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Turkish Lentil Balls with an Ayurvedic Twist

Turkish Lentil Balls with Bulgur with an Ayurvedic Twist – Mercimek Köftesi

This vegetarian ball is one of the most popular appetizers of Turkish cuisine. This well loved Turkish dish is healthy and delicious especially for Vata and Pitta people. As a very easy vegetarian recipe, you just combine cooked red lentils and bulgur with special spices and seasoning and shape into balls. Perfect for entertaining a crowd.

Ayurvedic Chart
• Dosha Effect : VP – K+
• Rasa: Sweet, Astringent
• Virya: Cooling
• Vipaka: Sweet
• Qualities: Heavy, Soft
• Actions on the Doshas: Tridoshic (if cooked with a little oil and bitter spices good for Kapha too)
• Action on the mind: Sattvic

Ingredients

• 1 cup red lentils- washed and drained
• 1.5 cups dinkel bulgur- cracked wheat washed and drained
• 3 cups hot water
• 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
• 6-7 green pepper, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 1 tbsp pepper paste (not hot)
• 1 tsp freshly grounded black pepper
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp fenugreek powder
• 1 tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp ginger powder
• 1 tsp hingu powder
• 1 tsp coriander seed
• 1 tsp black mustard seed
• 2 tsp Vata churna -including fennel seed, anise seed, cumin seed, turmeric powder, ginger powder
• 1 tbsp cow ghee oil
• 1 tbsp pure olive oil – cold press
• 1 cos lettuce leaves separated


Cook's notes
• Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C.
• As a traditional touch you can add fresh scallion and onion, finely diced and fried in olive oil, but I do not use it in my any traditional and Ayurvedic recipes because they are Tamasic and not appropriate for a Yogic diet.

Instructions
1. Put cow ghee into the pan and heat. Add Vata churna helping digestion and gas especially for Vata people. Mustard seed, coriander seed, turmeric powder and ginger powder. Stir them for 20 seconds to uncover their specialties. Add washed red lentil and dinkel bulgur into the pan and stir them for a few seconds.

2. Boil the red lentils and dinkel bulgur in the water for about 20 minutes or until soft because dinkel bulgur is harder than conventional bulgur and needs to be boiled longer.

3. If you use conventional bulgur, it does not need to be boiled long and you can add the bulgur to the boiled red lentils in the last 2 minutes. Then cover with a kitchen paper allowing it to absorb the remaining water and to let the bulgur expand.

4. Heat olive oil in a pan and add tomato and pepper pastes into another pan and add fresh green peppers chopped, black pepper, cumin, fenugreek powder. Stir and cook until soft adding half cup of hot water. Put this sauce into the dough balls. Let it cool off. Add fresh parsley chopped and mix through well.

5. Form into thick cigar-shaped patties and roll as balls, -Take walnut size pieces and give them ball or cigar shape in your hands. Keep a little bowl of water close by to wet

4 your hand frequently during this process since the balls mixture will get stuck on your hands.

6. You can either place cos lettuce leaves on a serving plate and put balls on top as in the last picture, or serve balls and lettuce leaves separately as garnish, or skip lettuce leaves completely; however, they really go well together.

By Çağan Cinmoyii Gün Işıklı
Turkish Ayurvedic Counselor & Yoga Instructor

The Three Doshas and the Mind in Ayurveda

By Sarah Moore May 7, 2018

We are able to draw parallels of the metaphorical illustration from the Bhagavad Gita with Krishna and Arjuna riding in a chariot to the ways in which the subdoshas relate to the mind.

In the illustration, Atma is the owner of the chariot, the chariot is the Body, the driver is Buddhi, the reins Mind, and horses Indriyas.

To an effect, all the Vata subdoshas associated with mind (Prana Vayu, Udana Vayu, Vyana Vayu and Apana Vayu) are linked with all these layers of existence: Atma, Mind, Buddhi, Body and Indriyas. Prana Vayu located in the head, where the Sahasrira Chakra resides, is all pervading. It is the life force, (Atma), it governs all movements (body), the link between body and mind (Buddhi), makes decisions and actions happen (Mind), and controls senses, indriyas (horses).

