Healthy Living: Dates
By Renu Gulati
Phoenix dactylifera (Botanical)
Dates are one of the sweetest and healthiest fruits. Cultivated from around 6000 BC, dates are the fruit of the date palm tree. They can be consumed either fresh or dried.
Dates are a good source of protein, carbohydrates, various vitamins and minerals. They contain magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorous and sodium as well as vitamins C, B1, B6, folate and niacin to name a few. Extremely rich in potassium, 100 grams of dates contains 25 grams of potassium. Potassium reduces cholesterol levels and boosts the health of the nervous system as well as balancing the pH of the body.
Sweet and cooling, dates have an alkaline effect on the body. They decrease vata, pitta and kapha. However, they should be used in moderation for kapha. Dates generally promote good health as they are packed with essential nutrients and are energizing and nourishing.
- Mix 5 fresh chopped dates with 1 tsp of ghee and 2 pinches of black pepper. Eat this mixture between 5:30 and 6 am, then avoid eating or drinking anything for two hours. This recipe increases the ability of the intestines to absorb and assimilate nutrients. It binds the stools, improves muscle tone and nourishes the bones.
- Apply a poultice made of date sugar for healing a painful muscle.
- Use date sugar instead of white sugar as a healthy, iron-rich alternative in any recipe.
- To help with anemia, sexual debility and chronic fatigue syndrome, soak 10 fresh dates in a one pint jar of ghee with 1 tsp dried ginger, 1/8 tsp cardamom powder and 2 strands of saffron. Cover loosely and keep in a warm and dry place for a week. Eat one date each morning between 5:30 and 6am. This recipe is also good for pregnancy related morning sickness and anemia.
- For palpitations and chest pain, eat 2 dates mixed with 2 teaspoons of honey.
- Give dry dates to teething children to chew on.
- For diarrhea related to teething, a child can be given 1/2 tsp date sugar mixed with 1 tsp honey, two to three times a day.
- A tonic for energy and vitality can be made by soaking 5 fresh dates in a glass of water overnight. In the morning, blend the mixture and drink.
- To relieve constipation, soak 8 to 10 dates in a glass of water overnight. In the morning grind the dates with the water until it looks like a syrup. Take the mixture on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and continue daily until the symptoms of constipation subside.
Healthy Living: Apple
By Renu Gulati
There is some truth behind the famous saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Apples have a wide range of health benefits.
Apples are one of the world’s most widely cultivated fruits. There are about 7,500 varieties that can be enjoyed raw, stewed, baked, in desserts and dishes, or as applesauce or juice.
Apples contain almost no fat, sodium or cholesterol. Plus, they are packed with many important nutrients such as vitamin C (a powerful natural antioxidant), B-complex vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B-6), phytonutrients, fiber, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
Mildly astringent, apples aggravate vata and pacify pitta and kapha. When ripe, they are sweet and sour. Apples which are good for pitta and kapha are not so good for vata unless they are cooked and well spiced. The skin of the apple is hard to digest, aggravates vata and can cause bloating. The seeds of apples should not be eaten as they also aggravate vata
- Although raw apples aggravate vata, they do relieve constipation, bleeding gums or over salivation. It can also be used for inflammation of the oral mucous membrane or cold sores in the mouth. Peel and chew an apple an hour or so after a meal. This will help regulate the bowels and clean the tongue and teeth. Apple skin may be peeled easily by soaking the apple in hot water for 10-15 mins.
- Apple juice is helpful for heat conditions such as colitis, gastritis and bladder infections.
- To control diarrhea and dysentery, peel and cook a couple of apples until soft. Add a pinch of nutmeg, saffron and 1tsp ghee. Eat slowly.
- For a delicious energizing healing desert, peel the skins and remove the core from 5 apples. Mash the mixture to make a pulp. Add honey to taste and mix well. Add 1/8 tsp cardamom, a pinch each of saffron and nutmeg and 10 drops of rose water or a few organic rose petals. Eat about ½ cup of this mixture at least an hour after a meal. Avoid taking milk, yoghurt or fish at least 4 hours before or after eating this pulp as it makes a bad food combination which can result in toxin formation. This desert is good for the heart muscles, relaxes the blood vessels and helps to relieve swelling of the feet. It is also helpful for varicose veins, insomnia, sexual debility and arthritis.
Healthy Living: Papaya
By Renu Gulati
Carica papaya ( Hindi)
Papita ( Botanical)
Papayas are sweet, heating and have an alkaline effect on the body. They pacify vata. Kapha individuals can use them in moderation whereas pitta individuals should have papaya no more than once a week.
