Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ayurveda Explains Why We Need To Eat Less As We Age

Some people might be thinking that they didn't hear about this eating less thing as they age.  And they may not be too happy about it. Grey hair and wrinkles aren't bad enough...now we have to eat less?

Our bodies are made up of cells.  All living things, large or small, plant or animal, are made up of cells. Cells are very small usually only being able to be seen through a microscope. Cells are the smallest living units that are capable of reproducing themselves, and each cell in the body was made from an already existing cell. All parts of  the body are made up of cells, which can vary depending on their location and function.  Like all living things, cells die, but they can be replaced by new cells.  As we age, this process of replicating slows down.  No single process can explain all the changes in a cell due to aging but we can minimize the aging process with lifestyle habits.

The activity of proteins within a cell is a key factor in the health and lifespan of cells and therefore living creatures. Ribosomes are structures in the cells that synthesize proteins.  As we age ribosomes slow down thereby allowing protein synthesis to slow as well.  This is actually a mechanism to help slow down aging, as it allows time for cellular repair and processes that recycle old or dead cells.

If protein synthesis is slowing down, this means cells can get overwhelmed and stressed if there is too much protein and nutrition going in the cell.  It becomes a burden to process, which then interrupts this special time allowing for cellular repair.  Instead the ribosomes are forced to rev up which contradicts the natural process.  Recent scientific research has shown calorie restriction to slow down the ribosomes and allow more time for cellular regeneration.

In Ayurveda, the older years, which start in our mid-fifties, begins vata time.  Winter is also vata time.  Think of winter when growth and greenery look like they are shut down.  Yet, in winter, the vegetation is getting ready for a new time of growth by resting.  There is little nourishment in terms of sunlight, but the inner workings of a tree or flower exist and will manifest at the appropriate time.  In the vata time of aging, we can assist the process by eating less (calorie restriction like the research shows) and resting more.  We don't have to starve, rather we choose nutrient dense foods that are warm and nourishing, choosing to eat less often.

Rather than being disappointed by the change in diet, we can look forward to some of the other benefits of the vata body type.  Things like communication, thinking, creativity and social activity are all awesome gifts of a balanced vata type.  We can choose resiliency with the cycles of life as it changes, bringing us growth and happiness.

Stay healthy & well,
Lisa

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why Do Yogi's Have Healthy Habits?

It seems like many of the people who practice spiritual enlightenment (like Eastern philosophy, religion, Buddhism, etc.) seem to be naturally drawn to simple lifestyles. They have a routine that emphasizes spiritual practice and learning but they seem to have a routine to take care of their bodies too.  Generally, they eat lighter, have a basic exercise program, go to sleep early, rise early and make time for good deeds (like helping the needy, sick and lonely).  There is a vibe of equanimity, which means mental calmness, composure and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

What makes a yogi have these qualities? Is it the spiritual leaning or is it the physical lifestyle? I think it is a symbiotic cycle that begins with the intent to infuse their life with meaning.  The mind and heart can desire something but it does not exist unless the body works in the physical world to create it.  When the body takes action, the desirous thing exists. For example, one may want to help the poor. Until one gives money time or effort, the desire to help the poor remains a thought and never really comes into existence.  Everyone gives on the level they are able.  Some people give a few dollars because that is all they can do. Another person may organize a weekly event where care packages are made and delivered to homeless shelters.  Planning the weekly event takes clarity.

When someone wants to succeed, they try to plan and figure out the best way.  this takes mental clarity.  A yogi wants to attain spiritual connection but they live in a body that needs tending.  This body needs adequate, proper care to feel good.  A body that feels good has a better chance of having a clear mind, loving emotions and an openness to learn. This is the root of the yogi's healthy habits.

Think how you feel when you wake up refreshed, have daily elimination, are a healthy weight and a working digestive system.  Is it hard to remember the last time you felt like that? Maybe it is time to trade some outdated habits for new, innovative habits that will sky rocket your mental clarity and body health.  Ayurveda has a great daily routine that will have you feeling like a yogi in no time.  I am happy to introduce you to it anytime.

Stay healthy & well,
Lisa

Monday, January 30, 2017

Coriander:The Herb That Can Prevent Metal Toxicity & More

Ayurveda teaches that a food is determined as healthy when it is in harmony with the person eating and the foods that a person is eating.  Essentially there are six tastes (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, pungent and astringent), and certain body (dosha) types do better with certain foods based on the energetics of the food itself.  For example, kapha types should favor foods that are bitter, pungent and astringent to help balance the sometimes heavy, slow moving quality of kapha.

