Better Health through Digestion with an Ayurvedic Diet
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A Season of TransitionJanuary is traditionally the coldest month of the year in North America. Ayurvedically, January is a month of transition from Vata to Kapha season. Vata season is characterized by the body scrambling to protect itself from ever dropping temperatures (see Fall/Early Winter). As soon as temperatures bottom out and begin to rise, the pattern shifts from building to releasing. Literally the body melts fat much as a dog sheds fur. Late winter & early spring are thus ideal seasons for begining a new diet and losing weight (see Spring Diet). Spring fasting, the traditional time of year for many Native American cultures, helps cleanse the blood after a long winter of fatty, heavy foods.
Late winter and early spring is a Kapha watery season of warming temperatures lasting from February to mid-May. Outside, snow melts making the rivers full and muddy. Warm temperatures encourage tender young sprouts and sweet sap to run in the vasculature of maple trees. Our internal landscape reflects mother nature's. Spring is a time of cleansing and renewal. Kapha fat along with toxins melt away from tissues and into the blood, making the blood sweet. Blood plasma and toxins are our metaphorical maple syrup and muddy river, releasing a flood of mucus in allergy season.
Rich BloodAs the layer of winter fat begins to melt into the blood, it enriches the blood provoking Kapha dosha. Blood that is too rich and thick clogs circulation and the liver. Much like a stuffed goose, your stuffed liver starts to look as fatty as foie gras. Liver "heat" is responsible for moving this sludgy blood and metabolizing it. However, cold weather keeps the heart sluggish and the vessels constricted. Temperatures may be too cold in early spring to move blood stagnation. Clinically, the symptoms of spring Kapha are stiff muscles, arterial plaque buildup, mucus & hay fever. Allergy season is a sign of aggravated Kapha.
Turmeric re-invigorates the blood. It is a powerful blood mover that restores circulation, cleanses the liver and re-ignites metabolism (via rasa dhatu agni). Late winter is the season for sour foods. Spring is the season for bitter foods. Both sour and bitter taste are cholagogues. A cholagogue is any substance that encourages the liver and gall bladder to release bile. Examples include dandelion and lemons. Since bile is a fatty substance, cholagogues aid the cleansing process because they drain excess fats from the liver & blood and deposit them, in the form of bile, into the digestion tract. Gall Bladder Tonic and tikta ghrta are herb formulas that helps with this process.
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You may experience waves of bitterness, discouragement and a sense of failure in February. Try not to take these 'liver' emotions too seriously. Instead, these emotions offer an important cue. Ayurvedically, it signifies a critical time to cleanse the liver and jumpstart the body's fat metabolism. You may notice a loss of appetitie and week or two of dark, muddy stools during this period as your body naturally purges the liver and gall bladder. If Kapha is aggravated, you may experience flu-like symptoms. These are all signs that your body is ready to start its own natural cleanse cycle.
The rapid release of fats in the blood increases water element that attacks the lungs. Psychologically, March is a month of lamentation, saddness, and release of deep seated emotions. Parsley, celery, asparagus, coriander, cumin, corn and other diuretics will help drain these excess fluids. Include radishes for fat metabolism.Mint, other aromatics and diaphoretics like raw onions and garlic will facilitate this blood flow to the exterior.
MayBy May the appetite begins to wane during the heat of the day. Your electrolytes may be quickly depleted during a hot day of sweating.
General Spring DietGenerally, eat a dry Kapha pacifying diet favoring bitters. Drying grains such as barley and corn may be tolerated. Continue with warming spices like ginger and turmeric to ward off blood stagnation. Warming bitters like dandelion and arugula will also aid if fat metabolism. Take triphala to keep bowels clear and aid the cleansing process. Avoid heavy, oily, sweet and salty foods such as red meat and dairy.
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Wonderful article! I just posted it to my Ayurveda page on Facebook! ~ Hope you approve!
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