaf skin and contains aloin and barbaloin which offers effective latex effect.
6. Prevent formation of wrinkles: Topical aloe vera gel assists in slowing down the ageing process with regular usage. Using aloe vera gel regularly helps in boosting the production of collagen and improves skin elasticity within three months of regular usage.
7. Lowers down blood sugar levels: There was a time when aloe vera was used as a conventional remedy for diabetes. Aloe vera helps in enhancing insulin sensitivity as well as managing blood sugar levels. It has been used in numerous animals and humans affected with type 2 diabetes and the results are impressive enough to regard it as an alternative treatment option.
Along with these benefits, aloe vera juice is regarded as a sustainable way of weight management which has made it a well-favoured choice of overweight people all over the world.
Hair loss is not just an aesthetic issue, it also lowers self esteem and confidence level, affecting the overall morale and personality. Ayurveda considers hair loss to be a problem associated with excessive pita and a combination of yoga, meditation, massage oils, and hair products can help cure hair fall. In terms of yoga, there are specific asanas which increase blood flow to the scalp and thereby promote hair growth.
Hair loss also is believed to be an effect of stress and anxiety, so meditation to calm the mind and body plays a great role in controlling hair loss. Light oils like almond oil and castor oil, when warmed and massaged onto the scalp, induce hair growth and can help control hair fall. There are various products which are believed to have a dramatic effect on hair fall.
Bhringaraj: Known as the king of herbs, its literal meaning is “king of hair". It reverses balding, prevents premature graying, and also promotes hair growth. It is available as oil and as powder, its leaves also can be used as a paste that is left in place for a couple of hours and then washed off. The bhringaraj powder can also be mixed with other products like amla and tulsi and coconut oil to give shine to the hair.
-Brahmi: This works by promoting growth of the follicles and nourishing the roots. It also reduces dandruff and removes dead skin from the scalp, thereby reducing itchiness. Mixed with curd and lukewarm water and applied on the hair regularly, it can turn the hair shiny and thick. It can also be mixed with ritha, alma, and tulsi for better results.
-Ritha: Soap nut powder has been used for centuries to promote hair growth. It has very mild soap and so can be used even daily. Soak it overnight and use the water to wash off hair. It contains saponin which adds to the hair strength and shine.
-Shikakai: Meaning “fruit for hair,” this has loads of antioxidants and vitamins which nourish the hair. It retains the natural oils in the scalp, and so adds to the shine and strength of the hair. The powder can be mixed with warm water or oil to form a paste that is applied on the hair and left in place for a couple of hours. It can also be added to tea and then used on the hair.
-Neem: Reduces itchiness, cools the scalp, improves blood circulation, and cures the scalp of itchiness, scaliness and dandruff. Water boiled with neem leaves and neem oil produce very good results.
The next time you are worried of hair fall, try these options and see the difference.