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Living the Ayurveda Life-- by Block 1 Batch 16 Students

Submitted as assignments by Block 1 Batch 16 Students

Submission 1 - Ayurveda is a symphony orchestra that has a well developed and directed musical score. Purusha is the concert hall, it houses the orchestra pit, chairs, musicians, audience and empty space which fills with sound as the music begins. Prakruti is the conductor who has vast knowledge, creativity and potential. As the orchestra warms and tunes, the first chair or principle violinist acts as Mahad. The first notes we hear the ones that guide the orchestra into creation. The Ahamkara begins as the conductor, the “I Am” of the orchestra. We hear the strings, horns and percussion all melodious, the beautiful harmony manifesting from segments (gunas; Sattva, Raja, Tamas). Each musician, (the five senses and faculties) following their own heart, leading with their passion (their own instrument), guided by the conductor in the great hall of Purusha. The health of the performance depends on this balance.

When one performer acts inharmoniously, the health of the whole is compromised. A self absorbed act of an individual creates negative, individual karma and if this continues to happen or happens by more than one individual, the health of the orchestra suffers. Illness, out of tune, will happen and the harmony of the whole begins to deteriorate. Sour notes (Kleshas), throwing other parts of the orchestra off key or out of rhythm (Adibhautika) distresses the natural harmony present in performers and audience (Adhidaivika). The karma created here will inhibit the life prana of the orchestra and future performances are compromised. Ayurveda, as a holistic balanced entity, creates it’s music, from the health of the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental selfless actions of the individual. Selfish actions of the ego will cause imbalance, create unnecessary negative karmic accumulation and disease from this place is deeper and more difficult to overcome.

Submission 2 - Ayurveda is translated as life knowledge. To me, the most important concept to promote health and well being is all about being aware of your body and what is going on internally and externally. The different Ayus relate to living in harmony with nature and with yourself and are classified according to how in tune you are with your body, soul, mind, and feelings. If you are able to live in peace, feeling good, you will naturally cultivate a better sense of being and feel better all around. If you live the purest life you can, with honesty, with good deeds, with happiness, you will naturally live well. When you begin to feel heavy, weighted down, negative and sad, the body physically picks up on these emotions and becomes out of balance with it’s true nature. By being able to cultivate peace within and peace with the self you are able to naturally stay content and with peace in the body and the mind. Disease begins to form once the body becomes too out of balance and those other emotions get too stuck or strong. The vedas refer to types of disease that can manifest and lead to more illness. It’s important to stay connected to how you feel since we are all spiritual beings. When we are able to uplift ourselves in the way we act, eat, and treat our body, we are able to find more harmony within and feel good. The more connection and awareness you are able to harness the more in tune with your health you are able to become. Disease happens when we loose touch with one of the levels of our being. We need to cultivate more of a lifestyle with good spiritual deeds and karma, and continue to check in with how our body and our mind together are processing life.

Submission 3 - When we live outside of harmony with nature and our constitutional makeup, Ayurveda teaches us that we are susceptible to disease. If we abuse our senses in any way, the body may weaken, opening the door to illness and and dysfunction. Because we are multidimensional, each aspect of our being affects the other. We can create the state of our health by the ways we choose to live our lives.

For example, eating a diet of inert, junk food will dull the mind, affect the senses and shift one into a tamasic state. This can affect the mood, possibly causing lethargy and depression and further physical health repercussions.
By being too intellectual or self-absorbed, one can get cut off from their physical and emotion aspects and not fully develop the soul, which can affect the mind-body connection.
A high-pressure job or intense relationship can cause an overload of chronic stress that is very dangerous for every aspect of being and is an invitation for poor health and vitality.

Finally, our deeds directly contribute to health. The ways we treat others and how we treat the earth can either create good or bad karmic repercussions. Following the Law of Cause and Effect is crucial for total health.

If disharmony is what causes disease according to Ayurveda, then reestablishing harmony within our elemental makeup and cultivating ojas is our medicine. Generally speaking, we are not victims of poor health, but instead are creators of the state of our health. When we realize that we can actively participate in both prevention and cure, then we are empowered to make the wisest choices for our overall being.

