According to Ayurveda, the ancient holistic medicine from India, the principal factor for maintaining good health is to keep your digestive fire (agni) strong. If food is not digested, assimilated and eliminated properly, the result will be an imbalance in the three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha), the fundamental physiological governing principles of mind and body. Digestion is compromised not only by the type of foods eaten, but also by how, why and when we eat them. For instance, eating when anxious, worried, or in a hurry will affect how well food is digested in the body. Eating inappropriate foods for the current climate and season can create indigestion and prevent proper elimination. If we eat irregular amounts of food at irregular times of the day, the liver and digestive system cannot function adequately and toxins will begin to accumulate. Without a strong digestive fire cholesterol levels can rise and bad cholesterol will not be eliminated from the body. In Ayurveda, a kapha reducing diet with dominant tastes of bitter, astringent and spicy foods can help reduce cholesterol, along with a light kapha routine of daily exercise to increase circulation, and meditation to decrease stress.
In general, choose a diet containing……
small, split pulses and dried beans, such as lentils, mung and garbanzo beans
broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables
spinach, chard, kale and mustard greens
astringent fruits, such as apples and pears
small amounts of ghee (for high temperature cooking) and olive oil as the only fats
barley, oats, amaranth and quinoa for whole grains
spices such as turmeric, coriander, fennel, cumin, ginger and pepper
Avoid sweet, salty and sour foods, including yoghurt, cheese, rice, bread, pastas, tomatoes and vinegar.
Triphala is a well known ayurvedic remedy for cleansing and detoxifying the digestive system and strengthening agni, the digestive fire. It is a combination of three herbs and can be found in capsule and powder form in good health stores and Indian markets.
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