An Ayurvedic View on Obesity
by Dr. Vikas Gupta - Indian Medicine and Lifestyle Consultant
From an ayurvedic point of view, obesity is essentially a Kapha disorder called “Stholya”, in which an individual is significantly overweight, and an excessive amount of body fat has accumulated typically on breast, belly, buttocks and thighs.
It is usually caused by a Kapha aggravated food-lifestyle (eating too much, sitting too much and doing too little):
- prosperous life,
- sedentary job,
- lack of exercise,
- hereditary factors,
- emotional factors,
- addictions such as alcohol,
- habitual drinking of cold drinks,
- consumption of fatty fried fruits, ice creams, dairy products and
- certain drugs such as steroids and oral contraceptive as they reduce the metabolism and produce weight gain.
Although obese people have a strong digestive fire, the fire in the tissues is relatively low. Whatever excess food a person consumes is turned into adipose tissue, which ultimately results in obesity.
What can I do at home?
- Consume a variety of herbs and spices, such as punarnava, guggul, shilajit, amala, chitrak, kutki, ginger, black peeper, long pepper and honey.
- Drink warm water with honey and ginger in the morning, as it helps to melt the fat.
- Shilaji – 1 gm in the morning with warm milk helps to reduce fat.
- Punarnava powder – ½ teaspoon in the morning with water is very effective.
- Take ½ teaspoon of the combination of kutaki, chitrak, shilajit and punarnava twice a day with 1 teaspoon of honey.
- Triphala guggul – 2 tabs twice a day with water after meals.
- Punarnava guggul - 2 tabs twice a day with water after meals.
- 1 teaspoon of Triphala powder with warm water at bedtime.
How can eating the right food make a difference?
According to Ayurveda the best rule is to eat a light breakfast (such as fruits, skimmed milk, herbal teas) and a big lunch. Supper should be the lightest meal of the day (like soups or steamed vegetables). This will help you to keep your digestive as well as your cellular fire going and minimize toxic buildup. You will feel a new positive energy and zest for life.
Frequent munching between meals should be avoided.
14 ways to change up your diet
When treating obesity, the first step is to control what you eat to reduce the excessive Kapha in your body. The Kapha diet includes warmer, lighter, less oily food that is pungent, bitter and astringent in taste.
Here are some suggestions:
- Dairy products like milk, butter and ghee are high in fat, so these should be kept to a minimum. You may want to mix low fat milk with fat reducing spices like ginger and black pepper.
- All sweeteners except honey should be reduced.
- Sweet grains such as rice, wheat, corn and oats should be avoided. Instead opt for light grains such as barley, millet and buckwheat.
- Eat astringent fruits like apple, pears, apricot, peach, pomegranate and prunes.
- Increase all types of beans except soya and kidney beans.
- Reduce meats. Meats are difficult to digest and indigested mass causes fat deposition in certain areas of the body.
- Reduce sweet, sour and heavy fruits like banana, lemon, lime, oranges, vinegar, tamarind, pickles, avocado, coconut, watermelon, grapes, pineapple and mangoes.
- Sweet and watery vegetables like potatoes, carrots, beetroots, tomato, zucchini and sweet potato should be reduced.
- Salt intake should be reduced as it aids water retention.
- Avoid all nuts that are high in fat such as almonds, cashew and walnuts.
- Quit drinking alcohol, teas, coffees, and smoking because these emotional habits unduly stimulate gastric fire and make a person hungry.
- Favored spices are cumin, ginger, black pepper, fennel, fenugreek and mustard seeds.
- Increase your intake of pungent and bitter vegetables like onion, garlic, radish, asparagus, cucumber, cabbage, spinach, bitter gourd, cauliflower, pumpkins and lettuce.
- Drink hot water throughout the day instead of ice cold drinks.
Some general advice
Regular exercises for body and mind are essential for long-term weight loss. A daily brisk walk in the morning for half an hour jump-starts your digestion. Swimming and some gentle weight lifting is helpful to burn adipose tissue. Certain gentle yoga asana, such as palm tree pose, triangle pose,fish and cobra poses, calm the mind and aid fire. Bhastrika Pranayama and right nostril breathing will further increase the rate of fat burning.
Diets can be complicated, "don’t eat this, don’t eat that, only eat this type of fruit on a full moon, only drink this coffee if it’s been brewed by monks"; the rule list goes on and on. We all need more time instead of complicated meal plans. (...)
According to Indian Medical Science, the year is divided into two periods (cold and warm) and six seasons defined by the position of the sun. The warm period, when the sun is more towards the north, is called Uttaryana in Sanskrit and is the time of dehydration for the body. (...)