Boost Your Energy with Ayurvedic Power Foods
When you need a high-energy fix, do you reach for a power bar or power shake? Or do you resort to caffeine, chocolate, or high-sugar snacks when you feel that "end of the day" sag?
It may surprise you, but the real energy-boosters are fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and whole grains. These are the foods that are rich in Chetna, the healing and nurturing influence of nature. They are so alive with nature's intelligence that fatigue-causing toxins cannot accumulate in the body when you eat them.
Grains for Power
Athletes have long relied on carbohydrates in grains for long-term endurance and energy. Yet not all carbohydrates are created alike. A croissant, for instance, is high in fat and low in nutrition. The most nutritious carbohydrates are whole grains, which have been found to lower cholesterol, inhibit cancer-causing activity and harmful bacteria in the intestines, and lower the blood glucose level.
And of these whole grains, Maharishi Ayurveda considers rye, quinoa, amaranth and millet as the most nutritious, because they are especially high in protein and minerals. They are also high in fiber, and thus have a detoxifying value. These are the same auspicious grains that are described in the Vedic texts and are used for Vedic ceremonies.
One-half cup of amaranth (measured dry), for instance, contains 14 grams of protein, 8 mg of iron, and also magnesium and zinc. The same amount of quinoa contains 13 grams of protein, 9 mg of iron and 3 mg of zinc. Rye is also high in protein, with one-half cup yielding 15 grams of protein and 4 mg of zinc. Millet is a good source of B vitamins.
All of these grains contain copper, which is an essential trace mineral that improves energy and immunity, and their zinc content also boosts ojas, the finest product of digestion that creates lightness, inner energy, immunity and bliss.
To prepare power grains, place 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add a teaspoon of ghee and ½ cup of the grain. Boil for ten minutes and then lower to a simmer. Cook until the grain is tender.
Adding ghee is important, because otherwise the grains create internal dryness.
Energizing Vegetables and Fruits
Other high-energy foods include fresh vegetables, which should constitute forty percent of the meal. Green, leafy vegetables are especially high in minerals and fiber, so should be eaten often.
Fruits are also a source of energy. You can start the day with a stewed apple, and if you feel hungry in between meals, try snacking on a juicy pear. If you are feeling heavy and bloated after lunch, eat a fresh papaya, because they contain enzymes that aid digestion. If you have a strong digestion and more Pitta in your constitution, mangoes are a rich ojas-producing food, and half a mango contains 2 mg beta carotene and is a rich source of Vitamin C.
According to Maharishi Ayurveda, raisins are among the best of fruits because they enhance Sattva (purity), pacify the mind and heart and increase the coordination between them.
They are also a rich source of iron and Vitamin B6, and provide magnesium, calcium, zinc, and potassium. Raisins aid digestion and elimination when they are soaked in water overnight. One handful per person is a good amount.
Beware of Energy-Draining Foods
Just as there are foods to boost energy, other foods drain it. Any fast foods, canned, frozen, packaged, leftover, or old foods — or foods laced with preservatives, chemicals, and additives — are difficult to digest and contain little nutritional content.
If you do eat some of these foods, and you feel heavy after eating, The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians advises drinking half a glass of water with ¼ of a fresh lime squeezed into it. Or eat a tablet of Herbal Di-Gest to aid digestion.
But if you are feeling dull, sluggish, and drained of energy every day, it probably means that your diet contains too many energy-draining foods, which have clogged your microchannels with toxins. This means that you need to overhaul your diet to include foods that create ojas and energy.
Adding spices to your food is an easy way to increase the value of Chetna, or nature's intelligence. Try sautéing cumin, coriander, fennel, and turmeric in ghee, then add vegetables or cooked grains. Or add spices to your drinking water to boost your energy.
The important thing is to eat foods every day that boost your energy, rather than relying on artificial boosters when you feel your energy sag, because there will always be a negative side effects.
These articles provide a great resource from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians on the knowledge, practices, products, and applications of Maharishi Ayurveda.
The sole purpose of these newsletters is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disease. If you have any serious, acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area.