Ayurveda is known as the knowledge of life and longevity.
Pretty intriguing, right?
I have known about the Ayurvedic diet, the different doshas and its many different benefits. It’s quite enlightening indeed to know that it is the oldest healing science in existence, originating in India 5,000 years ago.
Ayurveda places great emphasis on the prevention of diseases and the connection between mind, body and spirit when taking care of one’s well-being.
Dr. Douillard, a leading authority in Ayurveda, describes this alternative medicine philosophy as:
“…living in harmony, swimming downstream with the current. Following the natural cycle, feeling energized at the end of the day, just as you did in the morning.
Ayurveda is about sorting the truth of your life. It´s not only about the physical, but your full means to an end. It´s about less density, stress and strain on your physical body so that you have more clarity.”
Well, this sounds like the perfect match for women in midlife, trying to get everything together, don’t you think? Let’s dig deeper!
You might be thinking… “Is it going to be just another fad diet?”
But let me tell you here and now that it’s really not! It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s a centuries-old diet, and it remains practiced today.
Ayurveda is all about healing and the same concept goes to Ayurvedic diet. It’s about having a balanced, healthy and personalized diet. It rings the bell for an equation that most women in midlife would want to tap into:
Ayurvedic diet = optimizing overall health and wellness + having a customized diet!
Sounds good? Read on to know more about it!
WHAT IS AYURVEDA?
According to scholars, it’s the oldest science of healing with a holistic approach to longevity, health and life balance. Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words “ayus” and “veda”, which together means “knowledge of life”. This traditional Indian alternative medicine follows a set of basic principles in treating illnesses and balancing the mind, body and consciousness.
Ayurvedic Medicine vs. Conventional Medicine
Ayurvedic medicine goes back to ancient practices, making it a whole lot different from conventional medicine. Here are a couple of things that set Ayurveda apart from modern medicine.
There is no universal formula for healing. Every person has needs that are unique to the individual.
Prevention is better than cure. Ayurvedic Medicine prioritizes balancing both physical and emotional health.
Food and lifestyle practices are holistic. The Ayurvedic diet is pill-free and focuses on encouraging people to eat healthily and move regularly.
There are a lot of Ayurvedic treatments, and the most common ones include Yoga, Herbal Medicine and Pranayama breathing exercises. When it comes to the Ayurvedic diet, you’re advised to eat according to your energy type or dominant dosha, which we’ll talk about shortly.
THE AYURVEDIC PRACTICE
According to Dr. Indu Arora, an international Ayurveda-Yoga therapist and master teacher, Ayurveda is not something one turns to only when in need. Instead, it is the wisdom of our everyday life, a daily practice that allows for a balanced life. As an introduction to this lifestyle, watch the video with Dr. Arora talking about the practice of Ayurveda. (11.06 minutes)
Dr. Arora has used specific Ayurvedic tools in the video. You can find these items HERE.
Five elements build the foundation of Ayurveda – namely Earth, Fire, Air, Water and Ether. These elements intertwine and work together and are considered the fundamental structures of every living object in the universe. This includes the food we consume and us humans as well.
In the Ayurvedic practice, there are 3 types of doshas, or energy sources – namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Every person has some of all three doshas, but most people tend to have a dominance of one or two of the doshas.
Vata – a combination of air and ether elements. It governs flow and motion in the body, which is why Vata types are commonly fast moving and quick thinking. Vata should be balanced for creativity and vitality. Otherwise, it will result to fear and anxiety.
Pitta – a combination of water and fire elements. Pitta types have fiery characteristics. They are passionate, sharp, intelligent and have more focus. An imbalanced pitta causes anger and ulcers.
Kapha – a combination of earth and water elements. Kapha means nourishment and growth. It expresses love and forgiveness when balanced but could lead to insecurity and envy when imbalanced.
Geeta Arora shares a quick and interesting explanation what each dosha type is. Watch her video and find out more about your energy source. (5.59 minutes)
Sometimes, your dosha goes out of balance due to stress, an unhealthy diet, the weather, or even strained family relationships. Each dosha has a particular set of symptoms when imbalanced, and that’s what we’re going to talk about next.
AYURVEDA AND MENOPAUSE
Ayurveda is all about balance, and menopause is simply a “balance disruptor”. The discomforts you are facing now may evidently depend on your dosha type. Here are the common physical and emotional health problems that women face, along with some simple Ayurvedic diet and treatment options to fix these issues.
Vata Type Women – These women tend to experience anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings and insomnia. They may also be inclined to feeling cold, having palpitations, hot flashes, constipation, bloating and joint pain.
Ayurvedic Diet and Treatment:
- Take warm food and drinks and eat regularly. Add spices like fennel and cumin in your diet.
