Sunday, January 7, 2018

Why Canola Oil Is Not Recommended In Ayurveda

Ayurveda teaches that the food we eat should be natural and in its most wholesome, unprocessed state.

People who advocate canola oil do so because it is low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats. It is also inexpensive to produce and has a light flavor that makes it versatile in cooking. However, canola oil is not natural.  It is manufactured from rapeseed plants, which contain high levels of erucic acid.  The rapeseed plant is genetically engineered to reduce levels of erucic acid as it is toxic to humans. The oil is then processed through several chemical baths before being bleached and labeled as canola oil.

Ayurveda and modern science recommend healthy fats because they are needed for both brain and body health. Interestingly, the human brain is almost 60 percent fat, and the brain needs fatty acids to function optimally and maintain itself.  Essential fatty acids (EFA) cannot be made by the body. Rather, they must be obtained from dietary sources.  Healthy fats also promote the absorption of many vitamins and minerals.

A recent study found mice that were fed two tablespoons of canola oil a day had weight gain and severe progression of Alzheimer disease. Another recent study found that mice fed extra virgin olive oil  performed significantly better on testing that evaluated the animals' working memory, spatial memory and ability to learn. Further, these mice had reduced levels of amyloid plaques and had an increased ability to clear out toxins that hinder brain function.

Historically, the rapeseed plant was used as a lubricant for machinery in World War II. When it wasn't needed for war machinery anymore, it was creatively repackaged and reformulated as a cooking oil. Unfortunately, the new version of the rapeseed is not healthy and causes great harm to the body as recent scientific studies have found.

Ayurveda didn't need any studies. Rapeseed in it natural form has high levels of the toxic substance erucic, and changing it around with chemical processing does not hide its unhealthy roots. Eating pure and unprocessed is the best way (and the Ayurvedic way).

Stay healthy & well,

Thursday, December 28, 2017

How Ayurveda Views the Latest Food Trend

I have always been a foodie. I love to eat and I love to hear about food. As I have been on a simultaneous journey of health, I also look for healthier food choices and experiment how I can make a food trend better for me to eat. Reading about the latest food trend in the Wall Street Journal is fun for me, plain and simple.

To fill you in, fixed meal times are out. People are too busy for long lunches and dinners. Food will be eaten more as a nosh or snack on the go. The options in restaurants will be flexible depending on the time of day. Morning having breakfast options like avocado toasts, fruit or muffins with the afternoons and evenings building in heavier fare like chicken, salad, sandwiches and wine. All the food will be served quickly and will be in small snack like portions. The decor will be more homey, sitting on couches or living room chairs to feel like a quick break rather than a formal meal. Restaurants will also expand take out options so food can be had any time and eaten any place.

While the latest food trend is focusing on convenience and nibbling, it is not a lifestyle recommended by Ayurveda. Ayurveda teaches that our lives should have a daily routine that syncs with our natural circadian body rhythm. Eating and sleeping should be done around the same time everyday.  Additionally, digestion is a process that takes 4 to 6 hours. Ideally, there should be a heavy meal at midday, when digestion is strongest, and lighter meals in the morning and evening. Snacking is not recommended because it interferes with the digestive process. Meals should also be eaten in a calm, relaxed manner without distractions of electronic devices.

While the Ayurvedic eating recommendations seem stodgy or snail like, they give the benefit of strong digestion and health. The nutrients in food are more readily absorbed, optimizing body function. Good digestion means less gas, bloating and toxic build up. Metabolism is strong, helping one maintain a good body weight.

Trends come and go but classics are always in style.

Stay healthy & well,

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Weight Loss, Metabolism and Calories is Only Half the Story

Weight loss is always on people's minds. Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle with busy schedules not allowing for self care tools like exercise, healthy meal preparation and sleep.  Everyone knows they need to eat less, exercise and get adequate sleep so they are not looking for sugary foods to give them quick energy boosts. Getting started and staying the course are the hardest parts.

Ayurveda advocates a holistic approach of bringing the body to balance with healthy lifestyle routines and allowing the natural intelligence of the body to maintain health. Babies are usually born healthy and perfect. It is the poor lifestyle choices that interfere with our health, making us think that aging means our health declines.