Generally helpful for cough, asthma, spleen and liver dysfunctions, papaya also helps to control worms. Papayas have digestive enzymes and the juice is a blood thinner and helps prevent heart attacks. They have natural estrogen and must not be taken during pregnancy.
Papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E and a good source of fibre and minerals like potassium. It is also a rich source of anti-oxidants such as carotenes and flavonoids.
Modern research shows that papaya may be helpful for preventing heart attacks and strokes, helps prevents colon and prostrate cancer. Preventing inflammation, papaya can reduce the pain and inflammation in rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
- A cup of papaya juice with I tsp of organic sugar and 2 pinches of cardamom is helpful for indigestion, acute gastritis and hyperacidity.
- A cup of papaya juice, followed by ½ cup of warm milk with a pinch of dry ginger powder can help with an enlarged spleen. Take this on an empty stomach twice a day.
- For relief from eczema and dermatitis, try rubbing the inner layer of the papaya skin over the affected areas
- For ringworm apply a paste of ground papaya seeds on the affected area.
- The juice of raw papaya helps treats irregular menstruation and inducing a healthy menstrual flow.
For acne and black heads take the pulp of an over ripe papaya and apply it over the face. Leave for 5-20 mins. Wash with luke warm water and pat dry. Massage coconut oil into the skin, leave for an hour and wash with warm water. Do this treatment for a course of 3-5 days and repeat the treatment every 6 weeks.
- For fungal infections grind dried papaya seeds to a paste and apply to the affected area. After 15 mins or so take raw papaya slices and rub over the affected area. Wash the area after another 15 mins
Healthy Living: Pomegranate
By Renu Gulati
Anaar ( Hindi)
Punica granatum ( Botanical) Daadimbaphalam (Sanskrit)
Pomegranates are sweet, sour astringent and cooling with an alkaline effect on the body. They increase vata and decrease pitta and kapha.
Pomegranates enhance the production of red blood cells and are good for anemia, fever and heart conditions. An excellent source of dietary fibre as well as vitamins C, K and several B vitamins, pomegranates also contain other nutrients including iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, folate, manganese, selenium and zinc. It is also a food source of omega 6 fatty acid. High in antioxidants, such as polyphenols, tannins, flavonoids and anthocyanins, pomegranates have a range of medicinal uses. They are anti-viral, anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory. They also keep the heart healthy, regulate blood pressure, relieve joint and arthritis pain, aid in cancer prevention and treatment as well as improving memory.
- Give children with a cough a drink of ½ cup of pomegranate juice , with a pinch of ginger powder and a pinch of pippali powder.
- For nausea and vomiting, try a mixture of 1/3 cup of pomegranate juice, 1 tsp organic sugar and ½ tsp grated fresh ginger once or twice a day.
- When there is blood or mucus in the stools, drink ½ cup of pomegranate juice with a pinch of clove powder and 2 pinches of ginger powder , 2 to 3 times a day.
- To stop a nose bleed, instill 2 drops of pomegranate juice in each nostril
- For dehydration, drink I cup of pomegranate juice mixed with ½ cup of grape juice, 1 tsp organic sugar and a pinch of ginger powder.
- For anemia drink a cup of pomegranate juice daily in the morning. Or add 2 tsp of dried pomegranate seed powder to a glass of warm milk and drink it once or twice a day.
Healthy Living: Mango
By Renu Gulati
Aam (Hindi name)
Aamram (Sanskrit name)
Mangifera indica (Botanical name)
Considered the ‘king of fruits’, fresh mangoes are eaten more than any other fruit in the world. The sweet aromatic taste of mangoes refreshes the mind and instils happiness. There are over 1000 different varieties of this fruit.
Mangoes are one of the richest sources of vitamins A, C and E as well as of minerals including postassium, magnesium, copper, calcium and phosphorous. They are also packed with fibre and anti- oxidant compounds.
Yellow ripe mango is sweet and heating. Taken in moderation it balances all 3 doshas. It is an energizer and an aphrodisiac. Patients having diabetes, need to consult their doctor before eating them.
- Eating mangos regularly, when in season, can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- For energy and vitality, eat 1 ripe mango daily and an hour or so later drink a cup of warm milk with a tsp of ghee.
- Mango is good for pregnant women as it helps lactation
- One tsp of roasted powdered, mango seed 2-3 times a day with a tsp of honey helps remove intestinal worms.
- For diarrhea, take ½ tsp of roasted powdered mango seed with 4 tbsp of yoghurt twice a day, during the day.
- To help stop a nosebleed, instill 2-3 drops of fresh mango seed juice in each nostril. To make the juice, grate the seed and put it in a muslin cloth and squeeze out the juice.
