Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”. A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep, and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.
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If you are looking to build your immunity, these simple Ayurvedic tips for diet and lifestyle will help you stay in good health.
Ayurveda is a form of holistic medicine that is focused on promoting balance between your body and mind. According to this ancient school of medicine, five elements make up the universe — vayu (air), jala (water), akash (space), teja (fire), and prithvi (earth). These elements are believed to form three different doshas, which are defined as types of energy that circulate within your body.
Each dosha is responsible for specific physiological functions. For example, the pitta dosha controls hunger, thirst, and body temperature. Meanwhile, the vata dosha maintains electrolyte balance and movement, while the kapha dosha promotes joint function.
What do you mean by lifestyle?
The term ‘lifestyle’ incorporates ahara (food habits) and vihara (dos and don’ts in lifestyle). Lifestyle-related disorders occur only because the individual is not using or adopting a way of life, according to the self-constitution of the body. It is interesting to note that Ayurveda classics have emphasized the role of faulty lifestyle and inappropriate dietary habits in the causation and pathogenesis of diseases.
What is the Ayurvedic diet?
The Ayurvedic diet is an eating pattern that has been around for thousands of years. It is based on the principles of Ayurvedic medicine and focuses on balancing different types of energy within your body, which is said to improve health. Unlike many other diets, the Ayurvedic diet provides personalized recommendations about which foods to eat and avoid based on your body type. It’s also popular because it’s not only said to promote better health for your body but also your mind.
What are some general lifestyle management tips to improve immunity?
1. Wake up early in the morning:
Ayurveda advises to wake up in “Brahmi Muhurtha”, which is about 45 minutes before sunrise. The period of Brahma Muhurta is an intermittent duration between respiration and photosynthesis in the plant kingdom. There will be an abundance of nascent oxygen, which easily mixes with hemoglobin to form oxyhemoglobin, which reaches even the most remote tissues and also boosts the immune system.
2. Have freshly prepared food:
Avoid bread, biscuits, and all other packaged food items. Hot food increases the agni or metabolic fire on entering the belly (stomach). This in turn sets right the metabolism, enhances appetite and capacity to digest food. It also expels the vitiated vayu and reduces or destroys the vitiated kapha, and keeps it under balance.
3. Don’t mix cooked and uncooked foods:
As per Ayurveda, mixing cooked and raw foods together makes the digestion process complicated. It is easy for our digestive tract to break down cooked food, as the enzymes become activated.
4. No coffee or tea on empty stomach or just before a meal:
Coffee isn’t great for everyone at all times, but it can be okay for some people at specific times. This is assuming that the coffee is consumed consciously, with one’s dosha, state of health, and the current season taken into consideration.
Every possible thing that you don’t want should happen will be amplified if you have it on an empty stomach. If you have an overheated, hyper-acidic digestive tract, it’s like putting acid directly on acid. Try either having food with your coffee or waiting until after you’ve had breakfast to enjoy your first cup.
5. Milk or dairy products:
When it comes to milk and dairy products, it’s helpful to keep the context of Ayurveda’s origins in mind. This nature-based system of healing developed in ancient India, long before the advent of synthetic hormones, factory farms, food manufacturing facilities, or agribusiness. While milk and dairy products are common, they are often not of the same quality enjoyed centuries ago. Most of the milk and products which are available in the market are adulterated.
6. Digestion works in accordance with the sun:
Ayurveda explains the digestion strength as agni, a Sanskrit word meaning fire. All the factors involved with digestion – enzymes, hydrochloric acid, etc are collectively termed as agni. The pitta period of the day is when the sun rises to its highest point in the sky. Pitta dosha is the one that helps to do this process smoothly.
7. Strictly eat three meals a day:
There is certainly a proper time to do everything, and intake of food is no exemption. We need to follow proper timing for consuming food. One should not consume food within one yama (3 hours) of consumption of food. If taken, it leads to rasodvega or indigestion. Improperly digested food, if put into circulation, is dangerous for health and becomes life-threatening.
8. Don’t drink water for 1.5 hours after food:
Drinking water after food affects both the quality of food and digestion strength. It provides a coolant effect in case of any food that is eaten. Hence, a person tends to become obese over a period of time.
9. Include locally available seasonal fruits and vegetables in your diet:
Food sourced from outside the country takes a long time to arrive on our shores, which means that the fruits and vegetables are not exactly fresh when you purchase them. Also, there is no guarantee that the fruits and vegetables are grown naturally. How hygienically the fruits and vegetables are handled before they are packed is also a factor.
According to Ayurveda, eating seasonal fruits and vegetables has a more positive effect on our body than eating those that aren’t. One should eat any food only when hungry. So, whenever one is hungry, one can eat fruits. Even replacing the entire meal with fruits is also good. But it is best done by replacing breakfast or lunch, rather than dinner.
10. Periodic cleansing of your gut:
Daily elimination of waste from the body is important for good digestion. Triphala is the only laxative that can be had for a long period of time without side effects or habit formation, this can also can be achieved by fasting once a week!
11. Sleep by 10 p.m.:
There are many factors to decide the time to go to bed. For most of us, it is better to fix the sleeping time to not later than 10 PM. As per Ayurveda, sleep is influenced by kapha dosha. Those with kapha body type sleep more. Those with pitta or vata body type, usually sleep a little less.
If you divide the night into three parts, the first part of the night, – about 6 pm – 10 pm is dominated by kapha. So, irrespective of your dosha body type, you will have some sort of kapha dominance during this period. Hence, if you sleep within this time, the chances of you getting good night’s sleep are very high.
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