Ayurveda’s Perspective of Nutrition

earthwaterfireair

Fresh, Natural and Varied

By Dr. William Pollak, DVM

 

 

Ayurveda, India’s ancient and modern form of healing, sees nutrition along with daily routine (management) as pillars in not only treatment of disease but prevention as well. Eating is the transfer of intelligence, the underlying intelligence that all physical bodies must flow to sustain them in time and space. Proper diet in the proper surroundings maximizes this flow of life giving properties necessary for long and happy living.

Ayurveda seeks to maintain optimum health by restoring balance to the individual. Greater balance on the different levels of life gives a sense of greater well being in living. This is seen as greater energy, vitality and strength. Strength (bala) in Ayurvedic terms means not only physical strength, but also vibrant (powerful) immune systems capable of doing its job without being noticed. A natural diet and harmonious surroundings provide the raw materials and a suitable background to incorporate these substrates into appropriate building blocks of energetic form for interfacing minimally with disease in daily life.

Though it is the fashion to think of food in mostly physical terms i.e. carbohydrates, protein, fats etc., Ayurveda sees food as energy incorporated and combined with the energy already in the system. Foods then either can create more overall harmony (help restore balance- food for health) or aid in feeding and aggravating a preexisting imbalance (food for disease).

Each individual is composed of three fundamental principles in different amounts (Air, Fire and Earth; each mixed with water). This mixture makes up the physical and personality layers of the individual. Intimately related, the body/personality is seen as a single unit in constant flow with the environment. The environment also happens to contain the same elements of Air, Fire and Earth as is in physical bodies (but not with as much water). This commonality serves as the basis of energy flow.

These three fundamental substances (Air, Fire and Earth) and their essences (along with water) interweave in the structuring the body, mind and spirit. They are known as Vata, Pita and Kapha. All bodies have all three but in differing amounts and when they are in their proper balance Wellness abides maximally. Maintaining this balance reduces the expression of disease. Using diet, herbs, and daily routine in a proscribed manner according to the predominant body types inherent in the body/personality will nurture health for that individual.

Five Elements:

Earth

solid state of matter-fixity

A stable substance

Water

liquid state of matter- Flux

A stable substance without stability

Fire

transforms solid to liquid to gas, and back

A form without substance

Air

gaseous state of matter-mobility

Exists without form

Ether

field- space in which events occur

Exists only as distance between separate matter

The five elements combine to form three doshas. All three doshas are present in every structure of life, but combining in different amounts they create different structures, physical, emotional or mental. This gives rise to the varying life forms as we know them- species, breeds, littermates and even races, trees and crawdads alike.

Vata (V) —- (air +water)— Pitta (P) — (fire +water) —

Kapha(K)– (earth+water)—

kinetic energy, Nervous System., all movement.

balance of kinetic and potential energies, metabolism, digestion, “cooking”, even if it’s percolation of thoughts in the mind

potential energy, stability and lubrication, tissues and Wastes

Vata Pitta

Kapha

Dry Oily

Oily

Cold Hot

Cold

Light Light

Heavy

Irregular Intense

Stable

Mobile Fluid

Viscous

Rarefied Malodorous

Dense

rough Liquid

Smooth

These 3 Doshas can combine to form 7 Constitutional Types: V, P, K, VP, PK, VK, VPK.

It is this personality of mind, body and spirit that is a reflective microcosm of the surroundings it finds itself in. Balance with its nature is harmony lived. All internal and external conditions serve as life flow (prana) in constituting the nature of experience. Disease indicates imbalance in this flow. All of nature can be used Ayurvedically to restore balance. This includes but is not limited to:

Tastes:

 

Sweet

Pungent

Seasons:

Spring

(mostly Earth and Water)
increases Kapha, decreases Pitta and Vata, is cooling, heavy and unctuous. It nourishes and exhilarates the body and mind, it relieves hunger and thirst. It increases all tissues.

