Well, we all know that Aloe Vera is widely used in skin care products. It has therapeutic qualities and has been used for many centuries by Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Chinese, Indians. Aloe Vera does not belong to cactus family because of its fleshy long leaves have thorns. They belong to the family of Lilies. There are around 250 species of Aloe Vera. They grow almost anywhere in the world as they do not require special conditions to be cultivated. They can even absorb moisture from the air to survive.
Aloe Vera is called ‘Kumari‘ in Sanskrit, which means ‘young girl‘. The name is given because it is believed that the properties of this plant gives the woman their youth. Despite of its name, even men will benefit from this plant’s medicinal properties. 🙂
How many of us consume them at least once in a while?
Not many of us consume them on a regular basis because of its bland taste. Soft drinks uses pulp of Aloe Vera leaves.
Originally, it has pure bitter taste and the Ayurvedic medicine places this plant under Sattvic foods. This plant is suitable for all dosha types – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When it is used for intake, it is has tremendous and beneficial effect on our digestive system. It can be consumed in the form of juice or pulp.
SOME OF THE MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF ALOE VERA:
Has antibacterial and antifungal properties
Benefits and improves the function of the digestive system
Heals skin problems
Detoxifies our digestive system and improves function of our kidneys, liver and gallbladder
Stimulates the white blood cells production in our body
Strengthens our immune system
It is a very useful nutritional supplement for patients before and after surgery
It maintains good pH of our stomach
Hydrates and strengthens our hair and scalp
Reduces cholesterol level
Improves heart function
and it is capable of having many more healing properties.
They play a wide role in Ayurvedic medicine treating skin allergies and also Leprosy. The leaves of this plant contains phytoconstituents that aids antiallergic actions.
Salt (to taste) / Sugar
I would recommend that we take some time to cut the leaves fresh from the plant, cut the pulp into cubes and eat with buttermilk immediately after washing the pulp thoroughly many times. We do not have to consume the latex which is the very bitter part of the leaves. They can be used for the skin and hair. Aloe Vera leaves can be cut fresh as shown in the picture below for consumption in the early morning. It would benefit us immensely if we intake once in a week.
IMPORTANCE OF CONSUMING THEM FRESH:
We know that some items we find in supermarkets today might have been prepared a few weeks or months ago. During this process, nutrients are lost to a certain level. If we straight away bring the food from soil to our plate, the nutrients lost are much lesser.
It is a very good indoor plant that can be air purifier and also used for decoration purpose. Aloe Vera’s specialty is that these plants release oxygen at night while absorbing carbon dioxide thus purifying the quality of air. The plant does not need pampering and regular watering which results in easy maintenance.
Food has such a powerful impact – affecting our physical appearance, physiological processes and emotions. With such a diverse variety of food items to choose from, making small changes in what we eat and observing the effects these have on our body help us to decide which foods best nourish our bodies and minds.
The Yogic Diet comprises 3 main gunas (categories): Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Sattvic foods are seen as pure, wholesome foods that increase energy and prana (life force) within us. These leave us feeling calm, refreshed and alert, and are generally primary sources of energy so are largely plant-based. Sattvic foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, nuts and oils, whole grains, legumes, honey and mild spices that have not been processed.
Rajasic foods are said to be stimulating, such as spices, caffeine, tobacco, processed sugar, onions and garlic. They make one overly alert and thus difficult to find calm.
On the other hand, Tamasic foods make one feel dull, sluggish and perhaps even lazy. These include alcohol, meat, fish and mushrooms, as well as foods that have been frozen, fermented, reheated, fried, stale or laden with preservatives. Unfortunately, this is the kind of food the large majority of the population consumes in this day and age, be it due to convenience such as microwave meals or taste preference, it not only provides insufficient prana to the body, but also inadequate fuel for the mind. From a nutritional perspective, some of these food items may not necessarily be harmful to health – for example frozen vegetables or meat still retain majority of their nutrients, but the process of freezing has depleted its prana.
