According to modern science, food nutritionists, food industry leaders and dieticians, so called “superfoods” aren’t exactly “super.” Wikipedia describes that “Superfood is a marketing term used to describe foods with supposed health benefits..”
The European Union has even prohibited the marketing of products as “superfoods,” unless accompanied by a specific medical claim supported by credible scientific research.(1)
Not particularly inspiring…so I will redefine the word from an Ayurvedic perspective.
First of all, there is no need to exaggerate that foods are “super.” Whatever one uniquely needs will be their superfood. Additionally, everything is actually superfood if you know how to transform and use it.
In general, for a food to be “super” it must:
1. Promote ‘Sattva’
Sattva is a quality in us that translates to “purity.” If Sattva is increased, then so is our inner stillness, clarity of mind and contentment. Love radiates and flows back to us in abundance, while the hormone oxytocin (also known as the “bonding hormone”) is simultaneously secreting. Fresh, seasonal whole foods are predominately Sattvic, thus increases the Sattvic quality in us based on the Ayurvedic law of “like increases like.”
2. Detox and Heal the Body
Some Ayurvedic foods are prized for their powerful medicinal properties. Ayurveda valuably teaches us how to use food as medicine.
3. Directly nourish ‘Ojas’
Ojas is the vital essence of our body that translates to “vitality.”
A plentiful reserve of Ojas is reflected in the lustre of the eyes and skin (like the glow in a baby), strong physical strength, immunity and libido, good digestion, vigour and spirituality.
'Ojas' is considered to be the most refined product of digestion. Every food must metabolise through all the body’s tissues before it can become Ojas.
Ojas: a bio-celestial liquid substance that (predominately) resides in the heart, as well as all over the body in a less concentrated matter.
Building Ojas is an art. Perhaps one of the best ways to consistently build Ojas is to eat a diet of fresh unprocessed, seasonal whole foods, and have a balanced agni to support the process. A handful of special foods (some listed below) even metabolise to nourish and build Ojas directly.
The Super Seven!
The seven Ayurvedic super foods I have chosen genuinely are super. They aren’t just packed with a dense hit nutrients, minerals and essential constituents, but actually promote and support your bodies natural intelligence to absorb and produce its own required constituents itself! Further, The Super Seven promote strength, immunity, peace and contentment in the body and mind. And best of all, they are readily available to everyone! Here they are…
1. Hot Water
I am about to reveal to you a very special Ayurvedic purification technique that is excellent for eliminating toxins from the body’s system…
It sounds very simple, but you’ll find that is has a powerful influence in purifying and strengthening the gastrointestinal tract, as well as detoxing and rejuvenating the major systems of the body.
All you have to do is sip hot water frequently throughout the day.
Sipping frequently (rather than focusing on quantity) flushes the lymphatic system, softens hardened tissues (just like hot water will soften leather, unlike cold water) and dilates channels and deeply hydrates the body. It also heals and repairs the digestive system.
In a short time you’ll begin to appreciate the soothing and balancing effect of this technique. Once you have gotten used to it, you will look forward to drinking hot water on a frequent basis.
“Hot water is the most superfood.”
~ Dr. J.R. Raju.
Ghee is the crown jewel that joins Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking. Ghee is clarified or purified butter. With all the lactose components & milk solids removed, no-one is allergic to ghee.
Ghee is light to digest and has the special quality of enkindling Agni and supports fat metabolism. It effectively detoxes the gut and is an effective source of internal lubrication.
This concentrated golden substance is highly Sattvic and directly nourishes Ojas.
Click HERE for more on the benefits of ghee
3. Cows Milk
Dairy has a bad name in the press these days. With people increasingly claiming dairy intolerances, it has become perilous in todays new-age health scene.
Let me clarify two reasons why this has developed:
1. The dairy industry in the west is increasingly producing homogenised milk from poorly treated, stress inundated cows that are being fed grains. Further, the milk is pasteurised the wrong way, with added chemicals, pesticides, preservatives and anti-biotic’s.
