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The food you eat "becomes you"

Did you know it takes an average of 30 - 36 days for the food you eat today to transform into your seven tissues (dhatus)! Ayurveda says you aren’t what you eat, you are what you digest. Ayurveda physicians at Ananda take us through the complex and fascinating journey of how the food you eat ultimately “becomes you”. 

 

How does a apple or a slice of bread become you?

The cycle of life and survival when viewed from the lens of food is quite simple. All edible matter present on earth grows and nourishes itself through the 5 elements. Through food you bring the five natural elements into your body and they become you. It takes about 30-36 days for the food you eat today to transform into your seven tissues (dhatus). This is assuming that you are able to digest what you eat without creating ama (toxic waste).

 

If an apple goes into our body, as per Ayurvedic physiology it is processed in three phases, the kapha phase - up to the stomach (amasaya). The pitta phase - organs related to intestine - (pachyamanasaya). The vata phase – the large intestine and associated organs (pakwasayaa).

 

Once the assimilation is over, the nutrients are taken to the tissues or dhatus in a sequential manner in most situations. Amongst the 7 functional units in the body, the nutrients derived from food first take form as Rasa dhatu (rasa are the fluids in your body) – The first layer of your tissues that is formed is called rasa, which includes the main fluids in your body such as blood plasma and lymph, and for women, including their breast milk and menstrual blood. Rasa helps keeping the body hydrated and supple.  It satiates you, leaving you satisfied physiologically as well. Rasa has many meanings in the Sanskrit language, it also refers to ‘taste’ and ‘emotion’.  So, a good rasa dhatu is only possible when the ingested food carries all the desired ‘taste’ that the organs need.

 

Nutrients continue their journey further to form rakta or blood. Healthy rasa leads to healthy blood and will make you feel invigorated rather than tired or anaemic. If rasa is not digested well, it leads to an insufficient production of blood, which in return makes the pitta (heat) rise and over produce waste.


From entry to exit, it takes 12 to 24 hours for food assimilation to complete its cycle. Then starts the complex and long journey of 30 days, for the nutrients to become ‘you’. An awareness towards this process brings humility and compassion towards how and what we decide to eat.


Next in order are the flesh, muscles or mamsa. Invigorated blood supports new flesh and muscle tissues. Healthy muscular formation supports postural integrity and tends to make one feel courageous. Flesh is our bodyguard, the lack of it makes us defenceless to all that’s coming.

 

After mamsa comes the development of meda or fat that provides the necessary lubrication to the tissues of the body. The health of this dhatu helps in greater receptivity and generosity. Fat is our security blanket; it binds and gives rise to feelings of Sneha (love). It is also the one to make a protective barrier between you and the world that is not-yet-you.

 

Next is the skeleton system or asti that gets fed in this chain. Strong bones make one naturally feel at ease in standing tall. It gives the strength and endurance to move around in the word. Our bones are the foundation for the integrity in our posture. Interestingly, the strength in our bones is dependent on all the tissues that get developed before the bones.

 

After asti is majja or bone marrow. A sign that your majja is healthy is in your ability to relax and regain calm effortlessly. The marrow is the ‘filling’. A healthy sufficient ‘filling’ helps with our sense of love and confidence. A lack of it results in the obvious, leaving us feeling ‘hollow’ within. If at this point you observe carefully, a good nutritious diet is of utmost importance to maintain a good state of mind.

 


The culinary team at Ananda conducts extensive research to create recipes suitable to each individual's body constitution. The research includes travelling to local forests to explore medicinal herbs and studying Ayurvedic food philosophy. 


The next phase of transformation produces the fluids essential for sustaining life or creativity through shukra or reproductive fluids. For this reason, a diseased reproductive system reflects the deep collection of ama or toxic waste which must pass through all the other tissues in order to obstruct the healthy existence of the seed. Indigestion is easiest to deal with as long as it’s limited to the digestive tract. Once this disruption shows up in the tissues or dhatus, it is much tougher to reverse.

 

The journey of nutrition in our body ends with Ojas. Ayurveda describes the pure and refined essence of your tissues as ojas, the foundation of your immunity. All physical and mental indigestion damages ojas. Good ojas makes your skin shine, helps you feel stable and satisfied in simple pleasures. A person with good ojas doesn’t feel easily distracted.

 

This complex journey of food through our systems is essential to appreciate clearly on why we become what we eat and more importantly what we digest through food and environment. 

 

Ananda’s physicians recommend the following guidelines of food, lifestyle and conscious eating. We leave the choice for you to pick any one or all, as a lifelong rhythm that supports nourishment. Imbibe any one and the rest shall follow.

 

·       Start with a small prayer, feel gratitude and calm yourself prior to kickstarting the interaction between food and you.  Nourishing yourself through food is the foundation principle of life sustenance.

·       Stop eating when you no longer feel hunger. With a television screen, a phone as a distraction or loud stimulative music and talking, it gets difficult to catch that signal of ‘feeling full’. Eating in an environment that’s conducive will also help you avoid overeating. Be aware and attentive towards this important process of consuming life.

·       Avoid the intake of cold drinks while eating, it kills the digestive fire.

·       Rest for 10-15 minutes after eating. It gives your food the desired time it needs to mix with the enzymes, bile, and hormones in your stomach. Sitting quietly watching your breath in the belly or doing a guided 10-minute relaxation will help you avoid many physical and mental troubles in the future.

·       Look at your food and consume it through all senses before taking a morsel in your mouth. Remind yourself of the complex and mystical journey food takes to become you

 

A lot of factors may influence your overall ability to digest and assimilate the food you take in. Talking about the one that tops the list, is the message our Ayurveda physicians leave us with…

 

Only eat when you are eating”.


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