Submission 4 -Based on the description above, Ayurveda has a perspective on disease that encompasses all aspects of a person’s life. This does not only include the physical, but also the soul, mind, energy, and intellect.

Ayurveda believes that leading a harmonious, virtuous life is necessary for freedom from disease. Living selfishly or ignorantly leads to negative accumulation in one’s life and body, and eventually leads to disease. However, a balanced life, which lives harmoniously with the nature and others, will keep the individual free from disease accumulation. Therefore, disease treatment and prevention calls for not only physical intervention, but continual evolution of one’s mind, soul, energy, and intellect.

Disease can also be inflicted on someone due to the imbalance of the world itself, from seasons or natural events, other animals or humans, for instance. Disease will be affected by the cycles of nature, and so treatment will change during different seasons. This is another example of how disease results from an interplay of nature and the individual. One must recognize and respect her connection to nature in order to maintain health.

Submission 5 The passage in assignment two outlines the four types of Ayus as written in the Ayurvedic texts. Each Ayu describes a type of relationship that an individual may have with their surrounding environment. For example, someone who is hit-ayu lives their life “in harmony with nature”, whereas someone who is dukh-ayu lives their life “harming the balance of nature, environment and other entities”.

In Ayurveda, it is believed that a “good” balance between an individual and their environment is necessary for good health. This passage describes the remote contribution of karma towards a person’s health on five distinct levels – physical body, the soul, energetic level, the mind, and the intellect.

A person who practices good karmic deeds will be rewarded with good health. Thus someone who is hit-ayu will accumulate good karma and be physically, energetically, intellectually, and mentally healthy with a good soul. On the opposite side of the equation, a dukh-ayu person who lives their life accumulating negative karma will experience disease and suffering.

For example, the physical body can deteriorate, the energetic level may deplete, the mind may become misguided, the soul is lost and the intellect is unfocused.
Thus, Ayurveda believes that the cause of disease and suffering in people is a result of living in opposition or out of balance to your environment.

Fibroids in Ayurveda

By Aparna Dandekar, D.O.

When the three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) begin to travel or leave their respective sthanams-- they can travel down to the dhatus. If they travel to mamsa(muscle) tissue and vitiate Mamsa Dhatu, each dosha display its own properties within Mamsa.

Vata is dry in nature, mobile, and rough. When it vitiates Mamsa, it shows its properties in Mamsa. Similarly, when Mamsa is vitiated by Pitta, someone will have muscle inflammation, redness, and hot, hyperemic, shiny (and acutely painful) joints.

When Mamsa is vitiated by Kapha Dosha, the patient will have growths such as fibromas and fibroids. Kapha, which is heavy and cohesive due to the presence of the earth element, causes increased thickness and density of muscle.

Increased vata in mamsa causes decreased Mamsa Dhatu. Symptoms of this vitiation includes emaciation of the pelvic, hip, and abdominal regions of the body. Joints and bony structures that would otherwise be covered with layers of muscle will appear large and may seem to protrude. The patient may have knobby knees or prominent iliac crests. He will also have joint pain, dryness of eyes, weakness, joint dislocation, muscle weakness, and overall fatigue. The increase of vata will affect his mind by giving him a lack of confidence and courage. An increase in vata in Mamsa can be attributed to factors such as a vata aggravating diet, advanced age, or even excessively strenuous exercise done without proper nutritional support.

The primary mahabhutas of Mamsa are Earth followed by water. Earth has the quality of heaviness and cohesivesness. Therefore when Mamsa dhatu is vitiated by kapha, the patient will suffer from the symptoms of excess Mamsa dhatu. He will have abnormal weight-gain as his muscle mass increases. He may have heaviness in the pelvic region. His muscles may be heavy BUT flaccid. This is because the water element of kapha causes flaccidity and poor tone. He may have increased muscle mass in the cheeks or pelvic area. The quantity of the muscle may be high, but the quality will be low. Despite more muscle mass, the patient will be fatigued. Kapha aggravating food and excessive sleeping are common causes of excess Mamsa Dhatu.

There are some basic protocols in Ayurveda for these problems:

For excess mamsa dhatu: Kapha pacifying diet and herbs (trikatu-- ginger, maricha and pippali). These herbs are pungent and hot in nature. They will reduce kapha dosha in mamsa dhatu. These herbs help stimulate and improve the quality of mamsa dhatu agni. Aerobic exercise can also be prescribed. It generates heat and burns kapha. Yoga therapy is also helpful.

