School of Ayurvedic Diet & Digestion
Orchard-ripe apples hang heavy on the tree this time of year, and make a tasty golden base for this wonderful autumn treat. If you're so inclined, grab a flannel, a basket, and find a feral apple tree in your neighborhood or local park, and pick them fresh. There's nothing like the smell of simmering, homemade applesauce to make any autumn afternoon cozy.
An Apple a DayDoes an apple a day really keep the doctor away? It's a familiar American adage that deserves a renaissance, but with a twist. In Ayurveda, a cooked apple - not a raw one - keeps the doctor away. Raw apples are cold, drying and might not digest easily, especially when left unskinned. Cooked apples, on the other hand, are warm and soft, like soups. They digest in a snap. Along with cooking, ghee softens the fibrous quality of apples that feels rough to those with sensitive constitutions and promises easier digestion.
The Perfect Autumn SnackYour digestion works hard throughout the day so Ayurveda suggests snacks should be light and easy to digest. Applesauce with Ginger & Ghee is a near-perfect snack for gentle relief from hunger. When you're ravenous, applesauce will provide relief, without destroying your appetite for dinner. When you're simply stressed, applesauce provides comfort without putting on the pounds. The sour taste refreshes your kidneys and adrenals, as it restores a feeling of juiceyness. In as little as one hour after a bowl of this delicious treat, you will feel pleasantly hungry for a hearty autumn dinner. Applesauce is also a great option for a late-night snack.
Keeps you RegularOne of the main reasons "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" is its ability to keep you regular and stave off constipation. Sour taste warms and stimulates secretions that help you maintain a moist colon and motility. The high fiber content of apples (2.9 grams/cup) bulks up the stool for an easy elimination that cleanses the colon, which in turn keeping your blood clean. A clean colon coupled with clean blood means a clean bill of health!
Gently Clean Your LiverMalic acid, the constituent responsible for the sour, tart taste of apples, has a particular affinity for liver cleansing and support. Apples are also sweet, a taste that gently nourishes the body and inspires a calm, tranquil state of mind. The tart sourness of apple purifies the liver and cools the blood by drawing bile into the small intestine for elimination. This effect is somatically experienced as a softening of the eyes.
Steady Blood SugarA spoonful of applesauce on the tongue registers sour taste, which increases saliva and stimulates the digestive tract which increases your digestive strength. After we swallow bites of the cooked apple, it descends down to the stomach and passes through to the small intestine. Although absorption of sweet taste increases blood sugar, apples have a relatively low glycemic index (38) and calorie count (72), making this a sweet treat that is healthy and safe.
Autumn Immune TonicWarm, soft, and comforting Applesauce with Ginger & Ghee nurtures & moistens your body through the dry transition to autumn. It prepares your tissues for winter. Ginger stimulates digestion while keeping you warm. It even makes you sweat out toxins that may be circulating in the blood, expelling these potential threats to your health. Ghee and raw sugar are extra nourishing after loss of fluids from a long, hot summer.
Weathering the FallThe two most challenging times of year are the temperature u-turns of August and February. August illnesses tend to arise from deficiency, and February, from excess. Warm, soft, and comforting "Applesauce with Ginger & Ghee" nurtures the body through the transition to autumn and prepares our tissues for winter. In addition to the healing benefits of apple described above, ginger stimulates and enhances digestive efficiency. Ghee and raw sugar are extra nourishing after loss of fluids from a long, hot summer.
If you are using store bought applesauce skip to step 2.
1. Peel, core, and thinly slice apples. Combine apples in a saucepan with 1/3c water and simmer until the apples are tender, stirring frequently. Add in raw sugar.
2. Mix and bring ghee, ginger, and applesauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Serve warm.
Increases These Qualities (Gunas)
Ayurveda helps you assess how you feel through the 20 main therapeutic feelings or qualities called gunas. Through the gunas you can articulate, experience and develop sensitivity to the signals your body sends you. Imbalanced gunas are the root of your imbalances. Every guna has an opposite which balances is (i.e. hot balances cold). You create balance by favoring diet and lifestyle choices that increase the opposite guna.
