The following is a guest post by Erica at Wellness Transcended
It has becoming increasingly clear that our modern lifestyle is NOT keeping us happy and healthy. As parents we are worn out, our children are more and more likely to develop a chronic condition and our primary care practitioners are overwhelmed and unable to keep pace with this rise. It seems that responsibility is falling back into the hands of parents to provide the best possible outcome for our children – but where to begin with all of the conflicting data?!
Ayurveda is a 5,000+ year old form of medicine from ancient India. Many of us are aware of its protocols today. Have you heard of bulletproof coffee? The idea of ingesting fat first thing in the morning? What about lemon water? Golden milk? The benefits of turmeric? Ginger? All of these are basic recommendations from Ayurveda. As the world has become more global, our modern form of clinical scientific trials are just beginning to validate the depth of wisdom and health-promoting practices Ayurveda has to offer.
Here is a fun example.
One form of breathing exercise in Ayurveda is the bumble bee ‘hum’. It seems so silly to us civilized westerners. Well, get this. In 1998 the nobel prize in Medicine was awarded regarding nitric oxide – a molecule shown to be of key importance to the cardiovascular, respiratory and EVEN to increase white blood cell strength. A few years later, a different study found NO to be increased by 15 times by humming! This was a very small scale study, but I’m sure there wasn’t much financial interest in propagating this idea – rather, most of the research has been funneled into forms of NO that can be sold and ingested.
This is just one clue of the secrets that Ayurveda holds. For most of us though, humming is not our thing. Most of us are open to exploring dietary options for improving health, of which, Ayurveda is loaded with great tips! It is here that I start with most clients in my practice.
In my practice, I always recommend that parents start the foundation of health prior to conception, but the second best time is now. We understand that gut health is primary to altering the genes which produce disease – through what we call epigenetics, as opposed to genetic. These days, just like the discussion Jaelan is having regarding the paradigm shift in the birthing world, so too is the paradigm shifting in the health world. It’s up to us, as parents to provide the opportunity to good food, good gut health and stress management techniques.
I recently had a nurse come to me and say that although she has extensive training in what could go wrong in the body and how to fix it, she doesn’t know how to keep her daughter healthy, and it was terrifying. This is where Ayurveda is most needed! The timeless information from the oldest medical system in the world understood the basics of health – something our modern medicine is only beginning to understand.
Three Pillars of Health: Digestion, Sleep, Stress (Energy) Management
Good digestion starts with good food. Whole, seasonal food cooked right in our own kitchen! They say these days that cooking is a revolutionary act – because so few of us are doing it!
The building blocks of our bodies – from our skin to our nerves to our digestive organs – are created from the food we eat. Our modern lives have forgotten much of the ancient wisdom and replaced it with convenience. We are constantly trying to do more with less. But as we are starting to see, this is not bringing us the outcome we were hoping for – joy, ease of life, and health.
Our immune system strength is directly linked with the lymphatic system – of which, much is located in our gut.
The idea in Ayurveda is that we support the intelligence of the body by supplying it with the right foods and spices. The addition of spices helps to balance the body with the environment (season) enhances digestibility. This gives us the best chance of maintaining balance and avoiding chronic conditions.
It is here that we note that the occasional cold does not mean that we are out of balance. As we know, our body should react to outside pathogens. But our ability to bounce back will show that the immune system is working optimally.
Good digestion can only be complete when we are able to manage our stress. It turns out that our ability to digest is reduced when our thoughts are racing, or angry or anywhere other than in the present moment. Our body has a built-in response – the sympathetic nervous response, or fight or flight response, that directs energy to the parts of the body that need to be activated when we in danger. The great news is that we can turn off this response through proper breathing, mindfulness etc. When we do so, we are activating our parasympathetic nervous response, or rest and digest.
Stress seems to be ubiquitous with the modern family – but it doesn’t have to be. As we fail to find the elixir of health in a pill, we’re learning that lifestyle is of paramount importance.
In 2016 the nobel prize in medicine was won based on research performed on our circadian rhythm and how it affects an organism’s well-being. This is knowledge that is prescribed in Ayurveda, through the cultivation of dinacharya, or daily routine. It never ceases to amaze me that modern science keeps confirming what our global ancestors understood.
By maintaining a daily routine, we reduce stress, synchronize enzyme production, maximize cleansing of metabolic waste. We can see how this would benefit all members of our family! So proper sleep is thought to come by how we expend our energy during the day. Waking up at the proper time, lights low in the evening, TV off two hours before bed and a bedtime routine. Good sleep patterns for us and our family.
It has been experienced by my family and countless others who have come to me and other Ayurvedic Practitioners throughout the past 20 years, that our health epidemic can be largely mitigated by employing the simple, effective techniques of the medical system of Ayurveda. My go-to for anyone wanting to dabble in the world of Ayurvedic lifestyle, is using a meal plan. An Ayurvedic meal plan can give you the basic tools – grocery lists, bulk buying guide, healthy eating guidelines that you can use to start implementing this time tested wisdom in your family’s life.
Erica has spent the last 8 years immersing herself in the wisdom of Yoga and Ayurveda. Erica found out she was pregnant with her first child just weeks before she was to embark on a trip to the Indian Himalayas to study the ancient teachings of yoga. It became clear that she was to teach this wisdom to modern families in an accessible form. Erica is academically trained in Clinical Ayurvedic Medicine and is a Certified Doula – she uses this knowledge to nourish families from preconception and beyond. She is serving clients through education based consultations at www.wellnesstranscended.com , or you can follow along on Instagram @ericamcquown.