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Authors Posts by Nahid Ameen

Nahid Ameen

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You are most likely to be infected with cold and flu unless you live in a bubble. But there is always a way. Proper care and smart choices make all the difference to protect yourself from infections even if there is a cold and flu season.

Before we dive into ayurvedic preparation, let’s first understand briefly about the cold and flu season.

What Is Cold and Flu Season?

In terms of symptoms, flu is generally worse than the common cold. According to experts, cold and flu season tend to last for about 12 weeks but it mostly depends on where you live.

Now, there are numerous ways you can treat cold and flu, but the wise thing to do is to prepare for it. What does it mean? Well, when you work towards preventing getting sick or infected, and you use the right methods for the prevention, then you’re most likely to be protected from infections like cold and flu.

Symptoms:

If you have been feeling a few of these mentioned symptoms, then it means you have probably have caught the flu or cold.

  • General tiredness or fatigue
  • Difficult breathing deeply
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or running nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Ayurvedic Preparation for Cold and Flu Season

Prathishyay is a term for the common cold in Ayurvedic. Ayurveda strongly recommends the strengthening of the immunity to prevent diseases like flu or cold from its attack. Following are some of the best Ayurvedic Preparation for Cold and Flu Season.

  • Chew on Dry Ginger

Ginger has strong antioxidant and anti-microbial along with pain-relieving properties which helps in relieving sore throat and treating infections in the nasal passage. You can either chew dry ginger or inhale ginger-infused steam that will greatly help in reducing sinus and lung congestion.

  • Do pranayama and stretching

Doing pranayama and stretching is known to relieve chest constriction due to sneezing, or coughing. It is basically, sitting in a relaxed position with a straight back, taking a deep breath, and allowing the breath to fill your upper chest. And release the breath and along with it the tensions and the stresses.

  • Hydration is the key

One of the most common and easiest ayurvedic preparation is to remember to stay hydrated. Whether you like to drink water or lemon/honey-infused water, it’s important to be hydrated by taking your required daily intake. Most people also like sipping watermelon or cucumber juice, make sure that it is made without any preservatives and is fresh. Remember to consume homemade immune-boosting drinks and you’re good to go.

In ending notes, there are a few more ayurvedic preventions you can do such as gargle with salted water, sipping lukewarm water, eating light, and a nourishing meal. All of these not only fight off cold and flu but also build your immune system. This ayurvedic preparation will greatly help and will fight off any existing disease-spreading germs and viruses.

Kadha Recipe

In India when someone has a cold, flu, infection, sore throat or body ache their mother’s or grandmother’s make “Kadha” at home. Kadha means herbal tea – it is a medicinal tea. Although today many herbal teas are available at health food stores, I can assure you this is a great homemade herbal tea replacement where you are only using your humble kitchen healers.  I am sharing with you my favorite Kadha Recipe A Traditional Healing Tea.

I have made Kadha for myself and have seen great results for cold and body pain. It is indeed ‘health in a cup.’ When I make kadha, I sometimes add turmeric and/or reishi mushroom which is not used in the traditional recipe

Read more about it here.

Warming Energy Ball

Made with dates, sesame, fenugreek, and coconut. Add seeds as available. Such as pumpkin, sunflower, or char magaz.

Tips

  • Steam with eucalyptus oil if they get the sniffles or feet massage with warm mustard seed oil before bed. 
  • Putting 1 clove under the tongue can prevent sore throat.
  • Not to drink citrus fruit. Lime or lemon juice should be taken with warm water. 
  • Wearing socks can help with keeping the feet warm. 
  • Cinnamon tea improves circulation and keeps the warm today. 
  • In extremely cold weather add a bay leaf to the cinnamon tea.

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Why becoming Dairy Free is a Popular Trend

What foods are considered dairy?

Dairy products play a vital role in building and maintaining strong human bones. Foods that contain dairy contents give us important nutrients, such as vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and protein, which make the human body healthy and fit. Wondering what foods are considered dairy? Animal milk, yogurt, cream, cheese, whey, kefir, butter, ghee, milk powder are all the amazing food groups belonging to dairy.

Why dairy is unhealthy for some of us?

Dairy is either good or bad depending on the body. Every person reacts to things differently. Some people can easily digest food and it could be difficult to digest food. Dairy contains saturated fat and is rich in calories. Consuming dairy is not good for a low-calorie diet. Dairy is unhealthy for some people, because it causes inflammation (acne or eczema), raises estrogen, increases weight and the production of mucus.

How to eliminate dairy and what are some great substitutes?

It is extremely crucial to eliminate dairy from your diet if you’re a dairy allergy or have any symptoms of lactose intolerance. A few other signs to eliminate diary are, bloating, sinus infection, or fatigue because of diary sensitivity. If you’ve decided to cut out dairy completely, here are the steps to follow:

  • Familiarize yourself with a vegan diet.
  • Use non-dairy substitutes that are healthy and less processed.
  • Get used to non-dairy products taste. It will take about 4-5 days to up to a week.
  • Get rid of all the dairy products.
  • Make sure to collect dairy-free recipes from YouTube and vegan books.

Fortified soy milk and yogurt are great non-dairy substitutes that are amazing sources of vitamin D, vitamin A, and calcium.

Lactose-free vs. Dairy-free

You must have seen lactose-free OR dairy-free written on several products and foods. Some may think that this is the same and does not have any difference. But there is a huge difference.

In lactose-free products, the dairy product does not contain lactose while in dairy-free products, there is no dairy contained at all. Dairy-free products are made from plants and nuts.

Lactose-free products are for people who are lactose intolerant, and it is difficult for them to digest such foods as they feel bloated, nauseous, and may experience stomach aches. Consuming lactose-free products helps them with digestion.

Homemade non-dairy staple

With nut milk and vegan sauces, you can have your own homemade non-dairy staple.

What if I’m allergic to nuts?

If you’re allergic to nuts or peanuts and still want to consume dairy products, the best substitutes are beans, tofu, potato, and even pea proteins.

Signs of dairy-free life is for you or not.

If you don’t consume dairy products and you feel reduced anxiety, better sleep, less mucus, less prone to cold and flu, and reduced migraine attacks then dairy-free life is suitable for you.

Why I’m dairy-free?

 

References:

https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/dairy

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326269

 

 

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What is Migraine?

Migraine is a medical condition in which a person experiences an extremely severe pounding headache. It can last for hours or sometimes even days. The ponding headache typically starts from the forehead, between the temples, or around the eyes. Migraine headaches get worse with time. A person experiencing migraine is sensitive to any movement, action, bright light, or loud noises. Any such sensation makes the headache worse. A person can also experience nausea, dizziness, neck pain, vomiting, extreme fatigue, and nasal congestion during a migraine. Severe migraines can affect a person’s daily life.

Are Migraine and Headache the same?

People usually confuse migraines with headaches. They think that a severe headache is known as a migraine, but in general, headache is one of the symptoms of migraine. The symptoms of migraine are more intense as compared to headache. Migraine is a medical chronic condition, and the cause is unknown. Headaches on the other hand can be triggered due to stress, depression, or anxiety and typically goes away in few hours.

What causes and trigger Migraine?

A migraine occurs typically in three stages, these are:

Stage 1: Prodrome

This stage involves emotional changes such as depression and anxiety. At this stage, a person will be sensitive to any movement, action, bright light, or loud noises.

Stage 2: Mild to Severe Headache

At this stage, the person may experience other common symptoms like nausea, dizziness, neck pain, vomiting, tiredness, and nasal congestion

Stage 3: Migraine Hangover

At this stage, the person feels extreme fatigue and irritability which may last for another 2 days.

