Category: Digestive Health

Ayurvedic ways to stay healthy during summer months

Classification of seasons according to Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, the year is governed by the direction of the movement of the sun and is divided into two periods (solstice) that is Uttarayana (northern solstice) and Dakshinayana (southern solstice). Ayurvedic ritucharaya is based on Dosha and Panchmahabhuta theory.

When there is heat outside, the key to balance is to find ways to cool down inside- physically, mentally and emotionally. Summer season brings it with the host of symptoms such as excessive body heat, sweating, dehydration, skin rashes, sunburns, acne, diarrhoea, lethargy etc. Summer is hot, bright and a season of Pitta. Thus, it is recommended to maintain the body cool and not allowing the Pitta dosha to become aggravated.

Summer seasons according to Ayurveda

Summer season is known as “Grishm Ritu” in Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, there is a detailed description regarding different seasons and the regimen to be followed.

Classification of seasons according to Ayurveda:

Reference: Astang Hridyam Sutrasthanam, Chapter No. 3, Shloka No. 26-27)

Meaning: According to this shloka, in summer season, the rays of the sun become powerful and destructive. Kapha dosha decreases day by day and Vata dosha increases consequently. Hence, avoid the use of salt, pungent and sour foods, heavy physical exercises and exposure to sunlight during this season.

  • In Ayurveda, it is mentioned that there is a predominance of katu rasa (pungent taste) during summer season and Mahabhuta which are predominant are Vayu and Agni. Therefore, the strength of the persons becomes less.
  • One of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda is that our dietary habits and daily routines should flow with the seasons. It is a fundamental rule that ‘like increases like’ and cause imbalance and that opposite creates balance.
  • It is mentioned in Ayurveda that foods which are light to digest such as those having madhura (sweet), sheeta (cold), drava (liquid), snigdha (uncutous) should be taken.
  • Drinking plenty of water and other liquids such as buttermilk, fresh fruit juices, churned curd with pepper are advised.
  • Food with Katu (pungent), Amla (sour) taste and Ushna (warm) foods should be avoided.

Ayurvedic ways to stay healthy during summer months

1. Protect yourself from the sun:

According to Ayurveda, summer is considered to be a Pitta dominant season and Pitta dosha is aggravated by solar force.

  • Ayurveda considers this a time of dehydration that occur both inside and outside the body.
  • So, Ayurvedic measures based on Pitta pacification measures should be adopted.
  • To pacify Pitta dosha, it is necessary to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Eat juicy fruits such as melons, pears etc.
  • Drink a glass of lemon water  to keep yourself cool
  • Drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated.

 Protect yourself from the sun

2. Take Cooling Beverages:

It is a well known fact that carbonated beverages or a packed bottled juice don’t give any relief from the scorching heat. Rather, the system becomes dehydrated by the consumption of carbonated drinks.

  • Chilled cold drinks are harmful as they disrupt the ‘jatharagni’ or digestive fire.
  • Instead fresh seasonal fruit juices should be consumed.
  • Include water melon shake, fresh coconut water, bael sharbat (juice prepared from Aegle marmelos), aam panna (prepared from raw mangoes and spices), buttermilk are healthy as well as refreshing drinks.

3.  Take cooling diet:

Ayurveda recommends cooling diet to be consumed during summer season which includes seasonal fruits and vegetables that are sweet, juicy, bitter and astringent in nature. It is recommended to consume more alkaline foods in the diet during summer season.

  • Use rose petals in summer season as in Ayurveda, rose is renowned for its powerful cooling effect on the physiology.
  • Apply organic rose water on the face and if the eyes burn due to heat, then lie down for 10 minutes with organic rose water soaked cotton wads on closed eyes.
  • You can also splash some organic rose water in the bathing water.

cooling diet in summers

4. Eat at right time

Lunch should not be skipped during summer season as the digestive fire is strongest during mid-day.

