Natasha Brunetti looks at the health benefits of Ayurveda and shows you how to incorporate its teachings to your diet
Intermittent fasting, mindful eating, meditation and an alkaline focused whole food plant-based diet are wellness trends that you might be familiar with and they are all concepts taught in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is an ancient healing science, dating back over 5,000 years. It is rooted in personal observation. It calls for the basic understanding of your own body, when it is out of balance and how to bring it back into balance. It is a sister to its better-known sibling yoga. It’s complementary to western allopathic medicine.
So, what advice does Ayurveda give for these uncertain times?
Ayurvedic tips for immunity
Ayurveda teaches that the key to immunity is what you eat and, just as importantly, how you digest, to make sure you are absorbing the nutrients from food.
Make sure you are eating foods with the least impurities, using the rule of thumb, ‘Don’t eat anything your Grandma wouldn’t’. This means eating mainly whole food plant-based (grains, vegetables, nuts, fresh fruits and legumes) versus processed, preserved or canned foods.
Add immune-boosting and detoxifying spices, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger, garlic and black pepper. These spices have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, detoxifying, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting qualities. They also elevate the taste of whatever you add them to.
Consider giving your digestive system a break, by eating healthy soft warm foods for a few days. In ayurveda, we use a dish called kitchari, which is a simple lentil rice porridge. It supplies a complete protein and so keeps you fuller for longer as you fast.
Giving your digestive system a break allows it to focus on eliminating those residual toxins in your system and distributing the immune-boosting, nutritive nectar throughout your body.
Ayurvedic tips for wellbeing
Ayurveda is a science that believes in the laws of nature. It teaches us to observe the laws in the natural world and apply them to our mind-body health and wellbeing.
One such law is, ‘like increases like, opposite brings balance’. Here are the tips I have been giving clients on how to apply this.
Treat mobility with stability. Can’t slow down those racing thoughts? Can’t focus on one thing? Feeling anxious, like you don’t know which way the wind is blowing?
Ayurveda suggests the antidote is grounding, stillness and calming. Set a routine and stick to it. Focus on a few tasks and take them to completion. Take time for self-care, warm baths, warm food. Get hygge with it!
Treat heaviness with lightness. Feel like you want to hibernate? Can’t get motivated? Carb loading? Ayurveda suggests the antidote is lightness, activity and variety.
Try eating lighter foods and less of them. Vary your routine to get you unstuck. Get active and move, even if it’s for a few minutes a day. Basically, get jiggy with it!
Treat heat with cooling. Don’t ever have enough time to get everything done? Bring a lot of intensity to whatever you do, be it work or a workout? Feeling burnt out? Ayurveda suggests the antidote is cooling, calming and contentment.
Eat cooling and nurturing foods (natural sweetness, easy on the digestion). Connect with nature and breathe deeply. Remember that sometimes the most productive thing you can do is rest. Basically, disconnect to reconnect!
Try these Ayurvedic recipes
Turmeric ginger broth
Serves 2-4 | Prep 5 mins | Cook 5 mins | Calories 95 (per serving)
- 4 turmeric and ginger tea bags (Rishi Tea is great for this)
- 720ml (3 cups) water
- 1 tsp rock salt
- 120ml (½ cup) coconut milk
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- Bring the water to a boil, take off the water and steep the teabags for 5-8 minutes until deeply golden.
- Add the coconut milk, lime and salt.
- Bring to a simmer, taste and adjust for seasoning. Serve as desired.
Date & Banana Porridge
- 2-3 Medjool dates, according to your preferred sweetness
- 1 ripe banana
- 170ml (¾ cup) soya milk
- 30g steel-cut oats
- Remove the stones from the dates. Peel the banana, slice off one third and set aside with one date half; these are used to finish the porridge.
- Chop the remaining dates and banana very finely. Place in a small pan and pour on 185ml (¾ cup) boiling water. Cook over a low heat until you have a thick, mushy, quite smooth paste, stirring regularly and using the back of the spoon to crush any lumps; this should take about 10 minutes. You can also use an immersion blender to deal with any stubborn lumps.
- While the banana-date mixture is cooking, pour the milk into a bowl, tip in the oats and soak for a few minutes.
- When the banana-date mix is ready, add the milk and oats, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the oats are completely tender.
- Slice the remaining third of banana and finely shred the reserved date half. Serve the porridge in a warmed bowl, topped with banana slices and dates.
Grounding Spiced Butternut Squash Breakfast Bowl
Serves 2-4 | Prep 10 mins | Cook 45 mins | Calories 310 (per serving)
- 1 butternut squash
- 60ml (¼ cup) coconut milk
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp coconut butter (optional)
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp cardamom
- Place the butternut squash in the oven at 200°C/Gas Mark 6 for 45 minutes or until you can put a knife through. I don’t use oil, the whole squash with the skin on seems to allow the squash to steam itself from the inside out and so doesn’t need it.
- Once cooked, allow to cool, remove the skin and seeds and place in the blender with all the remaining ingredients.
- Blend and adjust for seasoning and sweetness.
Natasha Brunetti is a former finance executive turned wellness author, chef and highly sought after ayurvedic coach. She focuses on accessible, delicious food that can be easily integrated into your diet and simple everyday techniques to maximise mind-body health. Natasha’s personal experience with recovering from an autoimmune disease influences her coaching style.
She is offering a free 15-minute exploratory session and a 25% discount on consultations for all Vegan Food & Living readers. You can visit the website www.planttotable.com to book a call or email consuplanttotable.com.
Find more expert advice on living a healthy vegan lifestyle here.