Four health boosts

Our guest contributor, Eminé Ali Rushton has been talking about wanting to DO more, and not just make better plans. To this end, she ticks off the following four health tips on a daily basis. Lest this sound ambitious or impractical, she assures us that she would not last a week if that were the case. The wholly wonderful thing about Ayurveda is that you can start slow, go easy, and still feel huge benefits.

1. Adjust your Sleep, Seasonally
In winter, the temptation is to hibernate. Not a bad idea, says Ayurveda. But you’ll need to adapt your sleep routine to mirror the season itself, as closely as possible. In bright sunny summer, that’s early waking and later to bed. In winter, however, it’s an early lights out, and a later wake-up call. Given that we all have somewhere to be in the morning (oh for those laissez-faire student days!), this realistically means getting up around 7am (any later, and Ayurveda tells us that our Kapha element rises – the one that’s responsible for sluggishness and poor clarity of mind). Try to be in bed by 10pm and snoring by 10.30pm.

2. Keep things moving
I begin every morning with a glass of hot-tish water and a squeeze of lime. Then two probiotic capsules. This tends to keep my digestive tract clear, but in the event that things get a big sluggish (very common after Christmas, with its differing foods & routines), the wonderful & supremely gentle Ayurvedic supplement Triphala, can get things moving naturally. I know, without any shadow of a doubt, that most of my ailments or feelings of unease (emotionally to boot), can be linked to my gut. Women have a tougher time because our guts are often affected by our menstrual cycles too (hurrah). For this reason, a supplement that helps to balance our hormones and reproductive cycles – such as Shatavari – is a real boon.

3. Reawaken your digestive fire
A great tip that really boosts how efficiently your digestive system prepares for the influx of food during a meal, is a little nibble of something beforehand. A classic Ayurvedic tip is to grate a small amount of fresh ginger, add a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, and eat that before a meal (right there you have the pungent, salty and sour tastes, which all boost our digestive juices – genius). A ginger tea also helps, as does chewing on some fennel seeds.

4. Choose Chywanaprash
I always, always, have a jar of Chywanaprash in the cupboard – what is it? A sticky firm jam-like substance, dark golden brown in colour, that combines some of Ayurveda’s most potent adaptogenic herbs and ingredients. From amla (a sacred sour & sweet fruit, also known as Indian Gooseberry), an adaptogen that really boosts the body’s own immunity and ability to stave off degenerative diseases, to Ashawaganda, which has a justly earned reputation as the stress-relieving herb (it can also aid sleeplessness), this amazing concoction often contains up to 35 unusual herbs and ingredients, all of which are very high in antioxidants and holistic benefits. I resolve to take a teaspoon a day – and love it dissolved in warm water (add a decaf teabag of choice, or not, as it tastes chai-like thanks to the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom inside), and enjoyed at the end of the working day. One note – as it also contains honey, it must be mixed with warm, never hot, water only. Hot water & honey are a notable Ayurvedic no-no – heating honey changes its properties, and actually makes it toxic to our systems. Sounds odd, I grant you – but try pouring some boiling water over honey and note what happens to it – it goes almost plastic-like, hardening slightly, and losing its velvety unctuous quality. Who am I to argue with 5000-year old wisdom? Hence, warm water and honey – always.

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