For diminished mamsa dhatu: Vata pacifying diet (or Kapha aggravating diet) becomes a primary focus. Herbs such as Bala (banned for internal use in the US due to carcinogenicity) can be prescribed as an oil to be applied externally. Bala is sweet and unctuous in nature. Other herbs include Ashwagandha and Shatavari. Ashwagandha is pungent, bitter and astringent. It pacifying for vata and kapha. It should be given with caution in a pitta prakruti person. Shatavari is sweet, bitter and cold, and helps build muscle mass. Milk and wheat are heavy and can also build mamsa dhatu. Weight lifting exercises with light weights is recommended to increase bulk and length of muscle fibers. Yoga therapy is also very balancing. Chyavanprash is easy to incorporate into the diet and is widely available.

Mamsa Dhatu by Leah Jones

Mamsa Dhatu is the third dhatu. It is formed from asthayi rakta dhatu by mamsa dhatu agni. Sthayi Mamsa dhatu goes on to produce two upadhatus, skin and ligaments, and the kha mala of mamsa dhatu are the excretory secretions like nasal crust and ear wax. Mamsa dhatu is muscle and flesh that covers and gives strength to our bodies.

It is predominantly made of the earth element which is the kapha in our body. The functions of mamsa dhatu include covering and protecting our internal organs, and our marma points, our body posture, the relaxation and contraction needed for movement, and strength to our bones.

A person with mamsa dhatu sara has self confidence and courage, forgiveness, patience and longevity. Mamsa dhatu sara is seen when the bones and joints are well hidden, a plump and beautiful appearance to the face and body. Healthy mamsa dhatu allows one to convey their emotions and show expression through the facial muscle tissues. Mamsa dhatu gives nourishment and helps in the healthy formation of asthi dhatu

Mamsa dhatu vruddhi is an increase in mamsa dhatu but a decrease in the quality of the tissue. This can be caused by low mamsa dhatu agni and kapha travelling through rasa and rakta dhatus and entering mamsa dhatu. The symptoms of Mamsa dhatu vruddhi would include increased muscle mass, myomas, fybroids in uterus, excess kha mala, and muscle hypertrophy and flaccidity. Mamsa dhatu agni is directly effected by jatharagni AND by exercise.

So we must balance mamsa dhatu agni by first balancing jatharagni and adding exercise. To balance mamsa dhatu vruddhi we would also need to look at a kapha pacifying regime as increased mamsa dhatu is directly correlated to kapha and amount of earth element taken into the body versus the amount the dhatu agni is able to digest and use. When we take in too much earth element and have a low mamsa dhatu agni, we have low quality muscle tissue and kapha imbalance.

We may also see a lack of motivation and self confidence. We need to pacify kapha and jatharagni with herbal protocol such as ginger, trikatu, kutaki. We must incorporate aerobic exercise and yoga therapy like navasana or mayurasana to kindle jatharagni and combat obesity due to manda mamsa agni. Of course a kapha pacifying diet protocol must also be followed making sure to reduce the amount of earth element coming in e.g. no meat products, no sweets. Adding bitter and pungent tastes. Maybe even a little sour in the beginning to burn through the excess tissue.

Ayurvedic Approach to Mamsa (Muscles)

by Susan O Connor, ERYT, Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner
Founder of Haven Yoga
Teacher: Yoga Therapy (San Diego College of Ayurveda)

Mamsa dhatu like all things in nature is influenced by the mahabhuts. When muscle tissue is balanced the three elements of earth, fire and water are present. When mamsa is aggravated due to vitiation of the doshas it will reflect the qualities of the dosha causing the aggravation.

Vata in mamsa provides nutrients to the muscles through prana and contraction and relaxation of the muscles and of the heart through vyana. Udana provides expression through the facial muscles and samana vata allows the stomach muscles to contract for digestion.

When vata vitiation takes place in mamsa, pain in the joints along with tremor and dry skin will be present due to vata’s qualities of cold, dry, light and rough.

Pitta, with its qualities of hot, sharp, light and oily will vitiate with diseases like, fibromyalgia, abcess and burning of the skin.