Ayurvedic Treatments to Treat Migraine

In Ayurveda, migraine is known as “Ardhavabhedhaka” and the vital cause of migraine is due to tridoshic condition which causes an imbalance of pitta-vata and gathers Ama toxins. Following ayurvedic treatments are used to treat migraines. Depending on the severity of migraine, we can combine the treatment methods.

 

  • Triphala Churna

Triphala churna is an organic blend of haritaki, bibhitaki, and amla. It helps to improve nasal congestion and blockage.

  • Ksheera Ghrita

Ksheera ghrita is a glass of milk and ghee which is mixed to effectively treat migraine headaches.

  • Sitopaladi Churna

Sitopaladi churna is a combination of mishri, vankshalochana pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon. By using sitopaladi churna, increases the lung’s capacity and eliminates cough. It can also be consumed with honey.

  • Dhoomapana

Dhoomapana is used to lower levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. It calms the nerves the lighten to load on the head.

  • Nasya

This is one of the highly recommended “Panchakarma Therapy” to cure migraines or continued headaches. For better results, do it early in the morning on an empty stomach an hour before having a meal. This treatment provides significant relief from migraines.

Other Treatments to Treat Migraine

  • Yoga
  • Regular Exercise
  • Relaxation Techniques

 

References:

https://familydoctor.org/condition/migraines/

https://www.summahealth.org/flourish/entries/2020/08/migraines-vs-headaches-whats-the-difference

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/148373

https://www.netmeds.com/health-library/post/migraine-bothering-you-try-these-versatile-ayurvedic-remedies-for-instant-pain-relief

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What is Sandalwood?

Sandalwood is an evergreen tree native to India, Philippines, China, Australia, and Indonesia. In botanical terms, Sandalwood is also known as Santalnum album. It is also known as “East Indian sandalwood, santal oil, white or yellow sandalwood oil, or white Saunders oil. It belongs to the family of Santalaceae. It has small flowers which contain many short stalks. Sandalwood belongs to the class of aromatic woods, which are knowns as perfume trees. Famous aromatic wood trees are cedar, cinnamon wood, and rosewood. Sandalwood trees grow about 8 to 12 meters in height and 2.5 meters in girth.

 

Sandalwood Oil

The Sandalwood tree has leathery leaves in pairs. The roots and trees have a yellow aromatic oil, which is known as sandalwood oil. The smell of sandalwood oil is so refreshing, and it persists in the articles, such as furniture or boxes, for years. Sandalwood oil is extracted from the heartwood by the process of steam distillation. The average yield of oil is almost from 3.0% to 6.0%. The sandalwood oil smell is very famous because of its sweet, powerful, and lasting odor. The sandalwood trees grow slowly and almost take 30 years for the heartwood to become frugally beneficial in India.

 

Uses of Sandalwood

Sandalwood in any form, be it solid or in oily form, has numerous uses in our daily lives. It plays a vital role in healing many skin conditions. Some of them are:

  • Sandalwood in self-care products like fragrances, body lotions, massage products, hair care products, sunscreen, shampoo, and acne medications.
  • Sandalwood oil is used as a fragrance in incense, perfumes, cosmetics, and soaps.
  • Sandalwood in cleaning products, like in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners.
  • Sandalwood in pest control products.
  • Sandalwood in aromatherapy. Using sandalwood oil in aromatherapy helps to promote calmness, lower stress, and improves sleep quality.
  • Sandalwood can also be used to enhance flavors in foods.

 

Health Benefits of Sandalwood

Sandalwood has various health benefits. It can be used as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, antiphlogistic, carminative, disinfectant, diuretic, hypotensive, and memory-enhancing properties.

  • It is a great antiseptic agent and is safe to use internally and externally. It is used to treat acne, sores, boils, and pimple infections.
  • It is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. It has a very cool soothing effect and provides instant relief to the inflammation in the gastrointestinal, brain, nervous, circulatory, and excretory systems.
  • It is a great natural relaxant and has a wonderful sedative effect against spasms. It is very effective in treating cramps, aches, and colds.
  • Sandalwood oil is amazing to lower blood pressure as it contains hypotensive agents. It can be applied externally and will still help to lower hypertension.
  • Sandalwood fortifies dental health as it has astringent properties. It helps to stop bleeding gums, healing minor wounds, and cleansing of mouth.

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We all are aware of the importance of focusing on breathing patterns to welcome comfort and relaxation in our lives. To incorporate that into our lives, there are countless methods, processes, and ways you can use to practice breathing and reap its benefits. One of these ways we will discussing is Pranayama, and we’ll walk you through its meaning, how-to’s, and benefits.

What is Pranayama?

Pranayama is an ancient yoga practice of controlling the breath (breath control). It is a Sanskrit word where Prana means “vital life force” and Yama means to gain control. It is the means of elevating our energies through the control of our breath. It is a practice through which you can attain higher states of energy.

Pranayama allows our conscious and subconscious minds to get still and be in the now. Therefore, it is obvious that this practice means far more than breath control.

Pranayama explained in Spiritual context

Inhalation, retention, and exhalation are three stages in the Prayanama practice. These stages of breath in Prayanama practice aids us in connecting us to the universal soul.

Let’s take an example. We can’t see our reflection clearly if the mirror in front of us is stained. Now, if that mirror is crystal clear and clean, we can easily see our reflection. Similarly, if our minds are continuously cluttered with thoughts and our spirit is confused, practices like Pranayama unlocks the patterns that clear the complexities in our mind and thus refining our physical state with time.

How to Practice Pranayama?

Before we dive into the steps to practice Pranayama, we will first list some important points that you must take into notice if you are looking for a good outcome.

  • The clothing should be loose and light. Don’t wear any belts or anything tight that can come between your deep inhalation process
  • Find a peaceful place that is quiet, clean, and especially where there is fresh air
  • Try to practice in the same place
  • The best time to practice Pranayama is in the early morning or in the evening.
  • Pranayama should be practiced half hour before breakfast or 4 hours after the food. This practice can become difficult if it is done on a full stomach
  • Never restrict or force your breath. Just go with the flow
  • Lastly, awareness is a crucial part of any breathing practice. During the practice, it is natural for the mind to wander off. Don’t resist it or get agitated by it, simply understand that it’s natural and get your mind in control by getting your focus back on your breaths.

How to do it: Sit in a comfortable place with a straight posture. Take a steady breath. Inhale deeply as you reach your lung capacity but don’t force it. Hold the breath for a second and then exhale slowly through both nostrils.

You can repeat it as many times but doing this practice 20 times is recommended.

There are also further types of Pranayama and a few of them are:

  • Sitali Pranayama
  • Ujjaya Pranayama
  • Kapalabhati Pranayama

Benefits of Practicing Pranayama

Our thoughts can either uplift us or break us down. Daily stresses and habits like overthinking can create energetic obstacles in our spirit and bodies. We can become rigid and perplexed. This can have a negative effect on our lives. That’s where the benefits of practicing pranayama come to play a part. It helps us to regain our focus, take control over our breaths and thoughts, helps us in breaking unhealthy patterns, and above all, improves our health by keeping our heart and mind healthy and sound.

As we take a breath and inhale, we introduce oxygen whereas we remove carbon dioxide from our body which helps in removing toxins. Pranayama not only improves our inhalation and exhalation processes but also brings remarkable physiological benefits. By making the mind calm, it helps to relax one’s physical body and also one’s mind. This practice helps to reduce unwanted thoughts and conflicts in your mind and provides you with vitality. And if it is done religiously, it can transform your physical and mental energies states. Read more about it here.

Want holistic protection from Corona Virus using Pranayama? Give this blog a read.

If you want to learn how to apply Pranayama in your daily life and customize your routine according to your current health condition please book an appointment with Nahid Ameen. Pranayama can be used for digestion, hormonal balance, depression, anxiety, and better respiratory or lung health combined with a customized diet and lifestyle plan.