(mostly Fire and Air), hot an spicy like chili peppers, increases Pitta and Vata, decreases Kapha, and is heating, light, and dry. Pungent flushes all types of secretions from the body, and reduces all Kapha-like tissues such as semen, milk and fat. It improves the appetite.

Starts out as Kaph and goes to Pitta

Summer Pitta

Fall

Winter

Planets:

Mars

Saturn

Venus

Age

Pitta to V ata V ata to Kapha

Red- pitta -liver (seat of bile) Mars influences the functioning of the liver and many of the disorders that arise associated with it, i.e.hives, pyoderma, allergies, increased toxins in the blood, ulcers, colitis.

Can cause wasting diseases
Can be involved with disorders of semen, prostate gland, testicles and Ovaries.

Childhood Kapha

Middle Age

Pitta

Golden Years Vata

Food, Herbs, Music, Aroma, Color, Entertainment, Climate, Social Interaction, anything in the universe can and does effect all other things, this can be used as most effective medicine on any aliment in any thing

Foods; weather; times of the day and year; surroundings and interacting with others (animals or people) all affect the balance inherent in the system. As Bala (“strength”-physical, mental, and immune) grows, the internal stability remains predominant in spite of increasingly changing external factors. This can be seen as greater wellness.

Ayurveda, working through an understanding of diet, daily and seasonal routines, and thought and speech, seeks to maximally integrate external and internal environments, thus making life more conscious of its greater relationship to the world it sees itself in.

Life energy flows through channels in the body (scrotas), from the channels of the blood vessels, nerves and bone marrow to the intracellular matrix of the cytoplasm. In this flow physical substance is created from life energy.

One of the most important life functions in maintaining health is strong digestion, for in the proper burning of food and metabolites, the channels through which life energy flows are kept open. Digestion on any level through metabolism and enzymes (gastrointestinal, liver, cellular, immune, muscular) are reflective of the capacity of transformation of energy and matter on the physical plane. Clogged by improper, incomplete breakdown, these channels get filled with a pasty white substance known as ama. Localized resistance to energy flow anywhere, in any scrota of the body, can result in this ama building up. When life flow is blocked, resistance and strain results both physically and mentally. The predisposition to the development of this material, and the material itself, are the seeds for the expression of physical disease.

Foods lively with freshness, wholesomeness (proper for the species) and varied, give the greatest amount of life force to the individual. It is this energy incorporated that sustains health and evolution of the individual and species.

Overemphasis on the relative quantity of food components and de-emphasis of quality in animal diets has lead to discussions bordering on absurdity. Old, overcooked, poor quality to begin with and highly processed by-products of the human food industry generally form the basis of pet foods today. These foods feed disease and keep health away.Unable to function as designed, the body without the proper raw materials (energies) will operate in a host of disease states. Pushed around by medicines and over vaccination, all sorts of seemingly different diseases can and do manifest. Until basic healthy raw materials (as energy and matter)are presented to the system, higher states of health are near impossible or very short lived at best.

In an attempt to see what would happen to disease if our pets were given a proper diet, a study of simply altering the diet was initiated to see the effect it could have on disease.

Elimination of Common Diseases In Dogs and Cats Through Diet Alone – A Client Report Summary

The results of this clinical study suggest that 74.7% of common diseases in dogs and 63% of common diseases in cats can be eliminated without medical intervention over a period of one year with proper diet modifications.

505 dogs and 83 cats, all with a history of assorted chronic skin diseases, averaging 33 months; 96% having been to Veterinarians, were treated by diet alone for their symptoms by the Pet Health and Nutrition Center in Corning, New York. The diet consisted of natural raw and cooked whole foods and PHD pet food. Feeding protocols varied depending on the animal’s response to the newly introduced diet. 28% of dogs and 22% of cats developed transient digestive disturbances (healing episodes) which were treated by diet and fasting alone. Only animals free of medication during the study are included. All subjects remained in home situations without matching control groups. Results reported were based on client testimonials.