To promote weight loss, Ayurveda will begin with digestion. When the body is able to digest foods, assimilate nutrients and eliminate toxins, metabolism is strong and weight gain does not occur as easily. Further, we are feeling good, so it is easier to make the necessary choices to create good health.

Digestion begins in the mouth and occurs with taste. The taste of a food impacts our metabolism and the ability to digest. This is why current scientific research is finding that the sweet taste of diet soda contributes to diabetes despite no actual sugar being consumed.  The metabolic response of the body to sweet flavored diet soda produces the same body mechanisms that real sugar produces. Ayurveda recommends that people balance all six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent) with their body type (dosha) in mind.

Promoting good digestion also requires eating in a relaxed manner, eating until 75% full, eating food the body can recognize and many other simple lifestyle choices that an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner can help guide a person to.

While involving many aspects of our life into weight loss seems like a lot, the benefits of getting more than simple weight loss will make our whole life and health better.

Stay healthy & well,

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Does How Fast You Eat Matter?

In our busy 24/7 society, the more we accomplish the better. Even more praiseworthy is the ability to do more quickly.

How many times do people use the expression, "I am just going to grab a quick bite." After all, taking time to eat seems a little self indulgent. Most people pick up your breakfast and lunch at the drive through and eat it fast in the car or on the train, trying to finish before the next task. This is considered efficiency and discipline.

Ayurveda teaches that one should eat meals slowly, taking time to chew and enjoy the meal. Meals should be eaten in a quiet, pleasant atmosphere as this promotes good digestion. When one digests food well, nutrients are absorbed and waste is eliminated. Poor digestion allows toxins (ama) to build up which causes illness and weight gain.

While it would seem that calories in is what causes weight gain, that is only part of the story. Digestion is an important body process that is essential for good health. Young people can get away with poor digestive habits for a awhile. Then as a person ages, poor health habits add up and cause illness and uncomfortable symptoms in the body. First, poor digestion manifests as gas, bloating, acid reflux, constipation or food sensitivities. Next real illness sets in causing other diseases like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more.

A recent scientific study has found continuing the habit of fast eating was connected with greater weight gain, higher blood sugar, higher levels of low-density lipoprotein ('bad' cholesterol) and a larger waistline. The participants in the study were tracked over five years and those with fast eating habit were at a much higher risk for developing the listed problems or had begun experiencing them.

Eating fast is only a short cut to poor health and weight gain. Yes, how fast you eat does matter.

Stay healthy & well,

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ayurveda Can Explain Why The Time Of Day Matters For Wound Healing

New research has established that wounds sustained at night heal significantly slower than wounds received during the day. The accelerated daytime wound healing occurred because the skin cells moved more rapidly to repair the wound and there was also more collagen (the main structural protein in skin) deposited around the wound site. The study acknowledged that circadian rhythms regulate almost every cell in the body, and manage many processes such as sleeping, hormone secretion and metabolism in a 24 hour period, but the study heads thought our bodies have evolved to compensate to heal as we are likelier to become wounded during the day when we are typically more busy.

Ayurveda teaches the importance of our body's internal natural clock, also known as circadian rhythm.  When we live in sync with nature's clock, we feel balanced and healthy. In Ayurveda, there are two 12 hour cycles that are each divided into three smaller cycles. Each 4 hour smaller cycle within each 12 hour cycle is governed by the three doshas (vata, pitta & kapha), which are also body types.  Establishing a routine that jives with the basic cycles is a powerful healing tool.

In Ayurveda, night is the time for sleep which gives our bodies and minds a time to regenerate, an essential component for health. Even modern science has found shift workers that work the night shift have poorer health and are at a higher risk for many diseases.

The hypothalamus, a section of the brain that governs many functions such as thirst, hunger, mood, libido and more, is affected by the light received from the eye. Specifically, cells in the retina send information about light to the hypothalamus, which will then regulate the glands and their hormone secretions. Light received at night causes the body system to become active, which is really disrupting the body's sleep process. The surge in activity disturbs the beneficial processes that occur at night during sleep. Further, even if the body becomes 'awake' it is going against the natural sleep system, which will handicap the normal 'awake' state activities.

Wound sustained at night cannot heal as well because they were received at a time when the body would naturally be in a restful, inactive state. Ayurveda and science both agree. The body's natural circadian rhythm can be used in many other areas to promote happiness and well being.

Stay healthy & well,