Ahara Niyama : The Value of Desi A2 Cow’s milk in Ayurveda

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Reading Time: 15 minutes

One of the recommendations we make to improve hair and skin health is to include good quality, desi A2 Cow’s milk in the daily diet. This is an ayurvedic ahara (diet) recommendation which helps improve ojas, tejas, build good dhatu and improves the health and nutrient availability in the body.

Regular drinking of desi A2 Cow's milk is recommended in Ayurveda for health and vitality

However, there is a lot of confusion and issues linked with Dairy sourcing in India today. For one, what we freely get in India is processed, homogenized, pasteurized mixed milk which is predominantly A1. There is also a rise in the vegan movement where dairy consumption is rejected on environment, animal rights and health reasons. Also, many of us, have gotten used to drinking tea and coffee and have given up almost completely on milk.

So we wanted to write a detailed article addressing these issues, and also explain the many benefits behind drinking desi A2 Cow’s milk. This article expands on a shorter post already shared on the Krya Product Support Community on the same topic.

Isn’t Dairy bad and cruel?

A2 Cow’s milk in Ayurveda (Go Ksheera from a native cow) is considered an elixir. Obviously at the time the texts were written, there was no need to make a distinction between A2 and A1 and we ONLY had A2 cows in India. A1 Cows are a very recent addition (of about 50 years vintage) to Indian dairy farms.

The adoption of foreign breeds into India dairy farming is a new practice

Today we see a huge backlash against Dairy, some of it legitimately so. We are seeing disease condition of epic proportions and are handling certain forms of auto immune disorders, chronic skin conditions, allergic and respiratory conditions and cancers of various kinds. Desperate for answers and solutions, we latch onto every new theory / opinion that tries and explain the spread of such disease conditions.

There are 2 unfortunate reasons that Dairy, especially commercial dairy has taken such a huge backlash around the world:

One is the rise of commercial dairy farming with epic proportions of animal cruelty, all designed to treat the Cow as a machine and literally milk her to her death, shortening her Life span and treating male calves as fodder to the leather and meat industry in the bargain.

Commercial dairy farming is cruel and unethical

The second reason is linked to the first. Because of the huge , single minded focus on Milk , and Milk alone of a particular variety with a certain amount of Fat, India has joined the world of commercial dairy farming by exporting ad nauseum Jersey / Holstein breed cows that give higher fat, A1 milk .
Comemrecial dairy farming promotes A1 cow breeds over native A2 breeds

In the process, we have carefully ruined our indigenous dairy genetic strain and almost sounded the death knell for what Ayurveda terms as “ojas improving, dhatu improving and prana extending” – A2 milk.
Desi A2 cow breeds have been neglected in commercial dairy farming

Cow as Gau Mata – unique status in Indian Ayurveda, Krishi vigyan (agricultural science)

The Cow is revered and respected as “Gau mata” in the Indic civilization. This reverence extends beyond India to other lands where the civilization has reached like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra, etc This high status comes not just from the way the Cow is revered in India’s temples, Agama, Puranas, iconography, etc, although the extent of the Cow’s reverence in these systems should be seen to believed.

Cow is richly revered in Indic civilisation

But, this particular status of the cow comes from the value of what the cow offers not just from her udder, but also the “Mala” she secretes, namely the Cow Dung and Cow Urine (Gau mutra). Gau gobar (Cow dunk) and Gau mutra are extensively used in Ayurveda, Siddha and Krishi vigyan (agricultural science in India).

Cow dung and Cow Urine are important by products that are used in traditional medicine and agriculture

Go-bar (cow dung) is used in ritual purification, in homas and yagnas, and also to purify various kinds of Rasa (metals), minerals and poisonous herbs.

Gau mutra is also used in Shodana of certain Metals and Minerals. Treated cow urine is a very powerful “drug of choice” in certain aggravated disease conditions like kidney disorder, splenomegaly , certain kinds of cancers etc. Skeptics notwithstanding, there are very powerful testimonies to how well these therapies worked, when undertaken in the right Ayurvedic method.

In Krishi vigyan, Go-bar and Gau mutra are invaluable to a farm. This is why in Indian traditional systems the value of  a cow cannot be economically measured simply by the milk she produces. In fact, the Urine and Dung are of far greater value in a farm helping give good quality produce, arrest the growth of unwanted weeds, keeping down predatory population of insects that can destroy the crop, etc.

Cow is indispensable to healthy soil

Today, the Indian organic agriculture movement has access to ONE such formulation: Panchagavya – made from the 5 by products of a cow – gobar, gaumutra, milk, curd and ghee, . Virkshayurveda as a science is as old as Ayurveda – the texts talk of numerous such formulations that are designed scientifically on Ayurvedic principles to improve crop yield, nurture soil, keep down predatory insects and animals, improve quality of produce, etc.

And Gaumutra and Gobar is integral to many of these traditional farming practices and concepts.

We can go as far as to say that the Indian Cow is integral to many aspects of our health and well being, according to traditional wisdom. There is nothing better than cow dung and cow urine for improving soil, produce and yield. Cow dun and Cow urine are integral to Ayurvedic science both directly and indirectly to either enhance the qualities of the herbs, metals and minerals we work with or consumed as a drug.

Similarly, the direct fruits of a Cow, i.e Cow’s Milk , and by products made from it like Ghee, Butter, Buttermilk, and in some cases Curd are all considered Elixers. Cow Ghee is and should be an integral part of every Indian’s diet.

So for this wide reaching improving effect the Cow has on every sphere of our food, health, harmony and well being, she is rightly called Gau Mata – the Mother of us all. In fact , the Mother of all Mothers.

Gau Mata - the mother of All Mothers

Ayurveda analyses all Milk, not just A2 Cow’s milk:

The Ayurvedic Nighantus and Samhitas are extremely detailed and deep. So it should come as no surprise that the Acharyas have analysed the properties of different kinds of milks – both from animals and human beings and have given us when each of these can be consumed.

Not content with this, they have also analysed the qualities of the by products of these Milks like ghee – so the texts lay out in detail the qualities of ghee made from human breast milk, from sheep milk., from camel milk, etc , and finally from A2 Cow’s milk.

The qualities of each of these milks differ according to the basic nature of the animal, the gunas and mano gunas within the animal, where the animal is found, and finally, how the animal is treated and how these products are extracted and processed.

Properties of Go Ksheera (A2 Cow’s milk) according to Ayurveda:

Ashtanga Hridayam calls “Go Ksheera” (cows milk) “ Jeevaniya” (restores life /jeeva), and “Rasayana” (regenerative / anti aging). It is extremely useful in “Kshatksheena” or conditions of emaciation and extreme injury to slowly build and restore strength.

Kshatakhseena is a condition that is no existent among most of us today – it refers to emaciation caused by injury on the battle field. Today, this is probably applicable to soldiers and those in the defense cadre and also to those of us recovering from illness and long stays in a hospital.

Cow's milk is indispensable to recover health, vitality and strength

Apart from this, A2 Cow’s milk is referred to as improving “Medhya” or intellect, improving “Balya” or strength. It is a galactalogue and is also considered a dravya that is slightly laxative in nature (sara).

A2 Cow’s milk relieves “shrama” (fatigue), “bhrama” (giddiness), “mada” (intoxication), svasa (asthma /breathing / respiratory disorders), “kasa” (cough based disorder), trishna (excessive thirst). Ksut (excessive hunger), jeerna jwara (fevers brought on by indigestion / toxin buildup), “Mutrakrucha” (painful urination / dysuria), vitiated disorder of Rakta + Pitta (anemia, bleeding and circulatory disorders, etc).

Most importantly Milk is considered both Mangalyam and as a remover of “Alakshmi”. This explains its deep significance in auspicious events like going to a new home, during festivals like Lohri, Pongal, etc.

Personally, I have experienced both of these qualities first hand: the Mangalyam brought in by Milk and the “Alakshmi” brought in by rejecting Milk.

A2 Cow’s milk – benefits for Women, Men and Children

Go Ksheera is an elixir for Women as it pacifies Rakta, Pitta and Vata aggravated disorders. women are very sensitive to disorders of both Rakta and Vata . One Rakta disorder that many Indian women have is anemia and post partum women and working women are very affected by aggravated Vata dosha.

A2 cow's milk is an indispensable nutritional supplement for Indian women.

Bhavaprakasha Nighantu says that those who are weak, emaciated, suffer from chronic jwaras (malaria, dengue, chikungunya), emaciation are advised to have Milk. It is especially suitable for those who suffer from vata disorders like vertigo, anxiety, spasms, and pitta disorders like anemia, burning sensation, excessive thirst.

For women suffering from infertility / reproductive issues, , UTI, vaginal discharge, etc , Cows Milk is ideal. Women who suffer from repeated miscarriages are much benefited by daily consumption of Milk.

Also children, old people, those who suffer from “Kshata-kshina” (translated as emaciation and fatigue due to battle – in today’s context overwork) are suitable candidates for Milk drinking.

Sexually active adults are also advised to drink Milk regularly. Reproductive tissue like ova , semen are considered the very last dhatu to be formed in the body by Ayurveda, just before Ojas. So when we are sexually active, there is a chance that we lose vital dhatus in the body, especially Men. So a common practice suggested in Ayurveda is regular Milk drinking in sexually active adults to continually re-charge the body and ensure vital energy is not depleted.

Self care through Ahara: How to prepare and drink A2 Cow’s milk everyday

The simplest, and easiest and most potent form of self care you can do for yourself is to drink a glass of good quality A2 Cow’s milk every morning.

The Ayurvedic Samhitas give us some rules for preparing and consuming Milk:

  • GoKsheera must be freshly boiled, preferably within 4 – 5 hours of Milking. Once boiled it should not be heated / re-boiled in any way as the samhitas tell us that this enhances its kapha and mucous clogging properties.

A2 milk to be drunk freshly boiled

    • Many of us in India consume pasteurized milk which we re-boil at home. So we are re-boiling already “cooked” milk. As per this rule, we are all automatically subjecting ourselves to a Dravya which is guru (heavy to digest) and kapha aggravating.
    • Hence, we advise sourcing raw, fresh A2 Cow’s milk which we can boil at home
      Milk should be soruced raw, and whole without pasteurisation
  • The Go Ksheera we get should be whole and taken directly from the cow – this means it should not be altered / changed in any way.
    • Commercial milk has fat extracted/ added back to suit standard trade definitions like low fat, medium fat, full fat etc
    • Whole milk has its own proportion of fat which depends upon desha, kala, cow species, etc.
    • The properties we have described of A2 Cow’s milk only hold if this milk is unaltered in any form – so we advise sourcing fresh, whole Raw A2 cow’s milk
  • Go Ksheera must be boiled with 25% water. The Milk has to be boiled until the water completely evaporates. This makes the milk lighter, and more easy to digest.
    • When milk is boiled this way, it is processed to ensure that no Kapha aggravation results.
    • The milk is lighter, more easy to digest and is absorbed much better as well.
  • Freshly boiled, warm milk is ideal to drink. It should be flavoured with the right spices that suit each one’s prakriti

A2 Cow's milk should be flavoured with correct spicces for your prakriti to enhance absorption

What can be added to make the taste of Milk more appealing?

We have a detailed post that talks about what flavouring is beneficial for each prakriti to make A2 Cow’s milk better absorbable by the body. Please take a look.

In Greeshma (summer) , Milk drinking is very vital . As excess heat drains the body and depletes Ojas – Milk is sweet, cooling and nourishing and ideal for this weather.

Many of us have a love-hate relationship with Milk. As a child, I refused to drink warm Milk. I also disliked the sight of plain Milk. So I would demand addition of chocolate flavoured Milk additives.

The addition of such commercial Malted beverages is virrudha ahara. Many of the synthetic preservatives added to such drinks have a salty taste, and salt is virrudha ahara with Milk. Similarly adding sour substances is also virrudha ahara – citric acid and such preservatives added to these commercial Milk additives is also Virrudha Ahara.

Malted milk and other commercial milk additives are viruddha ahara

Hence: Do NOT add any commercial Malted beverage , chocolate or any flavouring agents to Milk. Please use the spices I have suggested in my post, and add good quality, unbleached, sulpharless sugar to your Milk.

I drink A2 Cow’s milk in my tea / coffee: is this good enough?

Many times I hear a response that Milk is consumed with Coffee / Tea. Please note, this is NOT Milk. Any substance added to Milk, changes / alters its properties. This is why we add certain spices to Milk like Turmeric, black pepper etc, to reduce its “Snigdha” (oil) guna, reduce its “Madhura” (sweet ) rasa and vipaka, etc.

Both coffee and tea strongly alter of the properties of Milk. So when we add these to Milk, we get a milder version of Coffee / Tea and not a slightly altered version of Milk.

Milk based coffee and tea is not milk.

This is good if you habitually consume Coffee and tea – both beverages are too strong and acidic to be consumed black / without Milk. You will do your gut lining a great favour by adding Milk.

But you will not get any of the good properties of Milk  in this manner.

Some other Issues with dairy farming: Commercial dairy practices and Going Vegan

As with all things that are good for us, we must learn to love and respect Cows Milk. It is important to choose a dairy farm where cruelty free diary practices are followed and the cows are respected and looked after well. Drinking hormone laced, antibiotic full Milk is harmful to health. It is also critical to choose milk from a dairy farm that contains desi, indigenous Indian cow breeds.

Ayurveda tells us that the Milk of the Gho (cow) is ideally suited for us. The Acharyas describe the Cow’s love, Compassion and kindness and intelligence and conclude that such Milk can ideally add to the human diet and enhance Medhya and Buddhi in the body, especially when enhanced with select herbs. Such a Divine Animal must not be mistreated. If we drink Milk from an abused Animal, it does us more harm than good and we accumulate Paapa (sin) according to Ayurveda.

Even small amounts of well sourced, cruelty free A2 Cow’s milk can act as an elixir to us. On the other hand, even high amounts of cruelty filled, antibiotic A1 Milk will do no good for us.

My experience with going vegan and why I do not recommend a vegan diet in general:

There is a whole, separate post waiting to be written about my experience with going vegan. As a lifelong vegetarian and wanting to live a more ethical life, I was horrified by commercial dairy farming practices.

So on the strength of my conviction, I went vegan in 2010 along with my partner, Srinivas Krishnaswamy.

We were committed and strict vegans until 2015 for 5 years. In 2016, on the consistent advice of my Vaidya and seeing disastrous health issues with being vegan, I switched back to a Vegetarian diet. At that time, I was suffering from severe anemia, and nutritional deficiencies. All of these were slowly corrected through Ayurvedic treatment and Ahara Niyama including drinking Milk.

In the case of Srinivas, his health issues were MUCH more severe. He developed a form of gout, described in Ayurveda as Vata Rakta. This is a SEVERE and aggravated increase in vata Dosha leading to extreme weight loss, extreme degeneration of bone, joint and teeth , and severe, constant pain while using the bones and joints. So for 2 years, Srinivas suffered from loose and shaky teeth, severe weight loss, reduced appetite, insomnia, anxiety and swelling of bone and joints – all signs of aggravated and imbalanced vata dosha.

Again in his case, it took Ayurvedic treatment of nearly a year with special medications, restricted travel and addition of good quantities of carefully sourced Milk and Ghee to make up for the nutritional deficiency.

