Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cheese; Milk’s Leap Towards Immortality~Clifton Fadiman




Cheese encompasses an enormous range of products with varying effects on the mind and body. Ayurveda encourages caution when it comes to cheeses. In general, cheeses, particularly when aged, have a great potential for blocking the microcirculatory channels or shrotas. Fresh cheeses eaten the day they are made, such as homemade paneer and ricotta are fine for Ayurvedic cooking. Fresh, soft cheeses such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, soft chevre and quark are the next best. 

Semi soft, such as feta, fresh mozzarella and teleme (an American semi-soft cheese originating from the San Francisco Bay Area, CA, now branded under the names "Peluso's Teleme Cheese" and "Peluso's Tomales Bay Teleme," and is manufactured in Los Banos, CA). are borderline. Aged, hard cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan are the most problematic, and many adherents to Ayurvedic principles will avoid them, considering them equivalent to rotten milk. 

If you love them too much to eliminate them, at least consider reducing consumption or consider some of Ayurveda’s guide lines to make adaptations that will improve your ability to digest and utilize them.

•Eat cheeses at lunchtime, around noon, when digestive strength is strongest, rather than with the morning or evening meals when it is weaker.
•Include digestive spices, especially black pepper.
•Due to its predominantly sour taste, it is most balancing for vata and aggravating to pitta and kapha.
•Cow’s milk cheeses are generally the most nourishing. 
•Goat’s milk cheese is all right, but sheep’s milk has a less favorable effect and buffalo milk is identified as inducing sleep.
•Commercially prepared cheeses may contain rennet, a non-vegetarian coagulant that comes from the stomach of a cow. There is a vegetable enzyme that does the same job and has been widely adopted by cheese makers. Cheese labeled “made with vegetable enzymes: “enzymes”, “kosher”, “pareve” or “made with kosher enzymes”,  are free from rennet.
Paneer Hindi: पनीर panīr, from Persian پنير panir

Paneer (pronounced [pəniːr]) is a fresh cheese common in South Asia, especially in Indian, Pakistani, Afghan, Nepali, Sri Lankan, and Bangladeshi cuisines. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids.

Nutrition Facts
100 gms of paneer made from cow milk provides 18.3 gms of protein, 20.8 gms of fat, 2.6 gms of minerals, 1.2 gms of carbohydrates, 265 kcal of energy, 208 mgs of calcium, 138 mg of phosphorous. It contains reasonably good amounts of fat and 45 ml cholesterol. It would be better to avoid it for those with hypertension and diabetes due to its high fat content. It can however be used in small quantities for such people, once or twice a week. It is suitable for all age groups. https://doctor.ndtv.com/faq/what-is-the-nutritional-value-of-paneer-8353 

Paneer is a also a great source of conjugated linoleic acid — a fatty acid which helps lose weight by increasing the fat burning process in the body.  Linoleic acid belongs to one of the two families of essential fatty acids, which means that the human body cannot synthesize it from other food components. http://www.jbc.org/content/97/1/1.full.pdf, and it is typically low in food,  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2843518 .
Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid that must be consumed for proper health. A diet deficient in linoleate (the salt form of the acid) causes mild skin scaling, hair loss,  http://www.jlr.org/content/38/4/805.full.pdf+html, and poor wound healing in rats, http://jn.nutrition.org/content/129/10/1791.full . 

While making paneer from milk, don't throw away the paneer water. This nutritious water can be used for making soft dough for chapattis or can be used to cook dals.

One vaidya recommends yogurt as being more “natural” for the process. In my experience, it makes a better textured and flavored product as well. Paneer is somewhat unpredictable, how it turns out depends on the fat content of the milk, the sourness of the yogurt, the timing and temperatures of just about everything involved in the process, the sun, moon and the stars.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

About Ghee; Nutrition and Medicinal Uses


Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in South Asia, and is also used in many parts of the world, and called by different names. The word ghee comes from Sanskrit from the word ghrita, which means sprinkled. Clarified butter is prized because it increases agni (digestive fire) without simultaneously fueling Pitta. Ghee in fact, is considered excellent for balancing Pitta. Kapha types generally need to avoid too much oil of any kind, but ghee is the best for them, too.

Ghee is used as a cooking oil.  Small amounts of ghee are good for sautéing vegetables, as a flavoring in place of butter, since ghee is a prepared food, using butter is not the same as using ghee, but where you would ordinarily butter a vegetable dish or a baked potato or mix it into your oatmeal, ghee is a better choice and even drizzling a teaspoon of ghee over food at the table is not just tasty, it is medicinal and has a role to play in the digestive and cleansing process.