Besides that, the manner of preparation and the way it is eaten can also determine the guna. Food that is prepared with love and awareness is Sattvic, while overeating or scoffing down your food is said to be Tamasic, even if the food itself is Sattvic. Thus, we would ideally have wholesome foods prepared with love and care, eaten in a mindful and relaxed manner.
The effects of food on our body can perhaps best be seen in meditation. During mediation, the 2 main issues are an over-active mind, brought about by ingesting excessive Rajasic food, and conversely, falling asleep due to too much Tamasic food. Thus, Sattvic foods are best for attaining the balance between the 2 to quiet the mind whilst maintaining alertness to explore our thoughts.
Cranberry Banana Bread topped with chia seeds and butterfly pea flowers
Ayurveda translates to complete knowledge about life. It focuses on balance of the interplay between the body, mind and spirit, where imbalances lead to illness. There are 3 main doshas (changeable body types) –Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each body type is associated with the 5 different elements – Vata goes with air and space/ether, Pitta goes with fire and Kapha goes with water and earth. Your dosha is determined by 3 main criteria: physical appearance, physiological processes and your behaviours or mindset. By doing an online quiz, we found out our doshas, where most people have 1 or 2 dominating doshas. Besides that, we learnt about the health conditions each dosha is more susceptible to, and how to alter our diet to prevent this. I have summarised some characteristics of each dosha below:
Medium, warm temperature
Low, but strong immune system
Quick learner, spontaneous and likes change
Opinionated, intense focus, usually a leader
Easygoing, friendly, slow learner but retains information well, likes routine
Metabolic syndrome: Obesity, type II diabetes, high cholesterol
Let food by thy medicine
In Ayurveda, diet plays an important role in affecting our physiological processes, acting as both a preventative and therapeutic measure. There are 6 main Ayurvedic tastes – sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent, which are also associated with the elements as shown in the table below:
Dosha suitable for
Most of the class is Pitta dosha, so I made a pitta-pacifying cranberry banana bread to celebrate the end of our first week of YTT200. Since Pitta is associated with the fire element, Pitta-pacifying foods consist of those that are cooling, hydrating and subtle. These help to balance moisture, achieve optimum temperature and neutralise any excess acidity in the body. As such, Pitta should increase intake of sweet, astringent and bitter foods and decrease that of salty, sour or pungent. As a general guideline, hot, spicy and fried food should be avoided, as well as fermented foods such as sour cream or alcohol. A more comprehensive recommendation of foods that Pitta should consume is shown in the table below:
Cranberry Banana Bread Recipe
As we practice asanas for 2h a day, we need to replenish the glycogen we’ve consumed, as well as provide our brain with the much-needed fuel for the afternoon of theory. Since our brain’s main metabolic energy is glucose, which we derive mainly from carbohydrates, I thought banana bread would be a generally sattvic snack to fuel us through YTT (which is also gluten-free). It has elements of Pitta-pacifying ingredients such as sweet overripe bananas, oat flour and cretan honey, astringent cranberry raisins and a small amount of cinnamon that contributes to the bitter taste. I’ve also topped it with chia seeds which absorb water to keep us hydrated and is rich in fibre to aid digestion. Besides that, butterfly pea flowers have anti-oxidant, anti-depressant properties that reduce stress and hypertension, and is beneficial for hair and skin.
3 medium bananas
2 cups oat flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cretan honey
Butterfly pea flowers
Preheat the oven to 180°
Add the dry ingredients into a bowl
Mash the bananas and add them into the bowl
Add the wet ingredients and mix well
Fold in cranberry raisins
Grease baking tin (I like to use the inside of the banana peel, it works pretty well!)
Pour the mixture into the baking tin and top with chia seeds and butterfly pea flowers
Bake for 25min, then leave in for another 5min with oven off
And there you have it, a quick easy pitta-pacifying snack fix. Would love if you gave the recipe a try, let me know what you think!