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Feel Lousy? Feed Your Dosha

Feel Lousy? Feed Your Dosha

Most of us have had symptoms of lethargy, irritability, or just feeling run down without a specific infection or disease being the issue. Why does this happen? Is it just that we don’t know what the disease is? Why do we frequently experience real illness, like the common cold, when we allow our immune systems to be affected by undiagnosed ague?

Western medicine, though extremely valuable, does not provide many answers when there is no illness. While science recognizes the value of healthy living, more emphasis is placed on treatment than prevention. Oh sure, your medical professional will mention you need to exercise or lose weight during an office visit. But they rarely offer real help in achieving those changes. I think most people find it easier to make changes when they understand why the change is helpful. That is where traditional medicine, such as Ayurveda, can assist. Practiced in India for over 4,000 years (except during the British reign when it was forbidden), this ancient body of knowledge is extremely helpful in understanding why you feel lousy.

More than likely your tiredness or sadness or whatever manifestation you experience is not a medically recognized disease, but rather the imbalance that breeds in exhausted, flabby, and malnourished bodies trying to keep pace in a frenzied lifestyle. These imbalances of both the mind and the body are recognized and explained in Ayurvedic concepts. Holistic approaches, such as Ayurveda, offer insight and answers that can restore well-being. And that keeps you not only feeling healthy, but actually being healthy and strong enough to ward off real illness.

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Ayurveda Provides Guidance for Health

A healthy, long life depends on the choices made daily. So, no real news there. The adage of small changes making a big difference is true, but many of us find the smallest changes too daunting to incorporate and sustain in daily life. But if you can visualize how the change is working and understand the specific value of the change, it is easier to muster the willpower or maintain enthusiasm for the new regimen. That is the usefulness of Ayurvedic principles. Imbalances are explained in terms of mind and body states that make sense and when we attempt a change and can actually visualize what we are adjusting, it makes it easier to follow through with the improvement.

The holistic approach of Ayurveda involves using supplements, behavioral changes, and diet to eliminate problems of mind and body. When there is an imbalance of doshas, the lifestyles and dietary managements that are based on these doshas get disturbed.

Understanding Your Dosha

Everything in nature, including us, is made from five elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements combine to form three basic body-mind profiles called doshas. Understanding your most influential dosha helps you understand what lifestyle changes are right for you to feel and be healthy. You have probably noticed that what works for you does not work for others. That is because each dosha reacts and interacts differently. In Sanskrit, the ancient language of Ayurvedic texts, the doshas are called kapha, pitta, and vata.

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Use the chart below to determine your dominant dosha. You may have one dominant dosha or a combination of any or all, usually with one profile that is more dominant.

image representing a chart of how to determine and understand your ayurvedic dosha

    Feeding Your Dosha Properly

    Ayurveda practices repair imbalances using herbs and minerals, massage, yoga, and lifestyle changes—particularly diet. So, here is more about how to feed your dosha.

    The Ayurvedic classification of food identifies six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Each taste has different effects on the energy of the body and mind. A food’s taste classification will either aggravate (imbalance) or pacify (balance) a particular dosha. For example, someone with pitta excess may cause imbalances by eating hot, spicy foods.

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    Balancing Vata

    Too much bitter, astringent, or spicy tastes imbalance vata. If your dominant dosha is vata, focus your diet on sweet, sour, and salty tastes in foods that are warm, moist, and easily digestible. Some examples of foods for vata are:

    • Grains such as rice and wheat
    • Starchy vegetables: boiled or steamed
    • Eat broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and leafy vegetables in moderation
    • Ripe fruits including citrus
    • Warm milk (use dairy moderately)
    • Nuts, particularly almonds
    • White meat, chicken and fish: broiled, baked or grilled
    • Oils: ghee, sesame, olive, peanut
    • Tea: lemon, chamomile, ginger, licorice
    • Mild spices: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, cumin/coriander, mustard, salt, black pepper
    • Warm soups and casseroles balance vata, especially in the colder winter months

    Balancing Pitta

    Pitta imbalance can be caused by hot, spicy, oily, fried, salty, or fermented foods, and even alcohol. The following sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes in cool, heavy dishes balance pitta:

    • Vegetables including bitter leafy greens: boiled, steamed, or raw
    • Sweet fruits including sweet citrus
    • Fresh dairy in moderate amounts
    • Grains: basmati rice, couscous, wheat, barley, oats
    • Mild, cooling spices: cloves, turmeric, cumin, coriander, mint, dill, fresh ginger
    • Nuts: sunflower and almond in moderation, most are too oily
    • Oils: ghee, sunflower, olive, canola, small amounts of sesame
    • Mostly vegetarian diet, but baked or broiled white meat, chicken or turkey are least aggravating
    • Tea: chamomile, red clover, peppermint, spearmint, licorice

    Balancing Kapha

    Oily, heavy foods, dairy, and cold iced drinks, as well as over-eating and a sedentary lifestyle, can imbalance kapha. A lighter, warm diet of low-fat, pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes are recommended, for example:

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    • Pungent vegetables like artichokes, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, horseradish, chilies, spinach, radishes, cilantro, eggplant: boiled, steamed, or raw
    • Astringent fruits like very ripe apples, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, and dried fruit (avoid bananas)
    • Fat-free buttermilk (remember to keep dairy intake low)
    • Honey (use as a sugar substitute)
    • Grains: white basmati rice, dry crackers (no salt), couscous, oats, barley, corn, millet, rye, wheat bran
    • Strong spices: pepper, paprika, garlic, basil, allspice, fennel (most spices are good for kapha)
    • Nuts: almonds in small amounts, most are too oily for kapha
    • Oil: small amounts of corn, canola, or olive
    • Meats: freshwater fish, shrimp, rabbit, venison, white meat, chicken and turkey
    • Tea: raspberry, cinnamon, fenugreek, peppermint

    Feel Healthy by Feeding Your Dosha Right

    Overall good health is achieved when your doshas are in balance. Understanding why your dosha is out of balance and how to regain feeling healthy makes it easier to permanently adopt changes required to properly feed your dosha. Feed your dosha according to its needs and you will restore balance, feeling more energetic, focused, and healthy.

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    Last Updated on November 11, 2019

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

    To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

    Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

    1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

    Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

    Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

    To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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    2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

    Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

    If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

    Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

    3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

    Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

    Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

    4. Feed Your Brain

    Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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    This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

    Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

    Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

    5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

    According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

    Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

    Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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    6. Write it Down

    If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

    It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

    You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

    7. Listen to Music

    Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

    8. Visual Concepts

    In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

    Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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    Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

    9. Teach Someone Else

    Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

    Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

    10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

    Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

    So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

    Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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