Udana Vayu resides in the throat, with the Vishuddha Chakra. It governs expression of emotions (Mind and Buddhi). Vyana Vayu lives in the heart, it holds the Mind (Reins) and keeps the Body (Chariot) moving at an even pace, connecting the Mind and Body. If a wheel is broken, the chariot cannot roll forward; likewise if there is no connection of mind to body the horses will cease, they will have no direction. Apana Vayu is seated in the pelvic region, with Svadhisthana Chakra, it is related mainly in a physical way as it is responsible for shedding waste product, it keeps the Body (Chariot) clean of waste so it can continue functioning properly, so our body (the chariot) is not weighed down by waste product—physical or emotional. If the chariot is weighed down, or Apana vayu is blocked—physically or emotionally—it affects emotions, that is, the mind.

Subdoshas affected by the Mind and vice versa

Vata: Prana, Udana, Vyana and Apana (Atma, Mind, Body)
Pitta: Sadhaka (Buddhi)
Kapha: Avalambaka, Tarpaka (Body)

The Pitta subdosha associated to the mind is Sadhaka Pitta. This subdosha of Pitta resides in the heart with Anahata Chakra, which is the home of the mind in Ayurveda; it also resides in the head or brain as grey matter with Sahasrira Chakra. It is responsible for turning sensations, actuality, truth and reality into feelings and memory, it realizes the I am in Ego. Prana Vayu is closely related to Sadhaka Pitta, together they record emotions that create the intellect, which is then stored in the brain by Tarpaka Kapha (subdosha of Kapha that resides in the head as white matter and in the myelin sheath). Prana Vayu carries the emotions to Sadhaka Pitta and writes or imprints it on Sadhaka Pitta’s grey matter, then Tarpaka Kapha holds that information in white matter. Sadhaka Pitta develops information or intellect (buddhi and driver) from the indriyas (the horses). Sadhaka pitta is the Intellect. It metabolizes information from the Indriyas (horses) to make knowledge, which is the Intellect, Buddhi (driver).

The Kapha subdoshas associated with the mind are Avalambaka Kapha and Tarpaka Kapha. Avalambaka Kapha resides in the heart. It nourishes the cardiovascular organs (body or chariot) and holdw emotions (Buddhi or Driver). It hugs the heart and lunges with nourishment, support, love and compassion, so the mind, intellect, body and atma has courage to move forward. Without Avalambaka Kapha our emotions cannot be carried by Vata to Sadhaka Pitta for metabolization. The lungs can become a seat for negative tamasik emotions of sadness, grief and depression, which can affect the mind, body, intellect and atma. Without Avalambaka Kapha we dry up in the cardiovascular area, we cannot feel compassion or love, only tamasik tendencies—this can be shown in diseases such as bronchitis or asthma.

Tarpaka Kapha is seated in the brain as white matter and seated in the myelin sheath, which is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. It is responsible for subconscious thinking, emotions and memory—as mentioned above, it stores and records emotions, experiences, etc. metabolized by Sadhaka Pitta, provided by Vata. It stores protective memories that control our reactive impulses—it nourishes and provides information to Buddhi (the driver) that helps direct oneself in a safe way, such as learning from one’s mistakes or other’s mistakes through the indriyas (horses), so the Buddhi or Driver can control and steer its chariot and owner (Body and Atma) in a safe way along its physical life journey.

--Sarah Moore is studying Ayurveda Counselor from Narayana Ayurveda and Yoga Academy.--

Unmada in Ayurveda

By Conner Severson, AP Student

An example of Majja Dhatu Imbalance- Unmada

Unmada is a big topic. Science still doesn't fully understand the inner workings of many mental illnesses.

In Mental illness, western medicines allow the person to live out a heavily pharmaceutically altered life. It is hard for such people to relapse, so they cant get off their medicine. Statistically, 1 out of 10 patients commit suicide) :

Unmada in Ayurveda includes.

