Eat right – the traditional way

The purpose of food, it is said is not only to increase longevity and bodily strength, but also to purify the mind and consciousness. Food is supposed to nourish the organs, regulate various activities of the body and help the different organs in the body to grow. Eating the right kind of food promotes health and growth, while there are some food items and practices that should be avoided as they lead to health problems. Ayurveda tells us to combine food wisely, eat in a pleasant atmosphere and at fixed times to get maximum benefits from the food that we eat. The choices we make regarding food, either builds up immunity or destroys it.

Start the day with warm water

The water that is used by the body overnight for digestion, cleansing, and elimination, needs to be replenished. It is hence, necessary to drink water first thing in the morning, preferably warm. Warm water is said to stimulate digestion and wash out the toxins, thus preparing the body for the day ahead. Adding the juice of half a lemon to warm water, makes it even more healthy. This is because lemon leaves an alkaline residue, which is necessary for good health.

Do not Overeat

Ayurveda advises us to eat slightly less than what the appetite demands, because it is not only about the amount of food we ingest, but also how well we digest and absorb the nutrients from the food into our system. The stomach needs working space, and so, it should be filled only half and actually thats how much we need to feed our hunger. We should leave 1/4th space for liquids and 1/4th space for air to help in digestion. Overeating dulls the mind and tires the body.

Chew properly

It is said that half the digestion takes place in our mouth. By chewing properly, we can save our intestines a lot of work. The intestines have to work harder to digest half-chewed food. One should eat slowly and chew well. This helps in two ways. It gives the brain enough time to receive the signal from the stomach that it’s full. Therefore, the slower we chew, the lesser we eat. Also, when we chew thoroughly, our digestive system becomes aware of incoming food, and triggers the production of digestive acids which  helps the body absorb nutrients.Food that has not been chewed properly, promotes all sorts of problems like intestinal bacteria, flatulence, bloating, constipation, stomach ache, cramps and even diarrhea. That is why we are asked to chew our food at least 32 times before swallowing it.

Focus on the Food

Ayurveda asks us to eat with the belief that the food we eat is enhancing the energy, intelligence and health. It advises us to eat mindfully, that is , eating without distraction. How do we do this? We eat mindfully by not doing anything else while eating, like watching television or reading. By eating slowly and savouring the food, one enjoys it more. Above all, when we are aware of every morsel we eat, we know when we are getting full, and can avoid over eating. The environment should be peaceful during meals and we should refrain from emotions like anger, irritation, and negative thinking. The food should be cooked with love and care in order to transfer positive energy to food. Food is considered next to God because it gives us life, and it is said that, eating the food with our hands enables to transfer the warmth of our body to the food, and creates a closeness and a bond with our food.

Should you drink water with food?

Our stomach starts releasing digestive juices as soon as we start eating, or even before. When we drink water during meals, what we are essentially doing is diluting the digestive juices that are released to digest the food, thus hindering them from breaking down food. Sipping a little water during meals isn’t a cause for concern but drinking more than that may interfere with digestion. Drinking water before eating leads to loss of appetite and this may be helpful for people who want to lose weight. It is best to drink water about 30 mins before we start eating. We should avoid drinking water for about two hours after meals as this helps in the absorption of nutrients. Eating in a hurry causes us to gulp down our food, thus triggering our need to wash it down with water. If we chew our food well, we will not find the need for water to wash it down.

Eat at fixed times

In ayurveda, an important rule is to maintain atleast a gap of three hours between meals. The habit of snacking in between meals, hampers the digestive process and other complex functions of the body. The digestive power is said to be the strongest at mid day, and therefore we should take our main meal at this time. Ayurveda asks us to wait at least three hours after a light meal and five after a heavy meal before eating again.