When we begin to follow Ayurveda, we come to the realisation that Ayurveda and veganism do not co-exist. Go Ksheera , carefully sourced A2 Cow’s milk is a panacea in Ayurveda.

It is consumed extensively during pregnancy, post partum, as a child, as an adult and in old age. It is only restricted in a few disease conditions.

All the modern milk based foods that we consume are not advised in Ayurveda. So there is no over dosing on cheese, curd, high amounts of paneer etc. We are advised to have some milk, small amount of buttermilk (obtained after making butter) and decent quantities of ghee.

There is a huge, disastrous, un-thought through urgency in the Vegan movement today, especially in India. Buoyed by a few studies like the China Study and limited success in a few disease conditions like diabetes (where Ayurveda anyway advises to follow a largely vegan diet), many Medical professionals, Nutritional experts and Vegan concerts are urging people to drop Dairy completely.

Nuanced debates on A1 vs A2 milk, on the benefits of a small amount of carefully chosen dairy, or even the differences between different Milk by products are not discussed in this wave. Ayurveda does not treat A1 and A2 milk as the same. Neither are the properties of Milk and curd the same nor is butter and ghee interchangeable.

Most importantly, enough is not being said about the issues many Vegans continue to face after many years of giving up on the beneficial aspects of Milk. I have shared my issues and my partner’s issues in detail here.

However, We are far from being the only Ex Vegans with health issues.

In my work, I have met many Vegans with extremely high vata aggravation, bone and joint disorders, restricted Menstrual blood flow, oral issues like loose and falling teeth  etc. At a simple level, many of the Vegans who have come to us at Krya complain of loose and brittle and falling hair, very high skin darkening and joint and bone issues like gout. All of this is linked to aggravated Vata dosha DIRECTLY affecting asthi dhatu (bone ) which is a key seat of Vata dosha in the body. Asthi Dhatu has a direct and immediate correlation with bone and joint health and the health of hair.

The aggravation in Vata dosha in the Vegan diet can be attributed to 2 key causes: Dropping Milk and ghee from the diet which potently bind aggravated Vata dosha in the body. The second reason is ADDING on a high amount of nuts, seeds and lentils and attempting to substitute Dairy with modified forms of Nuts , seeds and Lentils.

As we can guess, Nuts , Seeds and Lentils are already high in Vata Dosha and have dramatically different properties from Milk, ghee and other dairy products in Ayurveda. For example: Cashew milk can never be a substitute to A2 Cow’s milk – to think that something that looks and tastes like Cow’s Milk IS Cow’s Milk is absurd.

Nuts and their derivatives can strongly aggravate vata dosha

I share my Vegan story and my concerns around this movement to sound a warning bell. If you do intend to make such sweeping health changes, please consult many more health professionals, especially an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can examine you and ascertain if your body can handle this transition.

Do remember: We never miss good health until we lose it!

I haven’t drunk A2 Cow’s milk in a while: how to start?

 Most of us have an aversion to Milk. I did too.

At first it was extremely difficult for me to drink Milk. Milk is dense and slightly heavy to digest. It takes getting used to. It also has a subtle taste, especially if it is drunk without additives like chocolate, coffee, tea, etc.

I started with a small glass of Milk. I was slowly able to increase the volume of Milk drunk as my system got used to it. I am still unable to drink Milk twice a day as is advised for my stress level and activity. But I am able to drink 1 glass of Milk in the morning everyday and it is a good start.

Silver enhances the properties of Milk:

The Ayurvedic texts advise that Milk is ideally stored and drunk in a silver vessel. Metals are extremely important to enhance health as per Ayurveda and we are advised to eat and drink out of glasses and plates made with silver and gold. This ensures very minute quantities of these metals enter our body via the ghee and milk we consume in these vessels.

silver enhances milk properties

Milk drinking procedure to be followed:

Keep a separate silver glass / tumbler for each family member if possible. This is the case with all personal eating utensils, as the metal interacts with your lips, fingers, etc as you mix your food and drink your milk. The body the  absorbs whatever is appropriate for it from your glass / plate.

As soon as the milk is boiled, pour the appropriate amount into your silver tumbler and mix your sugar, spices, etc into the tumbler. Allow the milk to cool in this tumbler until it reaches a temperature you are happy with. Milk should be sipped warm, but everyone differs in how much warmth they can handle.

When should you be drinking Milk, ideally?

Ayurveda advises that you give yourself time to slowly enter the day when you wake up. This contemplative time is ideal for Milk drinking. Find a comfortable spot and look outside at trees / birds, etc while you slowly sip your milk.

Milk should be had only on an empty stomach. Morning is best as it gives your body time to absorb the Milk slowly. If this is not possible, evening time (around 4) is ok, but the stomach should be clear and empty.

Night Milk drinking is ONLY advised for old people, patients, people who are very emaciated, small children etc. Here too, in the case of Adults, Milk should be drunk on an empty stomach and enough time should be allowed for the body to digest the Milk – one must not go to sleep immediately. For these reasons, I suggest drinking Milk only in the daytime.

To Sum up: Benefits and Properties of A2 Cow’s milk

I hope this article gave you an insight into the great esteem with which Ayurveda holds carefully sourced A2 Cow’s milk and its by products.

We write this article after a great deal of personal experimentation, harrowing health issues, and after experiencing the painful process of building our health one step at a time. We hope our experiences helps you make the right health decisions for you and your family. We also hope this article gives you insights into the importance of dairy and how you must include it for good health benefits.

If you have any questions on this, please write to us or call / whatsapp us (0-75500-89090)

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What are healthy eating timings according to Ayurveda ?

Krya blog post on healthy eating timings in ayurveda
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Reading Time: 11 minutes

A common misconception we hear at Krya is about healthy eating timings to follow and meal choice at each time. Today the Media is full of advice on nutrition and guides to healthy eating. Different theories abound on calculating protein and carbohydrate content of food, eating unpolished grains and ensuring higher nutrition by eating raw, unprocessed foods. It is no wonder that many of us are confused and seek advice on ahara and ahara niyama.

Is the diet and nutritional advise out there just confusing you

A key part of Ahara niyama in Ayurveda is the selection of proper / healthy eating timings. This influences the capacity to digest food, and our capacity to extract nutrients from food.

In fact, choosing the correct time to eat each meal has  a similar influence as choosing what to eat, on our health. In other words, we should spend the same amount of time planning when to eat as planning what to eat

In this post, we will see why Ayurveda pays so much attention to good eating timings and how we can improve our health and well-being by working out a healthy eating time schedule for us and our family.

Selection of healthy eating timings: Different Doshas influence different day parts

Ayurveda tells us that each day is divided into 4 hour dayparts. Each of these dayparts is connected to the slow rise, peaking and then falling of a particular dosha in our body.

Dosha surge in body corresponds to day part

The strength of the surge in the Dosha depends upon the movement of the Sun. So, for example, if there is Sunshine during a Kapha period, the effect of Kapha is slightly reduced. Similarly, if there is good Sunshine, say during a Pitta daypart, Pitta will be much more aggravated due to the influence of the sun.

In order to take advantage of these natural surges in a particular Dosha, we are advised to do certain activities during certain day parts. Our body’s internal workings also take advantage of the dosha surges in day parts.

As long as we do not tamper with our internal clock by eating at inappropriate times or sleeping at inappropriate times, we can be sure that our body is always working to ensure that we stay in good health and harmony.

An example is to wake up during a Vata day part and eat during a Pitta day part. Pitta influenced day parts are ideally suited to digest and process food. Hence a pitta day part makes perfect sense and is ideal  for our heaviest / largest meal.

Similarly, waking up during a Vata day part ensures we are able to utilize the creativity, enthusiasm and high energy that such a day part offers us.

Waking up in a Vata influenced day part helps provdie teh body with energy, and creativity

This is why our Acharyas recommend waking up during Brahma Muhurtha ( 90 minutes before sunrise) – by design Brahma Muhurta occurs after during the peak surge plus gradual drop of Vata dosha.

Waking up this time therefore gives us high energy, mental clarity and freshness through the day. In fact, many commentators say that waking up during this times allows for a “dosha re-balance” that is close to your natural state.

Selection of healthy eating timings: Choosing the correct Pitta day part for our heaviest meals

The process of kindling of appetite, production of salivary and gastric enzymes, digestion, absorption of nutrients and separation of food into useful and non useful by-products that eventually leave the body, are ALL governed by Pitta dosha and its various branches.

Pitta dosha is strongly influenced by the sun as “Agni” is one of the 2 Pancha mahaboothas that make up Pitta dosha. Therefore when the Sun reaches its Peak, with maximum Agni, the Pitta in our body is also at its peak, around noon.

Pitta energy peaks at noon due to the movement of the sun

So ideally, the correct time for our heaviest meal should be Noon.

But here comes a problem.

In traditional times, we ate one / two meals a day. In modern times this has been stretched to 3 meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner with sometimes 2 – 3 small meals / snacks between these meals.

Breakfast is usually around 8 am. Lunch around noon time and dinner is again around 8 pm. Many of us may also additionally snack on fruit juices, buttermilk, fruits, nuts and seeds or even cooked snacks between these 3 main meals.

Are you etaing many small meals on mistaken nutritional advice?

 Hence we may be overloading our body with food at the unhealthy eating timings – this leads to Ama build up in the body and weakens digestive fire.

Also, as many of us are stressed for time in the busy morning, we reserve our largest meal for our evening meal, i.e Dinner. Many families / friends also go out to Dinner during weekends to bond and catch up over food. This is great from the point of view of building relationships, but not so great from the point of your Digestive Agni and build up of Ama (toxins in the body).

There is a strong chance of over-eating and eating the wrong food for this day part in these occasions, leading to Ama build up in the body. 

Eating with groups of people at Dinner may cuase us to overeat, increaisng chances of Ama in the body

How to utilize the 2 Pitta day-parts everyday to make a healthy eating time table?

Ayurveda tells us that there are 2 Pitta strong dayparts in the day, 10 am – 2 pm in the morning and 10 pm – 2 am at night. The first Pitta daypart peaks at 12 noon approximately and the other at 12 midnight. As the Pitta peak coming at midnight is dampened by the absence of the sun, the BEST and MOST IDEALLY STRONG digestive Agni occurs at noon, in the day time.

So we should eat our heaviest meal of the day, as close to Noon time as possible . At this time, if we eat the right Ahara for our prakriti, there is the greatest chance for this food to be well digested, and properly absorbed with high nutrient retention inside the body.

Eating at teh correct time in the correct quantity strongly influences nutrient absorption in the body

 

What happens during the second Pitta day part at night?

In normal circumstances, the Pitta peak at midnight is utilized by the body to “tune up” Pitta organs like the Liver ,Spleen, etc. This repair and maintenance activity is ONLY done if Digestion is fully complete.

It takes the body upto 3 – 4 hours to digest a single meal fully. This timing slows down if the meal is extremely heavy, improper for our prakriti, improper for the Ritu, or contains a high amount of Guru foods (curd, sweets, red meat, etc), Or if Agni is weak / impaired due to Wrong Ahara and Wrong Ahara Niyama.

If the body is engaged in Digestion at the second Pitta time, the maintenance of Liver , spleen and Other Pitta organs DOES NOT TAKE Place. Habitually eating late means that these organs are under a severe strain without the time or space given to do their maintenance. This puts the body’s health under duress.

Eating at teh correct time also allows the body to do its regular maintenance activities

The ability of the body to digest is weakened severely post Sunset. So we are advised to have the lightest meal of the day as Dinner, and NOT the heaviest as is ritually the case with many of us.

It is also wise not to go out to eat for Dinner, experiment with new cuisines which may be heavy / difficult to digest or eat socially (as we often end up over eating in these situations). Instead we can reserve these activities for Noon, when our Digestive Fire + the sun can help us digest such experimental meals.

Choosing healthy eating timings: Effect on Agni + Ama when Kapha is aggravated

 In the normal course of events, we have only one Pitta rich day part to eat and digest a meal properly. Our other 2 commonly eaten meals of breakfast and dinner are BOTH in Kapha dominant dayparts of 6 am to 10 am, and 6 pm – 10 pm, respectively.

Kapha aggravation can produce “Mandagni” (reduced digestive fire), tamasic thoughts especially when food is tamasic, sloth, laziness and weight gain when ahara is improper.

In cases of Mandagni, the Agni is in a doused and weak condition. Its ability to digest food and absorb nutrients is extremely poor. So even if we feed the healthiest and best food to our body when it is in a state of Mandagni, it will be of little use to us. The body will generate Ama instead of digesting the food as the Agni is unable to handle the digestion process.

Instead of being fully digested, Food may be only partially digested. The undigested food will putrefy inside the system producing bloating, inflammation, and reducing the appetite and increasing heaviness in the body.

Heavy eating at peak kapha periods can increase chances of Mandagni in the body

This is why the combination of improper ahara and eating during a peak Kapha period is the precursor to an Ama disaster in the body.  The evening Kapha period when we have dinner is far worse than the morning Kapha period when we have breakfast.

The morning Kapha period, is weaker in the kapha surge. This is due to the presence of the Sun and increased activity on our part . This is why we have less trouble digesting our breakfast compared to digesting our dinner.

In the evening time, as the sun sets, Kapha dominance becomes extremely strong and our activity levels are on the wane . The later we eat, the worse our digestive capacity / food absorption is going to be.

Ahara Niyama (Eating guidelines) as per Ayurveda:

Here is an Ayurvedic recommendation for meals:

Breakfast moderately, lunch well, and eat dinner very sparingly.

To repeat: Eat a moderate breakfast, a good lunch and a sparing dinner

Any fruits, or in-between meal snacks should ONLY be eaten if there is good hunger and appetite. Do NOT eat because you have read that eating 6 small meals is healthy or that it is good for you “to graze”. Grazing animals have a completely different digestive system – we cannot follow their method of eating through the day.

Ideally all meals should be freshly made and hot as per Ayurveda. However, because both our breakfast and dinner is eaten during a Kapha surge, please eat food that is freshly cooked and hot. At these meals, the body’s ability to digest stale meals is impaired. Stale meals are higher in “gurutva” as per Ayurveda, so they are more difficult to breakdown and can quickly aggravate Kapha.

 

Freshly made, hot food id recommended for breakfats and dinner to counter the effect of Kapha surge

During breakfast and dinner,  Kapha rich foods like sweets, cakes, desserts, sweet fruits,  meats and foods like curd should be avoided. Any manner of cold / refrigerated food , cold drinks should also be reduced / avoided. If leftover rice is being used from the morning, we advise that you re-wash and re-steam the rice to remove some of its “gurutva” (heaviness).  

avoid kapha triggering foods like desserts and sweets during Dinner

Avoid difficult to digest food like raw food, highly complex cereals, and heavy lentils like Rajma, Channa, etc, for Dinner. They can be eaten in very small quantities occasionally at Breakfast, only if Digestive fire is good and activity level is high.

Choosing healthy eating timings: Recommendations by Prakriti

Aggravated Kapha / Kapha leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

For those with Kapha leaning prakriti or Kapha aggravation (weight issues, poor hair growth) we suggest eating Dinner as early as possible within the evening Kapha cycle.  

For example, eating at 7 pm means that only 1 hour has passed in the Kapha cycle of 4 hours. But eating at 9, means that the body has had 3 hours to accumulate Kapha – so digestive fire needs to be more intense to combat the coldness wetness and heaviness produced by the natural Kapha upsurge in the body.