The 6 Tastes
Taste has meaning in Ayurveda, and brings physical and emotional changes to your body. Taste is experienced on the tongue and is your body's reaction to foods much in the same way that your emotions are mental reactions to experiences. Sweet taste causes physical satisfaction and attraction whereas bitter taste causes discomfort and aversion. Kapha should use less sweet taste while Vata and Pitta would benefit from using more sweet taste. One of the first signs of illness is that your taste and appetite for food changes. The six tastes are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Do you crave foods with any of the tastes below? Food and herbs with the following tastes could aggravate your symptoms.
The Three Doshas / Body Types
Your body type shows how your strengths, as well as how your body typically goes out of balance. It also shows how your body responds to the environment. Your body type is comprised of certain qualities and affects every part of you - your physical and mental characteristics as well as your personal strengths and weaknesses. This is because your body type is based on how your body uses energy. Ayurveda has 3 body types (doshas), called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata spends energy. Pitta burns energy. Kapha stores energy. Vata people tend to be easily stimulated, hyperactive, underweight and dry. Pitta people tend to be hot, focused, driven, and easily inflamed. Kapha people are heavy, stable and grounded, but if they store too much energy, they could gain weight easily and have congestion.
HAS THE FOLLOWING
OJASOjas is the essence of healthy tissue, immunity, stable energy and happiness. Substances that improve ojas are recommended after lon-term illness, debility, emotional and physical trauma, and even sadness.
ALKALIZINGAn herb or food that makes the urine more alkaline (higher pH). This herbal action can be helpful for a number of inflammatory conditions.
PRANAPrana is the Sanskrit word for vital life energy, similar to Qi in Chinese Medicine. Many herbs stimulate your energy, or improve the flow of prana through your body. Generally, prana needs to be increased in spring after a sleepy winter.
SATTVICSattvic foods promote awareness and a refreshed mind by nourishing the body without taxing digestion. Sattvic foods do not stimulate desire or nervous energy. They create clarity instead of drowsiness or heaviness.
WATERResembles water (ap) in quality - fluid, sticky, soft, heavy, stable, cool.
EARTHResembles earth (prithvi) in quality - heavy, dense, solid, stable, hard.
NUTRIENT Carbohydrate, Fats
REPRODUCTIVEReproductive tissue (Shukra/Artava Dhatu) includes male and female reproductive organs.
PLASMAPlasma (Rasa Dhatu) includes plasma, white blood cells, and lymph.
DOWNWARDDownward-moving (Adho Gati Marga) substances move food downward in the GI tract, settle the nervous system, and relax muscles.
WARMS-ABDOMENWarms the muscles and organs of the abdomen, stimulating digestion and metabolism.
SIALOGOGUEA sialogogue increases saliva. Sour foods are often great sialogogues, and increase output of all exocrine glands. Salty taste is very moistening as well. Bitter, pungent and sweettastes also increase salivary output but to a lesser degree. Astringents
APPETIZERHerbs that cleanse the palate & stimulate hunger or desire to eat.
DIGESTIVEHerbs that encourage healthy digestive.
|Energy Vitality Strength|
STIMULATES-ENERGYThis category groups thyroid and adrenal stimulating herbs
NUTRITIVEAn herb that is strengthening and nourishing.
|Heart & Circulation|
VASODILATORA vasodilator is an herb that widens the blood vessels by the relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the vessel walls, thereby increasing circulation systemically or to a local area.
|Liver & Gall Bladder|
CHOLAGOGUECholagogues stimulate the release of bile from the gall bladder for improved digestion.
|Lung and Sinus|
WARMS-CHESTWarms the chest and lungs, clearing mucus and allowing for clear breathing.
|Mind, Stress & Sleep|
RELIEVES-TENSIONAn herb that releases tightness, constriction, and rigidity in a muscle.
RELAXES-EYESEases tension in eye muscles, so the eyes feel less strained, often by supporting the liver.
GROUNDINGEncourages feelings of stability and heaviness. Makes you feel settled, mentally relaxed. Mildly sedates the nervous system to ease stress. Can bring a spacey or anxious person back to earth.
|Find Your Symptom|
WARMS-EARSStimulates peripheral circulation to warm extremities, including the ears.
GENERAL-LAXATIVEPromotes a bowel movement. General laxative is an umbrella term that refers to several different types of laxatives...
STOOL-SOFTENERAn herb that softens stool that is hard and difficult to pass. They are the safest and most gentle type of laxative. Some foods are even stool softeners, such as warm milk with ghee.
About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. His online course Balance Your Ayurvedic Diet in a Week provides tools for gracefully healing with Ayurveda to thousands. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
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