Food as Medicine

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Food as Medicine

Harness the power of food as a means to reducing inflammation in the body

 

Inflammation occurs when the body needs to heal – it’s the immune system responding to an injury or defending it against viruses or bacteria, but it can also be part of something more systemic.

 

When inflammation occurs white blood cells and the chemicals they produce flock to the injured area of the body to heal it. But there are two types of inflammation, one more short-term and reflective of the body trying to cure itself, the other chronic that can be extremely detrimental on health in the long-term.

 

Acute inflammation usually occurs when the body is injured. The effects, which can include swelling, pain and redness, usually subside after a few days once the body has healed itself.

 

Chronic or systemic inflammation, is long-term and is common in chronic and autoimmune diseases. It can be caused by bad habits or environmental influences, which can include an unhealthy diet, particularly one leading to obesity, lack of exercise, stress, smoking and pollution, to name a few. The symptoms are often not easily directly attributable to inflammation but heart disease, diabetes, lung issues, depression, cancer, anger disorders and skin issues have all been linked to chronic inflammation.

 

A carefully considered nutrition plan can, however, work wonders, particularly when anti-inflammatory foods are incorporated, the majority of which are healthy foods anyway regardless of the hard evidence promoting the efficacy of anti-inflammatory diets.

 

Like most healthy diets, the anti-inflammatory diet involves eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats, incorporating small portions of nuts, reducing red meat consumption and even having a glass of red wine once in a while.

 

The best anti-inflammatory diets to follow are the Mediterranean or predominantly vegetarian diets. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale contain sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound thought to inactivate the key inducer of inflammation while also encouraging enzymes that lower inflammation.

 

Quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant found in a range of fruit and vegetables, particularly red, green and purple-coloured plants, is another substance to incorporate into an anti-inflammatory diet as it can inhibit inflammatory pathways and functions and neutralise cancer-causing free radicals. It’s found in apples, peppers, dark cherries and berries, green vegetables, cranberries and asparagus, to name a few. Lycopene, too, has a combative effect on free radicals and work as an antioxidant. It’s found in watermelon, tomato, papaya, grapefruit, guava, mango, carrots and red cabbage.

 

When consuming fats, the focus should be on healthy ones, such as those found in olive oil and hemp oil. Reduce red meat consumption, instead focusing on plant-based proteins. And look to foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids –which can help to prevent inflammation. Walnuts contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, while avocadoes contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as phytosterols, carotenoid antioxidants, and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols, all of which help in the fight against inflammation.

 

It is important to get enough fibre in your diet. Avoid refined flour, and focus on whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and bulgur wheat. This fibre can help feed beneficial gut bacteria associated with lower levels of inflammation. This is also why fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut are recommended from their probiotic effect.

 

Herbs and spices, too, can be anti-inflammatory. Try incorporating fresh oregano, rosemary, ginger, cayenne, cloves and nutmeg into your diet, all of which have been shown in studies to inhibit inflammation. Turmeric is considered particularly potent for the anti-inflammatory curcumin it contains.

 

It’s not all about what you should eat, but as much about what you shouldn’t. Foods can be directly inflammatory, and it’s best to avoid the oils found in fried foods, dairy, sugar, artificial sweeteners and additives and processed foods in general.

 

These simple dietary guidelines are as much preventative as they are a means to reducing and combating chronic inflammation, and the results of following an anti-inflammatory diet will be beneficial in both the short and longer ter

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Detoxing the Ayurvedic Way

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Detoxing the Ayurvedic Way

words; Rachel Duffell

The ‘five actions’, or panchakarma, to naturally detox body and mind

It’s so easy for our bodies to become unbalanced due to the stress of life today. With this imbalance come food cravings, weight gain, mood swings and even depression and anxiety. While detoxification might bring to mind cabbage soup diets, raw juice cleanses, and lemon water fasting, detoxing the Ayurvedic way is a natural and relaxed experience, not only recommended to cure ailments, support digestion, rejuvenate and revitalise, but to be undertaken as a preventative measure against illness.

The aim of Ayurvedic detox, or panchakarma, is to remove toxins from the body. According to Ayurveda, these toxins, including preservatives, DDT, dioxin, pollutants, pesticides and other damaging chemicals, accumulate as ama and it is this which needs to be removed from our fat cells where it is stored and evacuated naturally from the body via the colon, bladder, sweat glands, lungs, nasal passages, etc.

Panchakarma means ‘five actions’ and is comprised of five treatments, encouraged to be undertaken at the junction of the seasons or when illness arise, and in the case of the latter, for as long as they take to heal.