Eat eraly dinners if Kapha prakriti is high

Apart from eating as early as possible, food must be light, well cooked, warm and devoid of kapha aggravating foods. Foods that are rich in oils, nuts and seeds, sweet foods, etc must not be eaten at Dinner.

Deepana & Pachana herbs that are recommended for Vata prakriti can also be used. In addition, mildly sour foods help kindle appetite and reduce Mandagni for this prakriti. So food can be flavoured with local tomatoes, lemon, small amount of ripe tamarind, etc. Well churned, well diluted buttermilk can also be taken at night.

Aggravated Vata / Vata leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

Vata leaning and Vata aggravated individuals have “Vishama agni” (Inconsistent Agni). So they will find that their appetite, ability to digest food, etc greatly varies from day to day. So here, apart from ensuring Dinner is eaten early and Kapha aggravating foods are avoided, the Agni needs to be trained and brought under control.

Vata leaning and vata aggravated individuals often have weak and dry hair, poor skin texture, suffers from bone and joint aches and disorders, abnormal skin darkening, gas, bloating, etc.

For such individuals, it is especially important to eat Deepana (appetite kindling) and Pachana (digestive) spices along with their evening meal and eat freshly cooked, hot, light , appetizing food. This food must be eaten at the same time every day as a habit. Training the body with regular meal timings and proving deepana and pachana herbs along with tasty food brings Vishama Agni under control.

Deepana and Pachana herbs and spices are excellent for Vata prakritis

Deepana and Pachana herbs that help Vishama Agni are Maricha (black pepper), Pippali (long pepper), Sunthi (dry ginger), Jeera (cumin), Curry leaf, hingu (asafetida), Black salt (small doses) and Saindhava Lavana (rock salt).

Aggravated Pitta / Pitta leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

Pitta aggravated / Pita leaning individuals are very sensitive to changes in eating timings and are most affected by improper dinner timings. Such individuals suffer from premature greying, hair thinning, gastritis, acidity, anger management issues, Blood pressure, acne, skin sensitivity, sun burn, etc.

Why is late dinner so problematic for Pitta aggravated/ Pitta leaning individuals?

We often find that Pitta dominant people never have a problem with appetite, but when they eat late, they develop gastric, acidity, sour belching etc. This is because of 2 reasons:

The later we eat in the Kapha cycle, we need to utilize more Pitta energy to combat Kapha upsurge. This is already high in Pitta leaning people – so they will extract MORE Pitta energy simply to digest their food.

The second reason is that after the Kapha cycle, we are in the beginning of the second Pitta cycle which starts at 10 pm. If we eat at say 9:30, instead of Pitta energy being used up and subdued after digestion if we had eaten at 7 pm, we will experience a second wind in Pitta at 10 pm. This will excite Pitta further. This also keeps us awake, gives us poor sleep as the body is engaged in energy intensive digestion at this time, instead of repair and regeneration of important pitta organs like liver, spleen, etc which is usually the case.

Pitta aggravated / leaning individuals do very well when they have a fresh, warm meal around 8 pm without any Pitta aggravating dravyas. Such people should avoid eating fried / oily food, sour food, salty food and other Pitta aggravating foods at night.

Avoid exciting Pitta dosha heavily for Pitta individuals during dinner

Suggestions for Pitta-Kapha aggravated individuals:

For many people with high Pitta-Kapha imbalance (Acne, PCOD / PCOS, pre-diabetes, etc), we advise completing dinner before 8 pm, and then drinking a glass of hot water about 30 minutes before sleep around 9:45 pm – 10 pm.

This has a stomach clearing effect, and aids elimination of toxins out of the body. This should not be done very late and strongly into the Pitta night period as it could the re-stimulate Pitta dosha. This is why we suggest doing this at the beginning of the Pitta day part or earlier, depending upon your eating timing.

To sum up: healthy eating timings for all based on ayurveda

We hope you found this post on choosing the healthy eating timings as per Ayurveda useful. We also hope this post gave you easy to implement modifications in both your selection of food and also when and how to eat your meals depending upon your prakriti.

An ideal suggestion as per Ayurveda is to eat by 7 pm, and go to sleep BEFORE the second Pitta surge starts at 10 pm. This is most ideal for rest, recuperation, good sleep and energy the next morning. If this is not possible, we must atleast avoid eating close to 10 pm and try and complete dinner around the half mark of the Kapha period, which is 8 pm.

We often say that Ayurveda is a holistic , health giving science. As we can see in this post, the acharyas have thought through every aspect of human existence and have given painstakingly accurate, logical and holistic suggestions to maintain health and well being.

We hope you too found the suggestions given in this post useful for your and your family. If you have any questions on this, please email us.

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Pitta Balancing Diet Part 2: pitta channelizing Dravyas & Spices

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A pitta imbalance is responsible for many skin and hair conditions we see today like premature greying, hair thinning, heat rashes, acne, etc. Pitta imbalance is also the cause behind gastritis, GERD, IBS and high Blood Pressure.

Pitta imbalance leads to agner management issues and other hair, skin & health issues

Whenever we see signs of dosha imbalance reflected in skin and hair, it makes sense to correct the diet so we do not further overload the body. When these diet modifications are adopted ALONG with good quality ayurvedic oils and choornas, and external products and Dinacharya practices are followed, we can see a good improvement in the skin and hair condition. It can also positively impact internal issues as well.

Dravyas and Spices which are pitta channelizing:

In the first part of this series on Balancing Pitta through food,  we saw how introducing certain Rasas (tastes) into the food, helped balance aggravated Pitta dosha. Apart from this, aggravated Pitta always means that Agni is not channelized properly in the body. Aggravated Pitta dosha can travel and irritate other organ systems like skin, hair etc, as the Fire in the body is TOO high.

Aggravated pitta flows through the body aggravating other organ systems

Therefore, an important part of keeping Pitta in check is to channelise the flow of Fire (Agni) in the body. This makes the difference between an out of control forest fire which how aggravated Pitta dosha can be visualised vs a steadily burning , lamp , which represents Pitta in balance.

Dravyas and spices that are pitta channelizing help rein in and control Agni, improving the ability of Pitta dosha to work in the body and enhance metabolism and nutrient extraction while eating.

When pitta is balanced, it regulates all organ systems and keeps teh body in health & harmony

 

This is why reining in Pitta is very tricky – we cannot abruptly cool, freeze or totally bring down Pitta in the body as it is vital for digestion, metabolism , warmth and life in the body. So controlling excess Pitta does not mean dousing our Fire. It means subtly altering the fire and controlling it by using fire subduing rasas (tastes) AND by channelizing the fire by using certain spices and cooking methods.

Pitta should not be doused or frozen.

We saw some of these dravyas when we read about how the use of Opposite rasas can pull down aggravated Pitta, like Ghee. But these Dravyas are so critical to a Pitta Shramana diet, that we have discussed them separately again here.

Dairy based Dravyas for pitta channelizing:

Milk, Ghee and Buttermilk prepared to be pitta channelizing (Well churned, non-sour, watered down) are 3 important agni balancing dravyas that should be a part of a Pitta shramana diet.

All 3 of these should be preferably made from non pasteurised, organic A2 cow’s milk at home and not bought outside. We will put up a separate post on how these 3 dravyas can be taken by different Prakriti based individuals for best effect.

Carefully sourced and processed dairy help channelize pitta well

Milk (Ksheera) for pitta channelizing:

Warm, freshly boiled milk sourced ethically from an Indian desi cow is considered an elixir. It is prana positive, ojas building and is “brhmana” or nutritive and nourishing to the body and is also pitta channelizing. Depending upon your capacity to digest milk, you can have one or 2 small glasses of Milk a day as a meal in itself.

Desi cow milk is an elixer

Milk should ideally be had on an empty stomach and considered a full meal in itself. Most of us are unused to drinking plain Milk. So we recommend starting with a small glass (50 ml) of Milk , first thing in the morning to start with.

If you have any pre-existing health conditions like Diabetes, please check with your health practitioner before starting on this.

Given below are milk processing techniques for different prakritis.

Milk for Kapha leaning prakriti:

If you are overweight or have a strong leaning towards Kapha prakriti (catches colds and coughs often, tendency to put on weight) or have been diagnosed with Kapha disorders like hypothyroidism, PCOD, etc, please try this Milk combination. for effective pitta channelizing.

Boil Milk with 25% water added until the water evaporates. This is the basic ayurvedic milk boiling technique. 

Flavour this milk with a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Drink warm and unsweetened. Drink this first thing in the morning after bowel movement, around 6 am – a small glass (50 – 75 ml) would do.

Turmeric and black pepper are ideal for milk for kapha prakriti

Give a gap of atleast 2 hours before eating breakfast and do your daily exercise in this time.

Milk for Vata leaning Prakriti:

If you are underweight, restless, prone to insomnia and are easily stressed, have panic attacks, etc, please try this Milk combination to channelize aggravated pitta.

Boil Milk in the ayurvedic way as given above.

To this Milk, please add a pinch of pepper, 1 – 2 roasted and powdered cardamom pods and organic mishri (sulpharless sugar). Start with 50 ml, and gradually build it up as you find your absorption level improving. You can drink upto 150 ml of Milk / day for this prakriti. however, Vata leaning individuals have varying digestive capacity – so the body must be gradually accustomed to this drink.

Cardamom and sugar should be used to spice milk for vata prakriti

Drink this milk after bowel movements, first thing in the morning. Gentle yogic exercises should follow, 30 minutes after this drink.

Milk for Pitta leaning Prakriti:

If you have stable body weight, are neither under / over weight and are generally Pitta prakriti prone, please try this Milk combination for pitta channelizing.

Boil Milk the ayurvedic way, as given above.

To this Milk, please add a small amount of sugar (sugar level in between Kapha and Vata Milk), and a powdered spice mix of 1 elaichi pod, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of pepper and 2 pinches of dhania (coriander seeds) powder, roasted and ground. Pitta leaning individuals can start with 75 ml and go upto 125 ml of Milk.

Dhania and pepper should be used to process milk for Pitta prakriti

Do light household chores after this Milk (if unused to Milk) like light sweeping, folding of clothes, clearing up, watering plants, etc. and then go onto yoga.

Ghee (Go Ghrita) to balance Pitta:

A2 organic ghee is an elixir to the body. Small amounts of melted ghee help rein in aggravated pitta, channelizes pitta better, help the body absorb nutrients better and improve metabolism. This view of Ghee is not shared by Allopaths and Western Medicine. If you have a pre-existing Medical condition that frowns upon the use of Ghee, please check with your health practitioner before starting on this.

For those in good health, Ayurveda advises adding ghee to every meal. 1 – 1.5 teaspoons of melted cow ghee can be added to every meal. This helps each meal to be absorbed and assimilated better by the body. This is especially useful when Pitta is aggravated.

We have a longer, more detailed post explaining how Ghee should be sourced, why it is important to source Desi, A2 cow ghee. Please go through this post.

Takra (well churned buttermilk) to channelize pitta:

Ayurveda lists many ways of preparing Takra (buttermilk). This varies depends upon the prakriti of the individual. However, to be on the safe side, and to ensure Takra can be had by all, we suggest making well churned, fat free Takra (buttermilk).

Curd is considered Pitta-kapha aggravating and abhisyandi (producing excessive mucous secretion) as per Ayurveda. Hence it is prohibited for everyone , except in certain health conditions. When eaten, it must be eaten only in certain seasons and only with the addition of certain dravyas in it to reduce some of its harmful effects. We will delve into this in a separate post.

Curd is pitta kapha aggravating as per ayurveda

But when we churn curd with water and extract butter from it, we get Takra or buttermilk. The ayurvedic qualities of Takra are very different from Curd. Takra is astringent to the body although it is also slightly “ushna” or hot in nature.

Hence, it is allowed only in measured quantities for Pitta aggravation, provided the curd it is made from is freshly made and not sour. This Takra can be had 2 – 3 times a week or even everyday if Pitta aggravation is not too high. It helps reduce inflammations, and is very useful in conditions like Hemorrhoids, which is a common Pitta complaint.

Buttermilk or takra is slightly hot, digetsive and astringent as per Ayurveda

How to make Takra:

Watered down Takra is made by adding 4 – 6 parts Water to freshly set, home made, full-fat, desi A2 curd and churning at slow speed in a mixer or using a hand blender. The butter that separates should be carefully strained and removed and can be stored aside to make ghee.

The churning is an important part of the ayurvedic process to transform Curd into Takra.

Churn curd until butter separates to make buttermilk

The strained Takra is seasoned with rock salt, roasted jeera powder, pepper, black salt, etc, depending upon the need, and then consumed. Do not drink chilled or ice cold Takra – it is better to allow curd to come to room temperature before making Takra.

Properly prepared and spiced Takra is extremely Pitta channelizing. It is digestive and carminative in nature without overloading Pitta dosha and sharply aggravating Pitta’s qualities.

Agni balancing spices:

In our earlier post on Pitta aggravating foods, we had discussed how certain spices like cayenne pepper, red and green chillies, etc severely aggravate Pitta as they are ”teekshna” (intense), “katu” (spicy) and “ushna” (hot) in nature.

However, spices are essential in cooking as per Ayurveda. They help enhance taste, cut down some of the undesirable qualities of food , and help kindle Agni and also help metabolise food better.

For pitta aggravation, Ayurveda recommends using the following spices: Rock salt, Pepper, Jeera, Curry Leaf, Dhania (leaf and seed). Additionally spices like Fennel ,Elaichi and Cardamom can also be used.

Certain spices like Jeera help channelise Pitta dosha very well

Rock Salt:

Rock salt (saindhav lavana) is considered to have a cooling effect on the body , which is unusual given its taste. Hence it is recommended by Acharya Charaka to be used everyday in meals. Rock Salt is much better for health than using refined, chemical salts which are commonly available in a super market. This is also available as Himalayan salt, Himalayan Pink salt, or plain Rock Salt.

Saindhava lavana is a pitta balancing salt

Ayurveda tells us that using the right salt , in quantities that are appropriate for our prakriti, aids digestion. Saindhava lavana improves digestion, aids metabolism, clears blocked channels, and aids nutrient absorption. Hence when Saindhav lavana is properly used it is pitta channelizing.

If we use too much of even Saindhava lavana we aggravate Pitta dosha. If we use iodized table salt, even in small amounts, we SEVERELY aggravate Pitta dosha. If we eat hotel food, which is often laced with high amounts of MSG, we are even MORE SEVERELY aggravating Pitta. If we eat food preserved in Vinegar and commercial salt like pickles, pickled vegetables and even so-called healthy foods like Kimchi, we are adding Petrol to the Forest Fire.

MSG laced foods aggravate Pitta severely

Mildly Ushna Spices:

Maricha (pepper) and Jeera (Cumin) are ushna  (hot), and digestive spices. However, they are considered essential for aiding digestion, taste and metabolism. When used in small amounts they help channelise Pitta and do not set it on edge. But spices like chillies, cayaenne pepper, commercial salt and vinegar all aggravate Pitta. Hence, “teekshna” or intense Pitta aggravating spices should be replaced with these Ushna, Pitta channelizing spices instead.

Digestive, Pitta balancing spices:

Certain spices like Dhania seeds, Fennel seeds, Elaichi are only mildly ushna and Pitta balancing in nature. These should be an essential part of a Pitta balancing diet and should be used to spice and season food as often as possible.