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I have been meaning to write about Medicinal Mushrooms for a very long time but didn’t know how to approach it from an Ayurvedic perspective. Ayurveda does not recommend too many mushrooms in your diet as it is a “tamasic” food. In Ayurveda, tamasic foods are described as dry, old, foul, or unpalatable foods. They are thought to promote pessimism, ignorance, laziness, criminal tendencies, and doubt. However, we also need “Tamas” for sleep, rest, and to stay grounded.

I do not want to disappoint my readers. Therefore, I would like to add my own thoughts to it. Like any healing science or tradition, there are many foods, herbs, and spices that have not been explored or researched in Ayurveda. Mushrooms are one of them, Modern scientific research we have come to know how medicinal mushrooms positively impact our health and contain benefits.

What are Medicinal Mushrooms?

Medicinal mushrooms have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) dating back thousands of years. Many medicinal mushrooms are being studied today for their therapeutic value. Most of the Medicinal Mushrooms grow in trees such as Reishi, Chaga and Turkey Tail, etc. In Ayurveda, possibly only the ground mushrooms were discussed and these tree mushrooms were not yet discovered.

Top Reasons WHY they are considered Medicinal Mushrooms

I do not claim that these Medicinal Mushrooms can miraculously eliminate diseases and also agree that more clinical trials need to be conducted to gather more scientific evidence that matches the empirical claims. However, in the past 8 years of me using mushrooms I cannot deny the benefits I have received and how beautifully these earthen gems can support healing and health when combines with an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

  1. Mushrooms are a great source of Vitamin D.
  2. Strong impact on the immune system.
  3. Contains Polylactides and Beta-Glucan – which provide many benefits.
  4. Medicinal Mushrooms also work as an adaptogen.
  5. Terpenoids found in the mushroom make it a good anti-inflammatory.
  6. High Antioxidant levels and fights free radicals. Antioxidants such as glutathione and ergothioneine protect cells from damages that can be created from cancer.
  7. Medicinal Mushrooms protect the liver.
  8. They also have an antimicrobial effect.
  9. The high fiber content in the Medicinal Mushrooms makes it an ideal prebiotic.
  10. Medicinal mushrooms are cardioprotective as it lowers cholesterol when combined with a healthy diet.
  11. They are also energy boosters.
  12. Medicinal mushrooms protect brain health.

 

Medicinal Mushrooms in Western Herbalism

Western Herbalists are also showing great enthusiasm when speaking about Medicinal Mushrooms. Mushroom broths are made quite popular amongst holistic practitioners even here in Canada. A few names come to mind when going through literature on Medicinal Mushrooms, such as Paul Stamet’s from Fungi.com and Dr. Christopher Hobb (fourth generation Herbalist).

Popular Mushrooms Found in Canada

If you love mushrooms or just started to learn about them, you may want to consider looking for wild mushrooms on your nature walk or herb walk. I live in Ontario Canada, therefore many parks have tree mushrooms growing such as Reishi, Apricot Jelly, Bear’s Head Tooth, Chicken of the Woods, and Chanterelle.

There are Canadians Herbalists and companies who are doing a great job bringing medicinal mushrooms to healthy food stores. One such company is known as Harmonic Arts. There is also Botanica (7 medicinal mushrooms), and Four Sigmatic.

Trees to Know for Foraging Mushrooms

Mushrooms typically grow on hemlock, oak, birch, beech, elm, pine, and spruce trees. There are mushrooms that grow on dead trees or logs.

Popular Medicinal Mushrooms

The most common medicinal mushrooms that health care practitioners love to talk about are Reishi, Chaga, Shiitake, Maitake, Lion’s Mane, Turkey Tail, Cordyceps, and Agaricus.

From an Ayurvedic perspective when considering culinary mushrooms in your diet ensure that it is cooked properly and only a small amount is consumed. When consuming medicinal mushrooms – hot water extraction or decoction is the best form of medicine.

Brands I prefer for Medicinal Mushrooms:

I started taking mushrooms in tinctures in the beginning. I also tried Paul Stamet’s brand Host Defense. During Covid time I took Stamet’s 7, a blend of Agaricus, Cordyceps, Reishi, Maitake, Lions Mane, Mesima, and Chaga. A wonderful blend for the immune system. I also tried MycoShield which is a mushroom blend extract in a spray bottle that is easy to carry. From the professional brand, I have tried Immune Builder from JHS Natural Products as they do hot water extraction. Over the years I supported clients with immune-compromised conditions with Medicinal Mushrooms including adding mushroom powder blend in smoothies.

Mushrooms and Health Focus

Cognitive Health: Lions Mane, Reishi & Cordyceps

Immune Health: Reishi, Cordyceps, Chaga, Turkey Tail. Shiitake and Maitake.

Digestive Health: Reishi and Turkey Tail

Stress Relief: Reishi, Cordyceps and Lions Mane

Energy and Stamina: Cordyceps, Reishi and Chaga

I will be writing about these medicinal mushrooms in detail in my future blogs.

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Anxiety, even in todays date is a taboo topic in many cultures. The general understanding is that the person is weak, unreliable, sloppy, have low self esteem or not productive. Often, they are picked last for a team task, a presentation or stage shows as well as made fun of behind their back. The reason being that people with anxiety often have a hard time to interact with others and communicate clearly, especially they are worrying about everything that’s is going around them. They often freeze, stutter or have a physical reaction from the anxiety. They also fear the “unknown” or “what’s to come.” Anxiety also creates self doubt as the person is constantly thinking about how they are perceived by others. They may feel people perceive them strange, weird or stupid.

Symptoms and Reactions

The person going through anxiety goes through a series of reactions both physiological and emotional while trying to deal with a “trigger” that causes excessive, persistent and unreasonable, “worry”. A trigger can be a negative thought, any change in life, confrontational conversation, an accident, memory of a trauma, a phobia or even social interaction. The trigger can cause worry about even an every day things in life, money, family, work and relationships. Even going to work, grocery shopping, school, social event or even the thought of getting through the day can feel stressful. Often people with anxiety are socially withdrawn, becomes quieter or chooses a particular task they are comfortable with to avoid interaction or going out. When experiencing an actual anxiety attack their gut feels twisted, jaw clenches, heart beats faster, hands tremble, breathing gets rapid, palms sweat and irritability or anger begins to takes over. Instead of falling asleep at night their mind is filled with negative, chattering thoughts that is hard to control. Although Anxiety attacks can be debilitating, it can be managed through therapy, medication, nutrition and lifestyle changes, specially if one knows the root cause of anxiety. As a society we need to understand and acknowledge people with such condition and show support to encourage them to come out of this state.

Physiological Reaction in the Body

Contrary to the popular belief, anxiety is not a useless emotion, it’s the response of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) that makes one respond immediately to a threat or worry. The body releases adrenaline or epinephrine – a hormone that in a temporary but substantial way heightens the five senses as well as mobility. Adrenaline rush also makes the blood vessels and muscles to contract, dilates pupil, sends more blood to the heart and lungs so one can respond to a threat, accident, assault, natural disaster or response to fear. This response is required if you have to be somewhere on time, meet deadline, pay the bills, go for appointments or meetings, catch a train/bus/flight, defend or react when being attacked, deal with emergency situation or run from wild animal.

Typically, our bodies like to stay in homeostasis, a state between “flight or fight mode” (triggered by the sympathetic nervous system) or “feed and breed response” (a relaxation mode triggered by the body’s parasympathetic system). When there is a balance between these two responses – homeostasis is maintained. However, when a threat is recognized the body reacts in “fight or flight” mode. Unfortunately, this crucial reaction is more constant in a person with anxiety or this reaction occurs during wrong time for people with anxiety.

