We may not be able to explain why things work but many ancient health practices have stood the test of time. And since they cannot be explained—or explained using allopathic terms—or measured by modern medicine, they’re often discounted. Until one day, modern research proves these ancient health habits right.
Here are 8 ancient mind-body health practices that have gone from hocus pocus status to recommended modern wellness habits.
1. Eating regularly
Ayurveda is big on having a daily routine. This includes eating regularly to help keep vata dosha at bay. Vata is one of the 3 doshas, or bodily humors, in ayurveda. It’s primarily made up of ether and air, and as such its main function is movement. When it goes out of balance in your body, you may experience symptoms like racing thoughts, anxiety, tinnitus, insomnia, gas and bloating, constipation and overall dryness.
The European Society of Cardiology published a report not too long ago saying, that “people who skip breakfast and eat dinner near bedtime [within 2 hours] have worse outcomes after a heart attack.”
There’s a place and time for fasting but you should do it carefully and under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner. Your vata will thank you for it!
Eating too often is not good either because it interferes with your body’s natural digestive process. So you need to balance not only what you eat but also how you eat, how much you eat, how often you eat and when you eat.A healthy diet is much more than just what you eat. It's also how, how much, how often and when you eat. #HealthyEating #HealthyLiving Click To Tweet
2. Early dinner
Ayurveda breaks the 24-hour daily cycle into sub-cycles. Each sub-cycle is best suited for certain activities, such as hunkering down, digestion and creative endeavors. Knowing how to use these micro-cycles will help you stay healthy.
When I work with clients, I encourage them to have dinner by 7:00PM (ok, by 7:30PM if you’re pushing it) and advise them on the types of foods to avoid. Your digestive system is naturally weaker in the evening so the more you can work with nature’s rhythm, the better off you’ll be. And now modern research backs up the idea of an earlier dinner, too.
A Pennsylvania Medicine study found that eating late can not only increase weight but also hurt fat metabolism. With that comes higher insulin, fasting glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The list doesn’t stop here.
Eating late also contributes to acid reflux and your brain’s ability to learn, concentrate and memorize.
What if you get hungry after dinner? Go for a glass of warm whole or almond milk, or a piece of fruit instead of ice cream or your second dinner.
3. Gut-brain connection
Health in Ayurveda focuses on digestion. Digestion means not only the intake of foods, thoughts and emotions, but also their transformation, absorption and waste elimination. When your digestion is optimal, things flow the way they’re supposed to. When it’s off, imbalances form in your body, which can lead to disease if you don’t nip them in the bud. Your gut health will even affect the aging process.
Your reaction to the stressors in your life is a big factor in shaping your gut health. Your mind and body are connected—and so are your brain and gut. And this is the reason why it’s important to resolve unresolved emotions, let go of negative feelings and cultivate loving thoughts.
Get my free ebook on The stress effect.
As toxins accumulate and “overflow”, they will “spread” into the weaker parts of your body if they can’t exit through the proper channels. For example, they may lodge in your head, triggering depression. That’s why there’s more focus today on researching the brain-gut connection and how healthy gut bacteria can help treat depression.
Consider this: with 95% of serotonin made in your gut, it’s no surprise that your mental health is linked to your gut health. In fact, your gut microbes communicate with a very sophisticated part of your nervous system called enteric nervous system (ENS) whose neurons surround your GI tract. For this reason, many refer to your gut as your second brain. Mind blowing, isn’t it?!
But the research doesn’t stop there. An assistant professor of Kinesiology at my alma mater, SF State found that gut bacteria health is linked to athletic performance.This article on the gut-brain connection will blow your mind! #HealthyDiet #HealthFoods Click To Tweet
Ayurveda is all about personalization, which is a relatively new concept in allopathic medicine. In very simple terms, ayurveda uses doshas, or bodily humors, to understand your natural state and imbalances. Then it recommends diet and lifestyle changes as well as herbs and treatments to help you maintain or get back into your natural, balanced state. This is a very personal process depending on your innate state and your imbalances at any given time.
With the growth of health tech and wearables, traditional medicine is becoming more interested in personalized wellness plans. Take, for example, the idea of eating according to your blood type.
Stay tuned for more ancient health wisdom backed by modern research in part 2!
Disclaimer: the information in this article should not be considered as medical advice. It’s merely the presentation of ancient ayurvedic teachings in the context of modern research.
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