Delusions –false ideas--individuals may believe that someone is spying on him or her, or that they are someone famous (or a religious figure).
Hallucinations –seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing or smelling something that doesn’t really exist. The most common experience is hearing imaginary voices that give commands or comments to the individual.
Disordered thinking and speech –moving from one topic to another, in a nonsensical fashion. Individuals may also make up their own words or sounds, rhyme in a way that doesn't make sense, or repeat words and ideas.
Disorganized behavior –this can range from having problems with routine behaviors like hygiene or chosing appropriate clothing for the weather, to unprovoked outbursts, to impulsive and uninhibited actions. A person may also have movements that seem anxious, agitated, tense or constant without any apparent reason.

Other symptoms include

Social withdrawal
Extreme apathy (lack of interest or enthusiasm)
Lack of drive or initiative
Emotional flatness

As usual, those who understand even an inkling of Ayurvedic theory/philosophy can see that Unmada (Hallucinations or Delusions)is not a simple mental illness, but an elemental (akasha) imbalance: a Vataja condition affecting Majja Dhatu and that Vata has also entered most if not all other Dhatus as well.

In my opinion Hallucinations could be categorized at Vata pushing Pitta into Alochaka/Ocular tissue and creating perhaps a very detailed and not seldom terrifying experience for the person. Vata imbalance in majja is indicated by twitching, walking differently, and using strange jumpy gestures.

It is seen that the person does not shift personality, but rather becomes HYPER stressed. They percieve their unmada as being VERY real. A person with an Unmada issue maybe eating breakfast at a cafe, and have a vision of bees and spiders jumping and flying everywhere.

Vata is pushing out of the subconscious and blending into present physical reality to understand the underlying mechanisms of trauma of such persons.

PAST LIFE issues are a huge part of Unmada along with spiritual possession.

Hetus include brain trauma, genetics, drug abuse, socio-economic factors all come into play.

There are three types of Unmada

Vata Unmada : (vayu)
Texts give examples of a Vata unmada as someone who is very thin, lameting, s houts, laughs, smiles, dances, or sings and talks to themselves. May immitate others, and sputum comes outof their mouth. They may also posture. Swami Sada Shiv Tirtha notes, “Vayu insanity is also caused by fasting or an excessive intake of dry or cold foods. This affects the heart and mind with worry, passion, and anger which results in distortion of memory and perceptions.” Swami Sada Shiv Tirtha, (1998).

Frawley states that when high vata, as excess ether, makes us ungrounded, spaced-out and unrealistic. We may have various wrong imaginations, hallucinations or delusions, like hearing voices. High vata in the mind manifests as fear, alienation, anxiety and possible nervous breakdown. There is insomnia, tremors, palpitations, unrest and rapid shifts of mood. Insanity of the manic depressive type or schizophrenia is an extreme vata imbalance”. Frawley, (1996).

Pitta Unmada

Choler gives rise to threatening behavior, fury, and charging at people with fists stones,
and the like. The patient craves coolness shade, and water. He goes naked, and has a
yellow color. He sees thing which are not there, such as ire, flames, stars, and lamps.
Pitta insanity results from indigestion, excess of hot, pungent, sour, or burning foods and
liquids, excesses pitta afflict the heart of the person lacking self-control. Wajastic (1988).
Frawley notes that the “fire and heat of pitta cause the mind to be narrowed and contentious, fighting either with others or with themselves. High pitta in the mind causes agitation, irritation, anger, and possible violence. The overheated body and mind seek release in venting the build-up tension. Pitta types can become domineering, authoritarian or fanatic. When disturbed they many have paranoid delusions, delusion of grandeur or can become psychotic.” Frawley, (1996).

kapha Unmada:

Phlegm causes the patient to lose any desire for food. It causes vomiting, and a reduction
in motivation, appetite, and conversation. It causes a lust for women. It causes the patient
to enjoy solitude. He dribbles mucus and snot, and is very frightening. He hates being
clean. He sleeps, and has puffy face. This insanity is stronger at night, and just after
eating. This is caused by the overeating and excessive use of oily foods. This is
aggravated kapha afflicts the heart, troubling the mind and memory. Wajastic, (1988)

Frawley stated that kapha type evolves attachment and lack of motivation lading to depression, sorrow, and clinging. The mind may be incapable of abstract, objective or impersonal thinking. There is lack of drive and motivation along with passivity and dependency”. Frawley (1996).

