Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ayurveda Approach To A Light Diet

According to ayurveda, it is important to know how to eat properly when the digestive fire or agni is low. A lighter diet is recommended when one has a fever, flu, cold or diarrhoea, when one is recuperating from an illness, and during panchakarma-the ayurvedic rejuvenation program. Women should eat a lighter diet during menstruation and menopause. Children often need light yet nutritious diets. If you are under the care of a physician, or before making changes to your existing diet, it is recommended that you check with your physician.

During those periods when internal systems are functioning at less than optimal levels, agni, the fire of digestion, becomes weak and one has to gradually increase the strength of the digestive fire to regain energy and health. Neither a heavy diet nor fasting is recommended during these times. When the digestive fires are low, consuming heavy foods and meals can overtax the digestion. Any existing imbalance in body and mind is then further aggravated by the accumulation of ama, toxic residue from undigested food.

A light diet consists of food that quickly tranforms into rasa or bodily tissue, creating new healthy cells. These foods are lighter and therefore digest quickly and easily. The single most important food in the light diet from the ayurvedic perspective is split mung dahl.

Split mung beans may be purchased in an Asian grocery store. They are green mung beans that have been split and skinned. They cook quickly and balance all three doshas. Khichri, a nutritious combination of rice, mung beans, vegetables, spices and Ghee, is an excellent one-dish meal for people on lighter diets.

If one is ill and has little or no appetite then a special warm drink called Kanji water may be made from either split mung beans or organic brown rice. 1-2 liters of warm kanji water can be drunk through the day in between light meals. Kanji water delivers instant nutrition to the body.

It provides carbohydrates, giving the body energy, and helps build more strength in the body in general. Kanji water is an excellent source of energy whenever the body is dehydrated or depleted from an illness. It is also good if you are trying to lose weight as a satisfying snack during the day. Kanji water balances vata because it is warm, it balances pitta due to its liquid and watery texture and it balances kapha because it produces perspiration which releases toxins through the skin. It therefore balances all three doshas and brings agni into balance.

To make Kanji water: 14 parts water1 part organic brown ricepinches of salt, fresh ground ginger, cumin
Bring water and rice to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 hour or until the rice becomes swollen and broken. Stir and strain out rice. However it is not necessary to strain out small pieces of rice. Add a pinch each of ginger, ground cumin and salt. Pour into a thermos and drink through the day.

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