Preparation Most ghee in the west is prepared from butter is melted in a pot over medium heat. The butter begins to melt, forming a white froth on top. It is then simmered, while occasional stirring reduces the froth slowly and the color of the butter changes to pale yellow. Then it is cooked on low heat until it turns golden. The residue settles at the bottom and the ghee, which is now clear, golden, translucent and fragrant, is ready. The ghee is then filtered and it solidifies when completely cool.  Ghee has a long shelf-life and needs no refrigeration if kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation. The shelf life, texture, color and taste of ghee depends on the source of the milk obtained and the method of preparation, and the rule of thumb in Ayurvedic medicine is that the ghee is stored at room temperature, in a dark place in a glass jar with no contamination from a dirty utensil or moisture, it can last indefinitely and actually increases in medicinal properties as it ages.

Ghee is ideal fat for deep frying because its smoke point (where its molecules begin to break down) is 250 °C (482 °F), which is well above typical cooking temperatures of around 200 °C (392 °F) and above that of most vegetable oils.

As a digestive, it helps improve absorption and assimilation. It nourishes ojas, tejas and prana. which are the refined forms of the doshas. It is good for improving memory and lubricates the connective tissue. Ghee makes the body flexible and, in small doses, is tridoshic.

Nutrition
Like any clarified butter, ghee is composed almost entirely of fat; the nutrition facts label found on bottled cow's ghee produced in the USA indicates 8 mg of cholesterol per teaspoon.

Studies on rats have shown that ghee helps to reduce serum cholesterol slightly but not significantly. Studies in Wistar rats have revealed one mechanism by which ghee reduces plasma LDL cholesterol. This action is mediated by an increased secretion of biliary lipids. Furthermore, ghee stimulates the secretion of gastric acid, thus aiding in the digestive process. As such ghee is used to treat constipation and ulcers in Ayurveda.

Indian restaurants and some households may use partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (also known as vanaspati, dalda, or "vegetable ghee") in place of ghee because of its lower cost. This vegetable ghee may contain trans fat. Trans fats are said to cause serious health conditions. The term shuddh ghee, however, is not used in many regions as partially hydrogenated oils are marketed as pure ghee in some areas. In India, the sale of fake ghee is stopped by law enforcement agencies whenever a complaint is made. Ghee is also sometimes called desi (country-made) ghee or asli (genuine) ghee to distinguish it from vegetable ghee.

When comparing ghee to butter in terms of health, one reason for the more favorable past research record of ghee versus butter might be the increased amount of medium- and short-chain fatty acids in ghee. Butter contains about 12-15% of these medium-chain and short-chain fats, whereas ghee contains about 25%. (Our bodies metabolize medium-chain and short-chain fats differently than long-chain ones, and medium- and short-chain ones are not associated with cardiovascular problems in the same way as the long-chain ones are.)

Ghee contains linoleic acid, an Omega-6 oil and alpha-Linoleic acid, an Omega-3 EFA. EFAs are only used for energy if present in excess, and generally play the role of stimulating metabolism. Correlations with ghee’s effects of increasing agni are of great interest in this regard. Despite their benefits, there are dangers associated eating the wrong ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. These include CVD, mental disorders (ADHD, depression, MS and Schizophrenia), and inflammatory diseases. Most of us eat more Omega-6 than 3 but ghee provides both in an ideal ratio of 1:1.

Medicinal Uses
Ayurveda considers ghee to be sāttvik or sattva-guṇi (in the "mode of goodness"), when used as food. Ghee is the main ingredient in some of the Ayurvedic medicines and aids in the detoxification of the tissues as well as their nourishment.

Ghee is a yogavahi-a catalytic agent that carries the medicinal properties of herbs into the seven dhatus or tissues of the body.

Ghee
for the doshas; it pacifies vata , the dosha that controls movement in mind and body, and since vata is light, the heavy nature of ghee is balancing. Since vata elevates as we age, ghee is considered a rejuvenator that helps with longevity. It also pacifies pitta, the dosha that controls heat and metabolism, assisting in proper metabolism and regulating digestive fire, and recommended in moderation for kapha, the dosha that controls structure, stability and lubrication. Persons who already have high cholesterol or suffer from obesity should only use very small amounts.

Ghee is not to be used when there are high ama (toxic) conditions, such as in excess kapha also known as ama.