Causes of Anxiety

Clinically speaking chronic anxiety could be hereditary or caused when stressful events keep on piling up such as trauma, violence, abuse. Another factor triggering anxiety can be imbalance in hormones. Such as, “serotonin”, “estrogen” or “testosterone.” Excessive estrogen or too low estrogen can trigger chronic anxiety. Over consumption of dairy or environmental factors such as, plastic can also create hormonal imbalance and cause anxiety. Using addictive substances especially cannabis can disrupt both male and female hormones which can lead to anxiety. I have had clients who smokes tobacco or marijuana to relief stress, while being completely oblivious that in turn these substances will increase the possibility of chronic anxiety. Other addictive substances are excessive alcohol, drugs and excessive digital time (cell phones and TV) can cause or aggravate anxiety or make the avoidance behaviour stronger. Interesting to note that anxiety or stress response due to environmental, social or work pressure may cause a person to start smoking or drinking to take the “pressure off”, however, the individual can become dependant on the addictive behaviour to control anxiousness. And long-term substance abuse will aggravate the anxiety.

Stress, trauma, accident, abuse or major change during puberty can also cause anxiety in both sexes. This is something to note as parent. If anxiety is recognized and is addressed during early stages the individual may be able to learn to manage their symptoms.

Diet and lack of nutrients can cause anxiety. Caffeinated drinks, high sugar intake, food colors, artificial sweeteners, additives can easily become part of daily diet and cause imbalance in the nervous system. Lack of nutrients such as, B vitamins, magnesium, fatty acids from natural sources and vitamin D can aggravate anxiety disorders.

In my own practice I have noticed that improper breathing, exposure to toxic mold, imbalanced gut microflora and food intolerances/allergies can also be the underlying cause of anxiety.

Effects of Anxiety

Long term effect of Chronic anxiety can disrupt regular life and physiologically impact your blood cells, alter brain chemistry, increase risk of heart disease, increases blood pressure, worsen other conditions such as, migraine, headaches, asthma, insomnia, GI issues, type 2 diabetes and infertility in both men and women. On a cellular level, chronic anxiety can accelerate aging as it impacts telomeres (protective caps on our chromosomes), inhibit the cells ability to protect themselves from oxidation and impacts the serotonin levels which in turn will impact mood and emotional stability.

Medical Treatment for Anxiety

Psychiatric help is sought for anxiety. Counseling or medical tests can result is a more concrete diagnosis. After the diagnosis Psychiatrists use anti-depressant drugs in combination with Cognitive Behavioural Treatment (CBT) to clinically treat anxiety. Medicines such as, citalopram (Celexa) escitalopram (Lexapro) fluoxetine (Prozac) fluvoxamine (Luvox) paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) sertraline (Zoloft) have been used to treat anxiety. Although with anxiety one can feel ramped up and with depression one feels more down. But they do have many common symptoms and may induce similar brain chemistry. That’s why Psychiatrists use anti depressants to treat anxiety. There are also anti anxiety drugs such as, benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” which include Ativan, Xanax and Valium.

Types of Anxiety and Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Note that both anxiety and depression are not “a particular disorder” but they are generic terms for types of disorders.

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders that triggers restlessness, discomfort and forms avoidance as a behavioural pattern. These mental disorders are, phobias, social event avoidance, separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive-behaviour, post traumatic stress disorder, acute or chronic stress and substance abuse restlessness. Anxiety means a person is on “high-alert” with increased awareness, racing heart and/or sweaty palms. It is important to understand that as with any mental health condition, anxiety is deeply personal and symptoms will vary from person to person. At its core anxiety triggers helplessness in a person. The most common form of anxiety is the Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) that is seen in most people.

“Individuals with GAD typically anticipate disaster, and are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health issues, money, death, family problems, friendship problems, interpersonal relationship problems, or work difficulties. These symptoms must be consistent and ongoing, persisting at least six months, for a formal diagnosis of GAD.” – Osmosis.org

Why Anti Depressants are used for Anxiety Treatment?

In comparison, people with depression often experience low positive affect, feels fatigued, lethargic and un motivated. Depression triggers hopelessness in a person. The most common in depressive disorder is the Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

The above-mentioned symptoms can tell these two disorders apart. However, there are also common symptoms in both disorders such as, fatigue, worry, irritability, lack of focus, lack of concentration and sleep disturbances. Psychiatrists also have noticed a pattern – that many people with anxiety will also have depression or vice versa. It could be because in both cases the body’s hormonal cycles are distributed. In both anxiety and depression people may have an over-sensitive stress response system. Many studies have also pointed out that lower levels of serotonin levels or how the brain releases norepinephrine are similar in both anxiety and depression. Hence anti depressants are being used to treat anxiety.

Modern Life and Anxiety

In todays date the rate of anxiety patient in rising. People are anxious about their health, safety, finances, work environment, politics and even relationships. 24/7 broadcasting on news, excessive need of digital connectivity and social media also adds to the cause. If you have a family member or a friend who suffers from anxiety, know that anxiety is no longer an individual issue but societal issue. Support people suffering from anxiety by listening to them and understanding what is the cause of their anxiety. Of course, one must consider medical help as well. But having support on individual level is important.

Gender and Anxiety

Anxiety can be seen in men due to substance abuse and addictive behaviours. But it maybe more common in women than men due to issues like sexual abuse, physical injury (head injuries are the worst) and hormonal changes during adolescent, pregnancy and menopause. Self-esteem, social status, insecurity, body image can cause anxiety in both genders.

Naturopathy – Treatment for Anxiety

Before considering the usual medical route if someone wants to consider a more natural way to combat or manage their anxiety, I have some recommendations. The first step would be keeping a log about the incidents with as many details as possible including date and time. This may not be comfortable or possible for some but an affective way to get to the route cause.

Practicing breathing exercise is utmost important for people with Anxiety. The Yogis call them Pranayama. It would fun to explore Pranayama and learn how many ways one can manipulate their breathing pattern. Two Pranayama that I recommend for anxiety are, Anulom Vilom (alternate nostril breathing) and Ujjayi (Ocean’s Breath).

Medical science is noticing the Gut-Brain connection and stating that the gut is our second brain. Therefore, eating fresh, seasonal foods as close to its natural state as possible is considered most healthy. Fresh fruits, steamed, lightly cooked vegetables, small number of nuts and seeds and small amount of grains (rice, wheat etc.), proteins (lentils, beans, meat, poultry and fish). Oats are fantastic food for the nervous system therefore adding often in the diet would be wise. Consider fatty and small fish at least 3-4 times a week. Apples are also high antioxidant and high fiber food that can boost memory. Replace caffeinated drinks, fizzy-carbonated drinks, pop, sparkling water with plain old water. A minimum eights cups of water is necessary for keeping the body alkalized. Additionally, in order to ensure good healthy bacteria’s in the gut by consuming fermented foods, such as, yogurt (if dairy is not the cause), kimchi, miso, apple cider vinegar, pickles, fermented rice, etc. Herbal teas such as lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, holy basil or tulsi are excellent to combat anxiety as they calm the nervous system.

In terms of supplements Omega 3 fatty acids are must – fish oil such as cod liver oil or salmon oil and flax oil are healthy for the nervous system. Additionally, eating magnesium rich foods such as, beans, almonds, tofu, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, spinach, tuna fish, yogurt, avocadoes and my most favourite – dark chocolate (fair trade, no white sugar or dairy), will relax the muscles in the body and improve sleep. Intermittent fasting between sunset to sunrise will improve one’s blood sugar which in turn will improve focus, concentration, memory and sleep.

Once diet is improved look into exercise such as going for a brisk walk for a minimum of 15-20 minutes. Lifestyle changes, such as, yoga, meditation, swimming, cycling, getting rid of processed foods that has food additives, high salt, high sugar, high flour, high dairy content and food coloring would be a very wise step towards strong mental health.

