(Ayur is life and Veda means knowledge. Knowledge of Life is Ayurveda)
Ayurveda is perhaps the oldest system of health care in the world and originates from the Indian subcontinent. It is a Sanskrit word, derived from two roots – Ayur means life and Veda, the knowledge.
Ayurveda briefly explain the knowledge of the do’s and don’ts one has to follow, which favors the well-being of each individual to lead a healthy, happy, comfortable and advantageous life both physically and mentally. Ayurveda also emphasizes that prevention is better than cure.According to Ayurveda we are made up of the same five elements as the universe (Water, Fire, Air, Earth and Space) when we are close to these elements or at one with them and nature, then there is perfect balance in the energies (the Doshas) within us and we enjoy good health.All the complex factors that influence our health can be simplified into three fundamental constitutional types called Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water), called the “three Doshas”.
Immunity is the function of cells, enzymesand chemicals that attack pathogens and prevent from creation of diseases. As we grow our body interacts with a lot of new microbes present in the environment which we learn to fight against the microbes and therefore results in strengthening our immune system.
In Ayurveda diseases are classified under two heads – Nija and Aganthu. Nija are the diseases which are due to the imbalance within the body and it can be prevented by understanding the tendencies of an individual. Aganthu are the diseases which occur due to external factors which may include injuries, mental trauma or no proper hygiene and sanitation which causes infection.
Winter is considered the most appropriate season for a therapy for strengthening the immunity. In Ayurveda the immune system is called ‘Ojas’. It is a fine vital energy, concentrated in the heart chakra. When the health of a man gets weaker this is a sign that the Ojas energy in the body has decreased. When the Ojas level is low people are exposed to various infections, illnesses such as ulcers, even cancer.
Ayurveda believes that the negative emotions also can be a reason for Ojas decreasing. Such feelings may include hatred, anger, worry, guilt, envy, jealousy or hunger.
A weak immunity can be caused by various negative emotions, psychological tension, pollution of the environment, unnecessary use of antibiotics, metabolic syndromes, and unhealthy way of living also hereditary factors.
It is important to highlight that the unhealthy food, especially these containing polished sugar, reduce the ability of the cells to cope with the viral illnesses. The good health is a sign of a strong immune system which can fight infections and diseases.
Another aspect of the immune system is its hyperactivity, when attacking the body’s own cells by thinking them of externalattackers. This inability to distinguish the foreign organisms and healthy cells are called autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and others.
In Ayurveda, this is called “Tejas” – the brainpower of our body. Thanks to “Tejas”, the cells of the body can connect with each other through hormones and chemical messages. When this intelligence of the body is disturbed due to the occurrence of toxins or a strain, Tejas is blocked and it can’t differentiate the cells properly. Any food that enhances Tejas is good for the immunity.
Important points to follow that help to enhance immunity
- A well-proportioned diet.
- Systematic yoga practice.
- Include a variety of spices into our daily diet. Most spices are high in their oxygen absorbance capacity, and reduce cell damage and maintain integrity.
- Regular detox plans like fasting or a cleanse.
- Consumption of Rasayana herbs like ashwagandha and amla
- Ayurvedic treatments like NavaraKizhi and Pizhichil.
- Start the day with Tulsi, Pippali (fruit of long pepper) and ginger tea to strengthen and cleanse the upper respiratory tract.
- Use turmeric and black pepper in the meals daily to boost immunity and reduce ama (toxins). Turmeric can be taken as a drink with almond milk or added to morning oats to prepare a nourishing golden porridge.
- Minimize intake of red meat and avoid usage of any processed meats like bacon, sausage, nuggets, ham etc.
- Take 15 ml of Amla juice daily. Optionally take Chyavanprash to supply extra antioxidants and `
Strengthen the immunity.
- Drink plenty of warm water. Staying well hydrated will keep the throat and mucous membrane moist supporting its action as a good barrier to all microbes.
As every individual’s body has unique characteristics and behaviours towards food and one should understand by monitoring closely as what to eat. It is important to create a balance between your lifestyle and eating habits as this will develops a self defence system in your body to fight against any disease.So here I would like to use a popular phrase “When your diet is wrong, medicine is of no use and when your diet is right there is no need of medicine”.
Chef Rajesh Gupta
CULINARY ACADEMY OF INDIA