The Starting Point
The enormous amount of excess fat in the human body has made the keyword ‘weightloss programs’ an instant hit among the common man. No wonder, most of the search engine spiders get a lot of enquiries on this word and the related key words, day in and day out.
Let us dig out the prime reasons behind this problem. It is a matter beyond dispute that there is a direct relation between the food we eat and the weight that adds up. Hence almost all weight loss programs concentrate on making some control on the ‘quality’ and the ‘quantity’ on the food we consume.
Where should we start? Now that you have decided to lose some weight we must of course find an answer to the above question. Let me make it clear that there is no better place than our mind.
We should have a strong resolve towards our aim. Conceive this as a just war towards your good health. As in any war there will be at least one enemy. Here your main enemy would be the basic urge to stuff your self with all the wrong things.
Knowing Our Stomach and Body
Will you be able to find another person exactly like you? If the answer is “No,” what made you think that every person’s stomach behaves in the same way, accepting all the inputs in the same fashion. This is a basic mistake we often make.
Believe me, your stomach may not be behaving in the same way as your friend’s stomach does to a particular food item, be it a chicken piece or a burger. We must know that a particular food, which may be good for certain people, may not be suitable for others. Haven’t you heard the proverb, what is wine for Paul may be venom for Peter.
The Indian system of Ayurveda and yoga is considered as the best way to explain the different types of body nature. The basic constituents are classified as five elements.
All life forces become inert and inactive in this element and more energy is used to keep it active. People with more weight, flesh, fat etc. are good example of predominance of this earth matter in their body. They do not show any anxiety and are not eager to acquire anything, they try to keep away from conflict and their life is moving slowly. When there is a disorder of this element in the body people become selfish and get attached to selfish enjoyments. It is a neutral element.
It keeps the flow of body and life. But it has a natural tendency to cool down. As there is more than 70% water in the body it plays a very important role in the maintenance of heat and circulation of blood etc. It is a negative element.
It is creating fire in the body – heats the water. It regulates sight, provides strength to the body by digesting the food, induces hunger and thirst, and also maintains suppleness of muscles and beauty of complexion. It helps thinking and facilitates the discrimination power of the brain. It helps production of antibodies.
In short it is the starter of our body-car. Defects in the same causes anemia, jaundice and other digestive problems, and also causes fainting, epilepsy, derangement of brain besides diminishing eyesight and causing growth of cataract in the eyes, it produces acidity and also creates skin problems ad depigmentation.
That is why great importance is given in eastern therapies to control and preserve the element of fire. It is a positive element.
Air is life itself. It is the strength and conducts every part of our body. It regulates the function of heart, circulation of blood and maintains balance of the body.
It helps respiration and downward movement of stools and urine. It produces sound. Nourishes mental faculties and also the faculty of memory. It moves bile and phlegm, which cannot move in the body by themselves. It is a positive element.
In order that air circulates in the body and maintains a proper balance, there has to be space. If such circulation is blocked, it creates pain even leading to heart attack, paralysis, fainting etc. It is a negative element.
Prakruti – Type – Different Combination of Elements In the Body
If these five basic elements are maintained in proper proportion in the body, a proper metabolism is ensured and the body remains healthy. However due to heredity, eating and living habits more often than not, we disturb one or two of these elements and thus upset the metabolism and there is a predominance of three different types of combinations. Such combination of these elements decide our types-prakrutis. Aurveda, the Indian medical therapy, has divided people into three types:
1) Combination through excess of Earth + Water
2) Combination through excess of Fire + Air
3) Excess of Air element
This therapy advocates that while treating the patients, one must keep in mind their respective types. For those people having kapha prakruthi, milk will only create problems.
People, therefore, having bronchitis or asthma indigestion should avoid milk. For people with pitt prakruti, spicy food will enhance their problem. Therefore, what is good for one type could be harmful to another.
It is a combination of earth and water. These elements occupy the major portion of our body. Sweet foods and drinks when properly digested are reduced to saline and the blood becomes alkaline.
It sustains the body system, Increases vigor and there is a marked growth of happiness. It lubricates the joints of bones and keeps them working properly. However, this is possible when there is proper element of fire – heat in the body.
However because of lack of exercise, overheating, eating between the meals when not hungry, eating more indigestible foods like concentrated sweet-fried things causes problems of indigestion and fail to produce enough heat in the body.
This leads to increase in water content and reduction of heat in the body, resulting in problems like dullness, heaviness, increase in fats, common cold bronchitis and later on asthma, arthritis rheumatism etc.
