A slim, toned body is perhaps the much desired, and just as rarely achieved goal in our modern, often stress-ridden lives. From exercise and medication to even going under the knife, the range of solutions sought is matching vastly. Where does Ayurveda stand on this weighty matter?
Ayurveda, of course, focuses on mindful nutrition, stress reduction, and the cultivation of a balanced lifestyle. So, it is not surprising that many people look to their dietary principles and natural remedies when they want to lose weight. Ayurveda suggests a few natural and herbal remedies that may help in cutting belly fat.
Significantly, Ayurveda proves that losing weight is not about starving but about balancing your fat metabolism.
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Ayurveda is clear in its principles that humans need to balance three forms of energy, which are in turn linked to natural elements:
- Vata: Energy of movement associated with space and air.
- Pitta: Energy of metabolism associated with fire and water.
- Kapha: Energy of your body’s structure associated with earth and water.
However, all of us have the three doshas present in our body in different proportions, and an individual’s dosha is determined by the most dominant. In the Ayurvedic tradition, the way you eat should correspond with your dosha.
Ayurveda as a belief system does not suggest short-term gains. There are no drastic measures such as starving or restrictive diets. A clear and time-tested path toward optimal health also means there is no quick loss and or gaining of weight.
The way to a flat stomach: According to Ayurveda, obesity is seen to be a disorder of the fat tissue and metabolism. Fat tissues increase and block all the channels in the digestive system, which leads to weight gain. Those aiming for the flat stomach need to take special care of their diet. Here are a few ingredients that help:
Triphala, literally “three fruits”, is an Ayurvedic herbal rasayana formula consisting of equal parts of three myrobalans, taken without seed: Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula). Used from ancient times, it helps eliminate toxins from the body and rejuvenates the digestive system.
How to ingest: Triphala is usually available in powder form. Dip this powder or churna in hot water at least two hours after dinner and half hour before breakfast.
Methi (Fenugreek) has been known to help lose weight efficiently as it supports digestion. Galactomannan, a water-soluble component found in methi, helps curb food cravings and helps increase metabolic rate of the body.
How to ingest: Roast some methi seeds and crush to a fine powder. Take this some powder with water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. You can also soak the seeds in water overnight and drink the water and chew the soaked seeds on an empty stomach.
Dalchini (Cinnamon) helps in stimulating the body’s metabolism, which helps in cutting the belly fat. Cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon is said to stimulate metabolism of the fatty visceral tissue.
How to ingest: Drink a cupful of cinnamon tea first thing in the morning or as suggested by the doctor. Cinnamon of course is present in many desserts, but is not the suggested way to cut fat!
Aloe vera has active compounds that promote weight loss. The aloe vera gel contains a complex carbohydrate known as acemannan, which facilitates the absorption of nutrients by the cells, nourishes them and also helps detoxify them. It helps in boosting metabolism, aiding weight loss.
How to ingest: Commonly available as aloe vera juice, made by mixing the gel of the plant with water.
Kalonji (Nigella Sativa), another spice that is said to aid weight loss. Nigella seeds contain nigellone, which helps in controlling obesity.
How to ingest: Kalonji is used as a spice, and can be used in cooking Indian dishes or in breads
Guggul (Commiphora Mukul) is a herbal remedy that contains a plant sterol (a subgroup of the steroids and an important class of organic molecules) known as guggulsterone. This is said to promote weight loss by stimulating the body’s metabolism. It also lowers cholesterol levels.
How to ingest: Make a tea like concoction
Ajwain (Carom seeds) works as a natural antioxidant, removing toxic content from the body, thus helping in weight loss. This seed also speeds up body metabolism.
How to ingest: Ajwain is used in preparing Indian dishes, as well as breads. Alternately soak ajwain in water over night, then boil, strain and have the water in the morning.
Black Pepper is rich in healthy fats and fibre, contains vitamins A, K, C, and minerals such as calcium, potassium and sodium which helps in achieving weight loss.
How to ingest: Black pepper can be used in cooking or sprinkled in it powder form in salads or soup.
Vijaysar (Pterocarpus Marsupium) is a deciduous tree whose bark is said to have fat reducing properties.
How to ingest: Vijaysar bark can be used to a tea like concoction
A regular eating regime is highly recommended. In fact, having a regular daily routine helps too. Eliminate snacks in between meals. Fat metabolism is kicked into high gear during this natural break between meals; without it, the body does not tend to use accumulated fat as energy. A suggested alternative to snacks is a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of honey and a dash of fresh lime juice. Also, eating a light dinner, if possible between by 5 or 6 p.m. allows your stomach to empty itself before you go to sleep and supports the natural detoxification processes that occur overnight.
Practicing a few minutes of yoga every morning and exercising at least thrice a week is also a must. Even workouts as short as 15-20 minutes can be very beneficial. Yoga, of course, is an incredibly powerful practice that benefits the entire being—body, mind, and spirit. It also helps avoid unnecessary stress and unhealthy food cravings. Maintaining some discipline, especially when you embark on this program, is necessary though. That’s a small price to pay for a slim body!
EATING ACCORDING TO YOUR DOSHA
Dietary recommendations for Vata-dominant people
- Eat 3 to 4 small meals daily, at least 2 hours apart.
- Incorporate lots of cooked vegetables.
- Avoid nightshade vegetables, such as eggplants, peppers, tomatoes.
- Eat juicy, sweet fruits and avoid astringent fruits like cranberries and raw apples.
- Limit legumes.
- Eat a wide variety of nuts and seeds, especially in the form of nut milk.
- Avoid addictive products like sugar, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Avoid foods that are raw, frozen, or extremely cold.
Dietary recommendations for pitta-dominant people
- Eat lots of raw vegetables and salads, especially in spring and summer.
- Limit your intake of animal foods like meat, seafood, and eggs.
- Avoid spicy foods, coffee, and alcohol.
- Avoid nuts and seeds.
- Eat legumes and lentils in moderate amounts.
- Eat and drink dairy products, especially those that have been sweetened.
Dietary recommendations for kapha-dominant people
- Limit the quantity of food you eat.
- Avoid dairy and foods high in fat.
- Limit protein.
- Eat lots of leafy greens and vegetables grown above ground (as opposed to root veggies).
- Eat astringent fruits like apples, cranberries, mangoes, and peaches.
- Limit animal foods, nuts, and seeds.
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