To conclude I would like to remind the readers that it is important to differentiate the feeling of anxiety (reasonable response to a trigger) from someone who actually struggles with persistent and excessive worry about future events. Feeling anxious before public speaking, performing live, going on a date, writing an exam, going to an interview is natural. However, a person with anxiety that is clinical, struggle to cope with various stimuli surrounding them and experiences physiological and mental symptoms to gain control of their mind. It is a severe psychological battle they are fighting internally. Understand that they are not doing this to be difficult or seek attention as they would rather avoid any trigger to avoid these feelings. Therefore, listening without judging could be an ideal way to show support.

If you or anyone you know suffers from anxiety and/or depression and would like to explore customized treatment plan for this condition, you can book an appointment with me. I assist by making small but effective changes in your diet (adding required Nutrition needed) and suggesting lifestyle changes. Depending on your specific goals, I would also design a customized blend by using my knowledge of Herbs, Supplements and/or Aromatherapy. 
 

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What is Ramadan?

It is a spiritual retreat for the Muslims to get closer to their Creator. For 30 days (month of Ramadan) to reconnect with their religion and family while abstaining from food, water and worldly desires from sunrise till sunset. The physical aspect of fasting makes you realize about thirst and hunger. And the spiritual aspect is your mind (heart and brain) dedicated to Allah, helps you abstain from food and water. For some people fasting can be easier than others, even so the mind is in control.

Why do Muslims fast during Ramadan?

  1. Allah has prescribed fasting for us stating there are amazing benefits to fasting.
  2. Fasting is observed in order to develop a higher consciousness and mindfulness of Allah – the creator.
  3. In order to develop the urge to self protect from sins and errors, from disappointing Allah and the messenger of Allah.
  4. Purification of the self of all ill habits. Let go of the bad ones and learn a few new ones.
  5. To learn self discipline and self control
  6. To read and study the Quran.

What Allah Says in the Quran about Ramadan:

Ramadan or fasting is mentioned in Surah – Baqarah in Ayats 183 – 185.

  1. O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous –
  2. [Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.
  3. The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.

Islamic Take on Fasting Beyond Ramadan:

Fasting once a year during the entire month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam that Muslims must practice. Additionally, it is highly recommended to fast on Mondays and Thursdays and on the 13-15th of every month. Fasting in Islam is always intended as a form of “Ibadat” (worship) in Islam to get closer to Allah. And Allah said in the Quran (2:184) “And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.” Which means there are many other health benefits to fasting.

The Physiology of Fasting:

The human body is run by glucose, proteins and fats (lipids). Of the three fuels the essential one is glucose which means the body (especially the brain) requires it to normally function. Usually after a long day of fasting, the glucose supply would be running low and the body will seek glucose from the protein and fats. After 24 hours of fast, glycogen store is depleted, forcing the body to utilize energy store from the adipose tissues and protein store. The body draws a substitute of glucose from its existing fat storage, also known as ketone bodies. Ketones are primary food supply for the brain.

Intermittent Fasting VS Ramadan Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a way of eating that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. It also does not specify exact hours for fasting but the fasting method requires anywhere from 12 to 16-hour daily fasting or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week. One can also drink water, coffee/tea or take supplements during the fasting hours. Unless someone is doing dry fasting.

Ramadan, on the other hand is a religious observation that directs one to fast between sunrise to sunset for holy month of Ramadan (29-30 days) without any food or drinks. This is a dry fast and the hours depend on sunrise and sunset in the area that you reside in. Muslims all over the world practice eating Halal foods during and after Ramadan.

Physiological Benefits of Fasting

There used to be a lot of negative stigma associated with “fasting” before. When I used to fast for Ramadan, I constantly heard how hard this practice is. However, today there are people who do 24 to 72 hours of fasting. Dr. Jason Fung’s book changed many people’s opinion as he popularized fasting and healthy eating for weight loss. And weight loss occurs as there are many changes happening in the body. An important one is the liver is free to transform protein and lipids into dominant fuel for the body. The most sustainable way Intermittent fasting is being promoted is to do a 16:8 fasting regularly (fasting 16 hours and having 8 hours to eat), once a week fasting or 2 non-consecutive day of fasting (5:2 diet). Note, that the followers of Islam are also encouraged to fast two days a week, mostly Mondays and Thursdays, beyond Ramadan.

Fasting triggers the endocrine system to make shifts. The hormones mobilize the body’s reserves as well as have an anti-inflammatory effect. Hence the body seeks balance through self-regulatory mechanisms and produce therapeutic effects.

Many aspects of blood composition improve such as, levels of glucose, insulin, cholesterol and triglycerides. Triglycerides are detached into free fatty acids and glycerol. The liver then respectively converts them into ketone bodies and glucose.

Breathing and heart beat slow down and blood pressure lowers. The digestive system also gets some rest.

Animal study shows intermittent fasting can delay the progression of neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease.

Summarizing Fasting Benefits combined with Nutritious Diet

  1. Fasting boosts the metabolism
  2. Increases the chances of fat/weight loss
  3. Balances blood sugar and ensure better insulin sensitivity
  4. Lowers high cholesterol and triglycerides
  5. Lowers high blood pressure
  6. Since the liver is not using its capacity to help the body to digest the food, it is free to conduct other functionalities to keep the body strong.
  7. Fasting and nutritious foods can improve the health of our skin provided
  8. Fasting improves the immune system by reducing inflammatory cytokines in the body (chemical messages that communicated between our immune cells; some cause inflammation in the body). It also increases macrophages (a cell that attacks and consumes harmful microbes).  
  9. May promote longevity as one’s immune system is strong as well as fasting favours the growth of “good gut bacteria”, also known as probiotics.
  10. Fasting and nutrition combined together are anti aging.
  11. Fasting and alkalizing diet (more vegetables and small number of fresh fruits) can decrease inflammation, promote fat loss and trigger ketones (when on a low carb diet).
  12. Improve better cellular health.
  13. Enhances brain capacity and function.
  14. Improves the body’s stress response and prevent DNA damage.
  15. Quickens recovery from injury.
  16. Fasting reduces oxidative stress.
  17. Short day fasts improve overall energy and stamina.
  18. Research is going on how fasting can help fight cancer and tumor growths through autophagy.

Sustainable Fasting Methods During and After Ramadan

Given all the above benefits one can consider a more sustainable way to use intermittent fasting is by stop snacking altogether. Meaning eat 2 or 3 meals a day without snacking in between. This would provide increased energy during Ramadan if combined with healthy eating. Unfortunately, usually during Ramadan many culture and social practice promotes eating throughout the night or promotes large amount of food for snacking at the break of the fast, including “high sugar” juices or Sherbet’s. Deep fried foods, lots of processed foods, rich foods and juices can create a huge burden on our pancreas, liver and the digestive system. When our organs are provided with large quantities of unhealthy foods after a long day of fast, we barely have any fuel to pray at night or wake up for the Sahor/Sehri at night. Our body needs the energy from the food we eat, however we focus more on food and less on our ability to perform more prayers after fasting.

After Ramadan, practicing intermittent fasting would be a great kick start even for those who consider fasting after Ramadan. One must know their body’s limit of fasting. Ramadan makes use fast between sunrise to sunset which could be anywhere from 12-18 hours in most places in the world. These hours can be reached if you do not have a serious health condition and if you are not 60 plus, underweight or under 14 years of age. During summer people in warmer climates may find it challenging.

