CHAPTER 10: FOOD AS MEDICINE
10.1 Kitchen as a Pharmacy
LEAVE YOUR DRUGS IN THE CHEMIST’S POT IF YOU CAN HEAL YOUR PATIENT WITH FOOD,” WERE THE WORDS QUOTED BY THE GREEK PHYSICIAN HIPPOCRATES, THE FATHER OF MODERN MEDICINE.
Spices and herbs taste great, and also ignite our digestive fire when we use them to cook. . They also house infinite health benefits because they possess antioxidants, prevent cancer, lower cholesterol and blood sugar, improve memory, remove toxins, improve digestion, and most importantly – add amazing flavour and colour to our food. For this reason, diabetes management now uses medical nutrition therapy, while additionally cancer treatment and prevention uses oncology nutrition.
10.1.1 The Dynamic Dozen
Some very common Ayurvedic herbs and spices that constitute the secret of living a healthy life are given below. They are profoundly known as “The Dynamic Dozen”.
- Turmeric is high on antioxidant properties, anti-inflammatory properties, brain function preservation and heart protection.
- Ginger is a wonderful digestive healer with anti-inflammatory properties, and is used in Ayurvedic medicine to fight and prevent various infections.
- Cinnamon is a natural antimicrobial with anti-inflammatory properties. An excellent spice useful in treating metabolic issues, such as elevated blood sugar and abnormal lipids.
- Cumin is loaded with nutrients and a great source of iron and minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Results in effectively managing blood sugar, normalizing cholesterol and supporting bones.
- Black Pepper is referred to as the goldmine of medicinal properties, and is known to have anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, immunity boosting and fever-reducing properties.
- Fenugreek helps with lowering blood sugar and improving cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Clove is an antioxidant superpower that reduces inflammation, supports wound healing and relieves pain.
- Fennel is one of the most valuable spices in Ayurveda, known to strengthen digestion, reduces inflammation and flush out toxins from the body.
- Coriander is extremely helpful for digestive problems. This antioxidant in essential oil form can be effective in fighting innumerable infections.
- Allspice contains at least 25 active antioxidant compounds, and has been shown to have antiviral and antibacterial qualities to fight infection. It is also known to have analgesic properties to help in pain relief.
- Curry Leaves are commonly used in traditional Ayurvedic treatment to help fight diabetes, heart disease and chronic inflammation.
- Saffron has shown to be effective in uplifting your mood and is thus used in treating depression. It also relieves symptoms of PMS.
10.1.2 Using home remedies for common ailments
Given below are some of the common Ayurvedic herbs and spices that can be used to cure common ailments easily right from your home.
- Adrak (Ardraka/Sunthi) – for sore throat, cold and cough
- Ajwain (Spragne, Yavani) – for piles, indigestion, gas and loss of appetite
- Amla (Amalaki) – for bleeding gums, diabetes
- Dalchini (Tvak) – for indigestion, vomiting and loss of appetite
- Dhaniya (Dhanyaka) – for dehydration and intestinal worms
- Elaichi (Ela) – for cold, cough, vomiting
- Haldi (Haridra) – for skin problems, wounds or ulcers, cold and cough
- Hing (Hingu) – for abdominal pain and toothache
- Lavender oil – for insomnia
- Fennel seeds – indigestion and gas problem
While you can use specific herbs, spices and foods in general as prescribed by Ayurveda, you must never neglect the habits associated with its consumption. The following section looks at certain principles and tenets of Ayurvedic cooking.
10.2 Ayurvedic Cooking Classes
There are a number of practices you can follow to reap the benefits of an Ayurvedic diet. Some of these include
- Eating food with a healing purpose
- Holding an innovative experience with food through an appealing, fresh and inviting look, restoring the mind-body connection
- Food should be inclusive in nature by containing essential herbs, spices and components which make up a balanced meal
- Preparing food organically to remain disease free
- Incorporating a diverse variety of foods to boost health benefits
- Food should be calming and transformative in nature to maintain a positive aura
- Food preparation and consumption should support communal practices by having meals with your loved ones, further enhancing the experience.
As mentioned earlier, it must be noted that such practices recommended by Ayurveda cannot be practiced blindly. To truly connect oneself with the universe, they must be grounded in the environment around them. Ayurveda also suggests routines that can be followed as per seasonal and weather patterns. This can be found in Chapter 11 here.
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