Ghee Has a Higher Smoke Point than Butter
Ghee tends to have a higher smoke point than butter. For butter, smoke point is typically reached between 325˚-375˚F (163˚-191˚C). Some clarified butters also fall into this general range, but ghee usually has a higher smoke point, between 400˚-500˚F (204˚-260˚C). This higher smoke point can be an advantage when cooking at high heat since smoke point is that moment when heat damage to some of the components in a fat or oil is sufficient to become visible in the form of smoke. When it comes to our health, heating above smoke point is not a good idea with any oil or fat. For persons choosing to cook in fat at higher heats in the 400˚-500˚F (204˚-260˚C) range, ghee makes sense to use, provided that it's used in moderation (no more than 1-2 tablespoons per day). Even for a person deciding to cook in fat, however, the use of butter at higher heats does not make sense to use due to its lower smoke point (325˚-375˚F/163˚-191˚C).

Ghee carries the medicinal properties of herbs into the seven dhatus or tissues of the body.
Since ghee is an oil with short chain fatty acids, it is absorbed directly in blood via intestinal capillary.

Ghee increases digestive fire and improves absorption & assimilation.

Ghee increases the potency of herbs by carrying the active component to the interior of the cells where they impart the most benefits.

Ghee increases Dhi (intelligence), refines the Buddhi (intellect) and improves Smruti (memory)
Ghee builds aura, makes all the organs soft, increases rasa so skin becomes soft, smooth, lubricating & glowing. It also has anti ageing properties.

Ghee is a great immunity booster. It nourishes ojas, the subtle essence of all the body tissues. Ghee is very important in regards to free radical scavenging health & longevity.

Ghee with herbal formulations is a great revitalizing tonic for the female reproductive system.

Ghee is a powerful lubricant for the connective tissue, making the body more flexible.

Herbal Ghee is considered a medicine for restoring physical strength, vitality and vigor.

Traditionally ghee is always made from cow's (considered sacred) milk [Sanskrit: गोघृत go-ghṛta], and is a sacred requirement in Vedic yajña and homa ( fire sacrifices), through the medium of agni (fire) to offer oblations to various deities. (See Yajurveda). Fire sacrifices have been performed dating back over 5000 years. Their purpose is for religious, including weddings, funerals and other ceremonies and rituals. Ghee is also necessary in Vedic worship of mūrtis (divine deities), with aarti (offering of ghee lamp) called diyā or dīpa (deep) and for Pañcāmṛta (Panchamruta) where ghee along with sugar, honey, milk, and dahī (curd) is utilized for bathing the deities on the appearance day of L-rd Krishna on Janmashtami, and Śiva (Shiva) on Mahā-śivarātrī (Maha Shivaratri).

There is a hymn to ghee in the Rg Veda (circa 1500 BC) is in praise of ghee, acknowledging its life sustaining and rejuvenating qualities and is intended to be accompanied by ritual libations of the golden substance into a fire. These are some of the words:

This is the secret name of Butter:
"Tongue of the g-ds," "navel of immortality."
We will proclaim the name of Butter;
We will sustain it in this sacrifice by bowing low.
These waves of Butter flow like gazelles before the hunter...
Streams of Butter caress the burning wood.
Agni, the fire, loves them and is satisfied.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

HEALTH COACHING: The Ayurvedic Approach














When asked, most adults would agree they are aware of what changes in their lifestyles would improve their health. So that begs the question, “Why, as a country, are we so unhealthy?” Most adults want to make changes but find changes are hard to make.  As humans, we like familiarity. You may have heard the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. My primary job as a Certified Health Coach, is to support my clients, with education, tools and techniques that assist them in re-engineering habits to move them in the direction of optimal wellness.

I see people experimenting with current diet and lifestyle trends, then wondering why they still have digestive, sleep, or other health issues and don’t feel well.  And that’s where, like in the old advertisement,  ‘the rubber meets the road.’  “Ayurvedic principles meet health coaching to get you where you want to go.”

There is a sharp increase in the number of people who are becoming consciously aware of their health, yet there is now also evidence that more people are living with chronic conditions and not able to live to their full potential. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768563/

With skyrocketing health care costs, Health Coaching is becoming more in demand. “Ayur” means life and “veda” means to know beyond ordinary perception. So often it is termed “The Wisdom of Life” and understood and applied through the anatomy and structure of the doshas.  With Ayurvedic Health Coaching, the central tenet is that life is the intelligent integration of body, mind, senses, and spirit, not just a body-mind system, and the root cause of disease is from our mind and it’s thoughts, making up the way we think life should be, rather than understanding how life actually is, including the rules and rhythms of nature and living in harmony with them.