Have fresh and natural food

Eat fresh food to remain healthy. One should try to eat seasonal vegetables and fruits, and whole grain and dried fruits. Food should be as fresh as possible. Natural foods like milk products, grains, fruits, and vegetables are believed to increase longevity, give strength, health and happiness. It also satisfies the body and mind. Ayurveda also tells us to eat different tastes – salty, sweet, bitter, and sour, in one meal. This is because these various tastes stimulate the digestive juices to a great extent. This may explain why a traditional Indian meal (which has a variety of different tastes and flavours), also includes a small sweet dish in the main meal and not as a separate dessert.

How to cook your vitamins

We all are aware that fruits and vegetables should be an important part of our diet. Most of us try to ingest as much as possible. Yet we don’t see positive results, we don’t seem to be really getting all the nutrients from the food. This may be because of many reasons – the food is not fresh, and hence has lost most of the nutrients; we lack knowledge about how a particular vegetable should be cooked, so that we can absorb most of the nutrients;  Should the vegetable be eaten raw or cooked? Most of the time, we lose a lot of vitamins during the process of preparing, storing and cooking food.

First of all it is necessary to know our vitamins. For instance, we all know that tomatoes, red capsicums, spinach are rich in vitamin C. So we cook them and eat them, thinking we have had a very nutritious diet. But the truth is that vitamin C is water soluble and when we cook it, it leaches out into the water, and if you don’t drink the water or use it in a soup, you didn’t really get vitamin C from the food you ate. So its best to eat them raw or steamed. But wait a minute, there is something called Lycopene in tomatoes, that is not available all that much in raw tomatoes. Lycopene increases as the tomatoes are cooked more and more. Also, when eaten with oil, it increases lycopene absorption by the body. Spinach has quite a good amount of calcium. But it also has oxalic acid which can interfere with the absorption of calcium by the body. Since spinach offers a lot nutritionally, you cannot stop eating spinach. The answer is to eat yogurt to get calcium and spinach to get all the other nutrients like vitamin C, Iron and vitamin A.

The secret here is to know your vitamins and minerals, and how to cook them. There are water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. We can avoid specific types of vitamin loss, by cooking them right. Vitamins A, E, D and K are fat soluble vitamins, therefore the food has to contain some fat, to be a good source of one of these vitamins, and to get the most from them. In general, fat soluble vitamins are fairly well retained while preparing food, largely because they don’t dissolve in water. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissues. They are used by the body as required and eliminated more slowly than water-soluble vitamins. So an overdose of these vitamins could lead to toxic results.

Water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored in the body and as such have to be replenished every day. The water soluble vitamins are the B vitamins, vitamin C and folates. These vitamins are also easily excreted by the kidneys. Water soluble vitamins readily dissolve into the water used in cooking. This is one reason why you should cook with just enough water or use the liquid from cooking to make soups. Heat is another problem for many water soluble vitamins.

Following these tips will help cut down the nutrient losses from foods while preparing and storing food.

Use fresh fruits and vegetables, as soon as possible after purchase, as nutrients get destroyed with the passage of time. Avoid soaking vegetables in water for long periods of time. Keep the skin intact whenever possible, as in some vegetables and fruits the nutrients are often just below the skin. Do not wash the vegetable after cutting it and try to cut it into larger pieces as there is less loss of nutrition. Vitamin C also evaporates into air, hence keep juices covered tightly in the fridge. Riboflavin is destroyed by exposure to light, hence keep food with riboflavin, covered and in the fridge as soon as possible. Serve cooked vegetables immediately, as it starts losing nutrition after 24 hours in the fridge.

Where cooking vegetables is concerned, it is better to steam vegetables than to boil them. Don’t cook for long and avoid high temperatures. To avoid stickiness in food like pastas, adding some oil is a better alternative than to rinse them, as some vitamins will also be washed off. The key is to cook vegetables gently, without a great deal of water. This will help protect the water-soluble vitamins. Blanching the vegetables will also help preserve the color and nutrients in the food we eat.

Toothache home remedies

Tooth decay is usually the cause of tooth aches. A tooth ache is a sign of decay, abscess or inflammation inside the tooth or of the gum. The main cause of tooth decay is plaque. Plaque is a film of mucus and bacteria deposited on the teeth that encourages the development of dental caries. Dental caries is also known as tooth decay or a cavity. It is an infection which is bacterial in origin, that causes demineralization of the tooth surface.