Dermatoses and Suspected Food Allergies:

505 dogs (comprising 31 breeds) and 83 cats (comprising 5 breeds) all displaying classic symptoms of chronic skin disease, were placed on a diet of fresh raw meats and Perfect Health Diet (PHD) in a 1:2 & 1:3 ratio for 12 months. Initial problems included but were not limited to pruritis, alopecia, scaling, seborrhea, hyperkeratosis, with and without chronic biting and licking.

Of the 505 dogs with mild to severe pruritis, and dermatoses 88.% displayed a cessation of 80% or more of the symptoms within 3 months. The figure rose to 91.% by the 6th month, and 94.% by the twelfth month. (note: these test subjects had been off all corticosteroids for at least 1 month prior to testing).

Of the 83 cats treated 78% showed a 70%-80% healing response within 6 months; 80% within 9 months, and 84.% within 12 months.

Gastrointestinal disorders observed and overcome with diet alone:

Of the 505 dogs and 83 cats exhibiting chronic skin problems; 114 dogs and 19 cats also displayed symptoms of gastrointestinal disturbance (parasites excluded), including; vomiting, irregular stool patterns, weight loss and general weakness. Dietary therapeutic management was instituted taking into account all these consideration. The general protocol was as follows.

Treatment was generally begun with a 24-48 hour fast. The animal subjects were then often given a vegetable base broth, followed by raw chopped meat. Other whole food substances like cottage cheese and cooked oatmeal were added gradually as long as diarrhea did not develop or get worse. This raw meat, oatmeal diet was continued for as little as 2 days or for as long as 5 weeks depending on the severity and history of the problem. PHD was introduced gradually several days to two weeks after introduction of the raw meat, until a 1/3rd whole food to 2/3rds PHD diet was reached. Subsequently the animal was maintained on these proportions for the duration of the test. Cats were not always given oatmeal but rather a variety of raw meats, blanched, often pureed raw vegetables, and other whole foods. As with the dogs the PHD was then introduced gradually to the same proportions.

In virtually all cases the digestive tract returned to normal within one to three weeks unless the pancreas, or large intestine were found to have been compromised (history of pancreatitis and/or parasites). In only 3% of the cases with cats and 2% of the cases with dogs was there a need for further medical intervention.

Behavioral Improvements seen on the Natural Raw Meat / PHD Diet:

Documentation of behavioral changes was the most difficult to chronicle and was based solely on overall improvement or the lack thereof, as observed by the owners. In the 505 dogs and 83 cats, a total of 72% said that they could definitely see some positive change based on pre-existing behavioral patterns, including more settledness, greater responsiveness and less voracious eating habits. In many instances the higher nutritional intake restored more youthful traits and playful characteristics in the geriatric animals.

Healing episodes and Conclusions:

The higher quality nutrition, freshness of diet and formulation (predominantly meat in a natural and dry food form) of the “Natural Raw Meat Diet and/or PHD enables the animal’s immune system to throw off lingering chronic disease. The inability to remove disease completely; whether in a sub-clinical or chronic form is due predominantly to the feeding of marginally adequate grain based commercial pet foods. The resultant long term sub-clinical multiple nutritional deficiencies makes the appearance of healing episodes impossible, thus enabling a fertile ground for the establishment and growth of chronic disease.

In a retrospective survey of data from people who are and have been feeding a combination of the foods mentioned, 46% of the animals exhibited a healing episode on the road to greater wellness.

A healing episode is a transient, mild appearance of symptoms mimicking disease without the loss of vitality, mental or physical clarity or strength; with the cessation of symptoms without medical intervention. These symptoms regress on their own and result in the emergence of greater wellness. The symptoms are an indication that the body has summoned enough vitality to expel accumulated toxins through the kidney, colon, lungs or skin.

