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The Ayurvedic Detox Diet.

by Hubert Vaz Detox diet is ideal for ridding your system of unwanted toxins and rejuvenating your body and mind. Photo: destinationdetox

After a holiday laden with heavy eating (or even once every year), taking up a detox diet is ideal for ridding your system of unwanted toxins and rejuvenating your body and mind. Dr Nisha Manikanthan, an ayurvedic expert, provides key information about a detox diet plan.

What is an Ayurvedic detox diet?

It is a particular type of diet, which allows your body to detox on its own. This diet is lighter for your digestive system, and it is easier for your body. It gets time to engage in the healing and detox process. Also this particular diet has a detox effect on the whole system.

Is it different for different people? On what basis is it decided?

It is different for different people. There are two types of detox diet. One is a general detox diet, which is common for everyone and it helps everyone. The second type is a detox diet, which is different for different people. It is decided according to the amount of toxins the person has, (toxin in Ayurveda is called "aama"), i.e., how much aama they have, and, which organ and, which system it has affected. It is also decided on, which type of constitution the person has -- vata, kapha or pitta -- you can have vaat aama, kapha ama, and pitta aama.

To find out how much toxin is there in the body, what kind of aama -- vata, pitta, and what personality type you are, an expert has to check the naadi (pulse), and through other methods.

Why does one need to detox?

Because we live in an environment where we are exposed to different types of toxins, different types of environment, different types of food. It is not always that we eat healthy food and always follow a healthy lifestyle. The environment and the radiation in the environment affect us, and the stress, which events give also affects us. All these form toxins in the body. Generally the body has the capability to flush out these toxins. In fact detox is happening in our body on a daily basis. But this may not happen effectively and sometimes you may not be supporting the body sufficiently to allow it to happen. If you follow the body clock daily and live according to nature, you allow the detox to happen effectively. If you drink a lot of water and exercise sufficiently, it supports the detox process, as flushing out and sweating are essential. Even if you eat well it supports the detox of vata. This is a very different concept, which Ayurveda has.

How often should it be done?

It depends on how much of toxins you have. For some people, they may need to detox once in a year. But generally it is good to plan a detox once in three months. We give a sample diet, which you can do once in three months.

What is the diet like?

When people have chronic diseases, a general detox may not help for such people. They will need an expert who will plan a specific detox diet. There is a programme called Panchakarma, which is a detox programme. It includes certain types of diet processes, but the focus is not on diet, but on processes for detox.

In chronic diseases you have to go for that. For a diabetic it is always good to consult their own diabetologist before taking up any special diet, who will give a specific diet. But the diet, which we are going to prescribe here is very safe, which anyone can follow. You may make a few changes in the diet according to your specific conditions. The sample diet has, for the first three days, fruits, fruit juices, vegetables and vegetable juices. This is all raw and what is important is that fruits and vegetables have detox properties, are light on the body and digestion is very easy.

You follow only this diet for three days and then gradually you can switch to cooked foods, like soups, you can have cooked moong dal, or moong- dal soup and then you can add khichadi for the next three days, in addition to the above diet of fruits, vegetables and their juices. This is a proper ten-day diet you can follow. The person is not fasting, so this is a general detox diet anybody can follow.

If she/he is a diabetic, instead of fruits and fruit juices, they can have only vegetables and vegetable juices, and if their diabetologist has allowed them to have certain foods, they can incorporate them into the diet. Generally you know about your body, and if you have to eat every three hours, you can do so.

The other type of diet- the non-general type - is very personal. You have to get professional guidance on that.

For how long or how often should a person do this diet?

One can go on this diet once every three months. That is, in a year four times, ten days each time. And it is always good if you can do it at the junction of the seasons, like when summer changes into the monsoon season. Because when the climate changes, the body, and the person's diet too goes through a lot of changes and this is a period when toxins can accumulate.

What should a person do after they have finished the course?

It is always good, after the ten days, to slowly go back to your old diet. It in fact makes sense to follow and stick to a healthy diet pattern. And if you cannot, then you can wait for another session of detox. The body cannot handle certain kinds of food. When you plan your food, it is always better to have food, which is local, seasonal, natural, freshly-cooked, and organic. So if we bear this in mind, it is very good for us, and for our health. And people are coming back to that. Because India is a country where throughout the year you have food, which is fresh, we do not have to go for imported or tinned/canned food unlike other countries where there is no agriculture and they have to import food.

What are the benefits of this diet?

Your digestion will improve, sleep will be better, skin will gradually get clearer, and the skin-tone improves. Your energy levels go up. When you have a chronic condition, for some people there can be what is called a "healing crisis". So you have to be a little careful about that. It is better to do the detox while being monitored. Lots of people have diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions. Healing crises are rare, but if it does happen it can be handled. Keeping that in mind, and if it does happen, the person can go back to the normal diet.

How do you know you need a detox?

You may have digestive problems, sleep disturbances, skin problems or you may feel bloated, or have back-pain, joint-pain, hair-loss, irritability, or eye-problems (that is a pitta toxin). In these conditions, if you visit a doctor, he might tell you do not have any problem, but you are facing these problems. And this is a clear sign that you have some accumulation of toxins.

In Ayurveda, they know when there is accumulation of toxins, and, which organ/system it is going to affect, because it is a very different approach. That is why it is important to get the naadi (pulse) checked so you know and prevent what you know is going to happen.

Diet

What we eat plays a major role in our state of health. That is why eating local, seasonal, freshly-cooked natural, and organic food gains so much importance. The body can handle such food, as it is lighter on the digestive system, and it contributes to your health, and not go against

your health.

Lifestyle

Nature has a rhythm: the daytime is for activity and night is for resting. The body-clock or bio-clock follows the sun, and knows when it should be active and when it should rest. Again in the day, the body acquires nourishment, is active and it uses the night to detox itself, especially for vital organs like liver, gall-bladder, which detox only at night. If the person is not in deep-sleep then, the detox does not happen.

Living according to the body-clock is so important that it forms a huge topic in Ayurvedic medical literature, known as "Dinacharya".Those whose career disallows them from following the body-clock, can be helped with professional guidance so as to compensate for the alteration in their life-style.

(Dr Nisha Manikanthan is an Ayurvedic Expert at The Art of Living)

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Dec 27, 2015
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