While it’s hard to imagine Spring only being 20 days away here in Montana, we ARE headed that direction. I’m already enjoying the early sun rise and later sun sets. Soon, we’ll start to see the snowmelt and rivers will become swollen. All the moisture that was bound by freezing temperatures will soon be moving to clear winter stagnation. That same is true in our bodies. Spring is the optimal time for lightening and clearing the accumulated heavy and dense qualities from winter. These qualities must be broken down and burned up, which means increasing metabolism. In the winter, the body needs rich foods, but as we move towards spring, the body starts to desire more light, dry, simple foods that digest easily. It’s a time when we stoke the digestive fires and encourage the body’s natural cleansing with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes found in seasonal greens, bright berries, fresh ginger, turmeric, and spicy soups. When we avoid living according the rhythms of nature, we invite allergies, stagnation, brain fog, and lethargy into our bodies.
- The elements of spring are earth and water. In the spring we look to qualities that are warming, light, dry, mobile (get moving), sharp and penetrating. We then need to avoid qualities that are the opposite such as cold, heavy, oily, static (sitting around), dull, and slow.
- Signs and Symptoms of imbalance in the spring
- Loss of appetite
- Sinus or chest congestion
- Seasonal spring allergies (YES, these can be avoided)
- Lackluster or lethargic feelings
Some of the food we want to favor in the spring time are:
- Pungent spices, such as ginger, black pepper, lemon, and turmeric
- Dry grains, such as barley, rye, corn, millet, and buckwheat
- Astringent fruits, such as apples, pears, berries, dried cherries, raisins, and prunes
- Lean proteins, such as beans, lentils, and egg whites; white meat for nonvegetarians
- Bitter vegetables, such as arugula, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, dandelion greens, and asparagus
- Raw honey, in moderation
In order to avoid an imbalance this time of the year, you’ll need to avoid:
- Anything cold
- Dairy products
- Sweet, heavy fruits, such as dates, figs, and bananas
- Fatty meats
- Roasted nuts
In my yoga classes we will be moving from a more restorative practice to a more invigorating practice. This is also a good time to receive a Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage to avoid stagnation. Other Spring lifestyles would include:
- Dry brushing a few times per week or daily, in the morning before your shower. You can also use a light massage oil such as almond or grapeseed. Add energizing essential oils such as lemon, grapefruit, or bergamot to your massage oil.
- Practice neti (nasal irrigation) with a neti pot at during your morning shower. This is beneficial when the allergy season starts or before congestion begins.
- Exercise daily, preferably first thing in the morning and outdoors. Get sweaty.
- Reduce napping during the day and wake up with the sun.
- Avoid eating when you’re not hungry. Make sure your breakfast is on the lighter side.
Lastly, Spring time is a great time of the year to begin a cleanse. Cleanses provide an opportunity for our digestive system to rest in between seasons. It’s an opportunity to rid ourselves from the sluggishness of the rich, heavy foods from winter. During the Spring, our liver and gallbladder begin to detox. If we ate heavy, rich foods in the winter, which we all do in order to stay warm, we’re going to want to give the body a break and ease its natural process of detoxing. When we detox or cleanse, we reset our digestive system which can help alleviate with seasonal allergies, symptoms from auto-immune diseases, and food allergies. An Ayurvedic cleanse is based on whole foods with a mono diet approach. It’s not a starvation diet, nor does it require purchasing expensive herbs. “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates
Prostate enlargement is found in 50 percent of American men in their sixties, and up to 90 percent of men in their seventies and eighties. Worse, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer in men, with about 80 percent of all cases of prostate cancer occurring in men over sixty-five. Even though the prostate seems to be an older man’s health problem, these imbalances begin much earlier in life. The good news is that most prostate problems can be prevented by making simple lifestyle and dietary changes to restore balance.
Symptoms of Prostate Enlargement or Imbalance
Excessive urination at night, a weak urine stream, stopping and starting while urinating, a feeling that the bladder is never empty, difficulty in starting to urinate, and dribbling at the end of urination. If a man has these symptoms, he should consult his doctor immediately. Often, when the symptoms are mild, the physician will say, “Wait and watch.” Actually, from an Ayurvedic perspective, this is the perfect time to see advice as there is still an opportunity to correct the imbalances that have caused the problem in the first place. Of course, aging is the main etiological factor, or cause of the problem, however, Ayurveda also identifies the lifestyle or dietary factors that act as a trigger, and if unchecked, can turn a mild problem into a serious one.