Historically and today many foods are classified as nutritious and healthy because they have been shown to heal and prevent certain health conditions and illnesses.  For example, turmeric has been shown to be a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant among many of its other benefits.  Ayurveda refines the process of using food and herbs as medicine by tailoring the quantity for each individual.

Coriander in Ayurveda is considered beneficial for all body types to a certain extent.  It is especially helpful for digestion as it enkindles the digestive fire while simultaneously cooling and soothing the GI tract.  This helps eliminate gas, spasms and promotes absorption of food.  Coriander has also been shown to have antimicrobial substances that help fight disease and infection.  It has been shown to prevent the absorption of heavy metals and toxins that are found in many seafood and meats today.  Coriander, when eaten at the same time as foods containing metals and toxins, prevents absorption of these pollutants in the body.  The presence of metals in the body has been shown to increase the likelihood of Alzheimer's and memory loss.  Using the coriander as a condiment or as a sauce with meals is practical way to benefit from its purifying qualities.

Coriander has been around for thousands of years and used for many ailments in ancient medical practices.  Rediscover this healthy herb and enjoy its taste and health benefits.

Stay healthy & well,
Lisa

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Brahmi-The Amazing Ayurvedic Brain Tonic

Brain tonic sounds a little strange and a bit of an over sell.  By way of background, the name of this herb is derived in Ayurveda for the highest state of consciousness, one of unity and of God.

Back here on earth,  brahmi (centella asiatica) is one of the most powerful brain remedies in the Ayurvedic 'pharmacy.' Interestingly, the leaf of the brahmi plant resembles the cerebellum and is used to promote memory and intelligence, to relax the central nervous system, to support restful sleep, to calm emotional turbulence and to improve concentration and alertness.  Brahmi is used in many traditional herbal formulations to aid the mental component that is so necessary for holistic health.

Recent studies show that hidden in the walls of the digestive system is a second brain.  Specifically, this 'brain' is the enteric nervous system (ENS), which is composed of  two thin layers of close to 100 million nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum. This brain has powerful links between digestion, mood and health.  Its main role is to control all aspects of digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food and the circulation that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination,

For decades, it was thought that anxiety and depression contributed to digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome and weak digestion. However, studies are showing that it may be the other way around,  Irritation in the gastrointestinal system sends distress signals to the central nervous system that triggers mood changes.  This explains why people with bowel and digestion issues tend to be disproportionately more depressed and anxious, seeming to develop more of theses mental problems when the bowel and digestion issues continue or worsen.

Brahmi's therapeutic reach is beyond the mind.  Ayurveda teaches that brahmi supports healthy skin, lymph and circulatory functions. In particular, Brahmi seems to balance the inner skin that lines the digestive tract.  Healthy skin in the digestive tract supports healthy microbes, which aid in the production of neurotransmitters, which supports a healthy mood and cognitive function.

While modern science has recently connected digestive health to mind and emotional health, Ayurveda knew the connection many, many years ago.

Stay healthy & well,
Lisa

Monday, December 19, 2016

Is Protein Your Go To Diet Food?

When dieting, people tend to load up on the protein.  Why not? It is filling and feels satisfying, so the dieter won't feel as tempted to snack or fill up on unhealthy carbohydrates.  Eating more protein is frequently recommended for weight loss because it does help reduce appetite and it slows down digestion which prevents harmful blood sugar spikes. Further, the body certainly requires protein as the amino acids from protein are the primary building blocks for muscles, bones and enzymes. Aging and pregnancy make consuming sufficient amounts of high-quality protein especially important.

Ayurveda teaches about balance because extremism has negative drawbacks.  Excess protein has significant health risks. There is an upper limit to how much protein a body can actually use, and anything exceeding that requirement will speed up the aging process and cause related health problems like increasing the risk for cancer, kidney disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.

Protein tends to make cells multiply faster, which is beneficial in early life when a child is growing.  But, when cell growth is not needed, it can be a huge negative.  Excess unnecessary cell growth is a risk for cancer.  Cancer is the growth of unwanted, diseased cells.

The body only digests and absorbs a certain amount of protein at every meal, which is about about 20 to 40 grams.  The recommended RDA is 46 grams of protein for women and 56 for men.  This can be easily met with a cup of cooked chicken being 44 grams of protein.

The excess protein your body cannot absorb or use isn't handled well by the body.  In Ayurveda, this excess waste is called ama which is a root cause of many illnesses.  In modern terms, the excess protein will convert into sugar and then into body fat. This is very similar to what happens with a high carbohydrate diet.

There are other healthy options that can give the body abundant nutrients and energy like whole grains, fats, fruits and vegetables.  Real foods in balanced amounts are what both Ayurveda and modern medicine recommend.

Stay healthy & well,
Lisa