THE SCIENCE AND ZEN OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS
As a yoga practitioner and teacher, the old adage, “Health is Wealth” truly applies to me. Getting sick or even just being tired or lethargic from lack of sleep affects not only my practice and teaching but also the quality of my life in general.
There was even a time, several years ago, when this feeling of being unwell and imbalanced followed me like a shadow. It was probably because of all the stress I was going through at that time. Yoga and meditation certainly helped a lot. It was the perfect time to practice what I teach. But somehow, there’s still this heavy feeling I usually get in the morning upon waking up or in the afternoon after a few hours of having lunch.
Because of that, I decided to check if my food intake is possibly affecting my health and then maybe make adjustments on it. To get more information, I looked into Yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, and became very much interested. If yoga asana is the exercise science behind building a fit and strong body, Ayurveda is the “Science of Life” that provides guidance regarding a wide array of health practices including food and lifestyle management.
According to Ayurveda, the root of all health problems start with a weak digestive fire or Agni. If we cannot digest our food well, the toxic, undigested food residue (Ama) builds up gradually in our gut and decay further causing dis-ease.
To digest our food well, we should take time to check where our agni is at by asking ourselves if there is “real hunger” or not. If there is, then our agni is ready to receive food. If not, then ama will be created no matter what we choose. Second, we should consciously selected healthy food from all the six tastes that Ayurveda recognizes in proportion to what suits our own personal energetic “recipe” or constitution (Prakruti). This is very important because as a result of each taste (including their amount) a food will either increase or decrease our energetic imbalance (Vikruti). This imbalance directly affects our digestive process, creating ama.
Third, if we already eat healthy food that works toward harmonizing our Prakruti and yet still feel off afterwards, it is good to know if we have food intolerance. Food intolerance refers to the difficulty in digesting certain foods. It is different from food allergy because its symptoms generally take longer to emerge and may persist for several hours or days.
The symptoms I was experiencing points to this. Knowing which food triggers then can take some time and effort. In a typical exclusion diet, the suspected food are removed form the diet for a set period, usually between two weeks to a couple of months. They are then reintroduced in a controlled fashion, one by one, on different days, to discover which ones are causing the reaction. It is good to keep a note of symptoms when you avoid certain foods, and which symptoms reappear when these foods are reintroduced. This requires motivation and discipline but can be highly effective. Keeping a food diary can also be useful.
An easier way to know this is by having a food intolerance blood test. Fortunately, I got introduced to LifeScience Center for Health and Wellness in ACCRA Law Tower in Bonifacio Global City. It’s an integrated facility that aims to help individuals achieve their health goals using the latest scientifically-based solutions.
One of their offerings is the FOODPRINT 200+, an advanced and comprehensive laboratory service that detects the presence of IgG (Immunoglobulin G) food specific antibodies to a wide range of foods that we consume. The procedure only requires a simple, almost painless pin-prick. Resutls are available within 10 working days of sample receipt. Also, they have FOOD DETECTIVE, a self-test for food intolerance that you can use in the comfort of your own home.
Apart from the tests, LifeScience acts as your partner to reach your wellness goals. The journey doesn’t stop once the tests are done, as the facility has a team of experts on health and nutrition ready to guide you through a healthier life.
Ultimately, a healthy agni also comes with a healthy appetite for life. Centurions, the people who live to be over one hundred years old, say without a doubt that a passion for life has been their secret to longevity. They are excited about living and see life as one big adventure. Let us remain young at heart so that our body matches our enthusiasm.
*Lalah de Dios is the founder of Aquanimous Yoga, a floating studio that brings the practice and art of yoga, Ayurveda and meditation into perfect fusion with stand up paddle boarding. Know more via www.aquanimous.yoga.
Originally published in the 2015 Special Issue of Om Magazine. *