Causes of Prostate Issues
One is overuse of Shukra Dhatu, or overuse of the sexual organs. Another is lack of adequate fluids in the body, due to not drinking enough water during the day. Habitually suppressing the natural urge to urinate also can, over time, cause the urine to become more concentrated and, in turn, irritates the prostate.
Alcohol or caffeinated beverages can also cause an imbalance. Another cause is taking too many over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants. These can cause the muscle that controls urine flow to tighten, making urination difficult.
One’s job can be a source of imbalance. Sitting for long periods of time without taking a break or stretching, can create an imbalance in the reproductive area of the body. Not getting daily exercise, or eating a diet that creates impurities (ama) in the body, are other causes of prostate problems.
Finally, if you don’t have a healthy daily routine, for instance if you watch TV late at night or for other reasons don’t sleep enough, or if you don’t eat meals on time or your routine is very irregular can cause ama to build up and disturb the immune system.
Ama is a sticky impurity that is created when digestion is weak and food is not digested completely. The aging process can also weaken digestion, however, typically the increase in ama, as mentioned before, is created by the poor dietary and lifestyle habits such as eating foods that are old and heavy, or eating meals at irregular times of the day. These types of foods, allows ama to eventually mix with nutrient fluid (Rasa Dhatu) and even the blood (Rakta Dhatu) which can overload the urine, the body’s purification system. Over time, this becomes a fertile ground for bacteria, and can create additional problems of urinary tract infections, which also impact the prostate. Weakened immunity also creates a problem for the prostate. Eating a diet high in processed foods and sugar weakens the immune system as well as lack of 7-8 hours of sleep. Stress can also have an impact on Prostate health. Overuse of the mind can also create problems.
Right Diet and Lifestyles
We are all uniquely made, therefore, we need to understand the right diet and lifestyles to maintain proper health and balance. Some general recommendations are as follows:
- Favor a diet of warm, cooked, easily-digestible, light-yet-nourishing foods is best. Organic vegetables cooked in mild spices, whole grains, light proteins such as mung dhal soups, and sweet, juicy fruits will nourish the body.
- Cooking with mild spices that improve digestion, burn away ama, but don’t create heat in the blood tissue include a mixture of fennel, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and small amounts of turmeric. Small amounts of black pepper and small amounts of fresh ginger also are healthy for maintaining prostate health and balance. Most of us know by now that turmeric is seen as anti-inflammatory, and intensifies the anti-cancer activity of other phytonutrients. Ginger and turmeric both have been found to have cancer-preventing qualities. Turmeric is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, and has more DNA-protective qualities than Vitamin E and beta carotene.
- Black pepper is another common spice whose effects in the diet have been well documented. Research published in Cancer Letter in the August 16, 1993 issue reported that 20 days after adding black pepper to the diet, the subjects’ liver detoxification systems were strengthened, aiding in purification of the blood tissue and enhancing the overall immune system.
- Squashes cooked with these mild spices are excellent for prostate health. The best squashes for prostate health are the types that are white inside, such as zucchini.
- Asparagus is another vegetable that is recommended, because it helps support balanced hormones. Daikon is a mild type of white radish root that purifies the urine. Because it is spicy, it should be cooked with other vegetables more as a seasoning than as the main vegetable. You could combine it with squashes such as zucchini, or shred it and add it to mung dhal soup.
- Light dairy products such as milk, lassi (a drink made with one part freshly-made yogurt and three parts water), and occasional fresh cheeses such as panir or cottage cheese should be included in the diet, but avoid the hard-to-digest aged cheeses, such as Monterey Jack, mozzarella, cheddar, brie, blue cheese, and Gruyère.
- Quinoa is an excellent grain as it is rich in zinc. Zinc supports seminal health, and because seminal health and prostate health are connected, zinc also supports prostate health.
- Favor whole, fresh foods as much as possible. Canned, frozen, packaged and processed foods, as well as leftovers are known as lifeless foods and are hard to digest. Lifeless, hard to digest foods increase ama.
Daily routines help to remove ama, keep hormones balanced and aide in digestion. Some Ayurvedic daily routine recommendations include:
- Eat meals at the same time every day.
