Living in the modern world we have lost sight of the fact that everything we need to stay healthy is readily provided to us by Mother Nature, with a seasonal bounty of delicious and healing foods. The ancient Rishis of India, understood long ago that we are intrinsically connected to the Cosmos and the Earth and to its natural cycles. We are part of nature, so we are composed of its very elements! Through their advanced studies and intrinsic understanding of life – Ayurveda literally means The Science of Life – and how everything is connected, it made perfect sense not to eat cold or drying Vata aggravating foods in the winter, when the body needs to be insulated from the cold and drying effects of the weather. Long before blood types were discovered, the yogis and Vedic doctors already had an advanced system of preventative natural medicine based on the three blood types, which they called the three doshas: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. The latter body constitution types also correspond accordingly to the seasons Kapha – Spring (Earth Element), Pitta – Summer (Fire Element), and Vata – Winter (Wind Element), so each person’s body type more or less corresponds to the dominant characteristic of one of the three elements and seasons. For example, Vata types are prone to dry skin and sensitivity to the cold, and and Pittas have fiery temperaments and get hot easily. Regardless of wether one knows his specific or dominating dosha (an Ayurvedic physician can identify one’s type or combination, although one can also deduce his own type by taking a survey of his dominating traits and tastes), one foul proof way to stay balanced and maintain good health is to adhere to the Ayurvedic lifestyle prescriptions for each of the seasons. Here are my Top 3 Ayurvedic Health Tips for the Winter Season:
1 – Eat less raw foods, and increase warm and moist cooked dishes, and warm beverages. Try to stick to seasonal vegetables, as Mother Nature intelligently supplied us with specific foods which are harvested during colder months. You want to prevent more Vata accumulating in your body, characteristic for its ‘windy’ effects in the winter, so avoid foods that produce wind like beans. If you must have beans, neutralize their gassy effects by adding cumin. Also, anything that is drying or lacking in moisture – like cold cereals, or cold foods should be avoided. Drink more warm or hot beverages, and especially avoid icey drinks. In Ayurveda all cold beverages should be drunk at room temperature, and milk in particular is never drunk cold, unless it is a lassi yogurt beverage, which is usually enjoyed in the Summer for its cooling effect!
2- Increase healthy fat in your diet. Since everything hardens and gets dried up in the cold months, you want to make sure that you keep your body lubricated and warm, including your sinuses and internal organs. Amping the intake of such healthy fats as nuts, seeds, and oils is imperative. For meat eaters, this is the best time of year to enjoy hearty stews, although meat should be consumed in moderation for its overall toxic effects and saturated fat. Best oils and nuts recommended come from walnuts, avocado, olive, grape seed, cashew, sunflower seed, sesame, and almond. You can even take it one step further, and treat yourself to a nightly ‘Abyangha’ or gentle self-administered full body massage, using the traditional sesame or almond oil. Remember, healthy fat is absolutely necessary for the body to function properly, process and digest food. As a matter of fact, the body needs fat to be able to emulsify and flush excess fat out of the body. People have been known to gain weight on a fat-free diet, because they deprive their body of this major dietary component.
3- Avoid or cut down on all dairy, and make sure you only consume raw or unhomogenized milk products if you do so. Also, do not drink cold milk! Milk, in India and in other cultures, is traditionally drunk warm before bed, with cardamon, cinnamon and ginger, to further aid digestion. In India yogurt, ghee, and milk have very therapeutic qualities, however their dairy products are not pasteurized, homogenized, and laden with antibiotics and hormones. Our dairy products have been stripped of all the digestive enzymes and essential nutrients in the process of homogenization, when the milk is shaken and pushed through tiny seeves at very high speeds and temperature to prevent separation. It is no wonder that most people today are lactose intolerant. Invariably dairy congests our system and creates extra mucous in the body, which creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. If you don’t want your kids catching colds this winter, don’t give them cold milk – and skip the cold and sugary cereal in the morning!
For a complimentary Dosha Type consultation, or Holistic Health Evaluation, contact me via ClaudiaGhetuWEllness.com/Contact.