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Ayurveda and Macronutrients - Student Blog

Western Nutrition focuses mainly on macronutrients that provide calories or energy to the body. It is believed that the macronutrients are needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Macro means large and so macronutrients are nutrients that are needed in large amounts. The three macronutrients include: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. According to Western Dietary guidelines, 45% to 65% of a person's calories should come from carbohydrates, 10% to 35% should come from protein, and 20% to 35% should come from fat. Western nutrition also is based on the idea that everyone should eat the same way.

Ayurveda nutrition is quite different fron Western nutrition. Ayurveda recognizes that everyone is different and unique. Just as humans have a unique gentetic makeup, Ayurveda recognizes that everyone is born with a unique individual birth constitution known as a Vata, Pitta, and Kapha dosha. When examining the doshas, it's important to make a distinction between a balanced versus an imbalanced state. Ayurveda classifies food according to the six tastes, not by carbohydrates, proteins or fats. Ayurveda also considers the potency of the six tastes, which is named virya and the post-digestive effect, which is named vipak. According to Ayurveda nutrition the six tastes each have a warmling or cooling effect on the body. The virya refers to the immediate heating or cooling effect that a particular food has on our physiology. Foods that are predominantly cooling include: sweet, bitter and astringent and pungent, salty and sour foods contain heating qualities or viryas.

Ayurveda also recognizes that tastes transform during the course of digestion and the effects of the final tastes are consistent with the six tastes. Food effects our mental and emotional state by using sweet tastes to calm the Vata mind and cool the Pitta mind. Sour tastes can sharpen the mind. Salty tastes can calm an anxious mind and easily excite a Pitta mind. When used in excess by Kapha types, it promotes greed. A bitter taste can be cooling and clearing of the mind. Pungent taste enlivens the Kapha mind and causes all doshas to become more extroverted. Astingent taste tames the over-confidence of Pitta types and over-complacenty of Kapha types.

According to Ayurveda health begins with proper digestion. The primary function of the digestive system is to bring essential nutriants into the body's internal environment. In the Western culture the importance of proper digestion is widely neglected. Symtoms such as indigestion, heartburn, bloating, and constipation are treated as normal occurances. According to Ayurvedic beliefs digestion refers to the individual's overall agni. After assessing a person's current doshic state, agni is the most important factor in determining dietary needs. It is a fact that everyone digests food differently. Ayurveda identifies improving agni by using spices.

Ayurveda teaches that proper digestion eventually leads to the production of ojas, which directly influences physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual life.

Western culture states how food is required for life, energy and feeding the body, but it neglects to describe how food becomes your body.

Gretchen Pound
AWP Practitioner Program, Block 2

What is Nutrition? Student Blog Part 3

First let us look at the word nutrition. What does it mean? Nu-tri-tion- The process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth. - nourishment

American nutrition has a long history of over coming hardships from the effects of being such a new country, war, and natural disasters. When settlers first came to america they were faced with many challenges. Unless settling near port cities one would find them selves eating off the land and followed more of a seasonal diet. In more populated communities with a diverse amount of people you could find a diverse diet similar to the homelands from which they came.

After WW2 The american economy had tanked. Through the process of solving how to feed the troops abroad the processed foods industry was born. Finding that by processing foods, heating them to extremes and adding chemical derivatives the shelf life of a product was prolonged by a considerable amount, and can be sold for very little money.

There was also a campaign to popularize the consumption of meat and dairy in the late 40's. This created factory farming and therefor many jobs, which is why there is so much marketing, and support from the government to keep the people consuming mass amounts of meat and dairy. It is interesting that some of the largest government subsidiaries are corn, sugar, dairy, and beef. The FDA even ran campaign saying that high fructose corn syrup is a healthy source of sugar. High fructose has been proven to cause cancer, as well as over consumption of meat,and dairy products.

Growing up a meal just wasn't complete with out a serving of meat (protein + fat ), a generous portion of some kind of starch like potatoes or bread (carbohydrate) a small amount a vegetables (micronutrients), and of course there was always dessert.

