A look at the Ayurvedic way of life…
If you have ever tried to follow a fad or mainstream diet at any point in your life you may have the feeling that some elements were beneficial, but other parts just didn’t fit with you. We are all as individual as our fingerprints so how can one diet or lifestyle plan work for everyone? The simple answer is; it can’t.
I think so many of us neglect to hear our own bodies. As a mother I was given this gift during pregnancy; my body knew, and let me know, exactly what it did and didn’t need. It is not so easy to tap into your bodily needs but they are there and telling you constantly what is required.
The Ayurvedic way of looking at your diet, and overall health, is to first know your body; to know you’re unique and to work with this not against it. To really know yourself is the first step. As there can not be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ health plan, the ancient system behind the Ayurvedic practice is to find common denominators within body types, personal preferences and what they are more prone to. From here you can then decide on a more specified diet that suits your specific body type to promote health and well being.
The Ayurvedic method focusses far more on diet and lifestyle, prevention rather than medication and so food and lifestyle routines are considered the most important medicine. An Ayurvedic doctor would far more likely provide you with dietary advice as opposed to a prescribed pill.
Being a holistic science, Ayurveda focusses on building and maintaining both a physically and mentally balanced state. The Indian monks who founded the practice would treat their bodies as temples in order to reach a higher spiritual plain. It is their observations and collective knowledge that over thousands of years became known as ‘the knowledge of life’ which translates as ‘Ayurveda’.
How it works – the three Doshas
The system is based around there being three ‘Doshas’. A Dosha is the energy that makes up each and every individual, each energy performs a different physiological function in the body.
Vata Dosha – comprised of air and ether (light, flowing, unpredictable)
Energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and your heartbeat. When Vata Dosha is balanced it promotes vitality and creativity, yet when unbalanced fear and anxiety can be apparent.
Pitta Dosha – comprised of fire and water (powerful, transformational, bold)
Energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body’s temperature. When in balance you can find contentment and a higher level of intelligence. When upset the Pitta Dosha can incur an angry attitude and ulcers.
Kapha Dosha – comprised of earth and water (grounded, calm, restorative)
Energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturises the skin, and maintains the immune system. A balanced Kapha Dosha will be expressed as love and forgiveness whereas when out of balance insecurity and envy can rear their ugly heads.
We all have the three Doshas yet different levels of each determine our overall ‘type’.
Physiological and personality traits of the three Doshas
These are the creative types; quick to learn but also quick to forget.
Generally Vata are slender and quite tall.
They don’t stick to routine well; high energy in short bursts is a common trait and so they tire and bore easily.
They have a tendency towards cold hands and feet, discomfort in cold climates.
Vata are lively and fun people who are good to have around. However they suffer from changeable moods.
When their energy is balanced they can be the life of the party, full of joy and enthusiasm.
A predominant Vata will respond to stress with fear, worry, and anxiety, especially when out of balance.
They are impulsive and their thoughts are often disjointed.
Physically they generally have dry skin and hair and don’t sweat a great deal.
Pitta are of medium physique, generally quite strong and well-built.
They are of a sharp mind and concentrate well.
A Pitta thrives on order and focus.
They are assertive, confident, and can be entrepreneurial.
Their aggressive, demanding and pushy side can rear up when out of balance.
A competitive trait is apparent whereby they enjoy a challenge.
They can be passionate and romantic when the moment fits.
They have a strong constitution, big appetite, and get irritated when hungry and under stressful situations.
Their skin type is fair or reddish, freckly and burns easily in the sun.
The heat and hot weather makes them uncomfortable, even irritable and they perspire a lot.
Pitta are good leaders, they can speak well in public and hold court with comfort and ease. However they can become quite authoritarian.
They can be rash, temperamental, impatient and angry.
Typical physical problems include rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, boils, skin cancer, ulcers, heartburn, insomnia and dry eyes.
The Kapha type is more easygoing and relaxed with a slow-paced attitude to life.
Their build is sturdy, heavy and usually physically strong.
