The usage of onion and garlic in an Indian kitchen is indispensable - thanks to the exceptionally amazing flavour they offer to curries, stir fries, stew, soup and what not. Both the ingredients, belonging to the allium family, not only add to the flavour, but also have numerous health benefits to offer. However, Ayurveda suggests that one shouldn't consume excessive amount of onion and garlic. Ayurveda defines nutritional properties of food based on six tastes that include sweet, salty, bitter, sour, pungent and astringent, and their qualities namely, sattva, rajas and tamas. While both onion and garlic are considered excellent foods, they still are not favoured by Ayurveda.
According to Ayurveda expert from NirogStreet, Ram N Kumar, "Ayurveda is not against eating onion and garlic; in fact, garlic is deemed as an important medicine in Ayurveda. However, onion is considered tamasic (makes people irritable) and garlic is known to be rajsic (disturbed sleep and drained energy) in nature, which means both these ingredients produce heat in the body. While body needs some amount of heat, excessive heat may only lead to increased risk of health problems."Undoubtedly, Ayurveda prizes onion and garlic as powerful medicines and do not recommend avoiding them. Ayurveda principles are generally confused with spirituality and yoga that recommend a no onion and no garlic diet, as they both are believed to distract an individual's focus and attention.
Health Benefits Of Onion And Garlic
Both the ingredients have a long list of health benefits. Garlic has often been considered as a wonder drug. It has been used to prevent infections due to its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, and it is also known to reduce chances of cancer; thanks to its anti-carcinogenic properties. Onions, on the other hand, are known to reduce inflammation, remove toxins, normalise digestion and reduce cough. These are just a few health benefits attributed to the two humble kitchen ingredients.
So, go ahead and add these two foods in your daily diet; just remember anything in excess is bad for your health and moderation is the key.
Superfoods load a big punch of nutrition in a small crunch. Dietary substances that provide large proportions of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants etcetera are referred as 'superfoods'. They are a vital part of a truly balanced diet. Superfoods have gained quite a popularity in the recent days as the food trends evolve rapidly over the social media. They may perhaps not fulfil your gluttonous cravings, but they will definitely fulfil your body's nutritional requirements in a rather small quantity.
In addition to being a powerhouse of nutrients and providing all the essential ones, they have various other health benefits as well. Some superfoods have specialised benefits as well, such as tomatoes, which contain high amounts of potassium, fibre, and vitamin C. They also make your immune system stronger and resistant to countless other major and minor diseases.
As the term evolves and more and more people come to know about its benefits, the term 'superfoods' has been exploited so much by packed food manufacturers and global food brands alike. The food industry labels its regular products as 'superfoods' and charges an exuberant sum of money from its consumers. The labelling is not even supported by any scientific research or claims. The European Union has banned the term 'superfoods' in addition to other health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence.
In order to counter this ban, giants in the food industry are spending thousands of dollars on academic research. This is being done in order to support the health claims mentioned on the packaging and make their product a 'superfood'. Some have even been successful in doing so. But the problem yet prevails as the researches are more than often conducted on concentrated extracts of food. Thus the claimed benefits may not be found in the natural state of foods.
But you need not spend an exuberant sum of money to include these so-called 'superfoods' in your diet. Instead, you can find them lying around your house. Broccoli, oats, cinnamon, turmeric, tomatoes are a few to mention. You can find these items for a rather cheap price in any supermarket.
Superfoods may appear to be a new concept as the trend evolves via social media. But if we contemplate our past, we'll realise that superfoods are around for a rather long time.
If you look back a couple of hundred years or so in the modern history when medicines, as we know them now, were yet a fantasy, you'll find mentions of these superfoods. If a person fell ill, he'd be medicated by a variety of herbs, roots and other parts of a plant. Examples of such superfoods with medicinal properties include turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and almonds among countless others. These age-old medical herbs and vegetables evolved into what we refer as 'superfoods'.
The ancient Indians were aware of these superfoods long before the knowledge spread to the western world. The Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, had mentions of these superfoods. The Ayurvedic superfoods also form an important part of Indian festivals and festivities. Almonds, ghee, honey, saffron etcetera form a crucial part of the offerings offered to Gods and deities in the festivals all over the country. These Ayurvedic superfoods occupy an important part of the Indian taste palate. Here are few of the most important superfoods according to the Ayurveda.