Spices like fennel should be used to make pitta balancing spice blends

For Pitta aggravation, it is worth replacing traditional masalas with specially made masalas that use the above spices. For example, Sambhar powder can be made using Mung dal(roasted) instead of Tuvar dal and pepper instead of red chilies to suit and balance Pitta aggravation.

To sum up – channelizing pitta through certain foods & spices:

In the second part of our Pitta balancing through food series, we explored the properties of Dairy based dravyas like Milk, Takra and Ghee and also looked at how they should be processed to suit various prakritis. We also looked at the benefits of a few Pitta balancing spices and seasoning substances like Rock Salt and understood their role in pitta channelizing restoring the body to a state of harmony.

Ahara niyama (food rules) are essential to maintain health and well being according to Ayurveda. The Samhitas tell us that these niyama should be subtly altered as per our individual prakriti to ensure that we what we eat support and heals our body, restoring it to a state f balance.

Pitta aggravation is a common aggravation we come across at Krya – this leads to certain skin and hair issues like premature greying, oily scalp, hair thinning, skin allergies, rashes, acne, etc. When this aggravation is tackled through food, lifestyle and external products, there is a much more holistic sense of balance achieved by the body. Therefore we are able to tackle skin and hair problems much faster.

In the 3rd part of this series, we will explore how controlling meal timings can greatly help control aggravated Pitta. We will also look at sample menu plans we could adopt if we would like to balance aggravated Pitta dosha.

For help choosing the right hair and skin products to control aggravated Pitta dosha, please call us (0-75500-89090) or write to us.

 

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Pitta balancing diet Part 1: Using specific Rasas (tastes) to balance Pitta

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If you are suffering from a visible Pitta imbalance like premature greying, acne outbreaks, then a Pitta balancing diet can help holistically heal your condition. Ayurveda believes in following a holistic approach to understanding skin and hair issues. Hair and skin reflects the body’s state of balance. Diet, emotional well being, quality of sleep, quality of daily Vyayama (exercise) all affect the body. These factors create changes in the subtle alignment of doshas in our body. This reflects in the quality of our skin or hair.

Pitta dosha: qualities and life stage

Pitta is “snigdha” (oily), “teekshna” (sharp), “ushna” (hot), “laghu” (light) “vishra” (mal-odourous), “sara“ ( flowing / laxative), and “drava” (liquid).

Hence when we have Pitta aggravation in our body, we could experience sharp discomfort in the abdomen, diarrhoea, gastritis, temper flares, strong body odour, high sweating, oiliness on hair and skin, etc. We could also develop acne flare ups, experience premature greying & also hair thinning.

Pitta aggravation can cause strong body odour

Ayurveda tells us that every lifestage is dominant in a certain dosha. Middle age, i.e. 30 – 60 years is considered Pitta dominant lifestage. In this age period, we naturally tend to harness and utilise Pitta’s qualities to help us focus on our career, manage our responsibilities, etc. Hence at this stage, we become even more sensitive to Pitta aggravation.

Pitta aggravating foods:

We had written earlier in detail about foods that trigger or aggravate Pitta in the body. This includes fermented foods, salty foods, spicy foods, and sour foods. We have a pretty detailed list of don’ts in the earlier blog post. This list includes commercial packaged RTE foods which are high in hidden salts and imported delicacies like Greek yoghurt, tahini sauce and hummus.

Consumption of these foods is tolerable when our doshas in balance. At this time, Pitta drayvyas help stimulate appetite, aid digestion and allow for appropriately timed digestion in the body. The problem occurs when we have already aggravated Pitta dosha.

In a Pitta aggravated person, a single helping of curd or 2 meals with idlis and dosas in them can act like a lit match on a petrol doused bundle. Pitta sharply flares up and you will notice an increase in rage issues, skin oiliness, breakouts and inability to switch off and sleep on time.

A single helping of curd can tip teh balance if you are already pitta aggravated

Basics of a Pitta balancing diet:

The Pitta balancing diet is based on 3 principles to help balance aggravated Pitta:

  • Introduce Tastes (Rasas) that are opposite to Pitta to bring Pitta down
  • Introduce Agni balancing dravyas and Spices
  • Ensure Pitta is not spiked by controlling meal timings

Each of these work in a slightly different way to harmonise aggravated Agni. In this post , we will explore the use of Rasa (tastes) to help balance aggravated Pitta dosha.

 

Using Opposing Tastes (Rasas) to balance Pitta:

A Pitta balancing diet uses “bitter”, “sweet” and “astringent” tastes that act like a countermeasure to Pitta which is “amla” (sour), “lavana” (salty) and “katu” (spicy) in taste. The tastes are added in this order: Bitter, Sweet and Astringent for best effect on aggravated Pitta.

 

Using Bitter taste “Tikta Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Bitter taste (Tikta rasa) is very pitta balancing. Bitter taste has the quality of “dryness”, coolness” and “lightness”. Hence it helps balance the oiliness and heat caused by aggravated Pitta dosha. Therefore, including foods, herbs and seasonings which are rich in Tikta rasa, is an essential part of a Pitta balancing diet.

Many local vegetables and greens are inherently “Tikta” in rasa. For example, parwal, lauki, ridge gourd, ash gourd are native gourds. All of these gourds have an inherent “tikta” or bitter rasa. These vegetables can be added to vegetable / dal dishes to impart a bitter taste to food.

Local gourds are naturally rich in Tikta rasa

 

“Shukto” and Vempampoo-rasam (Neem flower rasam) are also examples of bitter rasa found in traditional cuisine. Neem flower rasam is introduced in Indian cuisine at the beginning of the onset of Summer, when Pitta is high.

Traditional cooking also has included many tikta rasa rich dishes seasonally

Certain spices and seasonings also have a “tikta rasa”. An example is fenugreek seed which is recommended to be eaten by diabetics and pre-diabetics in Ayurveda. Bitter rasa in moderate amounts is useful to control Pitta aggravation and Kapha aggravation. Similarly, rosemary, oregano and parsley seasoning also has a mild Tikta rasa.

Tikta dravyas can aggravate Vata dosha when eaten in excess and cause dryness in the body. Hence, as always, please follow moderation when planning your meals.

Some examples of Tikta Rasa dravyas:

  • Vegetables
    • Bitter gourd
    • Methi greens
    • Parwal
    • Lauki (Bottle gourd)
    • Ash gourd (white pumpkin)
    • Ridge gourd
    • Non sour locally available greens
  • Spices & seasonings
    • Turmeric
    • Fenugreek seed
    • Rosemary
    • Oregano
    • Thyme

Turmeric is rich in Tikta rasa and is highly nutritious

  • Ayurvedic Tikta Herbs used in Krya products
    • Neem
    • Neem flower
    • Kalmegh
    • Vetiver
    • Sandalwood

Sandal is cleansing and good for skin and high in tikta rasa

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Tikta (bitter) foods  to craft a Pitta balancing diet :

  • Local gourds added to liquid / gravy dishes in a rotational basis like Lauki, Parwal, etc
  • Use of Tikta herbs in cooking to season food like turmeric, Fenugreek, etc
  • Occasional use of Tikta dried herbs to flavour food like Rosemary, Thyme, etc wherever appropriate

Include seasonal local gourds into your cuisine

Using Sweet taste “Madhura Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Madhura Rasa is “guru” (heavy), “sheetya” (cold), “snigdha” (oily) and is nourishing and grounding due to the predominance of Prithvi Panchamahabootha. Hence it helps calm down and ground aggravated Pitta. This does not mean that we should gorge on desserts and sweets. These are artificially sweet due to the presence of sugar in them. In Ayurveda, when we say “Sweet” or “Madhura rasa”, we mean that the tongue recognises the substance as “sweet” (Rasa) and that its taste post digestion in the body (Vipaka) is also sweet.

An example of this is Milk. A2 cows milk when freshly boiled has Madhura Rasa (tongue taste) and Madhura vipaka (taste post digestion). Hence it is used to balance Pitta aggravation in the diet.

As Madhura Rasa is also “snigdha”, eating too much of this can trigger excess oiliness and heaviness in the body. Hence do not eat artificially sweet substances, or eat too much of Madhura rasa.

Some other examples of Madhura dravya / Substances are the following:

  • Cereals
    • Aged rice
    • Aged Wheat
  • Sweeteners
    • Mishri (unprocessed sugar candy)
    • Guda (jaggery)
  • Vegetables
    • Fresh coconut pulp, milk and water
    • Naturally sweet Vegetables like sweet potato, beetroot, Kaddu (yellow pumpkin), carrot

Beets and naturally sweet vegetables are rich in Madhura rasa

  • Fruits
    • Dried Black Raisins (draksha) – Munakka variety
    • Seasonal Sweet, juicy fruits
  • Dairy
    • Freshly boiled , unpasteurised A2 cow milk
    • A2 ghee
  • Ayurvedic Madhura Herbs used in Krya products
    • Liquorice
    • Guda (Jaggery)
    • Guduchi (Madhura vipaka only)

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Madhura (sweet) foods in our diet to help balance aggravated Pitta.

  • Melted A2 cow ghee – across all meals in small amounts
  • A2 cows milk – unpasteurised and freshly boiled – one small glass everyday

 

A2 Cows milk is nourishing and madhura in nature

  • Seasonal sweet, juicy fruits
  • Rotation of Natural sweet vegetables
  • Carefully sourced Aged organic Rice and wheat
  • 2 – 3 soaked Munakka (large black grape) raisins 3 – 4 times a week

Dried raisin is an excellent pitta balancing dry fruit

 

Using Astringent taste “Kashaya Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Kashaya rasa is a taste that is most often missing in modern-day foods. This is an important rasa which is vital to our health. Foods rich in Kashaya rasa usually have a lekhaniya (scraping effect) and are very useful in healing the body of excess fat, fluid collection, inflammation, etc. Kashaya rasa has “rooksha” (drying), “sheetya” (cold) and “laghu” (light) qualities- hence it helps balance Pitta dosha.

Kashaya rasa is wound healing, absorbs excess secretions and clears mucous. It helps clarify the tongue and skin and is calming and healing to the body. It is also a good blood clarifier.

In excess, Kashaya rasa can be excessively drying and vata aggravating on the body. Please do not overindulge in this taste.

 

Some examples of Kashaya Rasa dravyas:

  • Vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Lettuce
    • Fennel
    • Banana flower

Banana flower is naturally kashaya in nature

  • Fruits
    • Amla (Indian gooseberry)
    • Pomegranates (choose well ripened, sweet fruits and not sour)

Pomegranate is a medicinal fruit which has strong Kashaya rasa

  • Sweeteners
    • Honey
    • Indian Date – Kharik

Indian date is Kashaya in nature

  • Herbs & seasonings
    • Parsley
    • Coriander
    • Basil
  • Ayurvedic Kashaya herbs used in Krya products
    • Amla
    • Haritaki
    • Vibhitaki
    • Triphala(combination of above 3 herbs)
    • Khadira
    • Arjuna Twak (bark)
    • Lodhra Twak (bark)
    • Sappanwood

 

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Astringent (sweet) foods in our diet to create a Pitta balancing diet .

  • Amla made in different methods 2 – 3 times a week: Can be made as a raita (using buttermilk or thin curd), Chutney, Preserve, or as a souring agent into Dal / Sambhar

Include Amla in your diet frequently

  • Pomegranates – 2 times a week – choose sweet fruits only
  • Chutneys / Dips / Pesto made from Basil / Coriander – twice a week
  • Overnight soaked Khajoora eaten once / twice a week

 

To sum up:

In part 1 of our post describing the Pitta balancing diet, we explored how using specific Rasas (tastes) in your meals can help bring down aggravated Pitta.  Using rasas which have opposing qualities as that of Pitta help balance spiked Pitta levels and also bring in better nourishment and satiety to the body, improving health.

In the next part of our blog post, we will explore how using specific dravyas and spices like milk, ghee, coriander seeds, etc help counter excess Agni in the body. In the case of certain dravyas, we will also explore how different prakritis (body types) should have these dravyas for optimal health. Part 3 of our post will have detailed daily meal plan suggestions that can help you plan a Pitta balancing diet.

 

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Eating for Good Health – An Ayurvedic Perspective : Part 1

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

I am often asked what Ayurveda prescribes as a healthy diet. I hesitate to write down a fixed diet plan for many reasons: there are many diet fads these days which have become accepted as healthy diets (for example the vegan diet, keto diet, millets diet, etc). Most of this is contrarian to the principles espoused in the texts.

1. universally healthy

The second is that Ayurveda is the ultimate customised medicine. The texts opine that health, regimen and medicine should all be customised to the individual, and what works for one individual is especially unique to him / her. Therefore, what works for you is a customised blend of your food culture, what you are used to your prakriti, and where you live.

2. customised approach
The third is a very interesting reason: Ayurveda recognises the importance of “patterns and habits” in the way we eat, behave and live. The Acharyas tell us that even a great diet. Or a set of behaviours considered universally healthy cannot be suddenly introduced to the system, as the system, which has reached a sense of balance with whatever it is doing, will rebel in shock. So for someone who has persisted on a diet of fried bacon, bread and no vegetables, cannot be suddenly asked to substitute fish for fried bacon and introduced to a whole lot of vegetables. The Acharyas tell us that for the system that has been used to food which we consider unhealthy will react to healthy food (if introduced suddenly) like it would react to poison!

3. gradual is better

Obviously our notion of what is healthy food ad not healthy food will have to vary by region, season and availability of food. So if you live in a dry, hot desert I cannot tell you to eat broccoli all the time, despite the fact that it is considered a nutritional superfood.

 

So rather than speak about specific foods to eat, we focus our posts on how to eat. We saw a post this week on eight Ayurvedic eating techniques, and how chewing food well, eating on time, eating when hungry, etc are timeless principles of healthy living. We saw how even the right foods eaten wrongly can cause distress to the body.

 

Speaking further on foods to eat, here is our 2 part series on Ayurvedic eating for good health. Again, these posts are in the form of eating principles, and cover aspects of eating like ethical diets (vegan / vegetarian), eating timings etc. These are atleast as important as what you eat, so do read on.

 

As with all new information, please read this with an open mind. The science of Ayurveda has evolved over thousands of years and is extremely sophisticated in its understanding of both food and its effect on human beings. Many of the things I have written down may seem contrarian to what we believe in now – but the system has survived and thrived for thousands of years

  1. Timing is everything (in health, food & life)

The time of eating is at least as important as what you eat and depending upon your body’s condition, it is sometimes more important than what you eat.

Every organ system is said to have a particular time to cleanse itself and do necessary repairs. For example, the liver, the seat of pitta in our body, cleanses itself around midnight. Cleansing of organ systems occurs ONLY after digestion is through, nutrients have been extracted and toxins have been removed from the body. So if you are eating dinner at 11 pm, your organ systems will NOT cleanse themselves, and will wait until the next available time slot to do so. Which means your body will feel dull and sluggish the next morning (especially if you are consistently eating late).

This does not mean you can get away with eating junk food like a burger everyday at 7 pm for dinner. Do read point 2.

This is corroborated by many systems of traditional medicine. TCM opines that the window to eat breakfast is between 7 am – 9 am. When you consistently eat breakfast after this window, your chi energy or stomach fire energy gets weak and dampened. This in TCM is said to lead to digestive disorders, high production of gas in the system and an inability to digest foods leading to a high accumulation of toxins.