The best way to cure the above ailments of kapha prakruti is to reduce the intake of undesirable foods, cold drinks and foods that only aggravate the problems. They should eat only light digestible food when hungry; avoid sleeping during the day and over sex. Even milk is harmful to them. They should also take physical exercises.
It is a combination of fire + air. Excess of heat damages the working of brain – leads to acidity – ulcer, cold due to heat, skin problems, even sexual weakness, short temper and falling of hair.
Now, in modern times more anxiety – worries- eating more of fried and spicy foods- more exposure to sun, excessive use of antibiotics indulged in by people increases their problem. It is, therefore essential to avoid these habits as much as possible.
They should take sweet fruit juice as the first thing in the morning and have more fruits, sweet desserts after eating and drink more green juice.
Air Vayu Prakruti
This condition prevails when there is an excess of the element of air. People belonging to this category are more talkative and have day dreams. They need more sleep and have more gas trouble. These imbalances lead to fainting.
The tendency to eat heavy-oily foods- like fried and foods made out of gram etc. increases this tendency. People in such condition should avoid constipation and sleeping during day time, have more physical exercise so as to increase heat and circulation and should avoid unsuitable foods.
Productive Cycle Controlling Cycle
Basically all these elements should remain in proper proportion-which is called the Metabolism of the body. Any disturbance-excess or less of one element leads to disturbance in other element and becomes the root cause of the disease.
Everyone should try and find out the category and type he or she belongs to and avoid as far as possible those items, which will only aggravate their problems. They should consume food that will suit their type. It may be noted that each and every person is different from the other.
So are their tendencies and problems of health. But with proper changes in the diet good health can be maintained. The cerebro spinal fluid is produced from the blood and so imbalance in blood of these basic elements leads to imbalance even in cerebro spinal fluid. More salt in food for instance increases the sodium chloride in cerebro spinal fluid, which leads to high B.P etc.
Moreover, the climate plays an important role in its effect on the body. In summer and hot climate, for instance, buttermilk will be useful, but not in winter. Therefore in winter buttermilk should be warmed and black pepper and ginger should be added to it before drinking.
Nature grows the required vegetables and fruits etc. suitable for the nourishment of the body in all different areas and season. So wherever possible locally produced seasonal fruits and vegetable should be eaten.
Moreover nature also produces several varieties of fruits resembling the shapes of the organs of our body and they are useful, beneficial to that organ.
Apricot = Brain
Mango-Papaya = Stomach
Almonds = Eyes
Apple = Heart
Grapes = Lunges
Cashew nuts = Kidney
People belonging to one type or the other type of prakruti(characteristics) can easily find out and eat foods which would do them good and reject foods that will aggravate their problem-tendency.
This practice will also enable us to prevent wasting our energy in digesting and expelling these foods intakes not suitable for our body.
In order that the body and brain can function properly it is necessary to create energy from the five basic elements. That is why we take food and drinks.
The whole cosmos gets the energy from the sun. All types of natural foods, fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses etc have in them almost equal measure of positive and negative of sun energy. However foods contain positive and negative properties in varying degrees.
They can be divided in six tastes of which all foods/drinks are made of:
Bitter = Air + Space
Sweet = Earth + Water
Astringent = Air + Water
Salty = Earth + Fire
Pungent = Air + Fire
Sour = Water + Fire
In our daily diet it is necessary to maintain a proper balance in all these six tastes. Surprisingly, aurveda- Indian medical science has made elaborate research in all kinds of fruits, vegetables and minerals and has established their after effect on the human system.
When we take foods more of negative types or more of positive types, we create imbalances, leading to diseases. The body tries to balance the positive and negative excesses in the system and such efforts are called disease.
Surprisingly China has made in depth research for energy derived from food and has come to the conclusion that one should take 65% foods in cereals and pulses like wheat – rice – millets, grams etc and the balance 35% in milk-milk products, vegetables, dry fruits, oils etc, these would be the ideal contents of a balanced diet.
I am of the opinion that after the body is fully developed one must eat and drink only those things which are suitable to one’s body and only when one feels hungry. The fruits and vegetables have in them a natural storage of the sun’s energy and if we make a daily practice of having one glass of fruit juice and two or three cups of green juice of vegetables, our requirement for food will be reduced to a minimum and we will have enough energy to maintain the body in a healthy condition.