2. A lot of kids drink cold homogenised milk with sugar filled processed cereals, and topping it off with some fruit in their bowl or having a glass of OJ on the side – a highly “un-ayurvedic” recipe for an incompatible digestive disaster.
Hence, people develop a dairy intolerance. And it may only hit them down the track. Possibly when they finally begin to tune into their own body and become more conscious.
Let me also add, if you believe and accept the notion that “dairy is bad,” you negatively charge the micro-biome in the foods, stress out your own body and if when you eat dairy with guilt it will not digest well due to lack of harmonious compatibility. Mind is the culprit here.
However, Ayurveda on the other hand prizes dairy as one of the most medicinal and nourishing foods and one of the most anabolic foods that directly builds Ojas. Rest assured, it is not a requirement for anybody to drink milk all the time, but if someone is in need of strength or Ojas, milk is one of Ayurveda’s top choices.
What more, it is a classic Ayurveda sleep remedy to drink boiled milk with spices before bed, also having a profound stress reducing action. Modern science has proved ancient wisdom by showing cows milk has certain peptides that lower cortisol and support sleep by 50%.(2)
Cows are considered sacred animals in India and cow milk is highly revered in Ayurveda as one of the most Sattvic of foods.
Please note: milk should always be boiled with equal amounts of water and un-homogenised and preferably organic. This will make it easier to digest.
If you have difficulty with cow’s milk don’t worry, first correct your agni, then slowly introduce dairy. (Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner). Also, there are six other superfoods on the list to choose from!
Lassi is buttermilk, or diluted yoghurt.
- Improves digestion and a fantastic pro-biotic.
- Lassi is the best alkaliser.
- As Lassi improves digestion and absorption it ultimately supports calcium absorption and bone health.
- Balances heat (pitta) and clear the physical channels.
- It is the best remedy (with a pinch of salt) for haemorrhoids and anal fissures.
- A great food to introduce dairy to a lactose intolerant person after they have corrected their agni.
- Lassi is very hydrating, and a great drink to have with lunch.
*Yoghurt should be fresh.
Ratios of Yoghurt : Water: 1:4, 1:6, or 1:14.
Honey is super Sattivc and directly nourishes our own life-nectar, Ojas. It is actually more of a medicine than a food. Due to its richness, it should be taken in moderation.
On the other hand, Ayurveda teaches that honey will be poisonous when heated above body temperature (that means no honey in hot teas, hot porridge, cooking with honey etc.) as it perniciously clogs the channels. This is why is it always important to purchase honey that is extracted at low temperatures.
Turmeric has a vast catalogue of health benefits, but here is an essential summary on why to use Turmeric as medicine in your daily cooking:
- It is the best anti-inflammatory.
- It regulates mood and boosts cognitive function.
- Protects the gut and stomach lining.
- Supports joints: (pain, stiffness, swelling, arthritis) and healthy blood.
- Since turmeric is anti-carcinogenic, it is vital to use when cooking meat due to the high risk of carcinogenic properties in most meat these days.
Turmeric powder is best advised, always with a pinch of black pepper, as black pepper increases the absorption of turmeric by an astonishing 2000%!(3)
Almonds are also Sattvic and help to maintain our Ojas. They are a good source of zinc, strengthen the body and grounding for the mind. But they are also quite rich and heavy, so again, moderation is the key. Half a handful of almonds a day is enough. To make them lighter and easier to digest, always soak almonds overnight in water and remove their skins the next day.
If you are in any doubt about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician.
(1) "Superfood 'ban' comes into effect". BBC News. 2007-06-28.
(2) The Open Sleep Journal. 2009;2:128-32
(3) Research done at St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore, India Planta Med. 1998 May;64 (4):353-6. PMID: 9619120
article originally published on Welcome Earth