4.damp agni

 

  1. Ideal food is local, freshly cooked, lightly spiced and eaten warm. No spoiled food should be eaten. And no food should be stored, re-heated and eaten.

Ayurveda frowns upon the wonders of modern food preservation. In fact, the Charaka Samhita specifically says that for good health one should not eat too much of pickles, traditional papads or even traditionally salted and preserved vegetables (like vadagam and vathal).These references are to HOME MADE preserved vegetables, lentils and fruits. So this definitely rules OUT eating preserved, commercially processed foods like biscuits, sauces, etc which have a shelf life of 1 year or more (so most of the time we are eating stuff that has been made at-least 6 months ago in a factory and would contain several harmful chemical preservatives).
5. processed food
Local in Ayurveda means something that not only grows naturally within 100 miles of where you live. It also means eating foods you and your digestive system are accustomed to. So if you have grown up eating rice, rice will suit your system the most. Not quinoa. And not even millets. Any new food must be slowly introduced to your digestive system. (This does not take away from your responsibility of sourcing high quality food. Most of us grew up eating untainted, pesticide-free food – so this naturally means you should source the same now. And not just buy the first available pesticide sprayed pack of rice you find in the supermarket).

6. local food
The point about spoiled food is an interesting nuance and goes to our food culture. For example cheese eating is not a practice that is universal to many parts of India. It is usually common only in cold and hilly regions. In hot and humid regions, fermenting a dairy based food will quickly lead to rot, mildew and fungus. However the same food is very well preserved in a cold, hilly region.

Cheese, especially aged cheese, tends to be very salty, sharp and concentrated. In Ayurveda, this has all the makings of a pitta food group. So it makes sense to eat this food, if it is eaten traditionally, in a cold, hilly region where the atmosphere is low in pitta dosha. The pitta in the food is welcome to stimulate digestion.

7.cheese

However in a hot, humid city like Chennai or Hyderabad, where the atmosphere is full of Pitta, the pitta dosha from the cheese would over stimulate pitta dosha. Which is probably why in practice, it does not form a part of traditional food.

If you live in the city of your childhood, it is probably best to stick to your traditional food practice. If you live in a foreign city, it is still better to stock to your traditional food unless the weather and climate is dramatically different from what you are used to. If you are living in an utterly foreign land, it makes sense to slowly acclimatise and add foods and eating practices local to where you live, while continuing to eat traditionally most of the time.

 

  1. An ideal food for you is something that is digested quickly by you and puts the least amount of stress on your digestive system. This can differ from person to person.

Ayurveda believes the more effort the body has to take in digesting your food, the more energy is diverted away from your organ systems. Also, depending upon your state of health, if your food is difficult to digest, there is a possibility that your body will not complete the job of digestion within the allotted time. The longer your food sits in your body without being processed, the more poisonous it becomes to your body.

8.putrefecation

 

Food that is undigested and sits around in your body becomes “Ama” or undigested waste + toxin. Ama prevents the healthy functioning of your organ systems and leads to faster aging and illness. Ama can accumulate across every organ system, but is linked primarily to an improperly functioning digestive system, brought on by eating improper food.

Now how your digestive system will respond to your food group is completely unique. Some of us can easily digest fried food, and can eat copious quantities of this without losing sleep or productivity. Others are extremely sensitive to certain food groups: a single Chinese meal can set us back by 2 – 3 days when we feel dull and sluggish.

9.digestive ability
These digestion patterns tend to change as we age, and by season. They also change when we are under a high amount of stress. So it is important to listen carefully to your body and develop a sense of what works for you. Limit food experimentation to a window where you can take the consequences, and always plan for “cheat” or “treat” days.

  1. Many foods we think are healthy and should be eaten in copious quantities are considered unhealthy in Ayurveda

Many foods that we now consider healthy and are eating a lot of are considered difficult to digest in Ayurveda or are considered unbalanced as they are very high in one particular dosha: these include raw vegetables (yes salads!), raw sprouts, millets, brown rice or cereals with a high amount of husk on them, fermented foods like idly and dosa, cheese, curd, milkshakes. These must be eaten with the proper preparation and caution and at times when the body is capable of digesting them.

Example 1: Fermented foods like idly and dosa are considered high in pitta as they are sour foods. Eating them every day for breakfast will mean your pitta will increase. It is important to balance them with something like a coconut based dish as coconut is both cooling (and high in kapha) and will balance the pitta in the idly / dosa. (Please note that this does not apply if you spike your coconut chutney with an impossibly high amount of green chillies). Eating a fermented food with another pitta heavy dish like a Sambhar high in tamarind or acidic tomato based chutney will not be balanced.

10.idly

 

In this there is obviously a gradation. Freshly fermented idlis are lower in pitta dosha than 3 day old batter. Batter made at home is obviously superior to something bought from outside, because we can guarantee that no other additives like baking soda have been added. Idlis eaten in cold winter season are better for the body compared to idlis eaten in summer.

 

This is because in winter, the heat of the Idlis through Pitta dosha is opposite to the cold produced by the winter – so the load on the body is less. But an idly eaten is summer is far more stimulating to Pitta dosha.

 

When you are suffering from an intense imbalance of Pitta dosha, eating an idly everyday for breakfast can throw you out of gear and is not advisable.  The key, as always is finding balance.

 

Example 2: Raw foods are considered “lekhaniya” (scraping quality), and depending upon what kind of raw foods we are describing, they may be “rooksha” (dry), rough, and “guru” or difficult to digest.

 

An example of a “guru” raw food is raw beetroot. An example of a “rooksha” and “guru” raw food are raw sprouts. From a western, raw food perspective, eating raw food is considered healthy as we get access to many nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are destroyed when cooking. So eating the raw food as a juice, smoothie or as a salad is considered health boosting.

11.raw
Ayurveda however says that the process of digesting this raw food dampens or weakens Agni, hence this food is not properly digested (especially when consumed in quantities that are much higher than what we are used to). So despite eating healthy foods, we could be increasing the ama in our body as the act of digesting this healthy food has weakened Agni.

 

Seasonal fruits and fruit juices are not necessarily a part of this list. But even here, temperance is advised – you cannot suddenly force the body to eat, digest properly and assimilate a very large quantity of fruit juice of fruit salad. Depending upon your constitution this can aggravate Agni, leading to diarrhoea, or leave you feeling sluggish and listless.

12.fruits
Example 3: Millets are now extremely popular across South India as a healthy replacement to rice. Ayurveda however considers many Millets as dry and difficult to digest, which makes sense as they are traditionally dry land crop. Substituting rice completely with Millets will mean that your vata dosha will increase. This is welcome if you have a health condition like diabetes where kapha dosha is high – so here the vata of the Millets will balance excess Kapha. In fact, millet is prescribed in diabetes for just this reason instead of rice. But if you have no such health conditions and have decided to substitute rice completely with Millets, you will be drying out your body, especially if you do this very suddenly.

13.millets
The benefits of Millets must of course be experienced by you. But this should form a part of your experimentative 10% and must be prepared using the correct format and in doses where your body does not rebel or where other symptoms like aggravated vata dosha develop.

 

Here are some of the ways you can experiment with Millets:

Changing the format of the cereal changes how your body digests it – In millets, flour is easier to digest as you have broken down the cereal physically and are not depending upon your digestive system to do this job. So if you would like to introduce Millets into your diet, perhaps Millet flour is a better first step instead of the millet grains.

13.millet flour
The timing of eating is everything, especially for a difficult to digest food. Noon time, when the sun is at its peak, is considered the time when your digestive system is the strongest. So this is the time your body can handle the rigors of digesting a difficult to digest food. Like millets. OR Quinoa. (After preparing it properly).

14.lunch
This list which I have compiled is by no means complete or a prescription in itself. This merely represents a starting point to think about your diet and your health. As with everything, your body and your health are unique and what works for you is something you will have to evolve with time and experimentation.

Part 2 of this post will tackle more of what Ayurveda says about food. In the meantime, do remember, there are no shortcuts to good health and good looking skin and hair. It is built meal by meal, and choice by choice.


Krya’s range of skin care products for pitta prone, normal to oily skin can be found here. Our skin range for vata prone, normal to dry skin can be found here. Our anti acne skin care products can be found here.   Apart from this, we have a range of products for Sensitive Skin (skin that is eczema, dermatitis & psoriasis prone) and for Sun Tanned skin . We also have a large range of Abhyanga-Snana products. 

9-ubtan

Our products are inspired by Ayurveda. completely natural, toxin free and extremely effective. If you would like help choosing the right Krya product for your skin, please call us (075500-89090) or write to us.


 

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Krya Hair 101 series – 4 principles of Mindful eating

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ayurveda believes that the food we eat literally makes up every part of our body. Every organ system is formed by metabolising of the food we eat and assimilating the nutrients from the metabolised food. Ayurveda divides the body into seven layers (and organ systems) of increasing complexity. Each succeeding layer is formed after the previous layer has absorbed the nutrients required from the food. So if our food is poor in quality, then it stands to reason that our more complex and nuanced inner systems will not be healthy as the existing nutrients have already been used up for the outer layers of the body.

So for example, the reproductive seed, “Shukra” is the very last and most nuanced layer in the body. This layer derives its nutrients after the formation of skin, scalp, hair, blood, lymph, flesh, and bone. So if your basic diet is poor in quality, then the Shukra (quality of sperm and ovum) will also be poor in quality as there is not enough nutrients left in the food after feeding all the previous organ systems.

Hair and nails in Ayurveda is closely linked to “asthi” or the bone system. It is believed that the same components of Asthi also go to make up the nails and hair. So weak and damaged hair could go hand in hand with brittle nails which could go hand in hand with weak bones.

If your hair or skin lacks life, is generally weak and does not grow well, we must always look at the quality of nourishment you are getting and how well it is being assimilated in your body. For today’s post, here are 4 principles of mindful eating that we would like to share from Ayurveda. These are principles that can be followed by all healthy people. If you have a specific condition, are pregnant, or are recovering from an illness, these principles may need to be tweaked individually for you.

  1. Eat at the right time.
    1. The process of digestion and assimilation is governed by the forces of Agni. Agni is strongly correlated to the movement of the Sun.
    2. Therefore the largest meal of your day should be lunch, which should be as close to the midday sun as possible.
    3. Dinner should be had as close to Sunset as possible. 8:30 pm is the very latest anyone should be eating. 7:00 -7:30 pm is ideal. This meal should be the smallest meal of the day.
    4. Breakfast is had ideally between 8 am – 9 am. This is the time when the digestive enzymes are availble for food processing as well. The next time they activate is around noon.
  2. Eat less than your complete capacity. Leave a little room for the food to be further processed.
    1. Your stomach is approximately the size of your closed fist. While it is a muscle that can expand. If you fill your stomach with food that is much beyond its capacity, it will leave you dull and full of toxins.
    2. Ayurveda says that after food enters the stomach, it is further processed by the forces of Agni, Vayu and Prithvi. So watery secretions, fiery enzymes, and air will move through the food churning and digesting it. If you have eaten to the fullest, there is no physical space for any of these substances to work on the food. So always eat slightly less than your capacity (10 – 20% less). How much space you leave should be arrived at by you after experimentation.
  3. Chew your food well.
    1. Most of us gulp near solid food sending unbroken food to the stomach.
    2. The texts say that Digestion ends in the stomach. It begins in your mouth.
    3. The enzymes secreted by your saliva begin breaking down food in your mouth and partially break down your food before it reaches your stomach. The stomach is actually supposed to receive watery partially digested slurry of food. When we chew less and swallow food quickly, we are sending a mass of food that puts a great strain on the stomach. Therefore digestion takes longer than it should and the food we eat ferments and starts generating toxins instead of nourishing us.
    4. When you chew your food well, you prevent excessive weight gain, ensure higher nutrient assimilation, reduce the strain on your system, and reduce toxin build up in the body.
    5. When we chew our food properly, we are surprised to see how much less we eat, and how much food our system actually requires to feel satiated.
  4. Eat mindfully, in silence, concentrating on the food.
    1. To eat on time, eat the right quantity and chew well, we would need to eat in silence, having taking time out to eat.
    2. We would also need to give ourselves time, savour our food and practice mindfulness.
    3. This is the best thing you can do to nourish your body, and ensure that you feed it well with prana and nutrients.
    4. When you eat mindfully, you will always choose fresher food that is good for you.
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Is grey hair bothering you? Krya shares 7 ways you can slow down premature greying today by changing your food and lifestyle habits

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Reading Time: 16 minutesWe wrote about premature greying last week and how Ayurveda classifies premature greying. As we saw last week, Ayurveda is quite definitive, precise and holistic about exactly why premature greying occurs.

Premature greying is seen as a consequence of unchecked, aggravated Pitta dosha. In addition, repressing or not dealing with extreme anger and extreme grief (krodha and shokha) is also said to cause premature greying.

 

The connection between the Mind and body according to Ayurveda

All traditional medicine is able to see the connections between our emotions and the state of our health. In Ayurveda, every dosha is responsible for a certain kind of emotional trait. When this dosha goes out of balance (either too high or too low), Ayurveda is able to predict the corresponding emotional state. Similarly emotional states can also affect the doshas causing an imbalance.

 

Vata dosha and depression

Excess vata can cause fear and depression. Fear is very correctly connected to Vata dosha which is the dosha of mobility. All of us are programmed to react to adverse situations by either expressing “fright” or “flight” – both these responses are governed by Vata dosha which gives us the capacity to move swiftly and also helps us “get afraid”. In the same way, when we are afraid or depressed, our vata dosha can aggravate as this is the physical manifestation of our emotional state.

1. vata and fear

Aggravated vata dosha gives us dryness all over the body as dryness is the key quality of vata dosha. So your may find that your skin and hair are perpetually dry and flaky no matter how much moisturiser you may use. Vata also governs the organs of mobility and creativity so aggravated vata may manifest as a difficulty in falling asleep or aches and pains in your joints.

 

Pitta dosha and anger

Grief and anger are states governed by Pitta dosha. So when we constantly react with anger or grief to our external circumstances, we are overusing Pitta dosha. Similarly, if we physically aggravate Pitta dosha by overeating spicy, sour or salty food, we tend to respond much faster in anger than in patience.

2.pitta and fine lines

 

Aggravated pitta dosha increases fire all over our body. So you may find your skin and hair feeling dry as though you have been standing in hot midday sun for a long time. The hair turns grey, goes find and starts to thin and bald. The skin develops red, inflammatory conditions like prickly heat, sensitivity, rashes and acne.

 

Kapha dosha – weight gain and ennui

Kapha dosha in its normal, un-aggravated state is an important and strength giving dosha. It gives our mind and body “sthiram” or steadiness, and helps us cultivate the qualities of patience, gentleness, forbearance and generosity. When kapha dosha is in excess, in the physical level it can contribute to a feeling of sloth, lack of energy and ennui. When we over indulge in kapha aggravating foods like sweet and oily foods, and sweet and cold foods, we put on excess weight. In this situation we find ourselves in a vicious cycle where we are unwilling or lack the energy to do something about this excess weight. This excess weight is bought on by unchecked kapha based eating which in turn aggravates kapha dosha in the body which contributes to the mental state of sloth and ennui.