- For getting rid of Dandruff, mix ½ tsp powdered mango seed, ½ tsp haritaki (harad) powder and 1/3 cup of milk. Apply on the scalp at night and wash it out the next morning.
- Drinking 1 cup of fresh mango juice, and ½ cup of milk with a pinch each of cardamom and a nutmeg and 1 tsp ghee gives energy and vitality and acts as an aphrodisiac. It also helps to relieve constipation and diarrhea. It is also good for patients of high blood pressure or heart conditions.
In the case of pitta individuals being sensitive to mango, they can try the previous recipe but iff that does not agree with them, mangos should be avoided.
- For beautiful skin, keep the skin after peeling a ripe mango and rub it over the face. Allow it to dry for 10-15mins and then rinse of with warm water. This remedy will leave your skin radiant, soft and blemish free.
Healthy Living: Limes
By Renu Gulati
Citrus aurantifolia (Botanical)
Limes have stimulative, carminative, antiseptic, antiviral and haemostatic properties. They are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid, potassium, flavonoids and other phytonutrients.
Limes are sweet, sour, slightly bitter and cooling. They have an alkaline effect on the body and can stimulate appetite. Limes calm vata and are acceptable in moderation for pitta, however the sour property can aggravate pitta if taken in excess. Limes stimulate kapha and can cause excess salivation. Limes are useful to cool down hot spicy foods. Limes activate the secretion of digestive enzymes and are useful for indigestion. They should be avoided in cases of cold, congestion and cough.
- To improve appetite, chew some lime with a pinch of rock salt.
- About 1 tsp of lime pickle with the main meal of the day can improve digestion and absorption of minerals as well as the taste of food.
- For acute indigestion, squeeze the juice of a 1/4 lime into a cup of warm water. Add 1/2 tsp baking soda and drink quickly.
- For acid indigestion, drink the juice of 1/4 lime mixed with a cup of warm water and 1 tsp of organic sugar.
- For dehydration, drink a cup of water mixed with 3 tsp of organic sugar, 2 tsp of lime juice and 1/4 tsp rock salt.
- For heartburn, hyperacidity, headache, motion sickness and morning sickness as well as nausea in general, take 1/2 a lime and hold it on a fork or stick over a flame. Put 1/4 tsp sugar and a pinch of baking soda on the lime. Let the fire penetrate the skin, charring it a little. Cool and eat the lime with the skin.
- To help relieve any burning sensation of the urethra, squeeze 1 tsp of lime juice into a glass of heated then cooled water and drink sip by sip at 15 minute intervals throughout the day.
- For those with high blood pressure who need diuretic action, a mixture of 1 cup of coconut water, 2 tsp of lime juice and 1 cup of cucumber juice may be helpful.
- To relieve swelling in the hands and legs massage the affected areas with a mixture of castor oil and lime juice in equal quantities.
- For a sore throat, steep a handful of lime leaves in a cup of boiling water.
- For the natural treatment of mild burns, mix equal quantities of coconut oil and lime juice and apply on the affected area.
- Regular gargling with warm water mixed with lime juice reduces bad breath and mouth ulcers. Do this 3-4 times a day.
- To alleviate toothache, mix asafetidia (hing) powder in lime juice. Soak a cotton ball in the liquid and place on the affected area.
- For weight loss, regularly drink a cup of water mixed with one tsp of lime juice. Take early morning on an empty stomach for best results. Alternatively, prepare a mixture of 3 tsp of lime juice, 1 tsp of honey and 1/2 tsp of black pepper in a cup of water. Consume daily to control obesity.
Healthy Living: Coconut
By Renu Gulati
Naariyal (Hindi name)
Naalikera ( Sanskrit name)
Cocos Nucifera (Botanical name)
Coconut belongs to the palm family (Arecaceae) and grows in abundance throughout Malaysia, Polynesia and Southern Asia.
Highly nutritious and rich in fibre, coconuts are sweet, cooling and have an alkaline effect on the body. They contain vitamins C, B1, B3, B5 and B6, and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. In Ayurveda, coconut pacifies vata and pitta, but can aggravate kapha when taken in excess. Coconut oil is extracted from the white fleshy part of the coconut which is heavy and oily. Coconut water is the natural liquid inside the coconut.
To make coconut milk, first grate the white coconut flesh and soak it in water for 10-15 mins. Then, after soaking, collect the grated coconut in a muslin cloth and squeeze out all the liquid.
- For itchy eczema, grate some coconut and dry-roast it in a heavy pan until burnt. Then grind the grated coconut into a powder and apply it to the affected area. An application of coconut oil can also help.