According to the 5,000 year-old system of Ayurvedic medicine, the physical body and all of matter is composed of elements that combine to form the doshas, defined as states that go in and out of balance and govern all biological functions. It was revealed to the ancient seers of Ayurveda, that we, and all matter in nature, are made of elements that they called ether, air, fire, water, and earth.  Modern science refers to these elements as basic molecules such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon, which combine to create our DNA.  

Doshic combinations are determined at conception and, this Ayurvedic constitutional type is akin to our genetic makeup. Over the course of time, doshas change, going in and out of balance, and this flux is the process of disease.

Recognizing doshas and understanding their qualities and functions enables an early assessment of imbalances and the opportunity to adjust our choices in diet and lifestyle to restore harmony.  Ayurveda teaches us how to understand the function and qualities of doshas in ourselves and in nature and the relationship between diet and lifestyle and their effects on doshas. This is akin to the current fascination in the medical field with the study of genetics and epigenetics. Epigenetics is a newer branch of genetic study that, like Ayurveda, recognizes that factors such as the environment, diet and lifestyle effect our gene expression.  

Modern science is catching up to Ayurvedic practices, and new terminology such as epigenetics expresses century old ideas. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dd/Epigenetic_mechanisms.jpg

Combining elements of the same qualities will increase them, so we often say, "like increases like and the opposite brings balance", so understanding the elements in food, the time of day, the seasons and stages of life can benefit how we plan our daily and seasonal routines. Changing diet and lifestyle can restore a person’s true nature.

Knowing your dosha helps you understand your physical nature and helps you tailor diet and lifestyle to maintain a doshic balance, which optimizes your health. Here is an Ayurvedic Dosha Quesionnaire which you can download and complete to help you understand how the dosha's qualities appear in you.

While understanding the doshas is not complicated, it does require skill and knowledge to assess, analyze, problem solve, and understand how the elements combine and change form, like the waxing and waning of the moon and the rising and setting of the sun, they have a natural rhythm, and increase and decrease according to the season, time of day, and stage of life, as well as diet, lifestyle, and attitude. This is why an Ayurvedic Health Coach and Consultant is a purposeful health service to rely upon and integrate into your health care.

Recognizing the root cause of a person’s imbalance is not always simple, especially when the doshas have been altered so much they are unrecognizable. As in life, we think we see one thing, but it's really something else, because it has been altered by wrong diet, lifestyle, and thinking.

The elements of dosha combine to affect or create conditions as follows:

• Ether and Air combine to form the Vata Dosha.
  -- Qualities: Dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, and dispersing.
  -- Areas of influence:  Movement, respiration, circulation, elimination, locomotion, movement, speech, creativity, enthusiasm, and the entire nervous system and releases energy (catabolism).
  -- Times of influence:  In the fall, during old age, and between the hours of 2:00-6:00.
  -- Constitutional type: Auditory, kinesthetic, creative, sensitive, and delicate. When out of balance:  Gas, bloating and constipation, osteoporosis, insomnia, anxiety, and worry.

• Fire and Water combine to form the Pitta Dosha.
  -- Qualities: Oily, penetrating, hot, light, mobile, liquid, and malodorous.
  -- Areas of influence:  Digestion and transformation of food or metabolism, thoughts or intellect, discrimination, experiences, vision, complexion, body temperature, courage, and cheerfulness.
  -- Times of influence:  In the summer, during adulthood, and between the hours of 10:00 and 2:00.
  -- Constitutional type: Visual, similar to type A personalities, goal oriented, organized, intense, athletic, competitive, and prone to overdoing things. When out of balance:  Inflammation, skin issues, auto-immune conditions, high blood pressure, heartburn, anger and frustration.

•  Water and Earth combine to form the Kapha Dosha.
  -- Qualities:  Heavy, slow, cold, oily, slimy, dense, soft, and static.
  -- Areas of influence:  Structure, stability, and lubrication, as well as growth (anabolic processes), fluid secretions, binding, potency, heaviness, fluid balance, patience, and compassion.
  -- Times of influence:  In the spring, early life, and between the hours of 6:00 and 10:00.
  -- Constitutional type: Not as bothered by things and turns emotions inwards; larger structures, slow, steady, and grounded. When out of balance:  Obesity, allergies, diabetes, attachment, greed, and depression.

