Luke Coutinho shares Time-tested traditional Indian habits, for a healthier 2020:
This article is authored by Luke Coutinho. Luke is a globally renowned and award winning Holistic Lifestyle Coach in the field of Integrative Medicine.
Every year, people around the world spend time early in January or towards the end of December getting together their New Year resolutions which is usually fuelled or promoted by social media and everything else. However, most of our resolutions fizzle out sooner than expected given our hectic pace of life, lack of motivation and let’s accept – self-discipline too.
What if we could convert health resolutions to building healthy lifestyle “habits”? Sounds more practical, right? And what better than our age-old traditional remedies to get you on a path of good health! You might have heard of them from your elders and it holds so much of wisdom.
In this article, renowned, award winning Holistic Lifestyle Coach Luke Coutinho sheds light on a few simple, time tested habits involving inexpensive foods that can get you started.
Turmeric powder with milk at night:
Having a warm beverage like turmeric powder with milk (haldi doodh) is one of the common habits followed in many Indian homes without fail. The magic in this beverage lies in the presence of individual ingredients as well as synergy between them.
- Turmeric, aka yellow gold is a medicinal as well as culinary herb.
- It’s a potent anti-inflammatory, ant antioxidant, immunity boosting, liver detoxifying, brain and neurological health boosting spice. ‘Curcumin”, an active ingredient present in turmeric is responsible for each of these benefits.
- Turmeric is great to manage arthritic joint pains, body aches, muscle soreness, swollen joints as it’s capable of lowering inflammation levels.
- Good quality milk on the other hand is rich in amino acid “tryptophan”, that acts as a precursor to serotonin, a happy hormone that helps elevate our mood and puts us in a state of sleep. Also, the presence of fat in milk aids a better absorption of turmeric (curcumin) as turmeric is well absorbed in the presence of fat.
Added all together, this beverage is a great immunity and sleep enhancer. Studies show how turmeric has positive effects on brain degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It lowers inflammation levels and can help you have a young and glowing skin in the long run (unless you are allergic to milk). If you are suffering from cold and sore throat, then this turmeric drink can also be your go-to option for quick relief and cure.
Take it a step further and add a pinch of black pepper to this beverage to boost the bioavailability of curcumin. You could also add more spices like nutmeg and star anise.
To reap maximum benefits from turmeric, it’s necessary to use the ones that have a high concentration of this curcumin. Though there are a number of local varieties of turmeric available, a handful of them have consistent curcumin levels to deliver optimal benefits.
Tata Sampann’s Turmeric Powder is one of them. It comes with a 3% curcumin guarantee and is sourced from Salem, Tamil Nadu.
During processing, natural oils are kept intact and no artificial preservatives are added.
If you want to confirm the purity of turmeric, pay close attention to its shade; pure turmeric has a deep-golden shade.
However, please note:
- Milk may not suit everyone, especially those with lactose intolerance. If you are fine having milk, it is advised to consume milk from Indian cow breeds (A2) that is free of hormones and antibiotics.
- If you are prone to excess mucus, then consume milk with caution.
Having a piece of jaggery after meals:
Jagger was initially referred as “poor man’s chocolate”, but more and more scientific studies are now revealing immense health benefits of this natural and healthy alternative to refined white sugar.
Jaggery/Gur is the perfect food for this time of the year as its touted as a superfood during the winter season because it keeps body warm.
- Jaggery is rich in iron and this becomes the easiest ways to boost low haemoglobin levels. Anaemia or low haemoglobin levels is a huge concern amongst young women, teens and pregnant mothers in most parts of our country. A beverage mixes of lemon water and jaggery is a great remedy to boost iron levels.
- The magnesium and potassium content in jaggery help dilate blood vessels thereby aiding management of blood pressure.
- Having a piece of jaggery right after meals can help improve digestion as jaggery stimulates the release of digestive enzymes. It can improve digestion, reduce gas and bloating. Additionally, it can also tame post meals sugar cravings! Many places in Northern India offer “masala gur”, a type of gur with spices like fennel, cumin and black pepper that can further boost the digestion process.
- Jaggery acts as a mild laxative and can help alleviate constipation.
- Its rich in zinc and selenium, and in practices of Ayurveda, jaggery is also used as a detoxifying agent for liver and a blood purifier. It also supports detoxification of lungs in conditions like asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. One can mix 1 tsp of jaggery in warm water and have it as a natural treatment for cough and cold.