Panchakarma begins with a pre-purification process, or purvakarma where the body is prepared to release its toxins. Abhyanga, or full-body massage with medicated herbal oils, comes first, where long, sweeping strokes are applied to the body to start moving any toxins towards the colon. This stage can be accompanied by shirodhara, or oil-spilling where warm, herbalised oil is poured over the forehead. Both of these procedures help to calm and relieve stress. Swedana is also part of the preparation and is a sweating session which follows massage, again aiding in loosening the toxins from the body. 

Once the body is prepared the main purification process begins and can include vamana, where congestion in the lungs is eased through therapeutic vomiting, removing excess mucus. Virechana can address excess bile in the gall bladder, liver and small intestine through therapeutic purgation. The nasal passages are also cleared with medicated drops in a nasya procedure. Finally, the colon is treated with basti, or enemas using herbal decoctions and medicated oil preparations, which soothe constipation, digestive problems and other ailments.

These treatments are complemented by gentle activities such as yoga, breathing and meditation sessions. They are also supported nutritionally by the ingesting of ghee each morning which helps to loosen ama, the undigested food particles and toxins caused by eating unhealthy foods or by weak digestion, and drive it out of the body. Meals are best comprised of kitchari, an easy to digest, simple vegetarian porridge, eaten like a soup or stew. This reboots the digestive system without being harsh to it, ensuring the body is nourished and fulfilled. Many detoxes starve the body causing it stress so it is unable to perform natural detoxification functions. But during panchakarma and on a diet of easily digestible and nourishing kitchari, the body is at its optimal state to thrive and work on rebalancing itself for a state of wellbeing and health. A cleansed and purified digestive system allows balance to be restored which will be accompanied by a clear mind and sense of wellbeing. As well as playing a key role in panchakarma, a kitchari cleanse can be carried out by itself and can be tailored to a person’s dosha for optimal results.

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Ayurvedic Cleansing

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Ayurvedic Cleansing

Prevention means creating balance in Ayurveda. Ayurveda gives us the tools for how to live our life in a state of peace. This means creating joy, happiness and fulfilment. Ayurveda teaches us how to live within society and in our own minds too. 

Health is firmly grounded when we are able to  achieve the four goals in life: Kama (activities), Artha (prosperity), Dharma (codes of conduct) and Moksha (liberation). Health is the prerequisite for all aspects of life. In other words health is wealth. 

The definition of a healthy person is a person who has maintained his or her Body Constitution, examples includes experiencing balanced functions of the three doshas, state of digestion in the form of agni, balanced tissues or dhātus and eats products (malas).

A person who has clear thoughts, sharp sense organs and a calm and peaceful mind is considered to be balanced. This is all good and well talking about it, but what can we do to achieve this balance??? Well the first line of dance is prevention. This could means different things to different people. In my own life prevention is staying away from anything that causes you dis-ease, whether toxic relationships, toxic foods or environments etc. Once we know what causes us dis-harmony, we can stay away from these things. This is also a part of Yoga philosophy called yama and niyama, observances and abstinences. 

So in a nutshell, balance and prevention of illness can be achieved in three ways according to Ayurveda; 

1) hara (diet),

2) Nidra (sleep) and

3) Brahmacharya (walking the middle path)

We can do this by following; 

1. Dinacharya: Daily Routines

2. Rātricharya: Nightly Routines

3. Ritucharya: Seasonal Routines

The way we behave can effect vāta, pitta and kapha. So it is important we don't do things that aggravate the already surfacing doshas. 

 

For more information or to schedule your consultation please email LTF@lovetruefood.com 

 

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Pasta - good or bad?

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Pasta - good or bad?

Wheat has been getting a bad rep! Most pasta made from wheat has been getting a bead reputation because of the common allergies and intolerance's that people are having to them these days. Pasta has been around for decades. In fact ancient cultures survived on this type of grain and most cultures that thrived were dependent on grains for their survival. Most people are afraid to eat pasta because they think that the nutritional value offered is very low, however, pasta tastes so good and believe it or not has amazing health benefits to it. In particular wholewheat pasta offers three times more fibre per serving. People avoid pasta for the wrong reasons. They believe that pasta is like an empty carbohydrate that will just pack on the pounds. Contrary to popular belief, skipping regular white pasta and making your own wholewheat pasta can have a significant improvement in health. Some studies find that pasta isn't fattening and can actually help you lose weight. This is according to the correct notion that pasta is a fundamental component of a Mediterranean traditional diet.

 

In any case check out our blog for lovely home-made pasta recipes they can really tickle the taste buds. 

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Ayurvedic Constitution

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Ayurvedic Constitution

Ayurveda is about the Science of Living, and bases lots of health principles on seasonal factors, individual factors and lifestyle factors. Ayurveda is about living in accordance with nature and about listening to the inherent wisdom of our bodies. It is not religious, it is scientific, and much of science today is validating what the 'ancient seers' knew thousands of years ago. 