We need all 3 doshas to function, and we are all made of a combination of them in varying amounts. In human physiology, these three doshas interact in a harmonious and compensatory way to govern and sustain life. Their relative expression in a person implies a unique ratio of functioning according to each person's unique DNA (vata-pitta-kapha ratio) determined at conception. This is body or constitutional typing, called prakruti. There are seven types – vata type, pitta type, kapha type, and all combinations of them. Throughout our life, due to improper diet, lifestyle, and thinking, our doshas change in quality, quantity, and location, which creates our current state, conditions or imbalances called vikruti.

These Ayurvedic Coach Columns will provide information that may help readers to recognize personal tendencies and how a few simple changes in diet and lifestyle can go a long way to improve health and vitality.

EDITOR’S NOTE from the GLOB:  The GLOB team welcomes Certified Health Coach and Ayurvedic Practitioner, Chaya Sharon-Heller, with her Ayurvedic Health Coaching Column. Chaya brings over 25 years of experience as a Certified Holistic Health Educator, Health Coach and Ayurvedic Practitioner, Performing Artist, and Spiritual Teacher with a unique approach to health care.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring Is In The Air……….




Ayurveda is the science of life and wisdom of daily living, and promotes health and longevity by living in harmony with nature’s laws.

By understanding the relationship between us and our environment, including the changes that dissolve and create all of life, and drive things in and out of balance, and living accordingly, we can better prepare for nature’s transitions, prevent disease, and cultivate a life of grace and ease for ourselves and those around us.

Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between winter and summer. In spring, the axis of the Earth is increasing its tilt toward the sun and the length of daylight increases as it moves towards the time of the spring equinox

An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the sun. The term equinox can also be used in a broader sense, meaning the date when such a passage happens. The name "equinox" is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day are approximately equal in length, or the date when days and nights are the same length and everywhere the sun rises and sets due east and west. At the time of the spring equinox, with its increasing daylight, there are warming temperatures, and the rebirth of flora and fauna.


The hemisphere begins to warm significantly causing new plant growth to "spring forth," giving the season its name. Snow, if a normal part of winter, begins to melt, and streams swell with runoff. Frosts, if a normal part of winter, become less severe. Temperate climates have no snow and rare frosts, the air and ground temperature increase more rapidly, though still cool compared to the upcoming summer. Many flowering plants bloom this time of year, continuing into early summer. Spring brings an increase of water and earth elements, which contain the qualities of heavy, slow, cool, oily, slimy, dense, soft and static, which provide stability, energy, lubrication, forgiveness, greed, attachment, accumulation and possessiveness.

With Ayurveda’s understanding that “elements of like qualities increase the like qualities”, during the spring season, with its heavy, dense and accumulative nature, it is a good time for cleansing and detoxification programs like panchakarma, and yoga practices and foods that focus on energizing, and purifying our mind and body.

Foods that are light, dry, and heating in nature, cooked with pungent spices counter the heavy, cool and moist qualities of the season. Adding more physical activity, and bhramana or expanding and warming yoga, like back bends, standing poses, and posture variations that raise the arms over head, along with pranayama like bastrika and right nostril breathing,  also help to stimulate the sluggish, heavy and cool nature of the season.

Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, rejuvenation, and rebirth.  The term is also used more generally as a metaphor for the start of better times and a “spring board” for you to reset your internal clock, renew your commitment to live a life of balance, and rejoice in the gift of life you have been given.

Spring Time Recipe:



Spinach and Dahl Subji
(pictured left in the bowl along with basmati rice, cilantro chutney and ginger tea)
(Yellow mung dahl are small yellow lentils that are used due to their ease of digestion compared to other lentils and beans)

½ cup split yellow mung dahl
6 cups spinach washed and chopped
2 cups water
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed or ½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon mustard seed (omit for pitta dosha, substitute coriander)
1 pinch of hing (asefoitida)
1 small green chili or ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional-omit for pitta constitution or substitute ginger)
1 pinch of salt (rock salt or mineral salt)

Wash and soak the dahl a few hours or overnight. Strain, rinse, and put in a pot with water and bring to a boil, skimming off the foam as it develops. When the foam stops, add the spinach.
Cook, uncovered until tender and a creamy mixture, about 30 minutes, stirring often.
In another pan, heat the oil, add the cumin, mustard, hing, chili or cayenne, if using, and cook until the seeds pop. Pour this mixture into the dahl and spinach, add salt to taste, stir in and bring to a boil, then turn off the flame.

*For Vata, serve this with Basmati Rice cooked in ghee with hing, for Pitta omit the hing and add chopped ciltantro, and for Kapha with millet or quinoa cooked with hing and a few cloves.