It seems to me that American diet is heavily influenced by big business, marketing companies, and in turn government. There is an idea that a calorie is a calorie, and all foods effect all people the same. Ayurveda sees the intake of food as a means to create and sustain harmony and balance in the individual, as well as the collective. Not eating foods that are harmfully produced, that negatively effect the planet and our selves.

Ayurveda- life science, knowledge, intelligence. Ayurvedic philosophy looks at many things when recommending a diet for an individual. Acknowledging that we are all pranic beings vibrating within different frequencies. Ayurveda also acknowledges that plants and animals are also pranic beings vibrating at different frequencies. Depending on your prakruti, vikruti, digestive movements, amount of acidity in the body, clarity in thought process, emotional state of being, quality of relationships, and many many more factors are considered when recommending a diet. But it is not just a diet it is an act of healing and self love. Food is a manifestation of Gods love, our relationship with food is a reflection of our love for self and God. An Ayurvedic diet encourages eating local, organic whole foods, to avoid creating negative karma. Everything that you ingest has a vibration or karma be it negative or positive. You ingest all the karma that the food has absorbed. The main focus of Ayurvedic diet is to balance the rasa for your individual experience.

In all I would say that Ayurveda is a science that uses intelligence rooted deep in Love, to create healing meals for the individual. Ayurveda says that what nourishes and is good for me may actually put you out of balance. Ayurveda looks to treat the whole being as a unique phenomenon. Where as western nutrition says what is good for one is good for all. Just count your calories.

I realize that with change comes some amount of fear but there can also be great excitement. Changing our concepts, ideas,and relationship with the foods we eat can be a challenge. But you do not have to take it all on at once. It is your inherent nature to be drawn towards balance, and Ayurveda is here to show you the way.

By Nicole Gleave
AWP BLOCK 2 Student

Ayurveda and Western Nutrition - Student Blog part 2

WESTERN VERSUS AYURVEDIC NUTRITION

Dietary management in western nutrition follows the US food guidelines, set forth by the FDA. Nutritionists help clients these guidelines to maintain healthy eating. The diet consists of various portions from different food groups. The good groups include “protein, grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy. Modifications are made to the guideline as needed to help patients manage several diseases. For example, for patients with diabetes, modification may include changes in rations of carbohydrates to proteins, with an overall daily intake of decreased carbohydrates and increased proteins. Based on the western concepts of nutrition, calorie intake is seen as significant and as a culture facing diseases like obesity and other “food related” disorders (metabolic syndromes), lower calorie intake is usually recommended.

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Importance of Protein - Ayurveda and Western Perspectives

Over the decades, Western Nutrition has become increasingly influenced by powerful agribusinesses. Meat, dairy, and grain lobbyists have become formidable forces that have shaped food guidelines and government policies.

Even more sinister perhaps, are drug companies that work hand-in-hand with meat, egg, and dairy farms. Together, these industries have done a phenomenal job of marketing the importance of their products in the diet of every American. Therefore, the Western diet places a heavy emphasis on protein, especially in the form of animal products—fish, dairy, eggs, and meat (marketed as the only complete sources of protein) as well as carbohydrates from breads and grains. Vegetables and fruits are given secondary importance. Furthermore, the Western diet is one that is “one-size-fits-all”. There is little to no attention paid to an individual’s unique physical characteristics, state of mind, age or gender.

Any variation of the Western diet that touts a novel approach to nutrition usually ends up in retrospect, as being labeled a crazy fad diet of yesteryear. Such diets push their own agendas, present skewed arguments and interpretations of science, and hawk their own dietary supplements, videos, and recipe books. At first, such diets are phenomenally successful. They create miraculous results for the small segment of society that can afford to buy into their philosophy and purchase their products. But this fame is short-lived as these diets’ serious scientific flaws are discovered--causing their failure, and rapid downfall. They quickly fade into obsolescence as they are deserted by even the most loyal devotees.

The final indignity dealt to these once-elite diets can be seen when their literature remains unclaimed at the bottom of the bin marked “FREE” at any neighborhood garage sale.

Ayurvedic Nutrition, on the other hand, is highly individualized. It takes into account the fact that each person has a specific prakruti, vikruti, personality, and distinct level of spiritual awareness. In addition to these factors, age, regionality, and season also function as modifiers of the Ayurvedic diet.