They are caring, affectionate and loving.
They will easily forgive having a nonjudgmental nature.
A Kapha is stable, faithful and reliable.
Their energy is the highest of the three Doshas but comes in a slow, steady flow.
They speak slowly reflecting a deliberate and calculated thought process.
A Kapha can be slower to learn, but their long-term memory is superior.
Their hair and skin are generally soft as may be their eyes and voice.
They tend to struggle with weight gain and possibly a sluggish digestion.
Upon imbalance they can be prone depression.
Generally however they are highly self-sufficient and independent.
Their approach to life is gentle and essentially undemanding.
They are more often in good hea [...]
A third of U.S. teenagers haven’t read a book for pleasure in at least a year, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association (APA). And it’s not because they’re too busy watching TV.
The research, published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture, points to the continuing dominance of digital media among teenagers. Teen use of traditional media — such as books, magazines and television — has dropped off, while time spent texting, scrolling through social media and using other forms of digital media continues to increase, the survey says.
To reach their conclusions, APA researchers analyzed data from the Monitoring the Future study, an ongoing annual survey of around 50,000 eighth, 10th and 12th graders. The study included survey responses from 1976 to 2016.
By 2016, just 2% of 10th graders said they read a newspaper almost every day, and just 16% of 12th graders reported reading a book or magazine almost every day. About a third of 12th graders also said they had not read a book or e-book for pleasure in the last year — which is about triple the number who said so in the 1970s.
Even television and movie consumption is declining, the research shows. Thirteen percent of eighth graders said they watched five or more hours of television per day in 2016, compared to 22% in the 1990s.
Digital media has largely supplanted these more traditional forms of media among teenagers, the data shows. As of the mid-2010s, the average 12th grader reported spending about six hours per day using digital media — roughly two hours each texting, surfing the internet and using social media. Tenth graders reported an average of five hours of use per day, while eighth graders reported an average of four hours per day. [...]
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A new study shows that marital hostility, particularly when coupled with depression, raises the risk of a gut dysfunction called 'leaky gut syndrome.' [...]
In a recent column, I stated, “Even if we entirely avoided all carbohydrates, our bodies would use protein in an alternate recipe to make glucose (sugar) to fuel our cells.”
However, someone responded: “According to Dr Jason Fung, author of The Obesity Code, if one eats a diet of 65% healthy fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbohydrate, the body will be in ketosis and will burn fat, not protein, to make glucose to fuel our cells.
“Only when the body reaches the level of 4% fat will protein be used to make glucose.”
He then goes on to describe his success with this diet under his doctor’s supervision.
“I have lost a pound a week for 15 weeks and feel very good after the initial few days of sugar withdrawal. My regime of full fat yoghurt and milk, unsweetened whipped cream in my coffee, olive and avocado oils, limited fruit, no root vegetables, no flour, beans or pulses, satisfies my hunger as no other diet has. Have you looked into the ketogenic diet? I believe it is revolutionary.”
I applaud this person’s progress. And yes, I have looked into the research on ketogenic diets. Here are my thoughts:
Glucose – the primary fuel for our brain, muscle and other body functions – is easily provided by carbohydrates (sugars and starches in most plant-based foods).
In the absence of carbohydrates, our amazing bodies can make glucose from fat and protein.
Ketogenic diets severely restrict carbohydrates to force the body to manufacture glucose from these alternate sources.
This causes acids (ketones) to build up in the blood – a condition called ketosis. In times of starvation or low carb dieting, take your pick, our brains and muscles can survive on ketone bodies.
The ketogenic diet is extremely popular and controversial. Like you, many of its followers report less hunger and more weight loss compared to other diets.
Yet, experts argue its long term effectiveness and safety.
These diets eliminate or severely restrict any type of sugar or starch including grains, fruit (natural fruit sugar, fructose), potatoes and other starchy vegetables, beans, legumes and milk (natural milk sugar, lactose).
On the plus side, ketogenic diets have been used successfully to treat epileptic seizures in children.
