Bitter, Sour & Salty

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This monsoon, choose foods that calm both your vata and kaphadosha, says ACHARYA BALKRISHNA

The rainy season appears at the commencement of the visarga period. It is characterised by greenery and humidity in the environment, besides cloudy weather. Humidity causes an increase in the number of insects such as mosquitoes and flies, and unhygienic conditions prevail everywhere.

The increased humidity affects the body. Increased moisture caused by rain vitiates vatadosha and reduces the digestive power that has already weakened during summer. The digestive power is also affected by environmental conditions, dust and smoke, increased sourness in food stuff and gases released from the earth due to the rains. In between, if it does not rain for a few days, the intensity of heat increases causing accumulation of pittadosha. The nutritive value of wheat, rice and other grains also reduces. Also chances of infection increase.

Compatible Diet

The diet during monsoons should include substances that are light, fresh, hot, easily digestible and those that strengthen the digestive fire. They should be capable of pacifying vatadosha. Hence, the diet recommended includes dairy products such as yogurt and buttermilk, sweet diluted yogurt or buttermilk flavoured with cloves, trikatu(dry ginger, black pepper and long pepper), rock salt, thymol (carom) seeds and black salt which keeps digestion strong. Roasted corn is easily digested if followed by buttermilk. Also recommended are old grains such as wheat, barely, unpolished rice and corn; pulses such as green gram and pigeon pea; vegetables such as bottle gourd, lady finger, angled loofah (turai), tomatoes, cucumber and mustard; and fruits such as apple, banana, pomegranate, pear, blackberry and ripe mangoes. Mangoes and milk are particularly beneficial. Mangoes must be ripe, sweet and fresh. They can cause harm if unripe and sour. Drinking milk after eating a ripe mango is nourishing. This combination helps the body gain strength and stability, so it can even replace a meal.

Similarly, regular use of ripe blackberries heals boils and pimples, burning, and skin and urinary diseases. Garlic and mint chutney, salty dishes made in clarified butter (ghee) and oil, gruel, vegetable soups, linseed and honey in water or with other substances (that are not hot in potency) are also beneficial in this season.

To calm vata and kaphadosha in this season, substances with bitter, sour and salty taste should be included in the diet. Sour, salty and oily foods calm vata, especially when the weather cools down due to heavy rains and winds. Water purification should be ascertained before consumption. Properly harvested rainwater is the purest form of water and is beneficial. Underground water should preferably be boiled and cooled before drinking. Water can also be treated and purified by adding holy basil leaves and a pinch of alum powder. Nowadays, water filters, reverse osmosis and other modern techniques are very helpful for this purpose. Adding honey in purified and cold water is advantageous.

Cold and dry foods are incompatible. Harmful during this season are pulses such as black gram, turkish gram, lentils and Bengal gram; grains such as Indian millet, barley, coarse grain flour of gram and barely (sattu); vegetables such as potatoes, jackfruit, bitter gourd, leafy vegetables and peas; and fruits such as water chestnuts. A lesser amount of rain in the monsoon aggravates pitta dosha. In such conditions, avoid sour, fried, hot and spicy, stale and other pitta aggravating foods and eatables made from gram flour.

Living Habits

According to a proverb, consumption of milk in Sravana (July-August), buttermilk in Bhadrapada (August-September), bitter gourd in Kvara (September-October) and yogurt in Kartika (October-November) are not recommended. An afternoon siesta or sleeping outside in sunlight, exposure to the sun, excessive sexual indulgence, excessive walking and exercising too much is harmful. A heavy diet, eating frequently without feeling hungry should also be avoided.

Completely avoid yogurt and buttermilk at night. Do not wear wet and damp clothes and avoid sleeping on a wet bed. Keep the joints of the body, especially the thigh joints and the genital organs dry.

Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly before use.Never use impure water from rivers and ponds; drink only purified water. Drive vehicles at normal speed to prevent skidding. Rubbing ice cubes or applying other effective medicines to the body gives relief from prickly heat. One can enjoy the rainy season to its fullest by following these diet and lifestyle tips. A Practical Approach To The Science of Ayurveda, DivyaPrakashann

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