- Eat your largest meal at lunch time when the sun is highest in the sky, which is when your digestive fire is strongest.
- Take time to eat nourishing, appetizing meals. Eating on the run increases ama and harms digestion.
- Be sure to exercise regularly, and be sure that the exercise you choose is suitable for your age and body type.
- Daily ayurvedic massage, called abhyanga, is another important part of the daily routine. You can do it in the morning to help improve circulation and digestion, remove ama from the body, tone the muscles, and increase energy. Use warm oil such as sesame, coconut, and/or almond.
- Avoid too much mental pressure, such as a job that requires you to work long hours. Turn all blue light devices off no later than 9:00 p.m.
- Take time to enjoy life, and to maintain healthy relationships with your family and friends.
- Meditation helps to reduce stress, increase inner happiness and balances the mind, body, emotions which helps to eliminate mental and physical ama. This doesn’t mean that you have to sit for hours. Simple steps to begin a meditation practice:
- Sit in a warm, quiet place.
- Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath.
- Every time your mind begins to wonder, come back to your breath.
So, whether you have symptoms of prostate irregularity or just want to avoid having any problems, adopting these recommendations will be taking a giant step toward overall health, not just for a man’s prostate. These changes won’t happen overnight, so be patient. Studies show that it takes at least 90 days to create a habit. Meeting with a Registered Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant who can guide you in a personal dietary and lifestyle program to restore balance to the prostate and your mind, body and emotions is recommended.
The sole purpose of this article is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively.
Ever wonder what the big hype is about cleansing? The number one reason why we cleanse is – Toxins. So what are toxins? Dr. John Douillard says this about toxins:“ Some of the pollutant molecules we are exposed to are fat-soluble, while others are water-soluble. Our bodies are pretty good at detoxing water-soluble toxins. The kidneys typically ﬂush them out with our liquid waste.
Fat-soluble toxins are trickier and require multiple phases of detoxiﬁcation by the liver. Often the liver is already overwhelmed and diverts these fat-soluble toxins into the blood. Since they are lipophilic – meaning attracted to other fats – they pick fat cells around your belly, hips or even your brain to bind to and store in – in some cases for decades.
All cleanses hope to pull toxins out of the fat cells. The question is: where do the toxins go from there? The body stores toxins in the fat when it cannot digest and process them properly. If you do not reset your digestive strength before you cleanse, you risk just moving the toxins from one fat cell to another and feeling worse.
Toxins come from a variety of sources:
- Man-made chemicals (mercury filling, pesticides, fluoride, etc)
- 90% of toxins come from our own body/mind/Spirit
- Bacteria=fungus, yeast, respiratory infections
- Sickness or injury
- Emotional (Trauma or Beliefs or attitudes)
- Undigested food (gas/bloating/constipation)
- Too much sugar, fat, alcohol, smoking, drugs, food allergies.
- Seasonal changes – changes in the temperature
We all have toxins in our bodies. In Ayurvedia, we call toxins AMA. Chronic toxins get stuck and clog the lymph and blood, adhere to the GI tract which all creates an increase of bacteria and fungus which then flourish and create more toxins in our bodies. Basically, these bacteria are eliminating in our bodies leaving behind more toxins. Okay, gross I know, but TRUE. Some of the signs of chronic toxicity would be:
- Smelly breath, sweat, feet, gas
- Constipation or Mucus in the stool
- Acnes, rashes or eczema
- Distorted tastes
- Ear wax
- Coating on the tongue (AMA)
- Puffy skin, especially red puffy skin
- Heaviness in the body or mind
- Foggy thinking
- Decrease appetite
Various ways to cleanse toxins from our body:
- Skin = exercise/sweat
- Intestinal tract = laxatives, cleanse, colonics, herbs
- Urine = diuretics (such as dandelion, celery and parsley)
- Lymphatic System = sweat, lymphatic massage either self of from a professional, hot bath, warm water (dilates blood vessels and stimulates digestive tract), ginger, cumin turmeric tea,
- Elimination diet (Seasonal Cleanse)
- Oil pulling
- Heavy metals = Chelation Therapy
- PunchaKarma which is a more advanced Ayurvedic practice
Lastly, we can store emotional toxins mentally and Spiritually. All beliefs are toxic. Many are sacred and holy but sometimes attitudes and beliefs creep into our psyche. Beliefs that we think are good but turn out to be faulty. Beliefs are the way we interpret and react to certain situations. They can become hard coded responses instead of approaching a situation with new response we have a predetermined response to certain situations. This could be helpful or hurt us. So, we want to cleanse these mental/emotional/Spiritual beliefs as well. Every belief you have is a part of your identity. We need to recognize those limitations of those toxic beliefs.