  • Skipping lunch during summer season means upsetting the Pitta dosha.

5. Eat light foods:

In summer season, our bodies naturally crave for light and small meals because the digestive fire disperses in order to keep us cool.

  • It is a time to include sweet, astringent and bitter tastes in the diet and to enjoy cool, liquid and slightly oily foods.
  • Summer is considered as the best season for the intake of fresh fruits and salads.
  • Fresh and sweet dairy products can also be included in the diet during summer season such as homemade yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese etc.

6. Pranayam:

  • Pranayam such as Sheetali Pranayam and Chandrabhedi Pranayam are very effective for cooling down the body temperature

1. Sheetali Pranayam:

Stick your tongue out and curl the sides of the tongue upwards towards the center of the tongue.

  • Now, breathe in through the mouth and hold the breath.
  • Slowly exhale through the nose.
  • Repeat this procedure 5-10 times.

2. Chandrabhedi Pranayam:

This pranayama has a cooling effect on the nervous system and on the subtle channels of energy in the body.

  • Close the right nostril with the right thumb.
  • Now, exhale completely through the left nostril and then breathe in through the left nostril.
  • Close the left nostril with the little ring finger and exhale through the right nostril.
  • Repeat this procedure 5-10 times.
  • After this pranayama, lie down in Shavasan (Corpse pose).

Diet and Lifestyle to be followed during summer season:

  • Stay in cool places.
  • Excessive exercise or physical activity should be avoided.
  • Avoid sun exposure during the day time especially between 11 am to 3 pm.
  • Vegetables like cucumber, asparagus, green leafy vegetables should be consumed.
  • Milk mixed with cow’s ghee should be consumed during night.
  • Applying sandalwood and other aromatic and cooling pastes over the body is helpful.

Foods to be avoided:

  • Avoid foods that produce heat in the body such as sour fruits, garlic, chilies, dark meats as they tend to heat up the system.
  • Avoid taking alcohol in the summer season as it heats up the system.

An Ayurvedic approach for constipation relief

Constipation: Ayurvedic perspective

In Ayurveda, Constipation is known as ‘Vibandh.’ It is a common condition which affects a person’s normal bowel movements. In this condition, the affected person experiences difficulty in passing stools and emptying the bowel. In severe cases, the person may be unable to pass stools altogether for some time.

Ayurvedic Treatment of Constipation

According to Ayurveda

  • According to Ayurveda, the occurrence of constipation is linked to poor eating and lifestyle habits. This discomforting condition develops due to a gradual build-up of undigested food in the stomach and occult stool in the large intestines. As a result, the body’s Vata dosha is impaired, leading to an obstruction in the digestive tract. When the digestive tract is obstructed, the body is unable to support a proper bowel movement. This leads to the problem of constipation.
  • Hence, as per Ayurveda, the reason behind constipation is the improper functioning of the colon because of the cold and dry qualities of Vata energy. The excess of Vata in the body causes disruption to apana vayu, the downward energy which supports elimination and stability. Due to Vata imbalance, apana vayu flows in an upward direction rather than its usual downward flow.

Symptoms of Constipation

  • Some of the symptoms of constipation are indigestion (dyspepsia), acid eructation (belching), nausea, flatulence, stomach ache, scanty faeces, pain at the anus during defecation, feeling of heaviness of the body, lower back pain, and lack of appetite.
  • Ayurvedic approach to constipation relief involves the use of time-tested home remedies, use of herbs/herbal formulations, as well as dietary and lifestyle changes, in order to increase the regularity of bowel movements.

constipation-symptoms

Constipation relief: Ayurvedic approach

  • Ayurvedic remedies for relieving constipation are chiefly aimed at countering the effects of excess Vata in the patients, and restoring normal bowel movements. For this, Ayurveda recommends the addition of oil, warmth and hydration to the body’s excretory system.