Tips on Making Fasts Work for You during Ramadan

  1. Ensure insulin levels do not spike when breaking fast. Therefore, no fruits juices, Sherbets or other liquids that contain sugar or fructose or high fructose corn syrup (mostly in canned soda or pops)
  2. Eat mostly carbohydrate rich foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients. Be aware of the carbohydrate you are choosing to consume. This will provide energy for the night “salat’s” or “prayers.”
  3. Ensure easy to digest food combination and eat fluids/liquids away from meals. If you break fast with warm water or warm lemon water, then say your prayer first and then consume your iftar or meal. After finishing the meal, spend time cleaning up or in dikir and then consume more water. Drinking water throughout your meals will not be good for digestion.
  4. For electrolyte balance you can have warm water with a squeeze or lemon/lime and a pinch of sea or Himalayan pink salt.
  5. Eat small amounts of probiotic rich foods such as, yogurt, sauerkraut or kimchi, small amount of protein (5-6 oz.) such as, red meat, chicken, fish or lentils/beans and small amount of fats such as, nuts and seeds or avocado.

Current Phenomenon: Food Availability, Unhealthy Diet & Reduced Fasting:

Many of us enjoy three meals each day plus snacking. Additionally, we have well stocked fridge, freezer and pantry which is a historical anomaly. The packaged food section in grocery stores contains many varieties of preserved dry foods can has long best before dates. There are restaurants, dessert & coffee shops for social gatherings and smart phone Apps that ensure constant supply of food. Our bodies are not used to fasting any more and mostly in a state of constant feeding. The organs such as liver, pancreas and GI are over worked. Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia and depression can be combated with fasting and good diet.

Physiological impact of Overeating Unhealthy Foods

  1. The body’s metabolic process will be overstressed to ensure it gets rid of excess food.
  2. Excess food that is not metabolized will be stored in the body as fat.
  3. The body’s hormones such as insulin, production will be in excess to process sugar load and reduce in the blood stream. “Sugar” means foods that break down into sugar such as, carbohydrates, fruits and regular sugar.
  4.  The brain triggers the body to stop producing insulin after sugar is removed from the blood stream. Often times low blood sugar occurs as too much sugar is removed from the blood. Low blood sugar then causes dizziness, fatigue, nausea and even depression. And most commonly this phenomenon is dealt by eating again to stabilize the blood sugar. Eating again will start insulin production. Hence, becomes a vicious cycle.
  5. Food impacts the brain hence our mood. Excessive eating can trigger overproduction of dopamine and opioid release in the brain. Overtime the body will associate these pleasure sensations with eating these unhealthy foods.
  6. Combining cold liquids with deep fried food and overeating after breaking the fast will trigger food to leave the stomach too early before breaking is down properly.
  7. Spicy, fatty and carbohydrate rich foods may cause indigestion, gas and bloating. Combining liquids while eating large meals will do the same.
  8. As the body’s organs (GI, Liver, Pancreas, Brain etc.) get busy digesting food symptoms like fatigue, sleepiness, sluggishness, rapid heart rate and headaches will follow.
  9. Consistent overeating or eating unhealthy foods consistently (even with fasting in between) will cause various lifestyle diseases and impact the digestive and hormonal system of the body.

Ayurvedic Tips that can be used during Ramadan

  1. Ayurveda discourages eating excessive amounts of garlic and onion with meals, as they are heating in quality and lead to “tamas” or lethargy. Lethargy will negate the intention of night prayers.
  2. When drinking dairy milk and yogurt, ensure not to mix fruits or meat or wheat-based items (such as bread). Combining dairy with the above will lead to indigestions and gas. Milk and banana are not a great food combination. However, one exception is date and milk which can be consumed together.
  3. Eat fruits away from other meals or keep a gap between fruits and rest of the meal.
  4. Grain based foods that are heavy and high in sugar such as, rice and bread eaten with fruits are also not ideal for digestion.
  5. When eating eggs do not combine with dairy based products, beans, fruits or grain heavy meals.

Calories during Ramadan:

Globally many societies consume excessive calories during Ramadan and end up gaining weight than loosing weight. This weight gain in no mean is healthy. Therefore, understanding caloric intake during Ramadan is utmost important.

I am taking example of eating pattern I have witnessed during Ramadan and based on this I have provided an estimation of caloric intake during Ramadan. This is based on mostly South East Asians and their food habits.

During Sehri or Sohoor if one is consuming heavy, thinking it will keep them fuller throughout the day then it is a grave error. Heavy food will make the body sluggish, drain blood supply from the brain and make you hungry just in few hours. A grain-based meal with curry/salan/gravy-based dish can easily be 800-900 calories. A glass of dairy milk or tea/coffee (with added sugar or dairy) will add another 100-120 calories and dessert can add up to 200 calories. Since, at sohoor some of us are still sleepy or after a large iftar it is hard eat too much, people still end up eating anywhere from 1000 to 1300 calories, depending on age, gender, physical structure and appetite.

During Iftar “sherbat’s” or sugary drinks can add 200 calories, deep fried snack can add up to 700 calories, beans such as, chickpeas, black chick peas can add another 200 calories, desserts up to 200 calories and hot beverages with sugar and milk up to another 100 calories. This is 1200 calories ONLY for snacking which people call “iftar”. Many have a complete dinner afterwards which would around another 500-700 calories.

Food waste and spoilage are common add on with over consumption.

Ideal Meal Planning for Ramadan

If you want to stay healthy and focus on prayers/reading the Quran as well as balance your work or home management you must plan meals differently.

Suhoor Foods: Start with a glass of cardamom or cinnamon or lemon infused water. This can be prepared the night before.

  1. Oatmeal with nut, seeds and dried or fresh berries. I highly recommend drinking a nut or seed-based milk instead of dairy.  Overnight oat can be pre made and instantly eaten upon waking up. Or,
  2. Bone broth (poultry or beef/lamb/goat) with small amounts of noodles and lots of veggies. Or,
  3. Vegetable based soups such as squash, sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli etc. and a bowl of salad. Or,
  4. Plain roti with curry and salad.

Grains and beans are heavy and hard to digest, therefore consuming small quantities is better.

Drink green or herbal tea 10 minutes after with a fruit if possible. If not ensure a minimum of 3-4 cups of water.

No more than a total of 700-800 calories can be consumed. If on a weight loss diet then 500-600 calories would be best.

Iftar Foods: Break fast or open iftar with electrolyte drink (warm lemon water with a pinch of salt) and a small bowl of fresh pomegranate or berries or grape (120 – 150 calories approximately). Afterwards go for Maghrib prayer and come back to one main meal. Soak chia or flax seeds in water in the morning and by Iftar it will be a gel like consistency.

  1. A cup of rice (206 calories) with a small of curry (250 calories) and a bowl of salad (approximately 50-60 calories). A date (25 calories) and a cup of green or any other herbal tea.
  2. 2 roti (chapati, preferably whole wheat – 140 calories) with 2 kabebs (250 calories) and bowl of fresh salad. Add 50 grams of mango (30 calories) and a cup of green or other herbal tea.
  3. A cup and half of mixed roasted vegetables with 1 teaspoon of olive oil with grilled chicken/fish/meat (4-5 oz.) and ½ cup of brown rice or quinoa, A date and tea after meal.

The above is 450-500 calories excluding the first bowl of fruit you had before Maghrib prayer.

Cautious During the Ramadan Fasting

To avoid dehydration, ensure 3-4 cups of plain water at Sehri and at Iftar. To combat excessive thirst throughout the day ensure you eat cooling foods such as coconut water, watermelon, mint, cucumber etc. Ensure less spice foods as they cause the body to warm up and sweat, hence the body further lose water.

Many get headaches during fasting hours – this could be due to excessive eating, consuming sugar in forms of grains, fruit juices or high carbohydrate rich foods and consuming deep-fried foods. In some women headaches can also be due to excessive sugar and dairy consumption. Breathing exercise, neck-shoulder exercise and less dependency on caffeine can reduce occurrence of headaches.

People with diabetes must speak with their primary health care practitioner and monitor their blood sugar. They must avoid refined sugar, sweets, desserts, baked goods, high carbohydrate meals and juices at all cost.