The tenets of Western diet have been pushed deeply into the collective psyche of the American people, starting with the introduction of the Food Pyramid at a young age. The modern twist of the pyramid, “My Plate” is hardly different in its dogmatic approach. Therefore, it is very difficult to convince the average Western diet that massive protein intake and animal products are not necessary for good health. However, as Ayurvedic Practitioners, we must take this challenge upon ourselves to change these ways of thinking by becoming tireless in our repetition of the eternal truths behind Ayurvedic principles and Vedic philosophy.

By Aparna Dandekar, D.O.
AWP BLOCK 2

Ayurvedic Diet Principles Differ from Western Nutrition

In terms of differences, Western nutrition is focused on the mechanical composition of food and classifying those components. The emphasis is the amount of energy needed from a mechanical standpoint to combust food and is applied as a standard to how much energy the body will derive from food. The componentization of food starts at the macro to micro level and includes the derivation of very subtle components and their application toward disease and health. The effect of food is considered to be uniform for each individual regardless of additives and preparation.

Ayurveda, by contrast, is focused on the composition of foods from the cosmological and the effect of that food on all levels of the body including the various digestive affects, inner state, and physical manifestations. The componentization of food is derived from the taste of the food and its effects on the body instead of externalization in a lab. The environment, individual impact, and preparation is of vital importance to the effect of the food itself.

Since the emphasis of these two perspectives is so different, there can be challenges when presenting Ayurvedic Nutrition to Westerners who know nothing but Western nutrition. One of the challenges is the simple acceptance of the model itself. Telling Vata-types to eat a heavier grounding foods that may be very sattvic, grounding, and Vata-reducing is hard to accept when the Western nutrition mindset typically says that fats are not great for health. This requires a delicate, but intentional presentation of Ayurveda concepts in a way that educates, but doesn’t overwhelm. One can’t argue with results.

Another challenge that arises is the patience and motivation necessary to follow a food based Ayurveda Nutrition path than the almost prescription model of nutrition in the West. This is an extension of the magic potion mentality prevalent in Western thought that one can take a pill, not make any lifestyle evaluation or changes, and still achieve health.

By contrast, the Ayurveda nutrition model can be seen as more difficult because it asks that not only you examine what you eat and evaluate its impact, but that you must look at its preparation and the environment in which it is consumed. One of the keys to attending to this is to start slowly with the suggested changes so as to not overwhelm and let the results build and motivate (and create trust) as you continue to add additional changes.

Rishi Forrester
Ayurveda and Holistic Herbs Practitioner
(AWP Block 2 Student)

Ayurvedic Nutrition and Diet - Student Blog

Western nutrition and Ayurvedic nutrition have definite differences about how people nourish themselves. Western nutrition concerns itself with the amount of calories, amount of macronutrients, carbs, proteins and fats, and micronutrients, vitamin and mineral content, and an ingredient list. Of course, western people are obsessed with being thin, so of course, calories is the first thing listed on western food labels.

Calories do not exist in Ayurvedic nutrition. Another Western nutrition concept is the food pyramid. Mrs. Obama recently reorganized the traditional food pyramid with Choose My Plate, a visual learning tool to incorporate what foods to eat in what proportion. In Ayurvedic nutrition, the amount of food needed for each meal is one anjali, prayer pose hands, opened to form a little bowl or cup, definitely unique to the individual.

An interesting side note on Western food labels is that the ingredient list is last and often in the smallest print possible on. In western nutrition, 45-65% of calories should be carbohydrates, 10-35% of calories should be proteins, and fats should be a small portion. For me, this is a very big bunch of math that I have to figure out on a calculator and would take away from the enjoyment of the food. In Ayurvedic nutrition, a “basic rule is simple, to give the body all six rasas each day so that it can respond to feed completely.” (www.wecare2.com,”Ayurvedic Nutrition”, Deepak Chopra, M.D.) Dr. Bhatia has said in a lecture,” In Ayurveda, we are what we digest.” Conversely, in Western nutrition, the saying is,” You are what you eat.”