In Ayurvedic philosophy, the individual is taught how to bring themselves into a state of health by following the principles of how nature wanted us to live. Simple daily routines known as 'dinacharya' are followed to achieve balance and bring ourselves into a state of health and wellness. If these simple rules are followed, then one will attain health and balance. Rules such as how to move, eat and sleep are outlined. 

It sounds very simple doesn't it? So how do we know what constitution each of us are? Ayurvedic knowledge points to the 5 universal elements which are air, water, fire, earth and ether or space. These elements form the external universe and since we are part of creation, they are also contained within us in varying amounts. We can be 11 constitutional types, namely, Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water) or Kapha (Earth and Water) or a combination of these. (We can be two types where one dosha is dominant and another is secondary.) 

So once we have knowledge of what elements are pre-dominant in us, we can then take steps towards correcting that which is disturbed within us. Makes sense right? To give an example, a fiery Pitta type may experience heat headaches, pimples, acidity and anger. Whilst a Vata 'airy fairy' type may be labelled 'a space cadet' and suffer from dry wind conditions like constipation or dry skin, even anxiety and worry with the racing windy thoughts! A Kapha type is more solid and stocky and usually suffers from issues of earth and water relating to lungs and respiratory issues like congestion, asthma etc. 

Follow the link to find out your constitution;

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Spiced Chickpeas

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Spiced Chickpeas

Spiced Chickpeas

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

2 tbsp ghee

1 onion, chopped

½ inch ginger grated

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tomatoes, blended

1 ½ cups chickpeas, cooked

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. cumin seeds

½ tsp pink himalayan salt

½ tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. coriander powder or ginger powder

½ tsp. garam masala (optional) 

Garnish: toasted cashews, hemp seeds, goji berries, cilantro

 

Procedure:

In alarge pot, add the ghee and add the cumin seeds wait until they pop than add the onions until they turn brown, approx. 5 minutes. Next add ginger and garlic, the rest of the spices (chili, coriander, ginger, garam masala) and tomatoes, once the sauce thickens, add the chickpeas and cook for additional 7 mins. Season with salt, and garnish with cilantro and goji.

 

* You can eat this with coconut bread. Usually for a lighter version, you can use kidney beans. make sure the pre cook them with kombu. 

 

 

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Health Benefits of Jaggery

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Health Benefits of Jaggery

Jaggery is also known as 'gur' in Hindi, and is a sweet delicious brown sugary substance coming from raw sugar cane, date palm or coconut sap. The deeper coloured jaggery is from date palm whereas the sugarcane form is the most common of all. I like to use jaggery as an alternative to sugar as it is non refined and tastes delicious. a little goes a long way indefinitely. It is loaded with antioxidants and contains minerals such as zinc and selenium. It is known to lower vata and pitta dosha, but people with kapha dosha should be careful from consuming too much.

Jaggery is one of the best cleansing agents for the body, as it works on the deeper tissues to remove unwanted toxins. It is also good for the lungs, liver and stomach to prevent acidity and heartburn. Take this from someone who suffered from acidity all her life!!! Another relevant point is that is actually is good is weight loss due to its high potassium content. As its a digestive aid, a little goes a long way, and this is true with the usage. many Indians eat jaggery after a meal to aid in digestive processes. 

Lastly, for that time of the month, PMS! Jaggery is known to help combat moodiness, menstrual cramps and abdominal pain. 

So next time your thinking of a sweetener, look no further than jaggery. 

 

 

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Healing Garam Chai

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Healing Garam Chai

Here is the best recipe for a healing and soothing garam chai. Chai tea is delicious and the spices combat the mucus forming qualities of cows milk. drink this whenever your digestion needs a pep up. 

GARAM CHAI RECIPE

Serves 4

Time: 15 minutes

 

Doshic Effect Vata < Pitta > Kapha <

 

Materials:

  • medium saucepan
  • fine mesh strainer
  • spoon
  • ginger grater

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cup organic milk **
  • 3 Tbsp. red Rooibos tea (or you can use black tea from India)
  • 1/5 inch cube of fresh ginger root, chopped or grated (you can use dry ginger powder 1 tsp.) 
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken)
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • 7 peppercorns
  • 7 whole cloves
  • honey to taste

What to Do:

Boil water in sauce pan, add spices and turn heat to low. Add the tea and boil for 8 minutes.

Add the milk and cook additional 2 minutes.

Strain the tea, and wait until it is slightly cooler before adding the honey.

** You can use other types of milk such as cashews, coconut or almond. Make sure you don’t over boil these as they tend to curdle. 

 

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