And many people who adopt this eating plan eat more vegetables and less added sugar. Studies over the past 15 years show that animals and humans tend to lose weight faster on ketogenic diets. Their effectiveness over the long term does not seem to be any better than other weight loss plans, however.
On the down side, ketosis means that our bodies must deal with the production of acids, including acetone, that build up in our blood. This, say biochemists, disturbs the body’s natural acid-base balance.
People with diabetes are at risk of ketoacidosis – an extreme form of ketosis that is life-threatening.
While promoters of the keto diet say this is not a risk for healthy people, I personally do not prefer to chronically feed my brain and muscles this way.
My opinion also is that carbohydrates are not evil monsters. They are quite literally the energy from the sun transformed by plants into fuel (sugars and starches). This energy is transferred to me when I eat plant-based foods.
If I severely restrict these foods, I also eliminate some pretty important nutrients and substances that reduce inflammation – a major trigger for obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
A recent study by the US Agricultural Research Service, for example, found that participants who ate whole grains (instead of refined grains) lost weight while boosting beneficial bacteria in their guts that fight off inflammation and harmful gut microbes.
Any strategy that helps us avoid empty calories from excess sugars is a good step. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater, however. – The Monterey County Herald/Tribune News Service [...]
Following a recent meta-analysis, researchers conclude that even short bouts of movement can reduce the negative effects of prolonged sitting. [...]
The liver is the largest internal organ in the body and when it is diagnosed to contain over 5% fat, then it is a fatty liver.
This means the liver is not functioning properly, as it should break down fat, not accumulate it.
Many do not think that a fatty liver is a big health issue, but according to Malaysian Liver Foundation (MLF) president Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, about 60% of Malaysians risk dying due to fatty liver – largely because they are unaware of or ignore the problem.
A seemingly benign condition
The risk factors for having a fatty liver include:
• alcohol consumption
• being overweight or obese
• unhealthy diet intake (food high in fat or carbohydrates)
• long-term medication use
• rapid weight loss
• exposure to chemicals, pollution or contamination
• metabolic conditions (such as Type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia)
• virus infection
• family history
Liver is a super worker that does not complain until almost exhausted.
Known as the silent organ, it has limited nerves, which means poor liver health rarely shows direct symptoms.
Similarly, fatty liver does not significantly affect health although its presence means you may be at risk of getting liver disease.
Fat accumulation in the liver is an early indicator of poor liver health.
The accumulated fat is prone to be oxidised by free radicals, which causes eventual damage, and inflammation of liver cell membranes, which progresses to chronic liver condition.
Healthy liver (left) versus fatty liver (right, with damaged membrane and inflammation).
Do not procrastinate
Liver cell membranes consist of bilayer phospholipids, which are vital for maintaining cell structure and function as they are the main building blocks for the cell membrane.
Damaged liver cell membranes indicate missing parts of the phospholipids bilayer, just like lost puzzle pieces.
Replenishing essential phospholipids is crucial as it repairs and regenerates healthy liver cells.
You also need to boost the liver’s metabolism to enhance the breaking-down process of excess fat layer and detoxification.
Nutrients your liver need to support a healing process and protect it from further damage include:
• Essential phospholipids
> solely phosphatidylcholine (a type of phospholipid that makes up 85% of liver cell membranes) isolated from soybeans
> the “regenerator” facilitates damaged liver cell membrane repair and healthy liver cell regeneration
• B vitamins
> Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12
> the “detoxifier” improves metabolism, which assists in breaking down excess fat for energy, and detoxification
• Vitamin E
> vitamin with potent antioxidant properties
> the “protector” helps minimise further damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress
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Having a preference for evening activities, as well as sleeping at different times in the weekdays and weekends, may lead to weight gain in some people. [...]
Lebanese pop singer Elissa surprised fans by revealing in a new music video that she had overcome breast cancer, raising awareness of a disease campaigners say can be a taboo topic of discussion in Lebanon.