3. Kapha and ennui

 

In other times we may be in a mental state of sloth. We may have ennui in general and let ourselves or our surroundings go and not care to make a change. In this state, we are harnessing unchecked kapha dosha. In the mental state we may find ourselves quickly adding on physical weight or developing conditions like hypo thyroidism, PCOD, etc. We may also find that we are drawn to kapha aggravating foods when we are in this mental state!

 

Aggravated kapha dosha increases thickness, paleness and coldness all over the body. It also promotes unnecessary growth. You may find that the skin is cold to touch, lacks healthy complexion. You may also develop excess growth based skin and hair conditions like psoriasis and oily dandruff. The body may feel heavy, cold, thick and tired all the time.

 

Tackling aggravated dosha conditions

We have spoken a little about what happens to our moods, mind and body whenever one or more of our doshas are imbalanced. In Ayurveda, opposites bring moderation and balance to the body. So when pitta is aggravated, or vata is aggravated, we attempt to pull the body back to a state of balance by eating the opposite of the dosha that is imbalanced.

4.opposites bring balance

 

We also practice external applications, use products and follow therapies that aim to reduce the dosha that is in excess. By using this principle of opposites, we bring the body back to balance.

 

What does Pitta dosha control in the body?

Normal (prakrta) Pitta dosha helps nourish the body by performing the function of digestion and helping separate nutrients and nourishing parts of the food from waste products. Pitta dosha also produces heat and warmth through the body. It stimulates desire, produces hunger and thirst. The pitta dosha also determines the colour and complexion of our skin, and is responsible for our intellect, understanding, courage and our decisiveness and ability to get things done.

 

What aggravates Pitta dosha?

We discussed 6 reasons why Pitta dosha aggravates in detail last week. These reasons are as follows:

  1. Having a pitta prakriti and aggravating our dosha by choosing pitta aggravating foods and practices
  2. Over exposure to the Sun
  3. Undergoing agni increasing treatments
  4. Eating Pitta aggravating food
  5. Not oiling the hair and scalp regularly
  6. High stress that is not addressed or dealt with properly

Any or all of these reasons can give you classic signs of Pitta dosha going out of balance like premature greying, acidity, GERD, Ulcers, frequent stomach upsets, adult acne and high skin sensitivity, cracked heels and palms and fine, thinning hair.

 

We will now see what we can do to bring this aggravated Pitta to balance.

 

Will bringing my aggravated Pitta dosha turn my grey hair black?

Ayurveda tells us that we cannot reverse the colour of hair that is already grey or white. However, hair, skin and all the cells of our body are constantly renewing themselves. By bringing Pitta dosha back to balance, we can slow down the process of greying and delay this process of aging.

This means that instead of growing more and more grey / white hair, there is a good chance you can grow new black hair when you bring Pitta dosha back to balance.

 

7 Pitta reducing foods, habits and practices to follow:

Any dosha balancing regimen has to start by reducing or eliminating the foods, habits and practices that caused the aggravation in the first place. So as we explained in our earlier posts on pitta dosha and what aggravates it, we start by reducing or eliminating salty, spicy and sour food, over exposure to heat, situations that put us in grief or anger, and we learn to control our stress.

In addition:

  1. Eat bitters

Bitter foods and bitter herbs help cool down Pitta dosha. Bitters are also used as medicines that involve pacifying or balancing pitta based diseases like jaundice which is seen in Ayurveda as a disease of aggravated Pitta.

6.bitter controls pitta

 

Bitter vegetables like bitter gourd, bitter greens like methi and palak and all native greens, and bitter spices like methi seeds, coriander seeds all help cool down excess Pitta. Preparations like Neem leaf chutney are also culturally eaten around the beginning of summer to herald the beginning of the traditional New Year. This is again an excellent practice to help cleanse the body and to tackle the build up of excess pitta in the start of the season.

7.bitter leaves in summer

 

Similarly, bitter herbs are excellent for topical use on skin, scalp and hair in aggravated Pitta like conditions. Krya extensively uses bitter herbs like Nimba (Neem), Vacha (Sweet flag), Kalmegh (Maha Nimba), Kushta, etc in skin and hair formulations.

 

  1. Eat and apply Amla

There are several pitta pacifying herbs and fruits in Ayurvedic lore. However, in our set of recommendations, we have made it a point to separately mention the Amla (Indian gooseberry). This is because it is an extremely powerful rasayana (youth giving) herb, is very powerful in its pitta pacifying nature and is also an excellent culinary and external application herb.

Amla is also called the “Dhatri phala” or the fruit which acts as a nurse, because it is so medicinally valuable and powerful. It is one of the hoariest herbs in Ayurveda and finds use in formulations spanning diseases and medical conditions.

8.amla the dhatri

 

In cooking, the Amla is a very valuable herb. Although it has a sour taste at first in the mouth, it is the only fruit which has all the 6 tastes (rasas) inside it, according to Ayurveda (sweet, sour, salty, astringent, bitter, spicy). It is very sweet and soothing on digestion and therefore helps build the dhatus and is regenerative in its action.

 

We have mentioned how sour taste aggravates Pitta dosha. Using Amla as the souring agent in your food vastly improves the nutritional quality of your food and also reduces the Pitta component of your food. You can use it in its fresh form , as a juice or a paste and even as a dried power to add sour taste to your food instead of conventional and pitta aggravating souring agents like tamarind, mango, lemon juice, tomatoes, etc.

 

Fresh amla is nutritionally more powerful than dried amla. If using dried amla, make sure you use it within 6 – 9 months of drying. Choose a trusted source for this. Do not buy dried Amla powder – if possible buy dried amla pieces and powder just before use as this helps retain its nutritional qualities.

9.dried amla

 

Amla is the only heat stable source of Vitamin C. This means that you can boil it and use it in strongly boiled dishes like typical Indian cuisine without any worry of losing its nutritional properties. Amla is better eaten as a food than drunk as a tea or eaten as a supplement. When eaten as a food, it helps us assimilate the nutrients of the rest of our food as well.

 

Amla is also an excellent anti aging herb. We use it extensively in Krya’s Moisture plus range of face washes, face masks and face oils meant for dry or aging skin. We also use Amla extensively in our Hair products, both oils and washes and powders.

 

  1. Eat desi Cow ghee regularly

One of the very best ways to bring aggravated Pitta and vata dosha under control is to eat high quality, grass fed and hormone free, desi (native) cow ghee.

Cow ghee occupies a very special place in Ayurveda and there are literally hundreds of ways it is used in Ayurveda. Cow ghee is considered tridoshic in Ayurveda and there is extensive literature on how this cow ghee should be sourced, how the cow and her calf must be treated, right down to different ways of making this ghee.

10.Kamadhenu

 

Most people across various medical conditions can benefit eating Cow ghee. As can all of us with small dosha imbalances and no major health issues.

 

There was a time in the western world when Cow ghee was universally panned as being bad for the heart and for the arteries. The western world has now reversed its stand. Grass fed cow ghee is one of the very high, in demand fats. Western medicine and nutritionists are now saying what Ayurveda has been saying all along – that limited small quantities of good quality cow ghee is very good for the body, and the arteries and the heart. And consumption of cow ghee does not clog the arteries – using oils like palm oil, dalda and vanaspati does.

 

Unfortunately this is yet to hit India. So in India, we routinely have consumers asking us how we can recommend ghee when it may lead to weight gain.

 

Nothing can be further from the truth. We will do a separate post on the properties of cow ghee. But for now, if you are experiencing pitta aggravation, eating 2 – 3 teaspoons of ghee per day along with your food can rapidly bring down your pitta aggravation. You will find that your skin texture improves within 2 months of regular ghee consumption and a reduction in your pitta aggravation.

11.melted cow ghee

Cow ghee is important at almost every stage as per Ayurveda. Children need regular cow ghee as this is the stage of brain development and the fat in cow ghee helps proper brain and dhatu development. Old people need cow ghee to help lubricate their joints and bring down inflammatory conditions.

Young adults need cow ghee to help cope with mental stress and prepare their body for fertility. People in their 30s- 50s need cow ghee as this is naturally the time of increased pitta. Cow ghee consumption helps balance this aggravated pitta.

12.ghee for all ages

Remember: Eat only freshly melted liquid cow ghee and not solid. This helps control kapha and mucous production which could increase if you eat un-melted cow ghee. Go for high quality cow ghee: by this we mean ghee that is churned using the proper Ayurvedic technique, sourced from free range, grass fed indigenous cows that are treated well.

 

Also remember: We are talking about Desi Cow ghee here and not Desi Buffalo Ghee. Buffalo Ghee has entirely different properties and is not recommended for universal consumption.

 

Ayurveda is very conscious of the karmic effect of foods. If you source dairy or produce from poorly treated, inhumane conditions or pesticide sprayed areas, the pranic quality of that food is also poor. Ensure your dairy is sourced from humane, well treated, well reared and well raised cows where the calves are treated well too.

 

  1. Treat Agni well and eat on time. Eat only when you are hungry.

In Hindu mythology, Agni is given the status of a God. Lord Agni is always given offerings of food, ghee and herbs, as he is always hungry and looking for food.

You may remember your Mahabharata with reference to Lord Agni. Arjuna and Krishna burned the Khandava forest to build the capital city of Indraprastha. They offered the entire Khandava forest to Lord Agni and he consumed every single tree and living being in the forest to satiate his hunger. Pleased after his meal, he blessed both Arjuna and Lord Krishna.

13.khandava forest

 

Just like in Mythology, the Agni in your body is always hungry. When Agni increases, as when Pitta dosha is aggravated, the hunger in your body increases even more. This is why excess hunger is also a sign of dosha imbalance in Ayurveda. Appetite, like everything else, has to be balanced and normal.

We have talked about what the right meal times are in previous posts. Meal times should follow the course of the Sun to maximise digestive ability and nutrient absorption.

 

It is important to feed the Agni in your body on time and in correct quantity so that he is properly satiated. Skipping meals, eating at varying timings and not eating the right quantity can all aggravate Agni and therefore Pitta dosha.

Similarly, eating when Agni is not ready is also a sure fire (pun intended) path to disease. It is far better to skip a meal when you are not hungry than to eat on schedule even though you have no hunger. This builds toxins, ama and diseases and blockages in the body.

14.agni angered

Remember: Starving the Agni in your body, means that it will eat your body / tissues inside instead. This is the cause for diseases like Ulcers. Ensure you eat steadily on time. Similarly eating when you are not hungry will increase toxins and slow down nutrient absorption. So respect your body’s Agni.

 

  1. Take proper pitta balancing precautions whenever you are exposed to heat , light or the Sun is increased

We spoke about how overexposure to sun and heat and light treatments can increase the Agni in your body. Ensure that when this exposure is inevitable you take sensible Agni reducing precautions.

When exposed to the Sun, do not strain your Agni by over exercising, eating heavy food, working late or doing an abhyanga. Do not eat immediately after sun exposure or a heat based treatment. Take a cooling down period of 30 – 45 minutes where you sit indoors and drink normal temperature or warm water.

15.cool down

 

Once your body has been accustomed to the indoors and has a chance to naturally cool down, you can then take a shower and use Agni reducing herbs and pastes to further cool down your body. Do not bathe, eat cold foods or drink cold drinks immediately after sun exposure.

If the nature of your work requires constant sun exposure, ensure your diet is low in pitta aggravating foods and that you eat cow ghee and add the pitta reducing foods and regimens we have mentioned in this post and earlier.

 

  1. Use Agni reducing external applications like hair oil, skin oil and herbal Kajal (Anjana)

We spoke yesterday about how the eyes are an important seat of Pitta dosha and how the heat generated in the eyes and brain has to be reduced on the spot. The use of herbal Kajal (anjana) and herbal hair oil is well documented in Ayurveda for the same.

Herbal Kajal generally used eye soothing herbs like daru haridra, ghee, castor oil, Bhringaraj, etc to remove excess pitta and to remove the dirt encrusted in the eyes through tears. This helps keep the eyes in good working order. Apart from use of Anjana, Ayurveda advises balanced use of the eyes.

Cleaning the eyes with clean cold water, first thing on waking up and  – 3 times during the day also helps flush our impurities and keeps down excess pitta.

16.eyes

 

Remember: do not use your smart phone, e-reader, laptop within the first 2 hours after you wake up and in the last 2 hours before sleep. This prevents shock to the eyes, allows rest and allows the eye muscles to slowly unwind and repair themselves.

Using a good herbal hair oil frequently, helps calm the brain and dissipate excess heat from the head. This also incidentally keeps the hair strands in good health, repairs cuticular damage and maintains the hair strands in good elasticity, strength, and gloss. It also helps promote hair growth.

For cooling the head, we recommend late evening oiling of the scalp using small quantities of hair oil. About ¼ – ½ teaspoon of hair oil should be warmed in the palm and used to gently massage the scalp alone. This amount of hair oil is usually well absorbed by the scalp. With regular use you should notice good, peaceful sleep and freshness in the morning as a sign that this practice is working well for you.

17.frequent oiling

 

Besides night oiling, Ayurveda also recommends copious hair and scalp oiling just before a hairwash. This also helps dissipate heat and helps coat the hair strands and protect them well and keep then in good health. Depending upon your level of familiarity with this, you can leave your hair oil for upto an hour or two before hairwash.

Remember: Please do not strain yourself by leaving hair oil on overnight or for several hours if you are not used to it. This will do you more harm than help you. Always accustom your body gradually to any practice. We advise leaving hair oil on for no more than 15 minutes to start with. This duration can be increased every 3 weeks after (6- 7 usage occasions) by 10 minutes. This duration should be gradually increased until you can leave hair oil for 45 minutes – 1 hour on your head before washing off.

 

  1. Develop practices and strategies to deal with stress, grief and anger

We have many bizarre and new strategies in place in the modern world to help us cope with our emotions. Sometime back, I read with concern about a chain of outlets in Japan that were designed to help Japanese executives cope with anger.

Japan is a society where anger and many private emotions were not easily expressed in workplaces, out of respect for hierarchy and seniority. This has been documented as leading to a lot of frustration, stress and rage in modern Japan. The Japanese chain I mentioned, offered a service where you could rent the outlet for an hour, and then express your anger by breaking all the china and bric a brac especially left for you to give you the satisfaction of expressing your rage!

Ayurveda tells us not to express anger but to cool it down or prevent its build up. Grief on the other hand has to be let out, expressed and shared.

18.pranayama

 

There are many practices in Yoga and Pranayama and Bhakti Yoga that help us deal with our emotions. For Anger and grief, Ayurveda explains that we should adopt breath control and practice Pranayama. We are also encouraged to express and write down our grief. If we are spiritual, we are asked to practice Bhakti yoga and surrender to the divine presence.

 

We are also asked to regulate our daily schedule so we are able to rein in dosha excesses that may be cropping up because of improper hours or diets.

 

Whatever be your strategy, if you have unexpressed grief and unresolved rage, this is a sure path to dis-ease (and grey hair). Work on it.

