Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Raw Foods and Ayurveda

Everyone's digestion is unique. Although ayurvedic healers generally recommend cooking foods to enhance ease of digestion, if you find that your digestion is strong enough to handle a diet that contains lots of raw foods, and you have no signs of ama, then incorporating raw foods into your diet is not a problem.
Here are some suggestions for eating raw foods under the umbrella of ayurvedic dietary guidelines:
1. Choose foods appropriate to your dosha and needs for balance. Those foods will give you the greatest benefit.
2. Within the food choices suited to your dosha, opt for foods that are easier on the digestion: cucumber, lettuce, baby carrots, daikon radish and tender greens, for example.
3. Chew foods well so that they mix with salivary secretions and the digestion process begins in the mouth.
4. Eat moderate portions to avoid overtaxing the digestion.
5. Chop or grate foods fine. Pureed raw soups and grated salads are easier on the digestion than big chunky vegetables.
6. Soak nuts and seeds before you eat them. Soaking enhances digestibility of nuts and seeds.
7. Use ripe, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. Unripe fruit and over-mature produce both tax the digestion more than foods eaten at the peak of their maturity.
8. Go organic. Foods that are natural, with no pesticides or chemicals used in the growth process, are absorbed better and leave less toxins in the body.
9. Garnish raw salads with a "hot" dressing -- spices sautéed in melted ghee and drizzled over the salad enhance digestion.
10. Sip warm water or warm herb/spice teas through the day between meals to enhance digestion and cleanse the body of ama build-up.
11. Eat more of your raw food for the day at lunch, when the digestive fire is at its peak. Avoid eating raw foods after sundown.
12. Use-digestion enhancing herbs for flavor -- cilantro, mint, thyme, basil and fresh ginger root all aid digestion.
13. Drizzle cleansing lemon juice on your salads and raw soups.
14. Use smaller beans for sprouting: mung beans and lentil sprouts are easier on the digestion than sprouted garbanzos, for example.
15. Try and get all the tastes at each meal, even if it is a salad: carrots/beets for sweet, greens for bitter, cilantro for astringent, fresh ginger for pungent, lemon juice for sour and rock salt for salty.

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