In Ayurvedic nutrition, the goal of food is to achieve balance in the dosha, dhatu, agni and mala. To quote from our lecture, ”Food is the medicine and the healer. Food connects you with the divine.” Deepak Chopra M.D. says,” For the most part, western nutrition comes out of the laboratory. Ayurvedic nutrition comes directly from nature.” Paraphrasing Dr. Chopra, ‘food talks to your doshas,’it is correct to say that food has an energetic influence on the person consuming it. The preparation, intention and mood with which food is prepared and eaten also infuse food with subtle qualities. Ayurvedic nutrition acknowledges Prana, and promotes one to mindfully, with full attention, eat fresh food with Prana - organic, local grown, without genetic modification, herbicides or pesticides is best.

Ayurveda considers eating as a ritual, nourishing body, mind and soul. For that matter, life and living is a ritual in Ayurveda. Fresh food that is well prepared and eaten in a calm environment equals OJAS. Ghee, honey, dates, figs, and mung beans are foods that have ojas. Ojas is the juice of life, it is the elixir of immunity and results in perfect digestion and elimination, while also influencing the physical, mental and emotional life of a person.

High ojas can allow us to have a better life experience in every realm. In Ayurvedic nutrition, we use the six rasas, tastes, for the balance of agni, doshas, and dhatus. Rasas are panchamahabhutic and affect the doshas in our bodies when we eat. Every rasa has a virya, a potency, either Shita, cooling, or Ushna, heating. Rasas also have a post digestive effect, Vipaka, which comes after the Pitta stage of digestion, beginning in the small intestine, the Vata stage of digestion.

There are three Vipakas: Sweet, Madhura Vipaka, coming from sweet and salty rasas, Sour, Amla Vipaka, coming from sour tastes, and Pungent, Katu Vipaka, coming from bitter, pungent and astringent rasas. The Vipakas are how the dhatus experience digested rasa.

There is also a post digestive action or what the rasa does to the dhatus, called Prabhava. The Prabhava can be changed according to the preparation; sauté, steam, or fresh, the addition of spices and herbs, and types of oil, and water used while cooking. If a person is sama, balanced, all six rasa in balance will help the body maintain its equilibrium. If a person is imbalanced, the rasas can be eaten in a way to bring the body back to balance and allow ojas to increase bringing immunity and healing to the tissues. Ayurvedic nutrition can maintain balance and bring balance to every person's dosha, dhatu, agni and mala in a way unique to that person's composition.

Western nutrition has complex mathematical formulations focused on calories, proteins, carbohydrates, micronutrients and fats to make sure we get correct portions for health and wellness, without actually taking into account that our body responds, or reacts, to the food and how the tissues can change according to the properties of the foods.

It seems to me that most Westerners eat for the goal, for many, that is to just be thin. There may be a thin looking woman, ideal in the west, who is pale with brittle hair and nails, who may rely on using make up and hair products for the look of sara rasa, sara mamsa, and sara asthi. Ayurvedic nutrition teaches us how to eat in a more substantial way: what is the food doing, how is our body going to respond to the food, how can we eat for the tissues to have a positive response, to be nourished, to bring happiness. When we are sama, balanced, in all ways, then happiness comes, the body is happy, the mind is happy, the soul is peaceful, happy to be in that body, in that mind, to dwell in that place. Sama brings Sattva. Sattva brings sama.

Challenges:

A challenge in teaching clients that only know of Western nutrition will be teaching them and having them trust that with good food combinations, we can attain our recommended daily allowance of protein without eating meat.

Another personal challenge for me may be in giving a client too much information too soon, thus, overwhelming them with information. I want to share everything! A good thing for me will be to first talk about balancing the one person, the foods to eat and how to cook them, then, after a time, find out what protocols are working for them. When the person achieves better balance, share with them the six rasas, how each meal can have all rasas, and what each rasa does. If I give too much information, it may overwhelm the client like the Western math formula overwhelms me. Sometimes I get overwhelmed in the class and have to go back later and study notes and books and online. A client may not do that. They want “Ayurveda Easy,” until they are ready for more. That is what I would like to give so that they can begin a journey to a healthy, happy, balanced life. I’m on this journey and would like to share it successfully with others.