Creation of Dhatus in Ayurveda

By Cagan Cinmoyii Gun Isikli -

We need to eat food everyday to grow, to be strong, to be healthy and to live a long life. Whatever we eat, it can be helpful for the creation of our dhatus in a positive or negative way in the body. Dhatu means construction elements as tissues for the structure, and growth of the body. There are 7 types of dhatus (Sapta Dhatus) in the body ; rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, ashti majja, and sukra . All these need time to be formed respectively. Each of them takes 5 days. For instance, the food that we eat becomes ahara rasa and it can transform as the last dhatu, i.e. reproductive tissue after 35 days.

Digestion process starts in Bodhaka kapha in oral cavity. Then Udana Vata helps to masticate and Prana Vata sustains to swallow the food. Kledeka kapha provides moisture in Amasaya (stomach). Pachaka pitta also helps and Samana vata press and sustain agni to function properly. They work together to continue breaking ahara rasa down with digestive enzymes. Now, jatharagni on duty to break down the Ahara rasa into Chyle for digestion which is a milky white fluid including lymph and fats.

In the meantime, to clarify the object in a better way, I should cite that there is 3 stages of Gross Digestion. Briefly,

1-Madhur Avasthapak (Sweet Stage) with the symptoms of reduction in activity, having earth and jala mahabhuta, started in mouth and stomach and related with the Kledak Kapha Dosha.

2-Amla Avasthapak (Sour Stage) with the symptoms of thirst and perspiration, having fire mahabhuta, located in small intestine and related with Pachak Pitta Dosha.

3- Katu Avasthapak (Pungent Stage) with the symptoms of desire for movement, having Air and Ether mahabhutas, placed in large intestine and directed by Saman Vayu.

After processed through gross digested, food is divided into 2 parts; one is Sara (essense), which will form different dhatu elements later and other is Kitta (refuse) which will be divided as urine and stool as mala, waste product of the body.

The nourishment of dhatus occurs with Sara in stages. Sara is pure essence and the pure stabilized mature tissue. Each of the tissue functions properly. Every dhatu is precursor of the next dhatu working with their own Dhatu Agni. In other words, unstable dhatu is always digested by the next dhatu agni. As a result of this, each dhatu has a potency to receive its nutrients properly. At this point Acaryas have put to subject into the light to understand thoroughly with the help of 3 different laws.

1- Kshir -Dadhi Nyaya -Law of Transformation –Milk curd theory

Kshir means milk and dadhi means yogurt. Milk has a great potency to transform step by step from inside to out. In this example first milk could be transformed as yogurt, then buttermilk, butter and ghee. To succeed this, physical and chemical changes take place when turning milk into yogurt, cheese, butter, ice cream, whip cream and other dairy products. The processes for making many dairy products can only start with milk “curdling”. Although there are different ways to start milk curdling, the simple technics are to add some previous yogurt or specific acid or to heating as well as by letting the milk age long enough, with specific enzymes (which are proteins that perform a specific chemical reaction).

With the help of this perspective we can imagine that how ahara rasa and chyle transform as different dhatus in the body. At first Ahara rasa completely changes to Rasa Dhatu, following this is the changing of Rasa Dhatu to Rakta Dhatu and so on. This is one of the ways of nutrition of different Dhatus.

2- Kedar -Kulya Nyaya - Law of Irrigation / Transmisson

Kedar means parts of lands and kulya means drain. Crops in the field get irrigated by creating Kulya (drain) and Kedar (small pieces of land). The Kedar get irrigated one by one through Kuliya in sequence. Like wise different Dhatus of the body get nutrition one by one in sequence through vessels.

3- Khale – Kapot Nyaya - Law of Selectivity- Pigeon Picking Theory

Based on requirement each dhatu get nourished through Chyle. They pick from Chyle according to their need. Chyle, milky alkaline product is the precursor of all dhatu formation. It is carried from the intestine through the lympatic system and in the blood stream.