 

To sum up: 7 ways of balancing Pitta aggravation in your body:

Ayurveda believes that opposites bring about balance. In this post we looked at 7 ways to rein in excess Pitta and bring balance to the body. These are:

  1. Eat bitters
  2. Eat Amla
  3. Eat cow ghee
  4. Treat Agni well and eat on time. Eat only when hungry.
  5. Take proper pitta balancing precautions whenever your exposure to heat , light or the Sun is increased
  6. Regularly use Agni reducing external applications like hair oil, skin oil and herbal Kajal (Anjana)
  7. Develop practices and strategies to deal with stress, grief and anger

We have successfully used these techniques in our lives, for our employees and with many of our consumers to help them with aggravated Pitta dosha, especially in the skin and hair. Remember if your hair is greying much earlier than it should, or you are constantly breaking out, you have much greater control on your body than you think you do. When we address the cause behind these symptoms, we pull the body back to a state of balance and work on the core issue.

We hope this post resonated with you and you were able to get a sense of how deep, holistic and interconnected the science of Ayurveda is. Do write to us with your questions, reflections ad if you would like us to write about a particular subject you are seeking answers or insights to.


Here are some Krya hair and skin products that are suitable to a Pitta based prakriti or to help bring down excess Pitta:

Hair products : Suit straight, slightly oily hair that has a tendency to grey prematurely, is fine or is experiencing Pitta symptoms like thinning:

  1. Krya Classic Hair Oil with Yellow Eclipta & Indian Gooseberry
  2. Krya Classic hair mask with Rose Hip & Liquorice
  3. Krya Classic hair wash with Rose & White Bhringaraj
  4. Krya Classic hair nourishing system (all 3 above products at a special price)
  5. Krya festive abhyanga hair wash with Vana Tulsi & Rose
  6. Krya harmony hair oil (especially suited for high stress, grief and vata aggravation)

 

Skin products: suit Pitta prone skin that is normal – oily, sweats well, has a tendency towards body odour, and is sensitive to heat and gets red or inflamed easily when pitta is out of balance . This skin may also experience occasional acne:

  1. Krya Classic face wash with Green Tea & Chamomile
  2. Krya Classic face mask with Rose petals & Guava
  3. Krya Classic Skin Oil with Carrot & Wintercherry
  4. Krya Classic Body wash with Rosemary & Cassia flower

 

For acne prone skin, we have the following Krya products:

  1. Krya anti acne face wash with Guava & Lodhra
  2. Krya anti acne face mask with Daruharidra & Lodhra

 

For skin that is frequently exposed to the sun, we have the following Krya products:

  1. Krya after sun face wash with Vetiver & Indian Madder
  2. Krya calming after sun face mask with Indian Madder & Liquorice
  3. Krya after sun body wash with Arjuna & Ashwagandha
  4. Krya Zingy After Sun Bodywash for Men with Lemon Eucalyptus & Green Tea

 

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The sacred act of eating: how the right food can nourish your body and give you great skin and hair

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Reading Time: 12 minutes

“Deepo bhakshayate dhvantam kajjalam cha prasuyate
yadannam bhakshayennityam jayate tadrishI praja “

Lamp eats darkness and produces [black] soot!
What food (quality) [one] eats daily, so will [one] produce.

One of the key pieces of information that I look for when I receive hair and skin complaints is to understand the quality of the diet being eaten. Ahara or food is so important to health and well being that every good Ayurvedic text contains several detailed chapters on the nature of food, how food should be prepared, what kinds of food are compatible and incompatible, and what are the right timings to eat food.

1.ahara

 

The easiest and most long lasting path to good health, great skin and great hair is learning to eat high quality food that is suitable to your prakriti, in the right atmosphere and at the right time. This is enough in itself to give you good quality digestion, nutrient assimilation, proper excretion, proper tissue and organ repair, restful sleep and high energy.

 

The 7 Dhatus in Ayurveda:

The Dhatus or the tissues in the body perform the following functions: they satisfy and nourish the whole body (Prinana), they support life (Jivana), and they act as a lepa (cover or external layer). They provide Sneha for the body (produce natural oils and lubricate the body), and are supportive (Dharana) and filling in nature (purana) as they fill the cavities in the body. Lastly, the dhatus produce and sustain new life (garbhotpada).

 

Rasa is the first Dhatu in Ayurveda. In Modern Science, Rasa can be roughly translated into the lymphatic system. Ayurveda opines that Rasa is the first Dhatu created from Ahara (food) and Rasa in turn feeds and nourishes all other Dhatus.

2. ahara = rasa

 

Therefore rakta (blood) , Mamsa (Muscle), Meda (lubricant), Asthi (bones), Majja (marrow), and Sukra (semen and ova) are all nourished and fed from Rasa which in turn is nourished and fed by Ahara (food).

Therefore: If your Ahara (food) is of high quality, is the right kind for your prakriti, and is eaten at the right time, it can create high quality Dhatus which are able to support and nourish your entire body.

 

Transporting nutrients through the body: the System of Srotas in the body

The Srota system is a large, intricate well-designed pathway of channels, ducts and tubes through the body that help transport nutrients and other substances to all the parts of the body, especially where it is needed at a particular time.

We spoke about how Ahara (food) forms every single Dhatu in the body. After Ahara has been properly digested, the essence of Ahara forms Ahara Rasa dhatu. This is transported to the heart and then is transported through the circulatory system throughout the body.

 

Every dhatu carries Dhatvagni or “Fire” inside itself. This Agni helps each Dhatu selectively absorb the nutrients required from the Ahara Rasa Dhatu as it reaches each tissue. This nutrition is carried continuously by the Srotas to help nourish and form every single tissue and organ system in the body. The Srotas also transport Prana (oxygen), Anna (food), Vaari (water), and other dhatus like Mamsa (muscle) and Meda (fat).

3.srota network

 

The srotas are different from the arteries and veins which exist as part of the circulatory system. Charaka and Sushruta described the Srotas as having different shapes and as being interconnected to form ducts or tubes to transport nutrition through the body. Some srotas have external openings and open out into the skin and scalp. Others open out internally into the body. The big Srotas in the body open out into the eyes, ears, nostril, penis, vagina, mouth, and anus and into the scalp. In addition for women, there are 2 large srotas that open out through the breasts.

 

Besides these large srotas, there are also “Sookshma” or minute srotas. These Srotas open out into the Navel and through millions of minute pores on the skin.

 

The Rasa vahana Srota branch

According to Charaka, the Hridaya (heart) is the root of origin of the Rasavahana Srotas. The Rasa which is formed directly from digestion, absorption and assimilation of Ahara (food) is transported to the heart and from there divides into multiple branches and is transported through the body.

When we get oily, heavy, or cold food, or eat in excess or at the wrong time, there is a tendency to vitiate and block the Rasa vahana srotas. When the rasa vahana srotas are vitiated, we develop symptoms like aches in body parts (Angamarda), Vali (premature wrinkling of skin), Palitya (premature greying), etc.

4.oily and heavy food

 

In case of severe Rasa vahana Srota vitiation, Ayurveda lists many treatments Panchakarma therapy, Nasya (nasal medication), and other Ama removal mechanisms.

But the simplest way to ensure that your body is in good health and that it is getting nourished extremely well is by eating properly and well.

 

Pre-cooked, commercially processed food is not good food

We often see diets which are high in pre-cooked processed foods like breakfast cereal, instant oats, and frozen chapattis. These foods by their nature are cold, dry and hard and are extremely vata aggravating.

Because they have been half cooked or pre-cooked to shorten their final cooking time, these foods can be described as stale. In order to preserve them for a long period, these foods are also high in commercial preservatives and sodium.

5. precooked food

If Ahara is the basis of good Rasa and dhatus, the Rasa and Dhatus derived by constantly eating cold dry, hard, stale ad salty Ahara can be well imagined. Eating this food frequently is guaranteed to cause internal dryness, a feeling of heaviness in the body, aches and pains in the limbs, dull aging skin and grey hair.

 

Old food is not good food

We hear many times from working women who plan ahead and cook meals in advance. Meals are often cooked 4 – 5 days ahead, frozen and then thawed and reheated just before eating. Nutritionally or calorifically we cannot distinguish between freshly cooked food and food cooked in advance, frozen and then re-heated.

However, Ayurveda says that the Prana Shakti or life giving ability of food reduces dramatically the longer it is stored. This means that a cookie with a shelf life of 6 months has dramatically less prana in the last month of its life compared to just as soon as it is manufactured.

6. fresh is best

Similarly, food cooked and eaten fresh has much higher prana shakti compared to frozen food, even if it has been cooked by you.

 

Ayurveda also considered old food as “guru” (heavy to digest), sita (cold) and believes that much higher Agni is required to digest this food. If your food needs digestion of a very high order to digest, it means that all your body’s resources are going towards digestion alone. Constantly misusing digestive Agni this way will weaken it over time.

 

Do remember that many restaurants serve re-heated stale food where a part of the cooking has been done in advance. This explains why many of us feel sluggish and tired after eating out, as this food is taking all the reserves in our body to get digested.

Stale food, even if cooked well and using good quality ingredients can create ama in the body and deplete the body’s strength. A simple fresh meal is preferable to an elaborately cooked meal eaten stale.

 

Food must be timed according to the sun to ensure it is digested and assimilated properly

Ayurveda lists certain timings in the day for getting up, doing exercise and eating. Agni is what helps us digest food in the body. The source of Agni for the entire world is the Sun which is pure, manifested Agni itself. Therefore, Ayurveda says that our digestive power increases with the intensity of the sun and decreases as the sun sets.

7. sun strengthens agni

 

When the sun is at its peak, during noon, Ayurveda says our digestive ability is the strongest. So lunch is best eaten at noon, and this is the meal which can be the heaviest meal of the day. Breakfast is recommended to be had during the gentle sun time, between 7:30 – 9:00 am. This should be a reasonable meal – not too difficult to digest and not too light either.

 

The timing of Dinner and the foods eaten at Dinner is crucial

The most sparse meal of the day should be Dinner as this is usually had after sun set. Ayurveda tells us that the later our Dinner is, the more and more difficult it becomes for the body to digest food. So an early dinner which is as close to sunset as possible and which has a gap of atleast 2.5 hours before sleeping is considered ideal.

 

As our digestive ability is the poorest at Dinner, Ayurveda recommends we eat light, easy to digest foods that we have been eating for a long time and are accustomed to. Hard and difficult to digest foods like non veg foods, breads, curd, etc are best avoided at Dinner. Dinner is also the time when the body cannot tolerate stale food – so eating out is not advisable at this time.

8. dinner

 

If your digestion is sluggish and your nutrient assimilation is weak, you can help by eating Dinner as close to sunset as possible. Easy to digest foods like rice, mung dal and seasonal vegetables are good at this time. The use of warming spices like jeera, dhania and black pepper can support digestion at this time.

 

Giving a gap of atleast 2 hours between dinner and bedtime not only ensures your food is well assimilated, it also renews the body’s natural repair and maintenance process, ensures high quality sleep and proper waste elimination as well. If your digestion is sluggish, a small glass of warm water just before sleeping can further support toxin elimination as well.

 

Dinner is a crucial way to control your health and support your body. Make sensible choices about your dinner timings and what is eaten. This can greatly help your skin and hair goals as well.

 

The best Ahara is food that is suitable for your Prakriti

Depending upon your prakriti, it is important to choose Ahara that suits you. Ayurveda believes that opposites bring balance and eating food similar to your prakriti can aggravate your doshas.

 

So if you have a pitta based prakriti, it is important to avoid pitta increasing foods like chillies, tamarind, jaggery, sesame, curd, and other heat increasing foods. Sour, fermented foods like idli and dosa also aggravate pitta. Pitta based prakritis usually have oily skin, thinning hair and can also experience premature greying.

9.pitta avoid

 

If you have a vata based prakriti, it is important to add ghee, and easy to digest food like rice and mung dal into your diet. Wind increasing foods like maida, fried food and vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, should be reduced. Cold, hard and dry foods like instant cereal, instant oats, instant noodles, baked goods are also best avoided or severely reduced. Vata based prakritis tend to have dry hair, hair that breaks easily, dry and rough skin that is dull, difficulty sleeping and shutting down the brain and sometimes joint aches as well.

10.vata avoid

 

If you have a kapha based prakriti, then it is important to reduce sweet and sticky foods like cakes sweets, pastries, curd, sweet fruits, and food that spikes your blood sugar like cookies, instant and ready to eat foods, fried foods, oily foods, etc. Sweet and cold foods are a no, like iced coffee, fruit juices, ice creams and milkshakes.  Eat strictly with the sun to support your digestion, and eat light, easy to digest, freshly cooked, warm food.

11.kapha avoid

 

Some kinds of food are suitable to no one. They are best avoided

Ayurveda lists many foods that are considered Vriddha ahara (incompatible foods), that cause ama when consumed by anyone. The list of Vriddha ahara is growing with several of our modern day practices. I’ve listed a few of these foods below along with a few food related practices to avoid:

  1. Tea, coffee after meals – Both are very acidic on the body, are diuretic, aggravate vata and cause heartburn and improper assimilation when drunk after a meal
  2. Dessert after meals – dampens Agni, prolongs digestion, and causes ama. The best time to eat dessert is at the start of the meal when Agni is at its highest. A warm freshly cooked dessert is preferable to a stale, cold dessert.
  3. Fruits after meals – for similar reasons as point no.2. Certain fruits are very acidic, and many fruits increase bloating and vata especially when eaten after a heavy meal
  4. Milk just before sleeping at night – Milk is considered nourishing to all dhatus in Ayurveda. However, it is also considered heavy and difficult to digest. Milk should always be consumed on an empty stomach with enough space and time given for digestion. Milk just before sleeping is sure to cause ama and toxin build-up in the body
  5. Maida: Maida is guru (heavy to digest), and considered abhishyanadi (sticky) in Ayurveda. This means that frequent consumption blocks the minor srotas which carry nutrition to all the dhatus. Maida also spikes blood sugar very quickly and is usually loaded with preservatives and causes bloating after eating. This is best avoided.
  6. Curd: Curd is considered guru (heavy to digest) in Ayurveda and it aggravates both Pitta and Kapha. Curd is also considered abhishyanadi (sticky) and frequent consumption blocks the minor srotas which carry nutrition to all the dhatus. Only the physically strong and the young can digest curd properly. It is best avoided by most people or consumed very infrequently. Frequent curd consumption can cause adult acne, stubborn dandruff and premature greying.
  7. Source and Prepare milk properly before consuming: Ayurveda opines that Milk is nourishing and cooling to the dhatus when prepared properly and boiled so that it is light and sticky. We will elaborate in much more detail in a later post on this. Ensure you source native cow’s milk as much as possible and that it is hormone and antibiotic free.

 

Choose high quality food for good health

The best and wisest investment you can make towards your health is choosing extremely high quality food. As we have seen the food you eat directly is converted into the tissues of your body, so it makes sense to pick really good quality food. Here are some recommendations:

  • Pick organic, unsprayed fruits, vegetables, lentils and grains – pesticide and spraying levels are extremely high in India. Organically grown produce is the safest and best for you

12. pesticides

 

  • Avoid commercially processed, packaged foods as much as possible: all these foods are loaded with sugar, salt and a high amount of preservatives and come with a very long shelf life (which means the food is stale and contains no prana).

