Space, air, fire, water and earth, called the pancha mahabhootas (five primordial elements) form our body, soul and the cosmos. Controlling these elements are three doshas–Vata (denoting movement), Pitta (denoting transformation) and Kapha (denoting stability)– that help maintain equilibrum. The monsoons see a rise in Vata, which has properties of coolness and lightness. This increase causes dryness in the body and an imbalance in secretion of digestive juices, thereby compromising our metabolism. Depending on the constitution of an individual’s body, it may have no effect or as generally observed it can result in everything from joint pain and muscle weakness to flatulence. To control Vata and prevent as well as combat its effects on our health, Ayurveda recommends that you consume and avoid certain foods.
- Any foods or beverages that are cold to touch such as ice blended coffees and cold drinks or have a cooling effect like cucumber and tomato.
- Beverages combining fruits and milk, such as milkshakes and thick shakes. And extra strong ones such as double shot espresso coffee.
- Corn and corn products such as corn flakes. Popcorn, sprouts, radish, half-fried eggand boiled eggs, beef, soya sauce and readymade foods made of potato.
- Maida, raw meat as well as raw salads are heavy to digest, and in the monsoons, the latter two are also unhygenic. Fish sold in this season is usually stale and another reason to avoid it is to allow fish to spawn.
- Curds and excess use of salt that will retain water in the body.
- Drink boiled water and its variants: Water boiled with dhaniya/ corriander seeds powder in a proportion of 5-10 grams of powder per litre of water; or boiled water to which cloves are added in proportion of 5-6 cloves per litre; or add honey to boiled water in a proportion of 20-30 ml per litre.
- Sour sauces and rocksalt should be used whilst preparing dried meat, cooked meat or even vegetarian foods. Moderate use of vinegar can can also be useful and when making salads you can use oil toppings and hint of lemon.
- Make a ginger paste mixed with a pinch of rock salt, hint of lemon and sugar to taste and have it before before each meal or at least breakfast. You can also incorporate thin slices of ginger in your meals.
- Rum and sweet red wines are an ideal replacement for alcohols like beers and gin.
- Finally, garlic petals greatly aid digestion and control the Vata dosha.
With inputs from Dr. Sumit Kesar