Weight Gain and Mamsa Dhatu (Muscle gain) in Ayurveda

by Cagan Cinmoyii Gun Isikli

Mamsa Dhatu in Ayurveda is the muscle tissue. The muscular system has nearly half of the body weight. If a person weighs 120 pounds, we could assume that nearly 60 pounds belong to mamsa dhatu. Muscles have special bhoutic (There are five bhutas are basic elements air, space, fire, water and earth) composition derived from Earth and Water elements. These two elements are both heavy and exist ninety percent of muscular tissue. There is also fire element in mamsa dhatu to move muscles and to give them mobility, which is amount of about 10 percent of mamsa dhatu.

Producing well mamsa body needs to enough ahara rasa. The transformation from ahara rasa to sthayi mamsa (Theory of creation of dhatus) takes about 15 days. Well-developed muscle, mamsa sara, creates a handsome body which Dr. Vasant Lad describes as like a Roman statue. It is also responsible the appearance of the body. Besides, it provides covering, maintaining body posture, gives strength. It is also functioning as lepana, plastering or holding.

When we asess out how mamsa dhatu and meda dhatu(fat tissue) are vitiated we could easily differ that causes are nearly same.

· Intake of heavy gross food such as cheese, yogurt, milk, meat, food with deliquescent properties, heavy meals

· Excessive sleeping especially day time and after meals,

· Lack of exercise

· Potato coach life style habits

At the same time these are Kapha provoking hetus. In weighting gain Kapha dosha vitiation is on chart because bhoutica composition are same with meda dhatu and mamsa dhatu governed by Kapha itself. That is why when weight gain is on consideration, an Ayurvedic Counselor also needs to take into account mamsa dhatu for analysis. If one wanting to gain weight, eating four meals a day, sleeping and resting too much, and not even washing the dishes helps too much. This absolutely increases mamsa and meda dhatus.

As a yoga teacher, I would like to underline the subject here about movement like exercise and sport and the relation with mamsa dhatu vitiation and gaining weight.

Every tissue is created with the purpose of being beneficially used in the body. But if they are not used, then remains idle. These gives rise to Dosha imbalances, malfunctions, irregularities, diseases, and vitiations.

For example, when a person eats too much, excessive amount of ahara rasa is produced. Metabolic wisdom interprets this as thinking that manas knows best and decrees this person needs more meda dhatu because of busy lifestyle and heavy body works. Otherwise s/he doesn’t take such much amount of foods. So, with the help of bhuta agni it transforms ashtayi rasa into rakta and then excess mamsa dhatu produced, body keeps it as reserve.

But if person carries on a life style between the kitchen, television and bed and does not have enough physical activity like intensive sporting activities, workouts, weight lifting, athletics, or a busy life style including bodily activities in the extent of s/he has eaten, the excess meda dhatu will automatically be idle. The body puts it in fat storage and turns it into excess adipose and meda dhatu. This not also results with weight gaining, enlarged and degenerated physical appearance, but also important diseases and disorders like cysts, myomas, fibromas, fibrocystic changes in breast, uterine, congestions, breathing difficulties, cholesterol, blood pressure problems etc.

This is just as much of our houses with full of unused furniture, materials and clothes in wardrobes. We have liked them once, bought many, but use very less. The result is chaos at home, cluttered, excess dust, too much cleaning work, more ironing and so on.

This also indicates the violation of the famous Yama rule, Aparigraha. Everything that is more than we need leads to deterioration, less prana and spiritual development difficulties. For Chikitsa, a reducing Kapha Dosha protocol is quite needed, but more spiritual practices, yoga therapy, meditation, fasting, moderate and humble lifestyle and eating habits are necessary and beneficial in the long term.

Image:By Victovoi [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Kitchari and Spice Mix- by Henri Parviainen

A kitchari and Spice Mix for Pitta Kapha

1/2 cup basmati rice
1 cup mung dal (split yellow)
6 cups (approx.) water
1/2 to 1 inch ginger root, chopped or grated
A bit of mineral salt (1/4 tsp. or so)

2 tsp. homemade ghee (Video attached below)

1/2 tsp. coriander seeds

1tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds

1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cup of sweet potatoes

Henri Parvianen is a Yoga enthusiast, and, is studying Ayurveda Counselor program from Narayana Ayurveda.