 

  • Avoid ready to eat food even if the label says organic. A can of “organic soup” we examined contained a high amount of salts and had a shelf life of 6 months. No homemade soup can last that long. This will simply hasten hair greying, so avoid at all costs.
  • Eat vegetables and fruits that are in season only: Produce that is grown in season contains nutrients and qualities that are compatible with the qualities of that season. For example, certain nuts are available only in winter. Nuts are a storehouse of nutrients and are also high in Pitta – a food that is strong in Pitta is of great use in winter where the Sun’s power is weak and the cold pulls down the digestive fire. Eating a mango in winter makes no sense for example.
  • Eat Local as far as possible: All the Ayurvedic texts opine that local herbs and medicines work bests for its natives. Therefore the local “thandu keerai” is far better for you nutritionally compared to the fancy bag of Quinoa on the supermarket shelf. When in doubt, choose local.

13.local food

 

  • Source dairy extremely carefully preferably native and hormone free: Ayurveda advocates small amounts of carefully chosen and prepared dairy for nourishment of the body and good health. It is critical that this dairy is sourced from a cruelty free and hormone and antibiotic free operation. Dairy sourced from native cows is considered much more health giving in Ayurveda.
  • Cook with Love and positivity – food absorbs emotions especially negative emotions

 14.food absorbs emotion

 

  • Eat in peace, preferably with selected company. Pay attention to your food and put away the phone and the newspaper
  • The Ayurvedic texts consider the sharing of food to be the highest form of spirituality. Consider making a meal for a friend who is ill, or donating a meal or volunteering to cook and serve food for someone else.

 

 

Eating: a sacred ritual

Ayurveda considers food as “Prasad” an offering given to you by God. Food has the capacity to build your health or break it down depending upon how you look at it.  To build your body, give you better hair, and great skin, food is the fundamental basic. What you put into your body is what your body assimilates and uses to nourish itself and grow.

Apart from what we choose to eat, and when we choose to eat, how we choose to eat is also important. Ayurveda advocates eating privately and in atmosphere of peace and quiet. Eating is considered a private and meditative act and one that builds the body and its health. Eating in the right atmosphere where your body can enjoy its food and assimilate it is also critical.

15.eat withjoy

 

Cook your food and serve it with love. Eat with joy, with innocence, with wonder and gratitude. Eat in meditative silence and visualise your food healing your body as you eat it.

 

“Brahmarpanam Brahma Havir
Brahmagnau Brahmanaahutam
Brahmaiva Tena Ghantavyam
Brahmakarma Samadhina” – Bhagavat Gita, Ch: 4

“The act of offering is God, the oblation is God
By God it is offered into the Fire of God
God is That which is to be attained by him
Who performs action pertaining to God”

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How aggravated pitta dosha damages your hair and acclerates greying. Krya shares insights from Ayurveda to help you control aggravated pitta dosha for great hair health

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Reading Time: 10 minutes

We have been deluged with consultation requests this past month at Krya. Our consultations usually take us a while as we ask for extensive information on diet, lifestyle, current hair and skin regimen, etc. Our recommendations are sent on the basis of the information received and each one is tailor-made and unique. In the last month, I have sent out recommendations as varied as waking up at 5:30 am every day, to walking in the moonlight in the terrace on full moon day, and in one case, doing evening worship of their favourite deity (Ishta devata) every evening with a sesame oil based lamp.

1.moonlight walk

All of our recommendations and insights come from the first principles followed in Ayurveda. While different Acharyas of the Brihat and Laghu trayi series of textbooks have varying nuances in their use of herbs to treat dosha aggravation, they concur on the symptoms of how dosha aggravation can affect skin and hair.

Sometimes the symptoms we see today are not described in the Ayurvedic texts. For example, excessive shampooing with alternative excessive sebaceous secretion and scalp dryness and flaking is a problem unique to the last 10 years in India. This can be further aggravated by over use of the air conditioner, poor diet, poor sleep and excessive travel in some cases to lead to a vata like dryness of hair and scalp.

2.urban stress

Alternatively in a pitta dominated prakriti, excessive shampooing can set up an aggressive increase in sebum secretion – this usually necessitates further washing, may be accompanied with skin disorders like acne and in severe cases fungal dandruff.

To understand the effect on the body with these new age problems, we first understand the effects of the chemicals used in synthetic shampoos and their current, documented consequences. We then apply this into the Ayurvedic framework and understand how the doshas are pulled out of balance with our new habits and come back with a series of recommendations.

Our series on hair loss starts today with the first kind of hair loss we see at Krya, related to aggravated pitta dosha and how Ayurveda diagnoses the cause and treats it.

 

Pitta aggravated hair loss and damage – hair thinning, premature greying and male pattern baldness

The Ayurvedic texts state that Pitta dosha is what provides intelligence, focus, leadership traits and the ability to get things done. This dosha is dominated by Fire / Agni, and without adequate amounts of this dosha, you will have no appetite and digestion, the key to absorbing nutrients will not take place. Pitta dosha is also responsible for imparting colour, complexion to the body and is the key dosha behind blood production.

However, when in excess, unchecked Pitta dosha can burn vision, increase anger and sharpness, can push the focus from safe to dangerous levels, and most pertinently for this blog post, turn hair grey , cause hair thinning, and aggravate premature balding and androgenic pattern baldness.

3.pitta greys and thins hair

Pitta can be aggravated due to 2 reasons: our nature and basic constitution is tending towards Pitta dosha, or we are constantly putting ourselves in situations or eating foods that are jacking up our natural pitta levels in the body.

 

Pitta nature: some clues

In cases of aggravated Pitta dosha, we look for a tendency towards decisiveness, a love for control, a need for getting things done completely, discomfort around ambiguity and many other signs that point to classic A type personalities. Pitta prakritis typically have reddish hues in their skin and hair. They are extremely uncomfortable in high heat, often sweating profusely, skin flushing quickly in the sun, and are prone to diarrhea, and other pitta related disorders.

6-pitta-prakriti

These people will typically have noticeably warm skin – we often see instances where they leave a heat imprint on the chair they are sitting (t will feel hot or warm to touch if they have left the chair), are quick to anger and stress, and describe themselves as being “full of heat”.

Pitta prakritis also gravitate towards pitta aggravating food – they love sour, salty and spicy foods like curd, tamarind, mangoes, pickles, etc. Their tolerance of these foods is much higher than others – but as the dosha builds unchecked, they can also develop an abnormal sensitivity to these foods, while continuing to crave them.

5.pitta craves pitta

Pitta prakritis tend to have fine hair with abundant oil production in their scalp and skin. The hair tends towards brown red tones and the strands are usually finer and not that thick. The skin has a noticeable amount of reddish tones – these are people who will have visible blushes and will burn easily in the sun.

Pitta aggravation usually results in premature greying, thinning of hair and male pattern baldness. As pitta prakriti hair is already fine and thinning, when the dosha is aggravated, the scalp becomes easily visible as the fineness of hair no longer covers the hair completely.

 

Situations / diets when Pitta dosha can get aggravated even if your basic nature does not have dominant Pitta prakriti

Eating a  high dose of pitta aggravating foods, especially if this is your go-to comfort food can push pitta very quickly out of control. For example, over-eating certain South Indian preparations like vathakuzhambu, tamarind based rasams, curd rice, pickles, over dependence on fermented foods like idli, dosa, can all push pitta dosha out of balance.

6.fermented foods high in pitta

In one instance we found that one of our consumers who was displaying pitta aggravated hairfall and greying had been eating a single item of breakfast every single day for a year out of convenience – either idli or dosa everyday – this would have definitely pushed her pitta dosha out of balance.

An increase in stress levels can also trigger your Pitta dosha – this is the dosha that helps you in the classic flight or fight situation – this is the dosha that will help you analyse the situation and decide your response. So if your stress levels are out of control, your pitta dosha will usually get aggravated.

An elevation at work, even if at a creative / satisfying job can mean greater levels of responsibility both for P&L and people – this usually demands that Pitta dosha comes to the party and give you necessary characteristics to cope with the situation. At stressful times, this can aggravate this dosha. This does not mean that you should expect to grey or go bald the minute you receive a promotion. It means that you should recognise the greater demands on your body with a  promotion and take adequate care to provide your body with the right foundation to handle this increased stress.

7.promotion pitta

 

 

Krya recommendations for Pitta aggravation:

Ayurveda teaches us that Pitta has 2 primary seats: the stomach and the head, so all Krya recommendations to bring aggravated Pitta under control concentrates on these 2 areas.

In order to harness the digestive Agni and ensure it is kept in balance, we advice the reduction of Pitta aggravating foods that can cause Agni to rage beyond control. We also add pitta reducing foods which are opposite in nature to Pitta to bring aggravated Pitta under balance: these include foods like coconut, bitters like bitter gourd, ghee which is tridoshic, Mung dal which is cooling and balancing in the stomach, and properly boiled milk which is cooling and nourishing to all dhatus.

8.cooling foods

Eating a steady quantity of food and on time is especially important in aggravated pitta – when Agni is very high and is not given food on time, it can rampage through the body and consume the dhatus leading to conditions like gastric ulcers. Therefore eating at the same time everyday nod eating a sufficient quantity of the right food is very important.

To physically cool the pitta generated by the activity of the eyes and the brain, we advise application of some of our Pitta balancing hair oils that have been formulated with classic pitta balancing herbs like Amla, Bhringaraj, etc.

4.krya classic hair oil

We also advise a regular abhyanga to bring down Pitta throughout the body. This helps dislodge excess pitta through the body and removes it through Sweda (sweat) and secretions from the eyes. It is extremely important during this abhyanga to ensure you do not sleep in the afternoon. This halts the removal of Pitta through the eyes, and Pitta can severely increase in the eyes leading to vision impairment.

 

Application of Herb based Kajal / Anjana

Application of anjana, or herb based Kajal (collyrium) is also very useful in aggravated Pitta. The Ayurvedic texts advice that Anjana should made from important herbs like Daruharidra, oils like castor oil and ghee. Please avoid all lead and petroleum based synthetic eye liners / fake kajals as these are a colossal waste of your time.

10.castor oil for kajal

The eyes are a specially designed organ system. Pitta dosha allows the vision to be focussed and helps the brain process the impulses seen and received by the eyes. But the entire organ itself is made up of fatty deposits which are important for the fine capillaries and other blood vessels that are present in the eyes.

Pitta cannot be allowed to increase unchecked in the eyes as it will consume these fat deposits and make the eye unstable and impair vision. This is why Ayurveda is so particular about eye care.

Pitta has to be continuously balanced in the brain and eye by using cooling oils on your scalp. The eye is to be washed frequently with cool water to remove excess pitta through the water. Anjana application helps both cool the eyes and also removes dirt that can build up in the fatty layer of the eye. This dirt is removed by use of herbs like Daruharidra which literally flushes dirt out through tear secretions from the eyes.

 

Harnessing pitta dosha through colours and clothing

Ayurveda also uses colour therapy and herbs to control aggravated doshas. Pitta dominant prakritis are asked to avoid wearing fire colours (red, orange) in general and use cooling pastel shades. At Krya, we advise wearing white dominated clothing in the evening when you have come back from work.

Similarly, if the linen in your home (curtains, upholstery) is in cool pastel shades, it helps balancing pitta aggravation. This is especially true in rooms where you rest and sleep in.

11. cooling sheers

Pitta prakritis also have a tendency to go overboard with stress and are unable to switch off. So at Krya, we advise adopting phone / laptop / work cut off time. We also advise taking up of a non work related hobby which channels that pitta dominant focus into another, unrelated pleasurable activity – vegetable gardening is something we have seen brings a lot of pleasure and helps balancing pitta dosha.

Silver, Milk, ghee and Moonlight are 4 naturally available cooling substances (and phenomena of nature) that are very useful for balancing pitta aggravation. So we advise sitting in moonlight on full moon nights to absorb the moon’s rays. Milk (when prepared properly) is very useful in cooling pitta and nourishing dhatus as is ghee.

Silver is a very good metal for Pitta aggravated prakritis – eating out of a small silver bowl / plate can help transfer the cooling properties of silver into your body and is a very strong traditional practice as well. Wearing silver, like traditionally silver anklets and toe rings were worn, helps transfer some of these cooling properties to your body. Please note that silver is traditionally worn only below the waist and gold is worn above the waist.

12.silver anklets

Our next few posts will describe the five other causes of hair fall as well. Through these, you should be able to gain an insight into your skin and hair as well, and help your body regain its balance and health.

 

4 critical practices that Krya recommends to keep pitta dosha in check:

  1. Daily Hair oiling – if your situation is very stressful or if your pitta is already out of control, daily hair oiling can keep you cool. Apply ¼ – ½ teaspoon of the Krya hair oil and massage well on scalp. Do not wash off. We have used this very successfully in the case of consumers whose job demands extreme travel in the sun, people in high stress, and pitta aggravation brought on by improper diet. The reduction in excess pitta is quite instant and dramatic.
  2. Addition of cow ghee to the diet: eat atleast 1 teaspoon of melted cow ghee per meal every day, especially in high stress times. Cow ghee is good in beneficial fats and especially helps you think and focus well in stressful times.
  3. Drastically cut down on sour and spicy food especially if your pitta is already aggravated- we recommend a total ban on sour foods like tamarind, tomatoes, curd, mangoes and amchur and completely eliminating red and green chillies and pickles from your diet. Commercial Chinese food is also a culprit in pitta aggravation – ajinomoto is both processed and commercial Chinese food uses a high amount of acidic foods. Cutting down these foods drastically helps slow down premature greying . You will notice a difference in body heat and hair strength within a month.
  4. Head to toe Abhyanga in the first hour of sunrise with warm oil . You will notice the greatest benefits if you combine Keshya abhyanga along with full body abhyanga . This abhyanga is best done as close to sunrise as possible as this gives the body the entire day to release excess pitta. Ensure that you do not strain digestive system on this day with heavy food as this can undo the benefits of the abhyanga.

 

Krya products recommended for Pitta aggravated hair fall like hair thinning, fineness, premature greying, and related hair loss:

  1. Krya Classic Hair system (consists of an oil, wash and hair mask) – the entire system is formulated using classic pitta balancing herbs like Amla, Bhringaraj, Methi, Hibiscus flower, etc.
    1. The Krya Classic hair oil noticeably brings down aggravated Pitta and has been rated by our consumers very highly to improve hair growth and hair strength.
    2. The Krya Classic hairwash gently cleanses without stripping hair of natural sebum.
    3. The Krya Classic hair mask is designed for use once a week – it uses pitta balancing and hair growth promoting herbs to help the health of your hair and scalp
  2. The Krya Abhyanga system for Men and Women (consists of the Krya Abhyanga oil and either a Women’s ubtan or a Men’s ubtan. ) The system is designed to balance aggravated vata and pitta dosha. Most urban dwellers additionally have aggravated vata dosha due to their long commutes, nature of work, uncertain eating timings, etc. This together pushes vata dosha along with pitta dosha out of balance
    1. The Krya Abhyanga skin oil with Vacha and Ashwagandha noticeably brings down aggravated vata and pitta. Users report seeing a reduction in vata related aches and pains and balancing of excess pitta through the body with regular use.
    2. The Krya Abhyanga bath powder for Women with Lotus Leaf and Lodhra – formulated to cleanse skin after an abhyanga. Helps remove excess oil, dead cells, debris for the skin without stripping it of moisture. Prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors as a natural soap substitute.
    3. The Krya Abhyanga bath powder for Men with Vetiver & Van Tulsi – formulated to cleanse skin after an abhyanga. Helps remove excess oil, dead cells, debris for the skin without stripping it of moisture.
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