1. Ginger: Ginger is a well-known ingredient that is found not only in a majority of Indian and western dishes alike, it's something that it is commonly available in our houses. It is known as the 'Healing Spice of Ayurveda'. Fresh ginger could provide relief from nausea and dried ginger is useful for joint pains.
2. Turmeric:Turmeric, the superfood that is gaining international popularity day-by-day, has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It may provide relief in symptoms of various skin conditions and could also regulate the blood sugar levels. It plays a vital role as a medicine in Ayurveda.
3. Ghee: Ghee or clarified butter, as it's commonly known, is a gem of Ayurveda. It is, in fact, healthier than butter or refined oil and is known to even control cholesterol, thanks to its content of omega-3 fatty acids. According to Ayurveda, it must be consumed daily in order to maintain a healthy eyesight and radiant skin.
4. Cinnamon: Cinnamon, the "super spice", was more expensive than gold in the ancient days. It improves digestion and blood circulation, removes toxins from the body, and was originally used in the effective treatment of respiratory and sinus congestion, bronchitis, colds, and the flu.
The Ayurveda is filled with an exuberant amount of such superfoods. Dates, almonds, honey, saffron, basmati rice are a few to mention. Ayurveda encouraged people to inculcate these superfoods in their daily and regular diet in order to lead a healthy lifestyle and prevent falling sick.
In fact, our bodies have an amazing ability to heal themselves, given that it is not lacking a healthy supply of essential nutrients. Superfoods, as mentioned before, are nutritionally very dense and are loaded with the nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy.
Nature itself wants to eat superfoods, thus it has blessed us with abundant of superfoods that can serve as our staple diet. Moreover, nature bestows upon us with the superfoods in specific conditions that are best for us in that particular weather, such as summer or winter, or geographical location such as the plains or the coasts. For example, root vegetables that are superfoods such as carrots, radish, turnips etcetera are abundant in nature. They have high mineral and nutrient content, which is essential in the winters since the nutritional requirement of the body increases in the winters. On the contrary, watermelon is a superfood that is abundant in summers. It has high water content, which is crucial for summers. It is low in sugar and high in vitamins A and C.
In fact, if you niche down the fruits, vegetables and other dietary substances that flower in a particular season, it is a superfood that nature itself is begging you to consume.
Yet, there are superfoods that must be consumed throughout the year to maintain a healthy body. Below are some superfoods that you can easily include in your daily diet.
Eggs: Eggs are superfoods that are available throughout the year and have high nutritional values. Moreover, they are very easy-to-cook. They are a powerhouse of potassium, folic acid and vitamins.
Broccoli: A handful of broccoli has way more calcium than a glass of milk. The superfood also has an abundant quantity of minerals and vitamins.
Oats: Oats are a rich source of fibre, magnesium, potassium, and phytonutrients. The fibre in oats may lower blood sugar level. It is a superfood with which you should start your day.
Salmon: Salmon is a healthy superfood that is packed with a great amount of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Almonds: Almonds are one of the most nutritious and healthy nuts, with large amounts of potassium, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and iron.
Millets: Millet is a gluten-free superfood with high amounts of vitamins. Various studies have proved that it may be even healthier than whole wheat.
As essential as it is to make superfoods an integral part of your diet, it's equally essential to stay away from artificial superfoods. Instead, try to consume those nutritionally rich foods that are abundant in nature.
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that refers to the 'science of life and longevity'. Ayurveda adopts a holistic approach towards healthy living and is considered to be one of the oldest medicinal systems in the world. Though native to India, this philosophy has gained popularity all around the world. The base of Ayurvedic philosophy is to balance the body, mind and spirit. Both prevention and healing are carried out through natural means.
According to Ayurveda, each person is born with a life force that comprises the five elements or building blocks of nature: Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Space. We possess a unique balance of these five elements in varying degrees. This balance of elements is known as a Dosha. There are three fundamental doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and good health is considered to be a perfect state of balance between these three doshas.
Vata is constituted by space and air, which is the energy of movement; fire and water constitute pitta, the principle of digestion and metabolism; and water and earth make up kapha, the dosha of structure and lubrication. Unhealthy diet, stress, repressed emotions and insufficient exercise are considered to be elements that disturb ones’ doshic balance. Hence, to maintain the balance and good health, a person has to juggle with the three doshas, and increase or decrease them, as conditions demand. In simple words, health means order and balance, whereas disease is disorder and imbalance. Everyone has all the three doshas, but one of them is usually primary, the other secondary and the third one is the least prominent.