The myth of too much protein in the American diet

A protein shake. Ever had one? If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably had one, once a day, every day during that one summer where you were trying to get in shape. Or maybe you have a friend who shakes his up every day at 3pm to get thru that midday slump- so he can tide himself over before hitting the gym after work.

What does a typical protein shake contain? Well, depending on the source, you’re generally looking at a processed, chemically ridden, gmo infused powder that you blend with some milk to get past the taste. For some, it’s like a milkshake- loaded with sugar or chemical sweeteners that can wreak havoc on your gut health. For others, they just get it down so they can gain some muscle and lose some fat- or so they think.

But why would anyone need a protein shake? In America, there is the perception that protein means fat loss, muscle gain. Any vegetarian has dealt with the never ending question of…”but where do you get your protein?” Is protein this big of a deal?

The truth is- protein deficiency in America is extremely rare. Aside from a few raw vegans and others with generally poor diets for a long period of time (I know this because that was me), protein deficiency just isn’t a concern with our population. There is no need to focus on supplementing with enormous amounts of protein via large portions of red meat or shakes, mainly because most diets already contain enough of this vital macronutrient. Protein is accessible in the abundance of beans, lentils, vegetables, and dairy products that the typical ayurvedic diet (as well as others!) supplies.

In today’s world, it is likely you are getting TOO much protein, rather than not enough. It is healthful to have a balanced diet with a variation of fresh foods- including beans, seeds, nuts, vegetables, fruits, fats- in order to make sure our body’s needs are being met. Above all else- listen to your own body and what it responds well to! You will likely notice that a protein shake isn’t enjoyable, and doesn’t leave you feeling satisfied like a regular meal would. Take note of your body’s own responses and next time someone asks you- how do you know you’re getting enough protein, you can ask them- but how do you know you’re not getting too much?

By Michelle Gbur

Ayurvedic Rules for Meals

By Veero Kanda

Eating habits in Western countries have deviated away from nature with the changes in lifestyle. A typical Western diet is high in saturated fats, refined sugar, meat, and commercially processed foods. The foods typically deviate away from “Nature”-fresh fruits and vegetables and lead to nutritional deficiencies because of the preservatives and processing they go through. Such foods and diets are hazardous to the health. These nutritional deficiencies further lead the Typical American to substitute with a Multivitamin. These days there are Multivitamin formulations for everything “Eye Health”, “Kidney Health”, “Liver Health”, “Prostate Health”, “Breast/Women’s Health”, etc. However, the natural aspects within fresh naturally grown foods that not only provide the optimum nutrients/minerals cannot be compensated through Vitamin pills.

In the USDA food guidelines, the ratios of portions from food groups are in the the same ratio e.g. a female requires less calories than a male, so the quantity is lower, however, the ratio of portions for each food group is the same as it declares it a “Balanced diet”. Basically a 2 year old, a 12-year old, or a pregnant woman- are all getting the same proportions just different quantity. Moreover, it is encouraged to eat 7-8 small meals throughout the day especially for those attempting to lose weight. However, Ayurveda emphasizes on following the natural rhythms of the body and eating when hungry with our biggest meal during sunrise and not at sunset.

Ayurvedic approach is essential to take into consideration the different constitutions that require a specifically tailored plan based upon the individual’s body’s requirements as opposed to just sticking to one Ratio/proportion for every individual regardless of age/gender. One of the most shocking facts is that regardless of the abundance of food supply in the West, we still have Vitamin deficiency and become dependant on Vitamin supplements.

That within itself, is a red flag as to because the abundant food we are receiving is processed, artificially grown, enriched with chemicals, additives and toxins that are not providing us with the essential nutrients that naturally, natural grown foods would give us. This is also because we are not taking the foods that are most compatible with our individual constitution and Agni type, thus minimizing the absorption of nutrients leading to deficiencies. We have also deviated away from the proper eating habits and rules that are most compatible with our individual constitutions- not overeating, not starving oneself, and not mixing raw and cooked foods. By deviating away from our specific constitution requirements, we are accumulating Ama, diminishing nutrient absorption, and giving rise to disease formation.