“Early detection of breast cancer can save your life. Don’t ignore it, face it,” 46-year-old Elissa wrote at the end of her video To All Who Love Me, released recently.
Elissar Khoury, who performs under the name Elissa, is one of the best known and highest-selling female artistes in the Arabic-speaking world, with 13.3 million followers on Twitter.
Elissa revealed in her video that she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in December.
Interspersed with glittering dance scenes, the video shows her going under a medical scanner and lying in hospital beds.
It also includes footage of her collapsing on stage in February while performing in Dubai.
“I think there isn’t enough awareness in our Arab region about this. Elissa found out because she was educated enough … and she does her yearly check ups,” said video director Angy Jammal.
Lebanese gynaecologist and member of the National Breast Cancer Campaign, Faysal el-Kak, welcomed Elissa putting breast cancer in the spotlight.
“This is a very bold and progressive move,” he said, hoping increased awareness will help more people detect the early signs of cancer and seek out treatment.
“Women associate breasts with their identity as female and they think that breast cancer diagnosis would affect that. (We should) break this taboo and change this perception. Early detection saves lives and saves their femininity,” el-Kak said.
A day after Elissa’s video hit the internet, in neighbouring Syria, first lady Asma al-Assad, 42, also said she had started treatment for early stage breast cancer.
A photo published by Syrian state media showed her hooked up to a drip smiling and sitting next to her husband President Bashar al-Assad. – Reuters [...]
Imagine you’re faced with a tricky task at work. What’s your first reaction?
If you’re socially minded, perhaps you’d fire off an email or Slack message to a co-worker, hoping to pick their brain. Or if you prefer solitude, maybe you’d shut yourself in a conference room to puzzle through the problem on your own. Either of these strategies could yield good results — but a new study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says the best strategy may be a blend of the two.
“With our smartphones and all of these technologies now, we’re constantly able to collaborate, and so we do,” says Ethan Bernstein, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Harvard Business School and a co-author of the new paper, along with Boston University’s Jesse Shore and Northeastern University’s David Lazer. “The assumption behind [constant collaboration] is that’s a good thing for the quality of solutions we’re developing.” But the new study suggests that’s not always the case.
In the study, the researchers asked three groups of people to complete a complex problem-solving task: mapping the best route for a person who must travel to 25 different cities.
The first group was told to solve the problem in isolation. Some of these people came up with very good solutions, Bernstein says, while others reached very poor conclusions, resulting in a lower average quality of work overall.
The second group worked in near-constant collaboration with colleagues. The average quality of work in this group was higher, since lower-performing individuals could apply better ideas to their own work — but the cohort never found as many great solutions, perhaps because its members tended to latch on to the best idea at a given moment and run with it, Bernstein says.
In the final group, people were allowed to interact with their colleagues only some of the time. “The intermittence allowed us to get the best of both worlds: getting lots of good solutions and, at the same time, raising the mean,” Bernstein says. That’s because — unlike in the collaboration condition, in which talented workers were immediately copied — those in the intermittent communication group had to puzzle through the task on their own at least some of the time, producing more variety. And — unlike in the solitude group, where ideas couldn’t be shared at all — even high-performers benefitted from that diversity, Bernstein says.
The study didn’t pinpoint the optimal amount of workplace communication, but there’s evidence that Americans might be overdoing it. A 2016 report from Adobe found that the average white-collar worker will spend 47,000 hours on email over the course of their career, suggesting that collaboration has become a huge chunk of many office workers’ days, and might be eating into employees’ times of solitude.
Dialing back a 24/7 work culture by unplugging from constant collaboration likely has other benefits, too. Research has shown that off-hours emailing can contribute to higher levels of stress and burnout, and even take a toll on employees’ romantic relationships. Unplugging, then, may come with a variety of benefits, both personal and professional.
“Managers are now at a point where they have to be thoughtful and deliberate about how they use constant, always-on communication,” Bernstein says. “At what point in time might they want a little bit less of it?” [...]
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