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Ayurveda: It's a 5,000 Year Old System
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by Holly Padove

Most of us feel a renewed sense of joy as we welcome the spring season with its longer days and blossoming flowers. To keep our bodies, minds and spirits feeling light and sprightly it’s important to shift to a lighter, spring- based diet by embracing the culinary gifts of the season.

As we transition from winter to spring, we notice distinct shifts in nature, including the foods that are naturally available this time of year. The best way to become familiar with what Mother Nature has in mind for ayurvedaus food- wise is by browsing the local farmer’s markets to see what’s growing regionally. Each season brings forth the foods that best nourish us, and when we eat locally grown seasonal foods, we fortify and strengthen our physical and spiritual bodies.

Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old system of natural medicine from India, is all about balance, and recognizes the inherent healing qualities in the food we eat. Ayurveda gives us comprehensive knowledge on the best types of food for us, not only based on the particular seasons, but also based on our individual constitution, known as “dosha.”  Ayurveda recognizes that each person is different and has unique food (and lifestyle) requirements.  According to Ayurveda, there is no “one size fits all” diet.

That said, if you simply would like to eat healthier, the first step, before tailoring your diet to your “dosha” is to simply eat with the seasons, enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables that you can find locally (not necessarily at the grocery store, as many fruits and vegetables are shipped in from across the world)!  For spring, pungent vegetables like onions and chilies increase metabolism and digestive strength while many of the vegetables for the season such as kale, chard, mustard greens, parsley, celery, asparagus, cilantro, lettuce and watercress work to remove the excess water that the body tends to hold on to in the spring and resets the body’s ability to metabolize fat as fuel. These types of foods help to detoxify our bodies after winter, when we typically have ingested heavier foods to keep warm, which have given us a bit of a “coating” so to speak in the form of a few extra pounds.

When we eat healthier we are more likely to transition smoothly through the seasons rather than catching a cold or a virus, as our immune system function better when we provide it with the right types of fuel.

Each time the season shifts, i.e. around June we will transition from spring to summer, we must adjust our food choices for optimal health. Just remember the basic principle of eating lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables, the kinds that are abundant on the Central Coast, and you'll be well on your way to a healthier, more balanced state.  For more specifics on your individual doshic needs, contact an Ayurvedic practitioner, or read one of the many books on Ayurveda, such as Deepak Chopra’s “Perfect Health.”

Holly Padove is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist with Balanced Living Ayurveda, based in Arroyo Grande: www.balancedlivingayurveda.com.