Healing episodes appeared in both dogs and cats as one or more sets of symptoms in predominantly one of the following body systems: Gastrointestinal, Skin or Behavioral.

  • Gastrointestinal-a transient return of periods of intermittent or continuous diarrhea 8% , soft stools 34%, with or without excessive gas.
  • Skin- a return of a transient period of scaling, dry or oily, with mild or moderate shedding 12%; (more than one episode 9% ), with or without varying degrees of pruritis, indicative of deeper (allergic) disease.
  • Behavioral- a transient return of hyperactivity , general unsettledness, mild aggressiveness, with a mild or moderate lack of owner responsiveness and clarity of learned behavior 2%.During this time period, a surprisingly consistent picture of one or more of the symptoms sets have appeared as a response to the increased quality of nutrition. The initial challenge and subsequent delight was in watching these episodes subside and terminate on their own with little or no traditional or alternative medical intervention.These healing episodes ended with an emergence of higher quality life functions. This occurred not only in the three areas mentioned, but was expressed as overall enhanced vitality not seen previously by the owners. The initial guarded waiting during the healing episode; without medical intervention of any kind was well worth it, and in our eyes an unmistakable indication of the power of the health remaining within our companion animal population, if just given the right ingredients and an opportunity to express itself naturally.Raw meats and vegetables with occasional cooked grain (mostly oatmeal) served as the predominant diet during transition periods i.e. from coming off of a fast or directly after or during healing episodes. Slow introduction of PHD by gradual percent increase in the diet resulted in minimizing the duration and strength of the healing episodes.

    PHD diets are designed to mimic the natural diets of dogs and cats. The manner in which they

    are manufactured and distributed enables them to deliver as much freshness as a commercial diet can

    provide. 98% of dogs and 83% of cats tested showed a distinct preference for the food. As a totally natural raw meat diet is impractical in most households, PHD with its very high meat meal content and delivered freshness without chemicals seemed to be the best supplement to a natural diet.

Monitoring of animals after the one year period of survey (anywhere from 0 to 12 months) has shown no return of original symptoms as long as the natural diet is maintained.

The results of this clinical trial suggest that 74.7% of common diseases in dogs and 63% of common diseases in cats can be eliminated without medical intervention over a period of one year with proper diet modifications and an understanding of the healing process as exhibited through healing episodes. The results are profound in light of the simplicity of the “treatment”. This study demonstrates through a simple change in diet, the profound benefits waiting for our pets in a health- oriented approach. The simplicity of treatment makes the results easily reproducible. Approaching disease from the perspective of health is the most powerful means of eliminating disease.

These statistics have been provided to show the powerful healing effects of diets that reflect the natural feeding habits of dogs and cats. The removal of disease by providing a better diet for pets who are presently consigned to a less than optimum diet is clear and reliable. The improved quality of health as reported to us through the owner participants is heartening and inspiring. It has been our desire to quantify these clinical observations and share this information with others. It is also our desire to more accurately portray the occasional healing episodes that reflect a strengthening of the immune system and overall vitality of our pets.

This study illustrates one of the many basic principles in Ayurveda that touch deep into the physiology and health of the body. Approaches such as these make prevention and cure much easier, by eliminating to whatever extent aggravating influences on the individual and environment.

Until basic healthy raw materials (as energy and matter) are presented to the system, higher states of health are near impossible or very short lived at best.

As providers of health care, remaining in the perspective of health (Ayurveda) is vital while attempting to encourage healing. Delivering health is a most effective way of reducing disease. Getting lost in disease through over intellectualization and trying to keep disease away, even in the prescribing stage, can reduce the overall efficacy of treatment.

Readings in Ayurveda:

Prakruti- Your Ayurvedic Constitution

by Robert E. Svoboda

Ayurveda- The Science of Self-Healing

by Dr. Vasant Lad

Ayurveda- The Indian Art and Science of Medicine

by Dr. C. Thakkur

Visit Dr. Pollak at www.healthyvet.com