By knowing which particular foods or meals are not compatible for a particular constitution, one can optimize the absorption of nutrients from food and thus avoiding accumulations of “Ama” and lead an optimum lifestyle and longevity. Aside from the individually tailored Ayurvedic plan tailored to each constitution, Ayurveda gives consideration to cooking preparation, storage, times, seasons, prakrīti, vikruti, stage environment, lifestyle, food habits as well. In addition to this, Ayurveda looks at health as the whole body in terms connecting the Mind, Body and Spirit for a harmonious lifestyle.

Food Processing and Prana

By Veero Kanda (Student Post)

When I think about Western nutrition, what first comes to mind are nutrition labels, which break down the food into scientific parts, including the percentage of fat, carbohydrate, and caloric content, which are heavily underlined in our society. What I’ve come to notice, growing up in the Western world, is that traditional scientists and doctors alike, tend to focus their energies on breaking things down and isolating them from the rest of the unit in attempts to understanding the whole.

Allopathic doctors want to isolate and treat a specific organ vs. looking at an individual’s whole body and health. Traditional scientists, like a nutritional scientist for example, will break down foods to their vitamin, mineral, fat, and caloric content. They then use a combination of these parts to determine the nutritional value of the food, rather than looking at it from a holistic perspective.

A famous quote by Aristotle once said “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”, and I believe this wholeheartedly to be true. I believe that traditional Western doctors and scientists have inadvertently done humanity a disservice by not acknowledging this to be true through the work that they do. Western nutrition approaches food as being equal to the sum of it’s parts, similar to the way that many Western practitioners approach the human body to be equal to the sum of it’s parts.

The truth is, that everything in the universe is energetically and spiritually more than the sum of it’s parts. Ayurvedic medicine emphasizes the importance of holism, looking at the entire picture, whether it be the human body or the food that we eat.

Ayurvedic nutrition seeks to achieve balance and heal your body, mind, soul, and karma. Those who study, and practice Ayurvedic medicine, whether familiar with Aristotle or not, recognize that the whole is more than the combination of it’s parts. The more, in Ayurveda refers to prana, which is life force energy, known also as chi or qi in Chinese Medicine.

In the human body, “the seat of prana is in the head and prana governs all higher cerebral activities. The functions of the mind, memory, thought and emotions are all under the control of prana. The physiological functioning of the heart is also governed by prana, and from the heart prana enters the blood and thus controls oxygenation in all the dhatus and vital organs” (Lad, 1984, p. 109).

It is not just us as human beings that have this life force energy, but all living organisms have prana. In Ayurveda, the nutritional value, quality, and health benefits of foods are based first and foremost on the prana they contain.

“Prana in food is a concept of life, vitality and qi in plant based foods” (San Diego College of Ayurveda, Ahara 101, p. 8). Foods vary on the amount of prana that they contain, so we seek to eat those that have the most prana, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, especially ons that are grown locally and organically, without the use of chemicals. Food that is freshly cooked, as well as whole grains and fresh dairy products and foods that are not highly processed have more prana.

The second major consideration in Ayurvedic nutrition is on how foods are processed, both during the preparation of the food, and once they enter our bodies. How foods are processed and prepares can greatly affect the prana of a food.

Some examples of food processing are cooking, drying, freezing, canning, pickling, refining, fortifying, pasteurizing, and adding preservatives or chemicals.

Foods that are highly processed, especially those that are frozen, canned or microwaved foods, foods that have been refrigerated for a long time, foods that are not grown in our area, and foods that are grown using pesticides, chemicals or that are genetically modified do not contain much if any prana after these processes take place. We should avoid foods that are processed in this way, in favor of higher prana options.

Ayurveda seeks to process and preserve foods in ways that simultaneously preserve the prana of the food. This is often done by preserving the food with sugar, salt, or ghee, or pickling and sun drying foods, as opposed to preserving them while chemicals or by freezing. Additionally, those seeking to maintain the prana of their foods should cook them over a woodstove or in a natural oven, as opposed to less natural cooking methods such as the use of microwaves and other electric appliances.

