Ayurveda - one of the oldest bodies of knowledge on holistic wellness, has its roots ingrained in the philosophy that food plays a big part in our well-being. As per Ayurveda and Yoga humans have psycho-physiological constitution. The three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha - that form the core principles of the Ayurvedic system, are derived from the five elements. Vata controls movement like breath, blood circulation, urination etc., Pitta controls metabolism and Kapha controls structure, holds cells together and forms muscles, fat, bones etc. All three doshas are found in varying proportions in every person.
Respiratory problems are linked to Vata and Kapha. The food one consumes should be governed by the person's constitution, season, as well as time of the day.
Everyday Foods That Help You Build A Stronger Respiratory System
Small changes that we make to our diet can help us strengthen the respiratory system.
These are foods that balance the Vata and Kapha in the body, and bring relief to people suffering from respiratory issues:
- Beet root, tomato and carrot soup with ginger, cinnamon, mint
- Fresh mint juice liquefies the sputum and can be used with honey or with jaggery (gur) & Amla juice
- Garlic boiled with milk, with soups or boiled in water mixed with honey
- Indian gooseberry (Amla) has high content of vitamin C, the juice can be consumed with jaggery (gur) and mint
- Orange juice with honey
- Ginger juice and basil juice with honey or boiled with soups
- Crushed powder of almonds, black pepper powder mixed with jaggery (gur) or candy (misri) powder can be taken with milk or water
- Honey is most beneficial for respiratory issues and can be taken in pure form or mixed with tulsi juice, ginger juice, orange juice, amla juice or amla powder
- Boiled milk with turmeric powder or pepper powder can be comforting
- Add Tulsi and basil leaves in warm or room temperature water and have it during the day
- Figs are believed to drain the phlegm. So have it regularly after soaking in water overnight
- Drumsticks and its leaves are good and can be cooked in sambhar, dal or soups
- Khichri made of rice, moong dal with lots of vegetables in it. Before cooking one can put small pieces of ginger, cumin seeds, curry leaves, garlic into it
- Rice and sambhar (south Indian curry dish) with lots of vegetables can be consumed
- Bajra khichri or corn khichri with moong dal, carrots, peas - cooked very well
Foods to avoid:
- Avoid foods that create more phlegm. Such foods can neither be digested properly nor can be eliminated properly. These include too much dry food, processed food, fried and heavy food.
- Any fermented food should be avoided in the evening and night. Curd should be avoided in the night. In fact, rice and curd is a very bad combination for Asthma.
- Cold drinks, ice cream or anything cold directly from the refrigerator should be also avoided, especially in winters.
Best Practices for people suffering from respiratory ailments:
- Asthma patients should have early dinner
- Have a glass of hot water before going to bed
- Steam inhalation with pure eucalyptus oil or carom seeds (ajwain) boiled in water
- Massage behind the chest with mustard oil mixed with eucalyptus oil or camphor
- When there is acute problem change the swar - breathe from the nostril which is blocked (or passive) and close the other one (active nostril) with the thumb. Do slow breathing as per your capacity
Remember stress affects thoughts and emotions and can depress immune system, can create heaviness in lungs and can lead to breathing problems. Yoga is a hugely beneficial tool to control the thoughts and emotional problems, increase lung capacity and create hormonal balance.