Danae Delaney - AWP Block 2 Student
Massage Therapist, Colon Hydrotherapist

Ayurvedic and Western Nutrition

As I meditate on the many differences between Western Nutrition and Ayurvedic nutrition, I am overwhelmed at the numbers. The difference that is impacting me the most right now is the difference in living and lifeless food. In western nutrition the focus on calories and nutrients relies on over processed over packaged “food” that contains no familiarity to the food this product used to be. If you go to the grocery stores you can see “whole grain” cereals or breads.

Where is the whole grain after it has been genetically modified, harvested months or years in advance, bleached, processed, enriched, colored, molded and made into “low calorie”? The same can be said of fruits and legumes canned, of homogenized, pasteurized milks and juices, dessert yogurt! The list obviously goes on and on. Parents are routinely feeding their children breakfast cereals and chicken fingers. The point is the food is dead. Western nutrition may have ways of adding nutrients back into a box of chocolate cereal for your kids, but at the end of the day it is still empty calories, where is the Rasa? The nourishment? How can we expect to receive satiation from lifeless food?

Leah Jones
Student
SDCOA 500 HR Course

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Meditation Techniques

Meditation is an essential tool for bringing a person’s mind back into balance and should be incorporated into everyone’s health regimen. There are varying types of meditation available depending on a person’s prakruti and depending on if a person’s mind is in a state of rajas, tamas, or sattva. For example, a kapha mind should be kept busy. Conversely, a vata mind should be quieted and kept still. A pitta mind should be calmed. So an appropriate meditation technique should be chosen based on a person’s manasa prakruti and what state it is in.

Vata energy and rajas are similar because both have the qualities of irregularity and movement. Any mediation that aids in stillness will benefit vata minds and minds in the rajas state. Pranayama is an excellent exercise to balance vatas minds and rajasika states. A pranayama practice should be built up gradually, adding a round of breathing each day for about one month. Like any meditation practice, it is ideal to practice daily. Astanga yoga helps to focus the mind and is also beneficial for a vata mind or a mind in rajas. Any mediation practice that helps to ground the airy vata mind will be beneficial, sitting meditations are encouraged.

Kapha minds tend to have the opposite problem from vata minds. Kapha minds are slow and need a kick start. Meditation practices for kapha minds should keep the mind engaged. Guided visualization, contemplative questions, tai chi, or walking meditation would be a great meditative tool for kaphas, or minds that are in a tamasika state. All four methods focus the mind while tai chi, chi kung and walking meditation engage the body while keeping the mind focused.

Pitta minds often need to be calmed. Pranayama is excellent for calming a mind. Alternate nostril breathing and shitali pranayama (breathing through a curled tongue) are cooling and can calm a heated or agitated pitta mind.

A mind that is in the sattva state is a balanced mind. A daily meditation, a diet suited to your prakruti, a healthy lifestyle, balanced elimination and senses will keep a mind in balance.

Many meditations are good for balancing all states of mind and can be adapted to suit the manasa prakruti of a specific individual (for example, walking vs. sitting meditations). Mantra meditation is also an excellent example on how different mantras can bring different doshas back into balance. There are mantras that are good for pacifying pitta, and mantras that increase a person’s purity and goodness (sattva). In summary, there are various meditation techniques and adaptations to suit each individual person and their current state of mind. The best way to keep a mind in balance is to practice meditation daily and have a healthy lifestyle.

by Laurel Hricik,
Student: San Diego College of Ayurveda

Meditation Suggestions from an Ayurvedic Perspective

Meditation for your Mind
Dr. Nandini Daljit

Vata Meditation Recommendations:

The Vata mind would benefit from Transcendental meditation with 20 minute sessions that concentrate on the mindful/silent repetition of a mantra - allowing thoughts to be acknowledged and the mind to release thoughts freeing up space by focusing on the mantra thus enhancing relaxation and increased silencing. TM would be particularly beneficial for a vata mind in Sattva and Rajas.

A spiritual meditation would also be beneficial for the vata mind as it is a quiet and communicative type of meditation with God or the universe (or the higher being of choice) which is aligned with the vata strengths of reflection and communication.

