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Although most of us think of medicine as pills found in orange bottles that come from a pharmacy, from an Ayurvedic point of view, food is medicine. Most people don’t think of their daily meals in terms of health care, but we’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat.” According to Ayurveda, this axiom couldn’t be more true.
This ancient form of medicine maintains that under the right circumstances, when we eat too much hot and spicy foods, we can become more passionate, angry, or “fired up;” when we eat an excess of light, raw foods, we can feel ungrounded or “light headed;” when we have too many heavy, oily foods, we can feel heavy or lethargic.
Ayurveda believes that diseases are created when our lifestyles or diets fall towards such extremes. With this understanding in mind, countless ailments can be prevented or treated by bringing our lives into balance with both the seasons and our natural tendencies. Thankfully, diabetes is one of those ailments. Currently, more than 30 million Americans have diabetes and 84.1 million Americans are prediabetic—many who would benefit from Ayurveda’s easily accessible and low-cost preventative measures.
Ayurveda Food, Herbs, and Spices
From an Ayurvedic point of view, prediabetics with type 2 diabetes is caused primarily by an imbalance of kapha dosha. Kapha consists of the earth and water element—it’s qualities are heavy, slow, steady, solid, cold, soft, and oily. When our diets and tendencies invite too much inertia into our lives, kapha generally takes over, leading us towards ailments such as obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Thankfully, in addition to weight loss tips, Ayurveda makes many dietary recommendations to balance kapha in our bodies. Some foods that can be used to balance kapha and prevent diabetes include
- Bitter, pungent, and astringent flavors
- Light, dry, or warm meals
- Whole grains, especially barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, and rye
- Legumes (besides soy beans)
- Light fruits, such as apples, pears, and pomegranates
- Bitter gourd
- Chinese Okra
- Green leafy vegetables
- Neem and curry leaves
- Lean meats
- Low-fat dairy products in moderation
- Gymnema Sylvestre
- Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squash, green peas, corn, and pumpkin
- Non-starchy vegetables such as tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, and bell peppers
- Pungent spices such as pepper, cayenne, mustard seed, and ginger.
Looking for some inspiration for how to balance kapha with Ayurvedic cooking? Check out our delicious recipes for broccoli with peppers and herbs, a thin barley soup, an agni supporting Ayurvedic salad, sauteed greens, or spinach with sweet potato and carrots. Always use fresh, organic ingredients whenever possible.
Ayurveda for Diabetes
Add these foods, spices, and recipes into your weekly meal plans and discover the joy of eating fresh foods that bring your body back into balance. Incorporate these healthy foods and tasty spices with rewarding exercise such as yoga and stress-management techniques like breathing exercises or meditation, and you’ll be well on your way to preventing diabetes.