Ayurveda isn’t about taking a pill or herb to solve a problem it’s about identifying our weaknesses and signs and symptoms and working from a place of Whole Body Wellness. I want to not only coach you through the 14-day cleansing process, but also coach you through lifestyle and dietary habits that will take you beyond the 14 days into deeper, longer lasting healing. We can’t just cleanse every time we feel bad and then go back to our poor habits. We need to start developing healthier habits for a life time.
Go to Renew for more information on the Fall Cleanse
The Ayurvedic cleanse is an ancient process that helps to gently nourish the deep tissues and guide the body into burning old, stored fat-soluble toxins. It resets the digestive system with seasonal food and daily practices. The cleanse sets the stage for the body to naturally and gradually let go of the toxins that could affect emotions, mental clarity and the immune system. When we detox or cleanse, we reset our digestive system which can help alleviate seasonal allergies, symptoms from auto-immune diseases, and food allergies just to name a few..
As the temperatures cool, the body prepares to release excess fire and water elements that accumulated during the hot weather. The dry winds of fall can stir up the fire element and cause compromised immunity, inflammation, acidic digestion, skin problems, allergies, and a short temper. An Ayurvedic fall cleanse is anywhere from a four-fourteen-day process performed around later September-early November, and helps to assist the body in its natural release of hot, sharp, oily qualities. This is particularly important because during the summer months we’re more likely to accumulate too much internal heat which will begin to dry out the skin from the inside out. Basically, from the intestinal wall all the way out to the outer dermis. The organs cannot do their job well when they are dehydrated. Dry skin, on the inside and out, leaves cracks and openings for bacteria, viruses and the like. Then if you move into the season of dryness, Autumn (when all the leaves are drying up and falling off the trees), you are going to be hit exponentially harder with the draining aging effects of deep dehydration. A fall cleanse bolsters the immune system during cold and flu season and improves digestion.
Ayurvedic cleanses are based on a mono diet consisting of whole foods and is generally safer than most cleanses. The purpose of cleansing is to move out long standing imbalances. Therefore, cleanses can sometimes be exhausting, emotionally challenging and physically uncomfortable. During the cleanse, you’ll want to eliminate as much stress as possible. Keeping your schedule lighter than normal is important. It’s important that you take time to prepare for your cleanse by purchasing all your food items, set your intentions for the cleanse and begin to meditate and/or journal on the process. This is NOT a starvation diet. It’s important that your body feels supported during the cleanse. If you’re feeling starved, you might need to increase what you’re eating for lunch or add protein. When the body feels depleted it triggers a stress response and sends the body into emergency mode.
- Start the day with warm lemon water; no caffeine.
- Eat a monodiet of Kitchari, made with fall vegetables.
- Eat three sit-down meals each day. Those with blood sugar inconsistencies or lighter individuals may need four meals a day. But typically, no snacking in between.
- Drink 6 ounces of hot warm with meals and/or sip from a thermos through the day. Or a fall digestive tea consisting of 2 cups water, ¼ inch fresh gingerroot, ½ tsp fennel seeds, ½ tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp licorice root powder o4 2 tsp chopped licorice root. Bring water to boil, add ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Daily oil massage.
- Restorative yoga practice,
- Make sure your getting to bed early and take naps if you need to.
Ayurveda isn’t about taking a pill or herb to solve a problem it’s about identifying our weaknesses and signs and symptoms and working from a place of Whole Body Wellness. It’s important to not just cleanse every time we feel bad and then go back to our poor habits. Developing good lifestyle habits and seasonal eating are important for maintaining good health all year long. Modern day science is now starting to like good lifestyle habits just as important as diet when it comes to disease prevention such as Alzheimer’s, auto-immune diseases, cancer, etc. Ayurveda is all about healthy lifestyle habits.