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Ayurveda and Rain Diet Ritucharya The change in seasons affects human body in a large scale. Climatic changes can bring in certain diseases to humans. Rithu charyas (ritucharyas) are directed to keep man protected from diseases that can occur due to change in seasons. Though the seasons explained in ritu charyas are not exactly the same in all geographic locations, one can form his own rithucharya based on climatic conditions existing at his place. According to Ayurveda there are six different seasons (ritu or rithus). Sisira (Sisiram – winter) January-February, vasantha (vasantham, basanta, basantha -Spring) March-April, Greeshma (greeshma, grishma, grishmam – Summer) May-June, Varsha (varsham, barsha – rainy season) July-Aug, Sarath (sarat, sarata – Autumn) September-October and Hemant (hemanta, hemantam – dew) in November – December are the six ritus. However, not all six climates are experienced in India (and Kerala in special) today. The four main climates now experienced in India are sarath, hemant, greeshma and varsha. In Kerala, one can now only identify only three main climates – a prolonged rainy season, a short summer season, and a shorter autumn season. Now a days it rains in Kerala all year round – probably a symptom of climatic changes, a disease that affects bhumi or the earth. Ritu charya for Sarath (Autumn) During sarath rithu, pitta dosha becomes prominent. Hot so hot food items are advisable for this season. Never sleep in daytime. Honey, small pea, green vegetables, green berries, red-rice, etc form good food items for this season. Ritu Charya for Hemantha (dew-snowy season) Kapha dosha is prominent this season. Enable the body to fight the cold outside this season. Energy rich food items like milk and milk products, ghee, carbohydrate rich food items like rice, wheat, whole gram, etc. Ritu Charya for Greeshma (Summer) This season has vata as prominent dosha. Avoid heavy physical exertion this hot season. Drink lot of water, juice, butter milk, lemon juice, etc. Take bath in cold water. Include all possible seasonal fruits in your daily diet – jack fruit, tomato, banana, water melon, cucumber, etc. Wear cotton clothes. Ritu Charya for Varsha (rainy season) This is the season when humans are most prone to diseases. Thippali (piper longum or Indian long pepper), honey, dried ginger, honey, ghee, etc shall be used with grains – rice, wheat etc. Eat lot of carbohydrate rich food and drink water that is cooled after boiling. Avoid day-sleep and physical

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exertion. Expect some kind of digestive problems during this rithu. Sarath and vasantha ritus are pleasant seasons with hot days and cold nights. Hemant also doesn’t irritate any of the tridoshas. It is uttarayana kala (north travelling time) during the first six months of the year. That is the sun travels over the northern hemisphere. This months are collectively called ‘adaala kalam’, which means something that sucks away energy. General body condition will be weak during this season. Avoid food items with bitter or hot tastes and include sweet tasting, sour, salty food items in your diet. Orange, banana, grapes, pineapple, jackfruit, etc are good fruit items that one can include in his diet. July to December and up to January is dakshinayana kalam (the sun travels over the southern hemisphere). Body is better equipped during this season. One can include sweet, sour, salty food items in his/her diet. These are all the directions by ancient Ayurveda acharyas. At first, you may feel these directions are not viable. On a closer look, you can find adjusting food and clothing according to seasons ensures smoothing mingling with nature, the natural route to better health. According to Ayurveda, monsoon is the time when the humidity levels in the atmosphere are high. Add in the warm temperature and the result is that the body's digestive capability goes down. In fact this is the time when the digestion is at its lowest, when people eat some incorrect foods during this time the result is illness! Rainy season or monsoon is the time enjoyed by almost every individual. It’s the time when people start feeling the urge to take fried, spicy foods etc. But remember this is the time when body’s immunity gets weak and also humidity in the temperature affects your internal environment. So a person should need to be cautious to remain healthy in this beautiful season to enjoy it utmost.

So here are some food hygiene precautions and diet modification which are a must:

# As per Ayurveda which is a life science, rainy season (varsha ritu) is the time when the digestive fire gets very weak , so to improve the digestive fire (agni) easily digestible and light food should be taken. Vegetables

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soups, moong dal are very good to be taken. Generally non- leafy vegetables are recommended to be taken in this season. # Take a glass of lukewarm water with honey empty stomach to flush out the toxins. Also intake the water intake in a day to keep the body hydrated. # Add digestive condiments as ginger, green gram, pepper, zeera, coriander etc to the food so as to aid proper digestion of meals. # Try to avoid eating uncooked vegetables and salads. Avoid heavy, salty food as it promotes water retention and bloating. It is better to have medium to low salt food. There are many preparations available which have a potassium salt too (regular salt has a high level of sodium which is responsible for high blood pressure and water retention). Avoid fried foods as they decrease the digestive efficiency. Avoid heavy oils like mustard oil, peanut oil, sesame oil. Besides increasing the pitta, it also provides moisture and oiliness to the system which invites infection. Consume drying oils like corn oil, or light oils like olive oils. Maintain the general hygiene while eating out and definitely avoid roadside vendors as very few people have the high immunity to handle the bacterial overload at such places. Avoid salads or choose warm/steamed salads as there are many infectious organisms in this season. Avoid foods which are very sour like tamarind (imli), chutneys and pickles as they promote water retention. Avoid consuming dairy foods like paneer, raita etc outside at a street vendor. # Don’t overeat. Take the food in moderate amount as the body is not able to digest the heavy food properly.Eat light foods like vegetables, fruits, cereals etc and avoid too much of meat or fish. One can also enjoy grilled, tandoori foods which need minimum oil/butter. Eat foods which are drying in nature, the most popular being makka (corn), chana (chickpea), besan (gram flour), jow (oats). Eating watery foods like rice, lassi, watermelon, muskmelon creates swelling in the body. Wash all green vegetables thoroughly as a lot of worms and insects are hidden in the leafy vegetables. Consume a lot of bitter vegetables like karela (bitter gourd) and bitter herbs like neem (basil), methi (fenugreek) seeds, haldi (turmeric) as it prevents infection.

# Avoid sleeping in day time. Avoid physical exertion and overexposure to sun. Do not indulge in heavy exercises, instead walking along with yoga or

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stretching is better as heavy exercises cause an increase in body temperature which leads to headaches, body aches etc. # Skin needs proper care in this season as the humidity in the environment makes it dull. So take lots of fresh fruits and sufficient amount of water the flush out the toxins from the body. Cracked feet is one of the major problems faced during this season, so apply sesame or castor oil over the feet. Also a paste made up of neem, turmeric and sesame seeds help to cure fungal infection between the toes that generally occurs in rainy season. # Hair fall also increases in this season, so take special care. Although the hair loss is not permanent and it subsides as the season gets over but still use henna, amla powder etc and avoid using chemicals on the hair. # Panchkarma (shodhan therapy) can be done on the body to remove the vitiated doshas as per Ayurveda.Start body massages once a week with a light oil like olive oil. Massages promote the lymph channels movement which not only aids to decrease the bloating but also assists weight loss by improving the bile flow. And of course enjoy the tea and pakoras on a wonderful rainy day, but make sure that rest of the diet is health friendly! Follow these guidelines to remain safe and healthy during monsoons! Remember, prevention is better than cure.

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