Please note that care of our digestive system should start from the mouth. Nature has given us teeth to chew. Therefore we should form a habit of chewing all food including liquid food and soft food like sweets, ice-creams, etc. at least 8 to 12 times.
This is necessary to add saliva to the food, for it is only in saliva that the sugar is digested. That is why people eating hastily without chewing and eating more sugar invite diabetes and fat. Chewing less means double work for the stomach. And over-exertion of stomach will invite many diseases and even fat.
Proper chewing gives better taste and satisfaction. Moreover, it enables you to listen to nature’s signal that your stomach is full. This in turn enables you to stop eating further. Therefore discussions at the dining table should be avoided as far as possible. Instead, soft music may be played. We should always remember that it is not more quantity or heavy food but the food that is digested gives us energy.
The aim of eating and drinking should be to produce enough blood, produce sufficient heat and energy in the body and satisfy the taste.
There are six types of tastes :
4) Hot (Chilly)
It has been observed that we are avoiding more and more the last two types of taste with the result that it upsets the digestive system and balance in our blood, thereby leading to a number of diseases, including cancer. These tastes nullify the effect of sweets and purify the blood. These two tastes increase the digestive power – the fire- and are like a starter in a car and therefore should be included in our diet.
We take great care about the quality and quantity of coal or wood we put in the cooking furnace or fireplace. We should also give it enough air to burn properly. This enables the fire to give maximum of heat and reduce smoke and ashes to a minimum.
We should not forget that there is a similar fireplace in our stomach. We must think of the after-effects of the food and drink we take. The difference in the proportion of three basic elements of water, fire and wood in our body depends upon the food we eat.
As laymen, we should see that the fire in the stomach is well maintained and should be knowledgeable on the type of food that does not agree with us. We should, therefore, avoid such unsuitable foods. We must know that a particular food which may be good for certain people may not be suitable to others eg, curd/yoghurt, buttermilk, suitable to people having more elements of fire, would not be suitable to people having more elements of water in them.
Recent experiments by nutrition experts in the U.S.A. have confirmed the findings of the Indian philosophy, that eating late and taking heavy foods after sunset, tends to slow down digestion and produces more fat and problems of stomach.
How to maintain a good digestive system
In Ayurveda, the Indian medical system, a detailed description of the after-effects of the different types of cereals, vegetables, spices, fruits, milk, curd, buttermilk, herbs, minerals, etc. is given. This shows a deep study and research over hundreds of years. Ayurveda describes minutely what food to eat, how to eat and when to eat.
To maintain a good digestive system we should see that:
1) The food is well-cooked and eaten warm/hot.
2) The use of whole wheat and rice is adequate.
3) Reduce or avoid use of fine flour and polished rice.
4) Use of fried things should be reduced.
5) Enough buttermilk and curd should be included in the diet.
6) Enough vegetables, raw and cooked and seasonal fruits should be taken.
7) The food should be properly chewed.
8) A time gap of 5 to 7 hours must be kept between two meals.
9) The habit of eating or drinking liquids except water or buttermilk between the meals should be stringently controlled.
10) The stomach is also a machine and so it should be given rest of atleast one or two meals a week. At that time, only fruits or fruit juices or boiled water may be taken.
To satisfy our palate is one of the greatest enjoyments of life. Eat anything you like once in a while, but respect nature’s signal, which is given in the form of belching. That’s nature’s way of saying “I’m full.”
You should stop eating further at that point. It is an yellow signal like the one at the traffic lights. If that cannot be done, you must stop at the second signal, which is like a red light. If you continue eating even after the second signal, please note that you are inviting trouble. Necessary changes in the food, diet, should be made according to the changes in seasons.
Please observe the motto that the fire in the stomach should be well preserved and should remain capable of digesting the food you eat.
A liberal use of ginger, pepper, eatables of bitter taste, Sunbath, regular exercise etc. helps this fire. While cold water, cold drinks, ice cream etc. reduce the fire and increase the burden on the digestive system. Please note that Heat is Life while Cold is Death. Eat or drink accordingly.
This may be taken by all people uncooked, but mixed with sesame, groundnut, raw, cabbage, dates, dried grapes or a little jaggery are also good for them. Sprouted pulses are also very good for reducing weight. In that case the use of dates, dried grapes or jaggery should be avoided as far as possible.
Test of proper digestive power and proper eating: After the meals, you should feel energetic, light in body and capable of work – even running if necessary. If you feel heavy, sleepy or dull, it indicates overeating or fast eating or a weakened digestive system.