- It’s a great cramp reliever for women going through PMS. A mix of 1 tsp of jaggery and 1 tsp of sesame seeds gives great relief in such cases.
Just a piece of advice for diabetics: Jaggery and sugar have an equal impact on your blood sugar levels. Thus, it is important to consume them both in moderation to suit your individual health profile.
Having some form of amla in your daily diet:
Amla or gooseberry are a local, inexpensive, easily available addition to your meals if you are looking to boost your immunity. One amla a day, especially when it’s in season is what one must aim at having from a prevention point of view.
- Amla is great for immunity as it combats common cold and coughs due to high Vitamin C content.
- Presence of vitamin C in it aid synthesis of collagen that helps maintain the integrity and firmness of skin.
- Strengthens the inner walls of arteries that are often damaged due to faulty lifestyle habits like smoking and exposure to pollution
- Manages high levels of bad cholesterol and diabetes and reduces inflammation, thanks to the presence of chromium, a trace mineral responsible for increasing insulin sensitivity of cells.
Amla is a super versatile fruit that can be consumed in the form of juice or chutneys, amla powder pickle or murabba. Many people consume it along with jaggery. This can be beneficial especially during winter as jaggery has properties that can provide the body with much-needed warmth. Also, people who are allergic to lemons can safely consume this as the next best alternative of vitamin C -rich fruit.
Chewing tulsi leaves:
The Holy Basil (tulsi) is a scared plant that grows in the courtyard of many traditional Indian homes. This commonly available plant is literally nature’s gift to immunity and well-being, which is why most kadhas or herbal concoctions that your grandma used to brew had tulsi as the main ingredient.
- Tulsi is a known adaptogenic herb and helps address hormonal balances in the body.
- It works as a natural decongestant and immunity booster in cases of chronic fevers. It helps draw out excess mucous from nasal passages and relieve symptoms of asthma. A freshly made shot of tulsi leaves is a great remedy to boost respiratory health in cases of cold, cough and pollution.
- It helps in controlling blood sugar levels
- It can be a great add on to one’s diet in cases of kidney stones
- It’s a great stress relieving herb. One could brew its tea to feel relaxed and calm. Its also a great alternative to tea and coffee.
- It has a good amount of antioxidants that helps to combat free radicals.
- Chewing a few leaves slowly can also help manage stomach pain. Holy basil (Tulsi) has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help decrease inflammation and reduce infection caused by the H. pylori bacteria.
Having kasuri methi:
As a natural herb, kasuri methi comes with several health benefits:
- It’s a green leafy vegetable and hence extremely rich in iron, folate, magnesium and chlorophyll.
- It’s a great herb to keep your cholesterol levels in check by reducing bad cholesterol (LDL and triglycerides) as well as maintain heart health.
- Its acts as a potent galactagogue for lactating mothers.
- It aids management of blood sugar levels in case of diabetes.
- Its super rich in fibre and promotes healthy bowel movement in case of constipation
- Leaves of fenugreek can be infused with coconut/castor/sesame oil for hair as fenugreek has the capacity to halt or delay pre mature greying of hair by retaining their pigmentation.
Kasuri methi can be made a regular feature of your diet as you can easily add it to dals, vegetable gravies, pickles, chapatis, stir frys, dosas, chillas, etc. Though the spice is mostly usually used as a flavouring agent, it can also be used as a mouth freshener post meal.
However, it is important to choose the right variant of kasuri methi to reap the most benefits. As is the case with several other Indian spices, natural oils in this herb are often extracted in locally available variants. Going with a standardized pack like the one by Tata Sampann is a better option as there is uniform processing and the original spice oils are left intact.
So, all we need to do is – stop chasing fads, fancy foods and complicating health. Trust and value the amount of medicine the nature has put into our food and reflect on how our grandparents managed to live with little or no illness in the old times. Start it today. Just take up that one little lifestyle change that you’re going to make and make sure follow it with consistency and self-discipline.
A word of caution
You must check your medical practitioner before trying any new food or drink. In case you have a medical condition, s/he will tell you if all these ingredients will suit you or not.
This article is authored by Luke Coutinho
The views and opinions expressed in this content piece are those of the author(s) and not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s).