Pachak pitta is considered responsible for the formation of the dhatus through digestion and bhrajak for the skin color while sadhak pitta governs the emotions in relation to storing emotions in mamsa. Vitiation of Pitta in these areas will present according to the dosha qualities of pitta.

Kapha vitiation because of its heavy, soft, slow, cold and oily properties will present with diseases such as fibroids and muscle hypertrophy.

Basic protocols to address the dosha imbalance of mamsa would require balancing the vitiated dosha along with appropriate cleansing, diet and lifestyle recommendations and herbs for the specific vitiation.

Vata would require more earth element once toxicity is removed through cleansing and a stoking of jatharagni and masagni through herbs like raw ginger and sweet, sour and salty tasting foods.

Pitta vitiation would require balancing the fire element with cooling foods and herbs like trikatu, and drying herbs like turmeric.

Kapha vitiation balancing would require, Pungent, bitter and astringent food to increase the agni. Herbs like trikutu, kutaki and ginger.

Blog Entry Number 2 - Nicole Gleave (Kallari Teacher), AWP 500 Student

Emaciation, and Weight loss are a symptom of inbalanced mamsa dhatu, or muscle tissue. It is a case of mamsa kshaya wich is caused by excess vata moving into the digestive kala present in mamsa agni. When mamsa agni is effected by excess vata we will see emaciation, and weight loss because of the mobile and light qualities that are found in vata.

If vata is showing up in mamsa dahtu agni, you will surley want to look at the rakta, and rasa, and treat the rasa. What is this person eating? when are they eating? Have they been exposed to a terrible virus where the digestive fire has become so strong to try to burn out the virus that it just burns all the food leaving no sara for development of dhatus.

In such a case it seems important to do some kind of a cleanse. "to wipe the slate clean" Something like panchakarma, or liver cleansing, and ama detoxifying herbs like, trikitu, amalaki, triphhala, compfrey, followed by shatavari, or ashwaganda for building tissue coupled with a kapha diet of heavy cooked warm foods with ghee!

Mamsa Dhatu - Muscle System in Ayurveda

Blog Entry by Rishi Forrester, and, Danae Delaney

Mamsa Dhatu refers to the 3rd tissue in the evolution of the dhatus in Ayurveda. This tissue governs muscles, tendons, skins, and various excretions of the body. Our focus is on the increase and decrease of the mamsa dhatu in relation to emaciation, weight loss, and weight gain. emaciation and weight loss can be closely tied to Mamsa dhatu because it is closely tied with Earth and Fire and its manifestation in the body.

With emaciation and weight loss there is a loss or decrease of Mamsa Dhatu. This is called Mamsa Kshaya and is characterized by thinness, exposed bones, sunken eyes, and wasted muscles. Weight loss in general is a less severe form of emaciation of Mamsa Kshaya. In order to increase Mamsa dhatu, consume heavier nuts, grains, and legumes along with sweet and salty tastes. In addition, creating a stable routine that contains grounding and muscle building practices are appropriate as well, but only if the vitality supports that. Care should be taken to make sure that the Jatharanagi and subsequent agnis are strong and not Manda causing poor formation of the preceding tissues (rasa and rakhta). warming spices that are not drying and reducing are appropriate along with sweet and building herbs such as Bala, Ashwagandha, and Licorice. Focusing on improving strength and density are ideal along with balanced grounding attitudes.

With weight gain, there can be an issue of excessive Mamsa Dhatus calld Mamsa Vruddhi. (Increase)

This will cause excessive and undue growth of the Mamsa Dhatu and reveal itself in fibrotic tissues, enlarged facial muscles, muscle flaccidity, and excessive muscle formation. Herbs that increase agni such as trikatu or any pepper/ginger combination are good as well as aerobic exercise to increase movement and reduce density. Focusing on improving flexibility and movement are key and includes cultivating flexible attitudes as well.

