by Patricia Wickman
Ayurveda, the “Science of Life,” maps out a crystalline clear path to aging gracefully. Ayurveda is the traditional folk medicine from India and has been practiced for over 6,000 years. A system with that sort of longevity promises added years and quality of life for all. While it is true that time stops for no one and death is certain, there are key aspects of life that are in our control. Ayurvedic doctors and practitioners encourage people to pace themselves in order to avoid high stress levels and burnout. Life is like a river and there are areas of rivers where the water rushes, creating rapids. Living life in the rapids may provide a short time of exhilaration, but living every moment in this way will eventually exhaust one’s body, mind, and spirit.
There are areas of rivers where the water is flowing peacefully and there exists a nice balance between what is coming in and what is moving out. Making sure that your input equals your output is a simple Ayurvedic truth that will enhance your enjoyment of life and prevent the manifestation of disease. This idea of input and output is most observable in your digestive system. This is why one’s diet is the number one method of self-care in Ayurvedic medicine. Radiant health and slow aging starts with what you are in-gesting day-to-day. It also begins with having lifestyle habits that encourage ideal functioning of digestive organs such as your liver, pancreas, small intestine and colon.
There is a text that dates to the mid-first millennium called the Chandogya Upanishad. In it is the following thread of wisdom:
• Ahara suddhau sattva-suddhih
• Sattva-suddhau dhruva smrtih
• Smrti-lambhe sarva-granthinam vipra-moksah
“From purity of food comes purity of mind, from purity of mind comes constant remembrance of God, and from constant remembrance of God one becomes free from all bondage — one becomes liberated. A clear mirror alone can reflect the face. So purity, Sattva-Suddhi, is stressed again and again by all the mystics and saints of the world.”
Ayurvedic nutrition is not one-size-fits-all and is based on the tri-doshic theory (Vata, Pitta and Kapha). There is a spate of Ayurvedic websites that explain this in depth. Here are some general Ayurvedic healthy eating guidelines that will help you stay younger longer and enhance your inner and outer beauty:
Toxins are considered to be those foods that clog the channels of the body and/or create a nutritional deficit (think paying for things with credit cards)
a. Processed, refined, canned, boxed foods.
b. Foods containing refined sugar, trans-fatty acids, non-organic foods, leftovers, artificial sweeteners, tap water (with chlorine), soda, caffeine, high acidic foods, nightshades, alcohol, foods containing MSG.
a. Maintain a healthy digestive fire (metabolism). Use spice mixes in foods, teas, etc. and use probiotics in an educated way.
b. Eat regular meals; don’t skip meals; don’t snack too much.
c. Maintain proper elimination of wastes through daily bowel movements, appropriate urination, appropriate sweating (do not use antiperspirants containing aluminum).
d. Eat cleansing foods and drinks (hot water, cumin/coriander/fennel tea, ginger tea, stewed apples and pears, sufficient fiber, daikon radish, cilantro).
e. Have an Ayurvedic practitioner guide you through an appropriate cleansing for your situation and constitution.
f. Consume your food with mindfulness and confidence. We lose nutrients from our food because we do not chew it properly — we are different than boa constrictors. We have absorption problems when we eat while we are in sympathetic nervous system arousal (fight or flight). Coffee and chocolate both put our nervous systems into fight or flight mode.
a. This is for when your collection of symptoms has a name such as eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, insomnia, sinus infection, urinary tract infection, etc.
b. This now requires specific diet, lifestyle, and herbs per condition.
In addition to diet, Ayurveda encompasses other methods of anti-aging practices such as conscious breathing (pranayama), yoga, herbal treatments, body therapies, and more. No matter your age, sex, religion, or race, it is never too late to incorporate Ayurveda. If you are a person living in the rapids, today is the day for you to float to more peaceful waters and start savoring life. Life is valuable. Life is precious. Claim the joy that is rightfully yours.
Patricia Wickman is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Certified Panchakarma Technician and Registered Yoga Teacher. She loves people and enjoys inspiring individuals to perceive their beauty and potential. She lives in Eau Claire, WI with her husband and two children. She owns Radiant Living Yoga and Ayur-veda, LLC. For more information visit: www.rlyaa.com.
General Meal Guidelines
It is essential that people with high air (Vata) or fire (Pitta) eat breakfast
Grains — Oatmeal, oat bran, rice bran, cream of rice, quinoa, barley, whole grains
Fruit-Stewed apple or pear with clove, cinnamon, cardamom
Dried fruit in hot cereal — raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc.
Nuts and seeds — almonds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, etc.
Liquid — Whole milk (if you are concerned with fat, dilute whole milk with water), almond milk, rice milk
Grains — Alternate grains (rice, quinoa, couscous, barley, millet, amaranth, buckwheat)
Veggies — At least one in each of the following categories:
Cruciferous: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
Colored (sweet): carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips
Dark, leafy greens: kale, Swiss chard, collards, spinach, dandelion
Other: zucchini, green beans, okra, etc.
Special veggies: daikon, cilantro, bitter melon
Proteins — chicken, fish, small beans, lentils, paneer (Indian fresh cheese)
Probiotic — Lassi (2 T. plain yogurt in 1 T. water) Have with meal.
Dinner (Lightest meal of the day)
Similar to lunch. Can eat flat bread instead of grain.
(Inspired by notes taken in workshops with Patricia Layton and Vaidya Mishra)