As well, this time of meditation also allows the vata mind to dialogue about a personal issues or concern as a silent witness. A spiritual meditation would offer much peace and enlightenment to a vata mind in Sattva

Yoga as meditation is also a very positivie for the vata mind as it combines physical movement with mental focus allowing prana to move to flow and move througout the body and nourish the mind. In this regard, tai chi and dance could also serve as a meditative vata practice as well as the playing of music.

For visualization, Vata people would benefit from warm images and colors. Mantras such as RAM and HRIM AND SHRIM are warm and calming for vata. Yoga would benefit a vata mind in Tamas by increasing prana to combat dullness.

Pitta Meditation Recommendations:

For visualization, the pitta mind would benefit from cool images and colors. Transcendental meditation would be very beneficial for a pitta mind in order to keep the fire in pitta in check. TM would be very beneficial for a pitta mind that is Sattvic.

Movement meditation would be very appropriate for the pitta dosha type who may find sitting still more agitating than relaxing. In movement meditation the individual can focus on the movement of their breath or engage in a gentle swaying or circular movement.

This gentle movement would be very beneficial for a pitta mind in Tamas by disrupting inertia.

Pitta pacifying mantras are SHAM, SHRIM and OM. These mantras should be repeated silently. If highly agitated - pittas may even find the repetition of their mantra relaxing when they are engaged in more active physical activity. Ensuring their safety, a mindful repetition of the mantra during stationary cycling, rowing, and stairclimbing. This may be very helpful if a pitta mind is highly Rajasic.

Kapha Meditation Recommendations:

The kapha mind would benefit from meditation that includes loud chanting where the vibration of the mantra can flow through the body and mind. Beyond vocal mantra repitition Kaphas would also benefit from Kirtan meditation.

Kirtan is the chanting of mantras and hymns and in that way not only has a vocal connection to the meditation
but a spiritual connection when hymns are chosen. This vocalization is highly recommended for a kapha mind in Tamas.

Transcendental meditation, with its mantra focused meditation would serve the kapha mind in sattva very well by providing kapha with a focused time for re-energizing of the mind which would also be appropriate for a kapha mind in Rajas or Sattva.

Kapha pacifying mantras are OM, HUM and AIM. Visualization of nature based colors and images of earth, sky and sun would benefit the Kapha mind that flourishes in warmth.

Doshas and the Three Gunas in Ayurvedic Psychological Principles

By Lisa Bailer, Student: San Diego College of Ayurveda
(Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner Program)

An overview of the three gunas in Ayurvedic Psychological Principles

1. First Guna - Sattva Guna (Mode of Purity) is good, nourishing, harmonious, this is the ultimate goal of our mind. When moving out of sattva mode you can exhibit fear, anxiety and restlessness and worry- similar to vata imbalance.

2. Second Guna - Rajas (Mode of Passion or activity) is active , creative, initiates change. In the negative it is angry, aggressive, jealous, hatred.

3. Third Guna - Tamas (Mode of lethargy) is slow going, lethargic, passive. In the negative it can be destruction, selfish, attachment.

In a sense pitta dosha can be equated to Rajaguna and Kapha can be like tamagun, especially when out of balance. Pitta Imbalance may lead to emotions like anger, jealousy, being competitive and aggressive while kapha in an imbalanced state may get sentimental, greedy and attached so that is turns to destruction of whatever it is attached to.

Since vata governs all, it can display any of the above qualities of the gunas.
To balance a rajastic mind Pitta types should use mantra meditation, left nostril breathing and visualize cool and calming things. Daily affirmations of forgiveness and acceptance with compassion can decrease rajastic mind. Asanas with moon salutations and yoga nidra are calming and cooling.

Kapha types need to let go and move away from tamasic mind and move to rajistic mind so walking meditation to keep them moving and increased pranayama to stimulate opening and space in the mind. Affirmations on detachment and independence. Bhakti yoga which focuses on love and usually involves groups to keep them motivated may help.

Vata types need to calm their minds so doing mantra or visual meditation will help keep their minds focused. Asanas with slow sun salutations, Affirmations of peace, security and supported by t he universe are to help alleviate their tendency toward worry and doubt.

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