The Three Doshas: An Overview
1. Vata: Vata is considered as the leader of the three Ayurvedic principles in the body. As the principle of mobility, Vata regulates all activity in the body, mental as well as physiological. It is responsible for breathing, blinking our eyes, beating of our heart and many more functions. When in balance, the Vata is lively and energetic. Adequate rest and relaxation is needed to keep the vata in balance. Dry skin, cough and dry hair are some problems that one may face when the vata is imbalanced.
2. Pitta: Pitta is the fire element. It is responsible for regulating the body temperature through the chemical transformation of food (governing digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition and metabolism), promoting vitality and appetite. Those dominated by the pitta dosha are strong willed, determined and tend to have leadership qualities. If the pitta is imbalanced, it can lead to anger and agitation, and may even cause burning disorders such as ulcers and inflammation. To maintain a balance, meditation, massages and inhaling cooling scents such as rose, mint and lavender can help relax the body.
3. Kapha: This dosha maintains body resistance. Those dominated by kapha are said to be thoughtful, calm and steady. To maintain a balance, gentle exercises, stimulating activities and an extra intake of fluids can keep the energy flowing. Kapha is primarily responsible for anabolism, the process of building the body, growth and creation of new cells as well as cell repair.
What determines your dosha?
Ayurveda Specialist, Dr. Surya Bhagwati from Dr. Vaidya's explains, “The human body is made up of 5 elements -air, ether, earth, water and fire. A combination of these five elements determines one’s 'prakriti' or constitution. Ayurveda defines the combination of these five elements into three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Although each human body is composed of all the three doshas, each body has a different combination of them and this determines one’s genetically inherited physical and personality traits. Through one’s life, these constitutions may change based on physical, mental and emotional. conditions. It is important to identify one’s dosha and then create a lifestyle that suits it. This means adopting a diet and daily routine based on one’s dosha."
Ayurveda divides the different body types into seven categories. Hence, it is possible for a person to be: vata, pitta, kapha, vata-pitta, pitta-kapha, vata-kapha, or tri-dosha. However, there is no ‘best’ or ‘perfect’ body type or dosha. Each of the categories have their own advantages and disadvantages.
What to Eat for Your Dosha An imbalance of doshas in the body can be checked with the help of herbal remedies, warm oil massages, yoga, and your diet. To balance each dosha, certain foods need to be consumed while some need to be avoided.
Balancing Kapha: One of the major reasons for kapha imbalance is excessive food consumption, and therefore, a light, low-fat diet of bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes is recommended. This can include steamed or raw vegetables, ripe fruits, grains like oats, rye, barley and millets, honey and strong spices like pepper, cardamom, cloves, mustard and turmeric. According to Ayurveda expert, Dr. Dhanvantri Tyagi, "Kapha prakriti should avoid fats, milk and rice in their daily diet but can consume them occasionally."
After creating ripples in the country and abroad for it’s home-based and natural cures, Ayurveda may soon be eying the territory which has had doctors and scientist abroad worked up since decades- Cancer. So says, the Union Minister of State AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik
The ancient medicinal practice of Ayurveda has taken the global circuit by storm with its cure to various skin and health ailments. And Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), is tirelessly working to revive the glory and reinstating people’s faith in the ancient practice, which according to them has the cure to the severest of ailments.
Recently, Naik hinted about the ongoing research in Auyrveda , which may bring about the cure to cancer in the recent future. This comes soon after his earlier statement on a yoga-based cure to diabetes and cancer.
Naik said, that they have reached a stage where just like chemotherapy, they can treat cancer but the treatment would be without the side effects of chemotherapy. Naik said, beaming in confidence that research is on along with American scientists to find a cure for cancer. On completion of the research, in the appropriate way, they will find and prepare the medicine for major diseases and a cure for cancer will come.
Earlier last year, the Minister had stated that Yoga-based cure for diseases such as diabetes and cancer developed by Bengaluru-based Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana was on the pipeline.
Praising the natural healing properties and treatment of Ayurveda, Naik also said that the Ministry had set itself a target to establish an AYUSH center in every district to promote the ancient medicinal practice of India.