Ayurveda is a holistic healing system developed in India over 3,000 years ago. In this article I'm going to share with you some Ayurvedic tips that can help you to thrive today. You'll also discover some basic Indian spices that are flavorful and healthy to use.
As someone who spent a lot of time living in India, I have great respect for this ancient healing system.
I recently interviewed Chef Manisha Patel, who has a master's degree in food science. And we covered everything from the food system in the U.S. to Ayurvedic principles that kept her kids super healthy. In fact, her kids never visited the doctor for anything other than their annual checkups, and never took a single medication!
Just by feeding them nourishing Indian healthy food, Manisha was able to keep her twins thriving. In our interview she also shared a simple Indian home remedy recipe and revealed what spices she always has in her masala dabba spice tin. One simple herb she uses is Tulsi, or holy basil. I have since fallen in love with drinking this Tulsi tea in the morning.
What does Ayurveda mean?
The word Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words "ayur" (life) and "veda" (science or knowledge). So Ayurveda means the science of life. But are there Ayurvedic tips we can apply to modern life? Fortunately the answer is yes!
Are there Ayurvedic tips regarding diet?
There isn't one general Ayurvedic diet. Each person eats in a unique way based on their dosha. You might ask, "what is a dosha?" The answer is that a dosha is a body type or constitution, governed by certain forces in nature. And there are three doshas. They are as follows:
- Vata Dosha - People with this dominant dosha tend to be thin, active and creative. Think of the qualities of air with this dosha. When out of balance, those with the vata dosha can experience anxiety.
- Pitta Dosha - This dosha is a fiery one! People with a dominant pitta dosha tend to be social, outgoing, athletic and focused. When they are out of balance they can experience anger and impatience.
- Kapha Dosha - A dominant kapha dosha is governed by earthy qualities. People with a kapha dosha are calm, strong and steady. But when out of balance weight gain is an issue for them.
Everyone has one main dosha, a secondary dosha and even a little of a third dosha.
Understanding your main dosha and learning more about it is helpful when it comes to health. Adjusting your diet can help to bring you back in balance when needed. For example, if you love spicy hot food but you have a pitta imbalance, this could lead to too much heat in the body.
You see, in Ayurvedics, the temperature of foods are also considered to have an impact on our health. Food can have a cooling or warming effect. In the case of the pitta imbalance an Ayurvedic practitioner would likely recommend more cooling foods like cucumber to bring balance.
So generally these would be the food guidelines for each dosha:
- Vatta — Focus on hearty, warming foods. Think stews!
- Pitta - Emphasize more cool, refreshing foods. Cucumber salad with a mint dressing would be perfect.
- Kapha - More lightly cooked or raw types of foods. Stir-fries and steamed food are examples of lightly cooked food.
This is a very simplistic explanation of a sophisticated and complex system. But you at least have a very basic understanding of Ayurvedics at this point.
How do I know which Dosha I am? Take a Dosha quiz!
There are many free online quizzes like this that you can take to discover which main dosha you are.
Simple Ayurvedic Tips for Everyone
So what are some simple Ayurvedic tips we can apply to daily life? Here are a few of my personal favorites.
1. Incorporate the 6 tastes into your meals
Your meals will taste more satisfying when you have each of the six tastes present. What are these six tastes and examples of each one?
- Sweet: Carbohydrates like whole brown rice, cooked squash and natural sugars like maple syrup
- Sour: Vinegar, citrus fruit and fermented foods like sauerkraut
- Salty: Miso, sea salt and soy sauce
- Pungent: Spicy foods like jalapeno pepper, but even mild forms like ginger and garlic
- Bitter: Sesame seeds; dark, leafy greens like kale and herbs like parsley
- Astringent: Legumes, bananas and cranberries
A side note to this tip is to think of spices and herbs as medicine. The right spices can help to balance your dosha. In my interview with Chef Manisha she shares what spices are always in her masala dabba.
2. Eat a light dinner before 8 pm
Your body needs to rest and repair during the night. Why weigh it down with a heavy meal or by eating late at night? Ayurvedic teachings say that our digestive fire is stronger earlier in the day, so it's best to keep the evening meal very easy to digest. This goes along with the intermittent fasting concept that we can give our body a break every day by eating a light and early dinner. Not eating anything again until breakfast gives us a fasting period every 24 hours.
3. Use a tongue scraper
This might seem unusual if you've never tried it, but trust me, once you try using a tongue scraper there is no turning back. You will be startled what comes off the surface of your tongue. In Ayurveda they call it toxins and it is strongly recommended to remove it. It's especially helpful first thing in the morning before we drink anything to avoid swallowing the bacteria.Print
There is much wisdom and inspiration we can gain from Ayurveda. Here are some quotes to leave you with:
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
― Ayurvedic Proverb
“The Ayurvedic route to great health involves two simple steps:
1. Doing less;
2. Being more.”
“Because we cannot scrub our inner body we need to learn a few skills to help cleanse our tissues, organs, and mind. This is the art of Ayurveda.”
― Sebastian Pole, Discovering the True You with Ayurveda: How to Nourish, Rejuvenate, and Transform Your Life
“Ayurveda is a sister philosophy to yoga. It is the science of life or longevity and it teaches about the power and the cycles of nature, as well as the elements.”
― Christy Turlington
I hope you enjoyed these tips and learning about such a powerful holistic health approach as Ayurvedics. Let me know in the comments which tip resounds the most with you!