Some may also experience heart burn which is usually due to deep fried food or due to overeating. Drink water with freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice before meals. Other remedies used are apple cider vinegar (start with 1 tsp.) in water, mint tea or fennel seed tea.

Correct Way of Eating (breaking Fast) during Ramadan:

If Allah has asked us to fast by abstaining from both water and food from sunrise to sunset, then we must also continue our practice by cutting down on what we eat during the entire month. 

During Suhoor or Sehri it is best to have a light meal so less energy is spent on digesting and making insulin and more can be spend on prayers and dikr. Also, a heavy meal will also promote more hunger during the midday due to low blood sugar.

In order to perform Tarawih or Tahajjud prayers (not by sacrificing the five fard prayers) one needs more energy therefore; it is highly recommended to eat foods can be easily digested by your body. Cooked vegetables, small amounts of grains/beans/lentils and small amount of lean protein will be very helpful.

In order to increase reading capacity or to improve memorizing (verses from Quran and Duas) drink herbal teas, fresh fruits and omega 3 rich foods.

Heavy or rich foods, deep fried foods, sweets and processed foods will cause gas and burping. Spicy foods and gravy laden foods will cause sweating. There are also foods that can cause poor oral and body odor such as garlic and onions. These foods are detrimental to your digestive health, especially in empty stomach.

The Sunnah of Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) teaches us to drink water, eat dates, yogurt and small piece of bread. The Quran also mentions foods such as honey, milk, pomegranate, dates and olives.

Interesting Facts: Animals and Fasting

The penguins in the Antarctica continent are fascinating birds. The male Emperor penguin fasts spontaneously in his colony on the ice. They can go up to four months without food. Camels store lipids on their humps and can go without eating for two months. Bears and White Shark can go without food for 3 months. Humpback Whale and Python can go up to 6 months. Of course, these are just interesting data that exist in the nature. In comparison a young adult human (5’6” tall) weighing 70 kilograms will have 15 kilograms of fat reserve which can be enough to keep going for a month without food.

Conclusion:

Fasting during Ramadan is to achieve a higher consciousness, connect to the Creator, offer more Ibadat and bring discipline to our lives. We cannot defeat the purpose of Ramadan by making it all about the food during Iftar. When we practice fasting and discipline, we can achieve the pleasure of Allah. Therefore, eating wisely will only contribute towards our Ibadat and our health.

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The Power of Microgreens - the Sattvic Food Gem in Ayurveda

What are Microgreen?

Mircrogreens, which are also known as “vegetable confetti”, are baby plants which are harvested between 10 and 14 days from seeding. They are young edible seedlings of beans, herbs, grains, and vegetables. They are sometimes confused with sprouts because they are tiny and perfect. They are easily available from shops and can be grown anywhere even at home using vegetables seeds, grains, or herbs. Microgreens are loaded with nutrients and vitamins, because of which they are also known as the powerhouse of natures multivitamins. They are also known as living foods because they are organic and very close to nature.

Microgreens

How do you grow them? (Hydroponic and in soil)

Mircogreens are an amazing source of nutrients. They are very easy and fun to grow, whether indoors or outdoors. People who are interested in kitchen gardening, grow microgreens in their kitchen window ledges. We can harvest mircogreens in 2-3 weeks. Microgreens can be grown in soil or hydroponic environment. Microgreens which are grown using in soil and hydroponic methods have high nutritional values.

Growing microgreens in soil requires soil and ample amount of sunlight. Sattvic foods, such as peas, sunflower, beets, cilantro, lentils, beans and others are grown in soil. Sattvic foods are very simple and should be grown organically using extremely rich fertile soil.

In Hydroponic method, a good sunlight is needed to grow microgreens. Instead of soil, mineral nutrient solutions in water is used to grow microgreens. This method is excellent for indoor or kitchen gardening. A few microgreens which are grown hydroponically are, lettuce, spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, and strawberries.

Microgreens

Microgreens

How to add them to your daily diet?

As mentioned earlier, microgreens are powerhouse of natures multivitamin. Adding them into our daily diet will give us daily dose of multivitamins we need. Some of the ways you can incorporate it into your daily diet is:

  • Add microgreens into your salad.
  • Place microgreens (like lettuce) into wraps for extra crunchy flavor.
  • Add microgreens into your smoothies and juices.
  • Garnish or sprinkle into any dish you eat.
  • Add microgreens into your omelet, sandwiches, pizzas, flatbreads, or rolls.

You can easily incorporate microgreens into your daily life because they are taste enhancer and can be added into any food.

Microgreens salad

Types of seeds that can be grown for microgreens

– legumes (chickpea, mung beans, lentils), grains (Buckwheat, Amaranth & Wheat), seeds (sunflower), Brassica family (Broccoli, cabbage, Kale. Radish, Watercress, Arugula, Mustard, Kolrabi etc), Herbs (Cilantro, Basil Sorel, Dill, Anise, Mint, Oregano, Sage), Onion family (Chives, Leeks, Onions and Garlic)

My Top 12 Microgreens

Following are my top 12 microgreens:

  • Alfalfa
  • Broccoli
  • Buckwheat
  • Cabbage
  • Clover
  • Fenugreek
  • Mung
  • Mustard
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Sunflower
  • Watercress

These microgreens contain innumerable benefits. Because they are powerhouse of natures multivitamin, it prevents many diseases and helps to manage weight. They also assist to treat mental and physical health. They have antioxidant property, which helps to remove unstable waste molecules known as free radicals from the body. Broccoli contains phenolic antioxidant and high levels of vitamin E. Lettuce contains carotenoid antioxidants and is high in vitamin A. Each microgreen contains specific antioxidant.

Microgreen
A brief description about each microgreen is given below:

  • Alfalfa

This herb is also known as Medicago Sativa. It contains saponins, estrogenic isoflavonoids (e.g., daidzein, genistein), vitamin K, and the amino acid L-canavanine. Alfalfa is highly nutritious and have high nitrogen content in it.

  • Broccoli

A branched, green vegetable which has numerous health benefits because it is highly nutritious. It contains fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium and helps to prevent cancer, improve digestion, boost immunity and lose weight.

  • Buckwheat

A type of grain, pseudo cereal, is gluten-free and contains minerals, protein, and fiber. It is a superfood and helps to improve heart condition and promote healthy weight loss. It also aids to manage diabetes.

  • Cabbage

An excellent snack because it has very few calories in it. It has layers of leaf and can be eaten raw in salad. It taste very delicious and crispy.

  • Clover

A small fragrant flower herb which has a nutty flavor. They are very easy and quick to grow.

  • Fenugreek

A clover like herb, which contains different alkaloids, flavonoids and saponins. It has powerful blend of flavors and is used in medicine and cooking. It is used as an appetite stimulant, and to treat atherosclerosis, constipation, diabetes, dyspepsia/gastritis, fevers, kidney ailments

  • Mung

Mung are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. They have fewer calories and has numerous health benefits.

  • Mustard

Mustard is a broadleaf, cruciferous, cool-seasoned annual oilseed crop produced mostly for the condiment market.

  • Peas

Peas are not a vegetable but actually belong from the legumes food category. They are low in calories and low in fat. They are very healthy and nutritious to eat.

  • Sunflower

Easily grown in soil only, they are an amazing source of iron and calcium.

  • Watercress

Watercress contains high amount of vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Besides this, they are an amazing source of folate, calcium, iron and vitamin E.

Reference: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316075#benefits

Written By: Syeda Saira

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Moongpani, Mungdalpani or Mung Bean Water Benefits in Ayurveda

Moong or Mung beans are the “Queen Beans” of all the beans, as per Ayurvedic Medicine. Moong is considered the superior bean in Ayurvedic Medicine. As we know Ayurveda uses food as medicine and inspires us to become an expert with ingredients as a cook in our kitchen. Ayurveda teaches us how to dilute certain ingredients for easy digestion and detoxification.