- For sunburn and rashes apply coconut oil to the affected area.
- For burning sensation during urination, drink one cup of coconut water.
- For thinning hair apply coconut oil to the scalp, let it soak in for 30 minutes, and then wash with a natural organic shampoo.
- In cases of dandruff, itchy scalp or vitiligo (patches of skin with no pigment) apply coconut milk to the affected area.
- Apply coconut oil on fungal infections of the nails.
- For excess menstrual bleeding, drink a cup of coconut water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of organic sugar.
- For ulcers due to colitis, an enema made of coconut milk may help.
- For receding and bleeding gums, make a tooth powder from finely ground coconut shell and a pinch of edible camphor.
- Apply coconut oil to treat cradle cap on an infant’s head. Coconut oil is also effective for other forms of itchy and flaky skin, as well as to remove lice, especially for babies and young children.
- Boost energy and stamina with refreshing coconut water – rich in vitamins, minerals and electrolytes, but low in sugar and sodium. Drinking coconut water soon after exercise and during illness helps to rehydrate the body quickly.
- Regular gargling with coconut oil helps to prevent throat infections and tooth decay.
- Due to its high potassium content, coconut water is a highly effective tonic for cardiovascular health. Drinking coconut water regularly helps to regulate blood pressure. It also improves the function of the thyroid gland.
- Coconut water can aid in weight loss, owing to the medium-chain triglycerides which are easily converted into energy instead of being stored as body fat.
- For sore nipples from breastfeeding, apply coconut oil.
- Coconut milk helps prevent osteoporosis by improving the body’s ability to absorb calcium and magnesium. It also helps stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels.
Healthy Living: Banana
By Renu Gulati
Kela (Hindi name)
Kadalee (Sanskrit name)
Musa Paradisiaca (Botanical name)
Native to Southeast Asia, bananas are cultivated in warm climates all over the world. There are many types of bananas commercially available, varying in color, size, shape and flavor. The most common variety is a yellow banana, which is firm and green when unripe. Bananas contain a fair amount of fiber; vitamins A, B, C and E; as well as several antioxidants and minerals.
In particular, bananas contain high amounts of Potassium, an important mineral that helps control blood pressure. Potassium alsohelps the body transport nutrients into cells, and aids in communication between nerves and muscles.
Bananas are a source of the protective compounds kaempferol and quercetin. These compounds are known to protect cells, reduce inflammation, fight numerous types of tumors, protect nerves, increase blood circulation, and enhance immunity.
Bananas also contain high amounts of rutin, a substance that boosts the activity of vitamin C, and helps to maintain resilient and flexible blood vessels. Rutin also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Bananas are a significant source of two brain chemicals – dopamine and serotonin – which help to regulate mood. Dopamine also helps to protect against some types of neuro-degeneration, such as Parkinson’s disease. A supply of serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter, is essential for mental health and can be activated by numerous antidepressant drugs. Some of these drugs enable increased serotonin production, while others help to maintain serotonin in the brain for longer periods of time.
Unripe bananas are astringent and cooling. They increase vata, and decrease pitta and kapha. Ripe bananas are sweet and heating. They decrease vata, and increase pitta and kapha.
Ayurveda recommends not to take any liquids for an hour after eating a banana; not to eat bananas with milk or yoghurt; and not to eat bananas if suffering from fever, edema, vomiting or cough with mucus and runny nose.
(Use ripe bananas unless otherwise specified)
- For hypoglycemia, constipation or muscle cramps, take1 chopped banana with 1 teaspoon ghee and a pinch of cardamom.
- For dry cough, or cough without much mucous accompanied by chest pain, eat 1 or 2 bananas with 1 teaspoon honey and 2 pinches of ground black pepper 2 or 3 times a day.
- For muscular wasting or weakness, take two bananas, 5 fresh figs and 5 fresh dates chopped together with a tablespoon of honey and 2 pinches of ginger powder once a day. It is quite filling so it can be substituted for a meal.
- For chronic bronchial asthma, insert about 7 cloves into a peeled banana and keep it overnight. The following morning eat the banana and the cloves. One hour later drink a cup of warm water with 1 teaspoon of honey. Add the honey only once the water has become lukewarm.
- For diarrhea, eat 2 green chopped bananas with 1 teaspoon of ghee and 2 pinches of ginger powder. Drink a cup of hot water an hour later.
- For excess urination associated with diabetes, eat one unripe banana with 1/3 cup of bitter melon juice once a day.
- To stop hiccoughs, eat 2 chopped bananas mixed with 1 tsp of ghee, 1/2 tsp honey and 2 pinches ginger powder.