Obesity: An Ayurvedic Overview

Vaidya Mahesh Sabade

Obesity has become a challenging condition to handle. It is not limited to adults only, but has started to affect children too, making them more vulnerable physically and mentally.

Obesity, according to Ayurveda, is considered an ailment like any other disease. In Ayurveda, any disease is sheer imbalance of Doshas (fundamental constituents of the body) along with derangement of Dhatus (bodily tissues). The healing, according to Ayurveda, is setting all the body’s constituents in equilibrium.

For every disease there are some causative factors associated with it. These causative factors are nothing but our own lifestyle flaws or imperfections. All the bodily functions, conversion of food into vital body constituents, are done by a kind of energy – called Agni or digestive fire. It is the digestive capacity of every individual. Digestive fire or Agni inside the body needs to be nurtured in the best possible way and should be protected in every manner. This Agni is responsible for health and any alterations cause afflictions.

Along with the intake of non-nutritious food, over eating and lack of exercise, there are some other causative factors which cannot be ignored. These factors play a vital role in obesity. These are also the commonest mistakes made that create hindrances in the desired process of weight loss.

Cold water or cold food is an adversary of health. Cold foods create a slowdown in our system that causes slow, diminished digestion and unhealthy metabolism at a subtle level. According to Ayurveda, excessive cooling properties of ingested material always have an effect of lowering the Agni that acts as a precursor for almost every disease including obesity.

The prime action in controlling obesity should be staying away from cold foods or drinks. This includes ice-cold shakes, drinks, raw food in excess, etc. On the contrary, warm/hot water has a stunning effect on obesity. Regular intake of hot water (as per the thirst) helps to reduce the fat in our body.

Ayurveda believes in the characteristics of food items, source of cultivation, qualities of food and their medicinal values. Every plant grown on earth has some medicinal value. It is the role of humans to understand them. Ayurveda understands food according to their characteristics like light, heavy, hot, cold, etc. These are the effects they impart to our body after digestion. Tastes also determine the effect of food, for example sweet, sour and salty foods cause an increase in the bulk and are not beneficial in obesity. On the other hand, greater consumption of bitter, pungent and astringent foods aids weight loss.

The source of food and the processing done on it has a strong impact on its quality. Grazing animals develop lightness in them due to their activity – this makes their meat and milk lighter. Whereas animals kept in cramped places, refrained from movement, biologically and genetically hypertrophied, create a kind of pathogenesis on a subtle level that causes various imbalances and stagnation of Kapha energy, which is responsible for excessive fat accumulation.

Along with all these aspects of food, the methods of cooking and eating are also important. The heat treatment is essential for the digestion and metabolism of the food. The food should be warm or hot. Eating should be in proper amounts – half portion of the stomach should be filled with solid food; a quarter for liquid; and the remaining portion should be left empty for facilitating the process of digestion.

As per the biological clock, it is advisable to get up in the morning before sunrise. Excess sleep and waking up late in the morning increase Kapha energy in our body, which is one of the factors causing weight gain or obesity. Similarly taking a nap, especially after lunch during the day will have the same effect of Kapha increase.

Spices like black pepper, dry ginger, piper longum, asafetida, turmeric etc. have a good effect in reducing fat from the body. These spices are pungent, hot and may cause heat in the body; but when used in proper amounts, they help to reduce the fat.

Alcohol consumption in excess has a disturbing effect on the process of fat metabolism. It is one of the main factors that are responsible for fat accumulation. Alcohol in excess reduces Oja from the body. Oja is believed to be the essence of health and helps to keep the mind and body in a perfect state of well-being. It needs to be protected by reducing alcohol intake and by leading a controlled sexual life.

Obesity creates a state of the body that shows over nourishment of fat and under nourishment of other tissues in the body, which makes it fragile and more vulnerable – emotionally and physically. Such conditions graciously welcome various other ailments concerned with various organs of the body. Emotional breakdowns leading to regular intake of anti-depressants can be healed by understanding our own body pattern and by a strong determination to overcome that. Meditation is a vital truth that helps us believe in ourselves, and helps control emotional outbreaks.

Regular physical exercise is also a crucial link that builds us emotionally as well as physically. It’s less important what kind of exercise one does, but doing it consistently is critical. Yoga is a kind of exercise that helps to set equilibrium of various energies inside the body. Various yogic postures and breathing exercises help tremendously in obesity and various other diseases.

To get rid of obesity and excess weight, one needs to develop a kind of patience and endurance with thoughts and determination. Meditation, exercise and dietary changes help achieve the goal of a comfortable body and mind.

Ayurvedic wisdom and its methods to lose weight are age old, and create slow and steady weight loss without any side effects and the yo-yo effect on body weight. The learning that takes place during the weight loss program, plus the permanent lifestyle and food changes one adapts during the course of Ayurvedic therapy are invaluable. This is why Ayurveda is gaining more and more converts, and weight loss with Ayurveda is a long term viable option – definitely worth exploring.

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