By Rishi Forrester
Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner Student

Entry Number 2- By Danae Daleney
Mamsa Dhatu: Increase, Decrease & Dushti

Mamsa Dhatu vitiation is caused by “the intake of heavy, gross food, food with deliquescent properties, and sleeping after meals.” (“Mamsa Dhatu,” Dr. K.S. Pingle)

The properties of Mamsa sara include: well-covered joints, a plump and beautiful appearance of the forehead, temples, cheeks, jaws and abdomen. The person is stable, heavy, and the forgives easily with much patience. If mamsa dhatu is increased, there will be weight gain, due to the extra thickness of the tissue and the increased amount of asthayi meda dhatu. The face will be round and plump, as will the joints on the body. Additionally, the skin will be thicker and the person will be less flexible. If mamsa dhatu is decreased, the skin will become thin, weight loss and even emaciation can occur. The cheeks and forehead, temples and eyes and even the abdomen will become sunken is due to the loss of mamsa dhatu.

The doshas can also travel into mamsa dhatu and create tissue changes to the quality of mamsa dhatu, called dushti. If Vata dosha travels into the mamsa in excess, there will be acute pain in the muscles, spasms, tremors, fatigue, and a wasting of the muscle with dry skin. If Pitta dosha travels into mamsa, boils or red skin will appear and there will be inflammation, fibromyalgia, fatigue, and tendonitis. Kapha in the mamsa dhatu will show as swelling, flaccidity, excess ear wax and nasal crust with possible uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, heavy and “sticky” muscles, inflexibility.

For increased mamsa dhatu, a basic protocol is a Kapha pacifying diet, including, light foods, Trikatu, Kutaki, Ginger, Yoga with movement that can increase the heart rate and warm the muscles, and aerobic exercise. Decreased mamsa dhatu can be helped by a Vata pacifying diet with the herbs: Bala, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, milk, wheat, meat, weigh lifting, and easy yoga, holding a few poses and relaxation. Kapha imbalance needs increase in agni and heat to the body to melt bodily tissues. Vata imbalance also needs warmth. Vata imbalance needs a nurturing warmth and heavy foods to encourage tissue growth.

Ayurveda and Macronutrients - Student Blog

Western Nutrition focuses mainly on macronutrients that provide calories or energy to the body. It is believed that the macronutrients are needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Macro means large and so macronutrients are nutrients that are needed in large amounts. The three macronutrients include: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. According to Western Dietary guidelines, 45% to 65% of a person's calories should come from carbohydrates, 10% to 35% should come from protein, and 20% to 35% should come from fat. Western nutrition also is based on the idea that everyone should eat the same way.

Ayurveda nutrition is quite different fron Western nutrition. Ayurveda recognizes that everyone is different and unique. Just as humans have a unique gentetic makeup, Ayurveda recognizes that everyone is born with a unique individual birth constitution known as a Vata, Pitta, and Kapha dosha. When examining the doshas, it's important to make a distinction between a balanced versus an imbalanced state. Ayurveda classifies food according to the six tastes, not by carbohydrates, proteins or fats. Ayurveda also considers the potency of the six tastes, which is named virya and the post-digestive effect, which is named vipak. According to Ayurveda nutrition the six tastes each have a warmling or cooling effect on the body. The virya refers to the immediate heating or cooling effect that a particular food has on our physiology. Foods that are predominantly cooling include: sweet, bitter and astringent and pungent, salty and sour foods contain heating qualities or viryas.

Ayurveda also recognizes that tastes transform during the course of digestion and the effects of the final tastes are consistent with the six tastes. Food effects our mental and emotional state by using sweet tastes to calm the Vata mind and cool the Pitta mind. Sour tastes can sharpen the mind. Salty tastes can calm an anxious mind and easily excite a Pitta mind. When used in excess by Kapha types, it promotes greed. A bitter taste can be cooling and clearing of the mind. Pungent taste enlivens the Kapha mind and causes all doshas to become more extroverted. Astingent taste tames the over-confidence of Pitta types and over-complacenty of Kapha types.

According to Ayurveda health begins with proper digestion. The primary function of the digestive system is to bring essential nutriants into the body's internal environment. In the Western culture the importance of proper digestion is widely neglected. Symtoms such as indigestion, heartburn, bloating, and constipation are treated as normal occurances. According to Ayurvedic beliefs digestion refers to the individual's overall agni. After assessing a person's current doshic state, agni is the most important factor in determining dietary needs. It is a fact that everyone digests food differently. Ayurveda identifies improving agni by using spices.