Ayurveda seeks to view the foods we are eating, as well as our bodies, in their entirety, in order to determine what will most benefit our health and well being. Western nutrition may say, for example that microwaved conventionally grown vegetables are healthy for us, based on it’s vitamins, minerals, and low fat and calorie content. Ayurvedic nutrition, however recognizes that that those vegetables were grown using pesticides and chemicals as well as prepared in a manor that greatly reduce it’s prana and thereby it’s health benefits. I think that it is definitely worth taking a closer look at some of our dietary and nutritional choices, to view the foods we’re eating more holistically, and discern how much prana remains in the foods we are choosing to nourish ourselves with.

References:

Lad, V. (1984). Ayurveda : the science of self-healing : a practical guide. Santa Fe, N.M: Lotus Press.

San Diego College of Ayurveda. Ahara 101: workbook.

Ayurvedic Perspective-Food Allergies

By Veero Kanda (Student Post)

An allergy is a hypersensitive reaction of the body when it comes into contact with a substance. An individual may experience a slightly uncomfortable feeling to a fatal anaphylaxis in an allergic reaction.

The most common allergens causing allergies are dust, pollen, foods, certain medications, cosmetics etc. every individuals’ immune system reacts differently to the allergens causing these sensitivities. Therefore, for example an allergy causing allergen for one person, maybe completely normal for another individual.

Ayurveda considers allergic reactions as the imbalance of the doshas, with in particular the Vata dosha. A weakened Vata leads to a number of systemic and local hypersensitivities. Vata and Pitta weakened can cause for example rashes, hives, burning, and fever.

An imbalanced Vata and Kapha causes blockages in the bronchi, excessive secretions and asthma attacks.

From an Ayurvedic perspective each person has a unique constitution. Ayurveda describes how certain diets that are not compatible with our Ayurvedic constitution are more likely to result in reacting with out body, thus resulting in an allergy.

This is primarily due to poor digestion and elimination lead to the buildup of ama- undigested food particles. The accumulation of ama (undigested food particles) further leads to toxin buildup and impurities in tissues, which predisposes them to an excessive allergic response.

Moreover, Ayurveda also gives an emphasis regarding the seasonal and daily regimen and lifestyle. For example, an Ayurvedic practitioner will not only take into consideration the individuals Ayurvedic constitution, but also seasonal environment, lifestyle, and person’s emotional, mental and spiritual well being. Moreover an Agni assessment would determine the Digestive Fire imbalances that may possibly lead to ama formation. By following these recommendations one can avoid allergies and learn to prevent them. Therefore, following this holistic approach and eating a diet compatible with your Ayurvedic constitution that is natural, organic and full of prana is ideal and important to avoid and prevent sensitivities.

Eating fresh, organic, full of prana, seasonal fruits that are appropriate for the season is preventative for allergies. A lot of the foods that are processed, canned, not natural, consisting of preservatives, dyes or other chemical additives are a cause of allergic sensitivities.

Thus they should be avoided. According to Ayurveda, Yoga and Pranayama strengthen the natural defense system, thus being an excellent way to prevent allergies. Mothers who breastfeed, should avoid foods with chemicals, preservatives, and additives to avoid the transmission of such chemicals to the child.

Children breastfed from mothers who eat a diet primarily consisting of chemicals, additives and preservatives are more likely to pass on these harmful substances through their breast milk, thus leading to the development of sensitivities in the child.

In conclusion, following a diet that is compatible with our ayurvedic constitution, seasonally compatible, full of prana, natural, organic is the ideal way to prevent food sensitivities.

Agni should also be strengthened to aid in optimum digestion and avoid the accumulation of ama (undigested food particles) that can lead to buildup of toxins.

References

http://www.ayurvedainstituut.com/en/allergie-basis-ayurveda

http://www.muditainstitute.com/articles/ayurvedicnutrition/dairyfree.html

Note: These statements are for informational purposes only. These statements have not been reviewed by FDA. Ayurveda is a complimentary medicine system and not meant to treat, assess or diagnose any disease.

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