Ok, so we’re not talking here about the cold weather; we’re talking about food and drink (although thick curtains are admittedly a simple, frequently-overlooked solution to nuisance cold draughts!). As you may already know, one of the core principles of Ayurveda states that what we ingest on a daily basis greatly affects our health. Sounds obvious enough, we realise, but there are three main differences between what Ayurveda states as ‘bad for our health’ and what other, more generalised thinking dictates:
- Emotional and mental ingestion can be just as detrimental to our health as the food and drink we put into our bodies.
- What is ‘bad’ for one person’s health isn’t necessarily bad for another’s.
- Cold food and drinks should be avoided as much as possible (granted, the exception to point 2).
The focus here is going to be on the third point. Well, the drinks bit anyway. Ayurveda places emphasis on the importance of favouring drinks that are warm, whenever possible. Why? Well, the main reason is to aid digestion. We have become a nation of stomach sufferers; reliant on popping painkillers and antacids to help deal with the unwanted after-effects of eating and drinking. Like with most things, though, surely the more sensible option would be to try and prevent the pain/discomfort/gas/bloating [delete as applicable] from occurring in the first place? Also like with most things, adopting the ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach is often easier said than done. However, as per all things Ayurveda, those who are willing and able to invest a little TLC in themselves now will be thankful in the long run.
Why Ayurveda’s cold-drink curb?
According to Ayurveda, cold drinks – especially those consumed just before or during a meal – are a big no no. The stomach needs to be relaxed and ready to receive what you put in it, so shocking it with a blast of cold water/juice/soft drink is going to do nothing but get it fired up before it’s even started. Sipping a warm drink before eating, however, will ensure your stomach behaves itself better as it’ll be in its optimal state for digesting what you throw at it. And when we digest things better, we release toxins better… you get the idea.
Is Ayurveda’s advice as simple as cut out cold drinks?
Yes and no. Yes because this is such a simple habit to change but one that could have a massive impact on how you feel, and no because there are many other things that Ayurveda recommends regarding consumption habits. We won’t go into them now, but we’re talking about things like what to eat and when, and the importance of eating in silence. The list, when you delve in, is actually quite long.
Is it ok to still drink tea and coffee, then?
Ayurveda’s bespoke approach to health and wellbeing means that there is no one-size-fits all recommendation regarding drinks. That being said, there is, as you can imagine, discouragement from anything caffeinated (sorry coffee lovers). The main reason for this is that caffeine is a toxin; potentially harming the body and harbouring digestion. There is also the fact that caffeine acts like a high-interest credit card; you get the instant gratification when using it but then the payback makes you question if it was worth it!
Suggested Supping The Ayurvedic Way
As everyone’s doshic type is different, the need to either stimulate or reduce certain elements is also a very individual matter, which is where herbal teas come into their own. There is huge variety out there to choose from; each with their own individual flavour and stated benefit, so finding a tea to suit your needs should be relatively straightforward. Ayurvedic favourites, however, include teas that contain liquorice, which helps to nourish the central nervous system, and teas that promote detoxification.
We offer Pukka herbal teas to our clients here at Ayurveda Retreat but there are other brands readily available nowadays on supermarket shelves, which is testament to the growing popularity of herbal teas in the UK. Watch out for the herbal teas that aren’t actually caffeine free, however; green tea being the culprit that springs to mind. You can get decaf green tea, though, in some supermarkets, which will give you all the detoxifying benefits but without the caffeine kick.
Happy Supping! Ayurveda Retreat