Ayurveda teaches that proper digestion eventually leads to the production of ojas, which directly influences physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual life.

Western culture states how food is required for life, energy and feeding the body, but it neglects to describe how food becomes your body.

Gretchen Pound
AWP Practitioner Program, Block 2

What is Nutrition? Student Blog Part 3

First let us look at the word nutrition. What does it mean? Nu-tri-tion- The process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth. - nourishment

American nutrition has a long history of over coming hardships from the effects of being such a new country, war, and natural disasters. When settlers first came to america they were faced with many challenges. Unless settling near port cities one would find them selves eating off the land and followed more of a seasonal diet. In more populated communities with a diverse amount of people you could find a diverse diet similar to the homelands from which they came.

After WW2 The american economy had tanked. Through the process of solving how to feed the troops abroad the processed foods industry was born. Finding that by processing foods, heating them to extremes and adding chemical derivatives the shelf life of a product was prolonged by a considerable amount, and can be sold for very little money.

There was also a campaign to popularize the consumption of meat and dairy in the late 40's. This created factory farming and therefor many jobs, which is why there is so much marketing, and support from the government to keep the people consuming mass amounts of meat and dairy. It is interesting that some of the largest government subsidiaries are corn, sugar, dairy, and beef. The FDA even ran campaign saying that high fructose corn syrup is a healthy source of sugar. High fructose has been proven to cause cancer, as well as over consumption of meat,and dairy products.

Growing up a meal just wasn't complete with out a serving of meat (protein + fat ), a generous portion of some kind of starch like potatoes or bread (carbohydrate) a small amount a vegetables (micronutrients), and of course there was always dessert.

It seems to me that American diet is heavily influenced by big business, marketing companies, and in turn government. There is an idea that a calorie is a calorie, and all foods effect all people the same. Ayurveda sees the intake of food as a means to create and sustain harmony and balance in the individual, as well as the collective. Not eating foods that are harmfully produced, that negatively effect the planet and our selves.

Ayurveda- life science, knowledge, intelligence. Ayurvedic philosophy looks at many things when recommending a diet for an individual. Acknowledging that we are all pranic beings vibrating within different frequencies. Ayurveda also acknowledges that plants and animals are also pranic beings vibrating at different frequencies. Depending on your prakruti, vikruti, digestive movements, amount of acidity in the body, clarity in thought process, emotional state of being, quality of relationships, and many many more factors are considered when recommending a diet. But it is not just a diet it is an act of healing and self love. Food is a manifestation of Gods love, our relationship with food is a reflection of our love for self and God. An Ayurvedic diet encourages eating local, organic whole foods, to avoid creating negative karma. Everything that you ingest has a vibration or karma be it negative or positive. You ingest all the karma that the food has absorbed. The main focus of Ayurvedic diet is to balance the rasa for your individual experience.

In all I would say that Ayurveda is a science that uses intelligence rooted deep in Love, to create healing meals for the individual. Ayurveda says that what nourishes and is good for me may actually put you out of balance. Ayurveda looks to treat the whole being as a unique phenomenon. Where as western nutrition says what is good for one is good for all. Just count your calories.

I realize that with change comes some amount of fear but there can also be great excitement. Changing our concepts, ideas,and relationship with the foods we eat can be a challenge. But you do not have to take it all on at once. It is your inherent nature to be drawn towards balance, and Ayurveda is here to show you the way.

By Nicole Gleave
AWP BLOCK 2 Student

Ayurveda and Western Nutrition - Student Blog part 2


Dietary management in western nutrition follows the US food guidelines, set forth by the FDA. Nutritionists help clients these guidelines to maintain healthy eating. The diet consists of various portions from different food groups. The good groups include “protein, grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy. Modifications are made to the guideline as needed to help patients manage several diseases. For example, for patients with diabetes, modification may include changes in rations of carbohydrates to proteins, with an overall daily intake of decreased carbohydrates and increased proteins. Based on the western concepts of nutrition, calorie intake is seen as significant and as a culture facing diseases like obesity and other “food related” disorders (metabolic syndromes), lower calorie intake is usually recommended.

