Foods that Nourish the Body and Soul
With the preponderance of superfoods, fad diets and nutrition philosophies available today, understanding the foods that nourish you can be not only confusing, but down right distressing. Eggs – are they healthy or destructive? Goji berries? Spirulina? Chia seeds? Since when did our “healthiest” foods become available as bars and blendable smoothies only?
Ayurveda is the science of life and longevity, a 5,000 year-old medical system from ancient India and sister-science to Yoga, which offers profound insight into the modern health dialog.
In effect, it offers an entirely different paradigm to understand what is ‘right’ or ‘nourishing’ for the body and soul. It boils down to this: we must understand ourselves as unique individuals with unique dietary needs. There is no one-size-fits-all diet.
So how do we distinguish our individual needs?
According to Ayurveda, we must understand whether our state of AGNI, or metabolic activity is (1) balanced (2) irregular (3) sharp or (4) sluggish
Which are you?
BALANCED AGNI: expresses that all elements of the body-mind-spirit are in harmony.. A person with balanced agni can eat almost any type of food in any season without ill side effects. This expresses a state of perfect health. People blessed with balanced agni have a calm, quiet and compassionate mind with great clarity and an experience of bliss.
IRREGULAR AGNI: sometimes you’re ravenous, sometimes you have no appetite at all. Sometimes it’s somewhere in the middle. This agni is ruled by the AIR element. You tend towards gassiness, bloating, occasional constipation, or anxiety. Individuals with irregular agni are nourished most by (1) consistency in meal times (2) avoid snacking between meals (3) warm, nourishing, grounding meals with a balance of whole grains, root vegetables and some animal protein (4) adding healthy oils to meals like ghee and coconut oil. Soups, stews, and warm breakfast porridges are your closest allies!
SHARP AGNI: your hunger and metabolism are off-the-chain. Sharp agni is associated with hyper-metabolism – an intense digestive fire that is hard to satisfy. This agni is ruled by the FIRE element.You may crave large quantities of food, have difficulty keeping on weight, or have loose bowel movements or acid indigestion. You are most nourished most by (1) sweet and heavy-quality foods such as wheat, sweet potato and potato, dates, avocado and unripe banana (2) cooling condiments and beverages like lime and cilantro (3) avoiding oily, fried, and spicy foods and limiting caffeine and alcohol use.
SLUGGISH AGNI: hunger? What hunger? You may have little knowledge of what true hunger feels like. You eat by the clock, but without the physical sensation of rumbling in the belly. This agni is ruled by the EARTH element. You tend to have little appetite, gain weight easily, sleep deeply and heavily, and are prone to nausea, mucus and sinus congestion. You are most nourished by (1) fewer and lighter meals during the day – skipping breakfast or dinner helps you feel energized and clear headed! (2) light, drying foods that include millet, buckwheat, cruciferous veggies like kale, cauliflower and broccoli (3) limiting or avoiding cold and heavy foods like dairy, meat, and cold beverages.
With these simple insights into your own body, and its capacity for digestion, you can make profound changes in your energy levels, concentration, sleep and mood. By eating right for your agni-type, you begin a journey of empowered health, healing and deep nourishment for your unique body and soul.
Join Emma for a six-week Yoga and Ayurveda series on Tuesday evenings starting in November, and visit her at BurlingtonAyurveda.com