- Decrease consumption of caffeinated products, refined sugar, cold drinks and salads.
- Follow an early bedtime pattern
- Practice meditation, yoga and get an oil massage
Pitta Type Women – These women are commonly hot-tempered. They easily get angry and irritable. They often experience hot flashes, night sweats, skin rashes, acne and urinary tract infection.
Ayurvedic Diet and Treatment:
- Fill your plate with zucchini, yellow squash and cucumber. Make sure that they are organic.
- Sweet, ripe fruits are okay, but do not overindulge as our blood sugar is less stable during menopause.
- Increase water intake.
- Decrease consumption of spicy foods, hot drinks and alcohol.
- Stay away from excessive sun exposure and overheating.
- Go to bed early. If possible, try to wind down as early as you can, or before 10PM.
Kapha Type Women – These women are more prone to gaining weight compared to Vata and Pitta types. They may experience lethargy, lack of motivation, slow digestion, depression and unreasonable weight gain. They may also have fluid retention and yeast infections.
Ayurvedic Diet and Treatment:
- Consume fruits, whole grains, vegetables and legumes.
- Sprinkle your food with black pepper, turmeric and ginger.
- Limit consumption of meat, cheese and sugar. Cut down on cold foods and drinks too.
- Rise up at around 6 AM.
Here are more Ayurvedic diet plans and treatment options for common menopause problems.
One easy trick is to chew a single peppermint leaf after every meal to help get rid of bloating. The menthol in peppermint that freshens your breath can also help with soothing the digestive muscles. As a result, it decreases bloating, abdominal pain and flatulence.
Another treatment is to cut a few pieces of ginger to slices and soak them in lemon juice for an hour. Chew the soaked slices after every meal.
Weight gain is a common frustration among menopausal women. Worry no more – Ayurveda is here to the rescue! In a pan, boil a liter of water, add 1/4 teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds and 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds. Mix it well and let it boil for 5 minutes. Allow it to cool and strain the liquid into a clean container. You can take sips of the solution throughout the day. It is best to make the solution fresh every morning for its full benefits. But, of course, don’t forget to follow healthy eating tricks and do exercises for effective weight loss.
According to Ayurveda, we experience hot flashes and night sweats due to an imbalanced Pitta in the deeper tissues of the body. The buildup of “ofama” (toxins) in the channels of the body also leads to these symptoms. The Ayurvedic diet suggests using herbs – such as Shatavari and black cohosh – to relieve hot flashes. These herbs are rich in phytoestrogens, which help balance erratic hormone levels during menopause.
If you want a quick Ayurvedic diet solution for fast relief, munch on apples, carrots or olives! These foods are loaded with phytoestrogens too! No matter what dosha type you fall under, avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks to reduce your flashes.
Stress and Anxiety
In Ayurvedic practice, meditation, yoga and proper breathing techniques are great ways to fight stress and anxiety. You may also use simple home remedies, like performing self-massage using herbal oils. Drinking chamomile tea in the morning or at bedtime is another effective stress buster!
Get Support from Herbs
I’ve shared a lot of herbs above. However, allow me to discuss briefly the 7 herbs that will help you sail through menopause. According to Dr. Douillard, combining modern science with ancient practices, he found the best herbs to produce the healthiest menopause experience for today’s women. These magical herbs are Musta, Shatavari, Chaste Tree Berry, Finger Leaf Morning Glory, Black Cohosh, Wild Yam and Ashoka.
Ayurveda believes doshas drive every living thing on this planet. It also uses the healing power of nature to fix imbalances and keep the body in good shape. A healthy diet and regular exercise hold the key to an effective Ayurvedic treatment.
Here are some things you need to remember when following the Ayurvedic diet:
- Consider the 6 tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent).
- Each of the 6 tastes should be present in every meal to ensure optimal nutrition and satisfaction.
- As often as you can, prepare every meal just before you consume them. This eating and drinking practice will allow you to savor the nutrition and flavor of each ingredient.
- Whenever possible, choose organic and locally grown ingredients in preparing your meal.
You may ask, are there risks involved with Ayurvedic treatment? Some herbs used in Ayurveda may interact with conventional medications. If you are taking medications, it is best to consult your doctor first. For more information, check out the safety and side effects of Ayurvedic Medicine in the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
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Gita is the founder of My Menopause Journey. Since 2014, she has been supporting midlife women by sharing hard-earned learnings from her own experience. To advance her knowledge, Gita puts a lot of her time and effort into understanding the broad spectrum of women’s health. She immerses in extensive research about the physical, mental and emotional aspects of menopause. Gita believes in the life-changing power of healthy, holistic living — this is where she anchors her message to all women. Learn more about her marvelous mission in About us - My Menopause Journey.