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Importance of Protein - Ayurveda and Western Perspectives

Over the decades, Western Nutrition has become increasingly influenced by powerful agribusinesses. Meat, dairy, and grain lobbyists have become formidable forces that have shaped food guidelines and government policies.

Even more sinister perhaps, are drug companies that work hand-in-hand with meat, egg, and dairy farms. Together, these industries have done a phenomenal job of marketing the importance of their products in the diet of every American. Therefore, the Western diet places a heavy emphasis on protein, especially in the form of animal products—fish, dairy, eggs, and meat (marketed as the only complete sources of protein) as well as carbohydrates from breads and grains. Vegetables and fruits are given secondary importance. Furthermore, the Western diet is one that is “one-size-fits-all”. There is little to no attention paid to an individual’s unique physical characteristics, state of mind, age or gender.

Any variation of the Western diet that touts a novel approach to nutrition usually ends up in retrospect, as being labeled a crazy fad diet of yesteryear. Such diets push their own agendas, present skewed arguments and interpretations of science, and hawk their own dietary supplements, videos, and recipe books. At first, such diets are phenomenally successful. They create miraculous results for the small segment of society that can afford to buy into their philosophy and purchase their products. But this fame is short-lived as these diets’ serious scientific flaws are discovered--causing their failure, and rapid downfall. They quickly fade into obsolescence as they are deserted by even the most loyal devotees.

The final indignity dealt to these once-elite diets can be seen when their literature remains unclaimed at the bottom of the bin marked “FREE” at any neighborhood garage sale.

Ayurvedic Nutrition, on the other hand, is highly individualized. It takes into account the fact that each person has a specific prakruti, vikruti, personality, and distinct level of spiritual awareness. In addition to these factors, age, regionality, and season also function as modifiers of the Ayurvedic diet.

The tenets of Western diet have been pushed deeply into the collective psyche of the American people, starting with the introduction of the Food Pyramid at a young age. The modern twist of the pyramid, “My Plate” is hardly different in its dogmatic approach. Therefore, it is very difficult to convince the average Western diet that massive protein intake and animal products are not necessary for good health. However, as Ayurvedic Practitioners, we must take this challenge upon ourselves to change these ways of thinking by becoming tireless in our repetition of the eternal truths behind Ayurvedic principles and Vedic philosophy.

By Aparna Dandekar, D.O.

Ayurvedic Diet Principles Differ from Western Nutrition

In terms of differences, Western nutrition is focused on the mechanical composition of food and classifying those components. The emphasis is the amount of energy needed from a mechanical standpoint to combust food and is applied as a standard to how much energy the body will derive from food. The componentization of food starts at the macro to micro level and includes the derivation of very subtle components and their application toward disease and health. The effect of food is considered to be uniform for each individual regardless of additives and preparation.

Ayurveda, by contrast, is focused on the composition of foods from the cosmological and the effect of that food on all levels of the body including the various digestive affects, inner state, and physical manifestations. The componentization of food is derived from the taste of the food and its effects on the body instead of externalization in a lab. The environment, individual impact, and preparation is of vital importance to the effect of the food itself.

Since the emphasis of these two perspectives is so different, there can be challenges when presenting Ayurvedic Nutrition to Westerners who know nothing but Western nutrition. One of the challenges is the simple acceptance of the model itself. Telling Vata-types to eat a heavier grounding foods that may be very sattvic, grounding, and Vata-reducing is hard to accept when the Western nutrition mindset typically says that fats are not great for health. This requires a delicate, but intentional presentation of Ayurveda concepts in a way that educates, but doesn’t overwhelm. One can’t argue with results.

Another challenge that arises is the patience and motivation necessary to follow a food based Ayurveda Nutrition path than the almost prescription model of nutrition in the West. This is an extension of the magic potion mentality prevalent in Western thought that one can take a pill, not make any lifestyle evaluation or changes, and still achieve health.

By contrast, the Ayurveda nutrition model can be seen as more difficult because it asks that not only you examine what you eat and evaluate its impact, but that you must look at its preparation and the environment in which it is consumed. One of the keys to attending to this is to start slowly with the suggested changes so as to not overwhelm and let the results build and motivate (and create trust) as you continue to add additional changes.

Rishi Forrester
Ayurveda and Holistic Herbs Practitioner
(AWP Block 2 Student)

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