Some useful Ayurvedic remedies which can be beneficial in managing constipation are:

Eat Vata-pacifying foods

  • To address the root cause — that is, Vata imbalance — of constipation, it is important for patients to modify their diet pattern and include foods that pacify the Vata. Towards that end, the diet of a patient suffering from constipation should comprise of properly cooked vegetables, warm foods, and warm drinks. It is also important to avoid cold foods and drinks, salads, dried fruits, and almost all types of beans.

Drink plenty of hot fluids

  • One of the best remedies that can normalize bowel movements for patients affected by constipation is to increase the daily intake of warm or hot fluids. Since warm water or herbal teas can effectively offset the cold quality of Vata, they should be taken frequently during the day. However, it must be noted that warm fluids should ideally be taken either 20 minutes before meals or one hour after meals.

Add organic oils to the diet

  • Some beneficial dietary changes, like increasing the use of organic oils, can provide relief in constipation. Oils provide lubrication to the tissues, so that the stool comprises an appropriate amount of grease or fat. Although nearly all oils can be used to treat constipation, the most supportive oils for managing Vata excess include ghee, olive oil, and sesame oil.

Increase the intake of fruits

  • The consumption of certain fruits is also useful in tackling the problem of constipation in a natural way. Fruits are fibrous and hydrating, and can pacify the Vata. The fruits that are believed to be especially beneficial in constipation include ripe bananas, papayas, peeled apples, soaked prunes, peaches, and soaked raisins.

Drink fruit juices

  • The juice of fruits like prunes and pineapple is recommended for relieving constipation. These juices have the ability to move excess Vata in the colon. The juices can be diluted with water if needed, or can also be warmed slightly.

Take hot milk with ghee

  • Hot milk, with ghee added to it, can be taken at bedtime to relieve constipation naturally. For this remedy, one or two teaspoons of ghee should be added to a cup of boiled milk. The combination of hot milk and ghee can treat the problem of constipation in patients who have a Vata or Pitta constitution.

Avoid foods that can cause constipation

  • Certain foods are known to cause or aggravate constipation, and should, therefore, be avoided by patients affected by the condition. The foods to be avoided in constipation are: refined foods such as white flour, white rice, bread, pizza, and pasta etc.
  • Moreover, ice creams and other colds foods, and high -protein food items like cheese, soybeans, and red meat should also be avoided. Furthermore, it is advised that the bran should not be removed from the flour because the bran is insoluble fiber. It has the ability to clear the obstructions in the intestines and alleviate constipation.

Other useful herbs for relieving constipation are

Use Triphala herb

  • The use of Triphala is one of the most powerful natural remedies for pacifying Vata and managing constipation. Triphala is a potent Ayurvedic formula prepared from a combination of three widely-known herbs — Amla (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula). Triphala can balance the body’s Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas, and is especially beneficial for the colon. Triphala can support healthy elimination when taken in the form of powder or tablets at night, preferably 30 minutes before sleep.

Herbal Remedy for Constipation

Use Psyllium husk

  • Psyllium husk acts as a bulking agent in the colon and supports the elimination process. It can ensure the regularity of bowel movements because it is a natural source of soluble as well as insoluble fiber. For treating constipation, Psyllium husks should be soaked in warm milk or warm water. The intake of the husks should be followed by sufficient hydration.

Practice Yoga

  • Constipation can also be relieved with the help Yoga, particularly an inverted posture like viparita karani (the posture in which legs are placed up against the wall). This posture can put Vata back in the balance because of the reverse the flow of prana in the body. Hence, this posture awakens the lower part of the stomach and promotes a regular functioning of the ‘stuck’ organs in the pelvis.

Final Word:

  • The Ayurvedic approach for treating constipation involves the above-mentioned natural remedies which can rectify the Vata imbalance and normalize the stool movement. However, people suffering from chronic, recurring, or intense constipation should use  Ayurvedic remedies under the guidance of a renowned Ayurveda practitioner.