What causes tooth decay?

Tooth decay is usually caused by a sticky film of food residue, saliva and bacteria that accumulate on teeth. The bacteria feeds on the sugars and starches from food we eat. These bacteria produce an acid that can destroy the enamel, which is the protective surface of the tooth.  When the decay advances. it leads to deep cavities that allow bacteria to enter the pulp deep within the tooth, and eventually leads to a painful dental abscess. It is called a tooth abscess, when pus has accumulated in a cavity on the interior of the tooth.

Home remedies to prevent and treat tooth aches

Tooth decay invariably requires  treatment by a dentist, but you can use a variety of natural home remedies to relieve pain while dental treatment takes effect, and even prevent it by performing these simple actions, which will keep the teeth healthy.

Prevention:

Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss it to remove food particles from between your teeth.
Minimize the consumption of refined carbohydrates. Such foods promote plaque formation and raise acid levels in the mouth.
Reduce excess acidity in your mouth after eating by brushing or rinsing your mouth well so as to remove food residue and counter acidity.
Drink tea, which is a good source of fluoride and tannins. Fluorides is a decay fighting mineral and the tannins help fight bacteria. Green tea can prevent tooth decay by inhibiting oral bacteria.
Minimize snacking, (including sugary drinks, candy and mints) as this leads to a constant supply of acid in the mouth.

It is not how often we brush our teeth, but how well we brush our teeth that matters. It is recommended that we hold the brush at a 45 degree angle against the gum line. Point the brush upwards while brushing the upper teeth and downward while brushing the lower teeth. Use short back and forth motion to clean the surface of teeth. Tilt the brush vertically and use the front part of the brush in short up down strokes to clean the inner surfaces of the front teeth. Finally, brush your tongue too, as it has disease containing plaque.

Another important thing to do everyday is to floss your teeth. The teeth are usually touching each other, so there is no other way to get into the space between teeth. Flossing too has to be done the right way. You don’t want to slash your gums. Floss not only removes the food particles from between teeth, but also the plaque that builds between teeth. It is good to be methodical when flossing and brushing, so that no surfaces of any teeth are missed.

Treatment

To reduce the pain of an abscess, apply a hot compress for five minutes, every half an hour and wash out with warm salt water afterwards. This may help release the pus.
Apply a few drops of clove oil on the gum above or beneath the aching tooth. Cloves contain eugenol, a local anaesthetic. If you do not have clove oil at home, powder the cloves finely and make a very thick decoction out of it. Soak a cotton wool in this decoction and place it on the hurting tooth.
Apply a cotton wool ball soaked in echinacea tincture to the affected tooth.
Apply a paste of powdered slippery elm bark mixed with a little water.
Herbal tea made from mango flowers acts as an astringent, soothes inflammation and relieves pain.

For gums

After cleaning teeth, gently massage gums with fingertip, then rinse mouth with cold black tea. The tannin in the tea acts as an astringent and reduces bleeding.
To counter infection, make mouth washes out of meadowsweet tea. You can make this tea by pouring boiling water over the dried herb and steeping for 10 mins. Strain, cool and use.
Take a tbsp of mustard oil, and add a tsp of common salt to it. Massage this mixture on your gums with your forefinger, in circular strokes for about half a minute. Gargle with warm water and repeat three times a day.

Diet for teeth

It is important to keep teeth strong in addition to keeping it clean. Calcium helps make the teeth strong. With an increase in calcium intake, magnesium and zinc intake also has to go up, as the requirement of magnesium and zinc increases with an increase of calcium in the diet. Vitamin C is very important for gum health. Vitamin C is said to supply the gum tissues with oxygen and strengthens the texture of tissues. It also cures infections quickly. Eating raw hard vegetables on a regular basis, helps to clean and exercise the gum and teeth, thus making them stronger.