Last week, we discussed the attributes of Sattvic (subtle essence) food and its effect on a person’s body, mind and character. This week, we look at the second group of foods in the Ayurvedic hierarchy - Rajasic. Rajasic food denotes activity, decision-making, energy that is required for tasks and mental robustness. The foods in this category are stimulating and activate the various functions of the body. Rajasic food energises almost all the systems, specially the nervous system. Thier effcts on the mind are to help you push yourself beyond your normal capacity and capability. Rajasic (originating from the word ‘Raja’, meaning king, means kingly or fit for a king) food is associated with quality and freshness. However, it also also encourages aggression and makes one more domineering. It can also leave a person feeling busy, overwhelmed and bothered. Rajasic food, in excess or when imbalanced, can disrupt the equilibrium between body and mind.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, individuals who are unable to be still, are constantly on the move, living in the future or pondering about the past instead of living in the present are drawn to Rajasic food. This aggravates the restlessness inherent in a person.
Ayurvedic practitioners’ advise that Rajasic food should not be had on a daily basis. Consumption is advised on a moderate or occasional basis. Rajasic foods include spicy, hot, bitter, sour and pungent foods, which are not as easily digestible as Sattvic food. Items such as red meat, red lentils, toor lentils, white urad lentils, black and green gram, chickpeas, spices such as chilies and black pepper and stimulants such as broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, onion and garlic, tea, coffee, tobacco, soda, alcohol, chocolate, sour apples, pickles and refined sugars all fall in the Rajasic food category. Rajasic food should be consumed only during noon. It is advisable to avoid Rajasic food at dinner as it inhibits digestion. Even Sattvic food that has been fried in oil or over-cooked takes on Rajasic properties, according to some Ayurvedic practitioners.
In its pure form, Rajasic food can be fresh and nutritious. The trouble starts when oil or spices are added, rendering it negatively balanced, especially when compared to a Sattvic diet.
Rajasic food and the body, mind and character
When people tend to have eat foods from the Rajasic food group over a long period of time, their body and mind begins to reflect the qualities of the Rajasic. As in everything, balance is vital. The negative impact of a rich Rajasic diet can be reversed at any time by reverting to food that is Sattvic in nature.
Rajasic-food lovers, when they consume these foods in moderation, are goal-oriented with a stable mind. But this go-getter attitude is accompanied by a restless nature that yearns to be honoured and admired. They also tend to be more selfish and aggressive and have more worries than happiness. Thus, they are victims of their limitless desire for more and tend to opt for anger, hate and manipulation.
Rajasic food stimulates and overexcites the body and the mind. This can lead to hyperactivity and overexertion of both. The mind is restless and doesn’t switch off even when it is supposed to be resting or sleeping.
Rajasic food and the doshas
Rajasic food is not an ideal choice on a regular basis for any of the doshas, but it aggravates the Vata body type more.
Common Rajasic foods:
Fruit: Sour apples, apples, banana and guava.
Grains: Millet, corn and buckwheat.
Vegetables: Potato, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, tamarind and winter squash.
Beans: Red dal, toor dal and adzuki.
Dairy: Old sour milk, sour cream.
Meat: Fish, shrimp and chicken.
(Binu Sivan is a Dubai-based freelance writer).
Whats’ the real deal on whole grains?
Whole grains are grains that contain cereal germ, endosperm and bran. Refined grains contain only endosperm. Cereal germs provide Vitamin E, folic acid, phosphate, zinc and magnesium. Bran provides the all-essential dietary fibres and fatty acids.
Common whole grains include wheat, oats, barley, maize, rye, millet, quinoa and brown rice. In Ayurveda, the focus has always on consuming food in as close to its natural state as possible. Refined foods are best avoided. Be it a paratha or a wholewheat toast, Ayurveda urges you to eat more whole grains as it suits all climates and constitutions. Whole grains are best had steamed, as they are better balanced and easier to digest. Kapha body type: Do not overeat whole grains. For your body type, the best kind of whole grains are the diuretic ones like rye or barley as they help the body get rid of excess water.
Vata: Wheat and brown rice, with their strengthening qualities, are best for this body type.
Pitta: Can enjoy all grains because of their exceptional digestive powers.
Sinuses are air-filled spaces in the skull, behind the forehead, eyes, nasal bones and cheeks. Usually these cavities have a thin coating of mucus membrane. Any mild infection of the nasal passages causes it to swell and affect the opening of the sinuses. When the opening is blocked, infected air and mucus secretions collect. Infection to the mucus membrane causes a condition called Sinusitis. According to Ayurveda, imbalance in Vata and Kapha causes sinusitis.
People with a tendency to develop sinusitis need to avoid meat, strong spices, starchy food, fried items, milk and salt. Kapha types should also avoid sweets, cold water and dairy products. They should also avoid dehydration.
In Ayurveda, the treatment for sinusitis is called Nasyam. A medicated nasya oil is dripped (3 to 5 drops) into the nose to open the blocked sinuses and get rid of the infected secretions and cleanse the sinuses. Medicated steam inhalation is another remedy as is facial massage with medicated oils. Patients are advised to not breath through the mouth and to treat the resultant irritation and sore throat, they are advised to consume honey, black pepper or ginger tea.
A healed sinus revives the senses of taste and smell – so it is important to take remedial steps immediately.