My friend Annu has created this amazing product line based on Ayurveda using Moongdal that is easily available in Canada. This I believe this is one of the Best of Holistic Fast Food that that is available at health stores. The process of making traditional moong pani requires time and patience. And when using Annu’s product you skip the labour and reap the benefit of easy to make moongpani at your disposal. Please keep reading this blog till the end to find out more about my friends amazing product. Just a quick teaser this is Keto Friendly, Vegan and Halal therefore, is suitable for many different lifestyles.

Before sharing more details about this new exciting product, I still want to delve into how you can make your own moong pani, what are the benefits of moong dal or mung beans as well as benefits of moongpani.

Ayurvedic Characteristics

Sanskrit Name: Mudga

English Name: Mung Bean/Green gram

Taste: Sweet & Astringent

Energetics: Cooling

Qualities: Drying, light and absorbent. (whole mung bean is slightly heavy)

Post Digestion (Vipaka): Pungent

Effects on Dosha: Balances Kapha and Pitta

Vitamins & Minerals: In each cup of mung beans, you will get 14.2 grams of protein (rich in essential amino acids), 15 grams of fiber and 38.7 grams of carbohydrate. Additionally, contains Folate/B9 (80%), B1, B2, B3, B5. B6, Selenium, Manganese (30%), Phosphorus, Iron, Copper, Potassium and Zinc.

Ways to Cook & Prepare Mung Beans or Moong Dal as Food and Skin Care:

The humble green gram is available at the grocery stores in 3 ways. Whole green gram, spilt mung beans and yellow mung dal. Its easy to cook dal from the last one.

Sprouts and microgreens made from whole mung are living foods that nourish the body with high nutrient and detoxifying content. Sprouts and microgreens are great support to skin health.

Moongpani (also known as Rasam) can be made from spilt green gram or the yellow moong dal.

Grounded moong dal or mung bean powder can be mixed with water, honey or yogurt to apply as face mask.

One can make khichari and dal or lentil soup using any of the three types available.

Interesting to learn that in Ayurveda the roots of the mung bean is used to make medicated milk to be used as an energy drink.

Benefits of Moong Dal or Mung Bean Soup:

As you can see the list of nutrient density of this humble moong dal, it is obvious the nourishment this dal can provide. The phyto nutrients in the moong can provide us with antioxidant support which in turn can reduce the risk of many chronic disease or chronic health condition. Sprouted moongdal provides the highest antioxidant protection. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties and help to cool down the body. Antioxidants such as Vitexin and Isovitexin may prevent heat stroke in addition to water (hydration is key). Moong dal or mung bean also supports healthy heart function by reducing the bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. This is due to the high fiber and high mineral content.

Benefits of Moong Pani, Mung Bean Water or Moongpani:

1. The most important benefit of Moongpani is it kindles the digestive fire or the agni (enzymes, HCl) that is ever so needed for immunity and digestion. Moongpani promotes healthy appetite, improves detoxification of the body and can be used reduce obesity or for weight loss in combination with a healthy diet.

2. I highly recommend this during a spiritual cleanse or healthy detoxification as its is easy on the body to digest Moongpani. When fasting for spiritual or cleansing reason try to break your fast with Moongpani.

3. Moongpani is also known to improve the quality of one’s voice.

4. It can be considered as an aphrodisiac as it promotes physical strength/energy.

5. Ayurveda also recommends using moongpani during ones wound healing. Hence can be easily used for post surgery recovery.

6. Ayurveda confirms that moong dal or mung bean reduces Kapha induced diseases and reduces mucus in the body. The soup/dal as well as moongpani is highly beneficial to reduce cough, cold and fever.

7. Looking at the nutrients, prabhava (effects on health) and its cooling effect, mung bean dal and moongpani can be used in obesity (weight loss), inflammatory diseases (arthritis, gout. Rhinitis etc.)

8. Moongpani can also support cardiac conditions, piles, vertigo, gynecological issues, skin condition and mental health condition.

9. Due to the low glycemic index of a diluted moongpani and high protein and fiber content moongpani is amazing for balancing blood sugar and for diabetic patients.

10. The rich array of B vitamins and folic acid in moong can support healthy pregnancy.

11. Moongpani has been used by Ayurvedic Practitioner’s to reduce swelling in the body or feet.

12. Having moongpani for dinner (dinner by sunset) can reduce stiffness in the joints. However, combine this with 8-10 cups of water and good diet for the rest of the day. The alkalizing minerals contribute towards reducing the stiffness in the body. Ensure to add small amount of lemon or lime juice.

Traditional Preparation of Moongpani:

The traditional or Ayurvedic preparation of moongpani or mungpani requires the understanding of ratio between water and moongdal to extract maximum nutrients and to create a good dilution of moong. Ayurveda suggests 18:1 ratio for water to moong dal or mung bean.

Recipe: Homemade Moongpani

Ingredients:

Whole Moong dal or Mung Bean – 25 grams

Water – 400 ml

Direction:

1. Presoak moong dal for 8 to 10 hours. Drain the water and set it aside.

2. In a heavy bottom pan, add the water and bring it to boil.

3. Add the moong dals and in medium-high eat cook until water is one fourth or 100 ml. If can be done in a pressure cooker as well for 3-4 whistles.

4. Strain the soup only to get the water. You can add a few teaspoons of the bean (by product from the straining)

I understand that the above may not sound very appetizing however it’s the perfect food for digestion and detoxification. Many people add Tarka or using tempering spices to flavour the moongpani. Ayurvedic medicine refers to taking moongpani and then later add ginger, lime, cumin, mint, cilantro, amla juice and hing to improve flavour.

However, the above effort and the blandness of the soup can be avoided if you by the Moongpani by Annu. See below for more information.

Moongpani or Mung Bean Soup Tea by Balatibala Plant-Based Foods

Here is the good news for people who are always on the run, have crazy busy schedule or work long hours without break. Moongpani or Mung Bean Soup or Tea by Balatibala Plant-Based Foods is made in Canada!! Annu who is making traditional Ayurvedic Food/Medicine available to you in a click. Large health food sites such as, Well.ca, Vegansupply.ca and Noah’s Fine foods is carrying her Moongpani or Mung Bean Tea.

The way Annu keeps to tradition and the labour/love put in the product is incredible. Result is the stock was sold out at Well.ca after the first shipment.

You can use this product as a soup or a tea. If you add as a quick soup mix, just pour water, add lime or lemon and enjoy with a hearty salad. If using as a tea, then pour water, wait till it dissolves and drink as a tea. Annu has added traditional spices and herbs to suit your palate.

Balatibala Plant-Based Foods is a family-owned business that makes Moong Pani Soup-Teas made from mung beans, herbs and spices. They have taken a traditional and nutritious Indian hot drink, based on Ayurvedic principles of health, and created a convenient dried soup-tea mix that is tasty, healthy, all natural and conveniently packaged for anytime anywhere.

Keto Lifestyle Followers: Please make the moongpani in a coffee mug, pour water, wait until it dissolves and then add lemon juice on it. Add your favourite fat or Ghee to make it Keto Ideal! Instead of drinking coffee that is a diuretic food and will flush water out of your system why not try the Moongpani.

Vegan Lifestyle Followers: Make the Moongpani as a per the instruction at the back on the package. Add fresh lemon or lime juice. Instead of ghee, heat up small amount of coconut oil and add it.

In world of superfood and so many supplements it is hard to convince people how a humble moong can transform your health. Best to try and see the benefits yourself. Yogi’s traditionally loved moongpani to kindle agni. So I hope you will either make at home and support Moongpani in GTA. Your support is crucial for the success of a small business who offers such unique product line.

 

https://moongpani.com/

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