EAT LIKE A YOGA MASTER
TO KEEP THAT ZEN...
TO KEEP THAT ZEN...
It is beyond doubt that a healthy balanced diet is a key to overall health. Healthy eating nurtures the body with essential nutrients that promote and support hormonal production and balance at its best. The endocrine system is quite a delicate one. Each hormone that goes into the bloodstream has a specific task on the body. Having balanced hormones is vital for health and well being. When these chemical messengers are imbalanced, a vast array of unpleasant conditions may arise. Unhealthy hormonal production causes fertility issues, diabetes, insomnia, brain fog, mood swings, decreases sexual desire, metabolism to name a few.
The sister science of Yoga, Ayurveda recommends a Sattvic diet. In Yogic tradition, food is sacred and is meant to promote higher frequency within the body. Thus, facilitating more mental clarity and physical vitality. The main principle regarding food in Ayurveda is that it should be light and easy to digest. Sattvic foods have the attribute of purity, goodness, peacefulness, and balance.
Sattvic foods are fresh and organically grown, non-stimulating, good for the digestive system and alkaline foods. Fresh and organic food digests better, improves bowel movements and detoxifies the body. It rejuvenates the body from inside out leading to a balanced hormonal production. Make it a habit to include in your daily meals fresh vegetables, leafy greens, legumes, sprouts, and healthy fats. It is not about following a diet trend but being consistent with a healthy diet. A peaceful state of mind when preparing meals is important. Equally important is practising slow eating and eating in moderation for good digestion.
The second group of food is Rajasic foods. The attributes of Rajas are activity, passion, drive and dynamism. Rajasic foods will not be as easily digested and assimilated by the body as Sattvic food. Ayurvedic doctors may recommend Rajasic foods in moderation since they are heavier on the digestive system.
Here are some examples of Rajasic foods:
Heavy spices like chilli and pepper
Bitter foods such as onion and garlic
Eggs, meat, and fish
Inflammatory foods to the body such as processed and refined foods, canned, oily and fried, artificially sugary foods are considered Tamasic. These types of foods lead to an imbalance in the body and mind and must be eliminated from one’s diet. The attributes for these foods are impurity, boredom, inactivity, violence and anxiety. Unfortunately, nowadays, we tend to be always on the run and neglect the quality of our meals. The same goes for setting the proper time for them. The aim is to keep your meals as Sattvic as possible since diet affects your mental state and physical body. Poor unbalanced diet and a sedentary lifestyle can be the underlying cause of many hormonal disorders.
In today’s modern life, sugar is an addiction that can wreak havoc on your hormonal health. Some studies have even compared it to addiction to drug substances. Consuming a tamasic diet such as a high sugar diet creates a vicious cycle of imbalance within the endocrine system. When we eat an inflammatory diet loaded with sugar, the body responds by overproducing insulin trying to regulate the blood sugar. Over time, by constantly spiking blood sugar, it stops responding to insulin leading to diabetes and disrupting other hormones. In females, too many insulin spikes can disrupt ovulation, which causes hormonal imbalances and even infertility.
A sattvic diet with a focus on a harmonious hormonal balance will include:
Broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower are some examples of cruciferous vegetables.
These vegetables are full of fibre, which helps with bowel movements; besides that, it assists with hormone detoxification.
Add chickpeas, lentils, and beans on your diet. Those are a great source of amino acids that the body uses to heal. Beans are also a source of antioxidants, helping to stabilize blood sugar and improving gut health. Happy gut bacteria happy hormones!
Most of the herbs used in a Sattvic diet are adaptogenic, which can adapt their healing function according to our body’s needs. They can be very healing for the endocrine system when combined with a healthy diet.
Sprouts are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are easy to digest due to the enzymes that break down food more effectively. It also assists with the body’s nutrient absorption. Aim to include a dose of sprouts daily for optimal bodily detoxification.
Leafy greens are a powerhouse of plant-based antioxidants. They are highly anti-inflammatory keeping the endocrine system healthy.
The body needs an adequate amount of healthy fats for efficient hormonal production. Consuming foods containing omega 3 and 6 will boost your mood, give you glowing skin and keep hormones in check. Include avocados, clarified butter (ghee), coconut oil, nuts and seeds in your meals. For those who enjoy dairy, fresh farm dairy is the best option. Another alternative is goat milk which is easily digestible and tastes delicious.
Here are some famous adaptogenic herbs and their properties:
Holy basil has a therapeutic effect on the body balancing stress hormones. Holy basil is also known for a natural headache remedy due to its analgesic properties.
Studies have shown how effective Ashwagandha is in the relief of anxiety. It can also be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis, skin conditions and fatigue.
The well-known ginseng can enhance physical performance, promoting vitality and increasing resistance to stress and ageing.
Turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory power. Make turmeric part of your daily diet by flavouring your meals with it, use it for a cup of tea or blend into a smoothie recipe.
Balancing hormones naturally through diet requires commitment. It is a matter of honestly looking at our lifestyle and food choices. What yogic diet teaches us is “as within so without”: optimal hormonal health is from the inside out.
It is essential to nurture the body with foods that support your overall health. Each meal is an opportunity to make better food choices that will provide you with more energy, vitality, and keep your hormones balanced for good.