Ayurveda is quickly gaining popularity as a natural healing modality and a new approach to nutrition. Ayurvedic guidelines are pretty straightforward, but implementing them in real life can get pretty confusing at times.
I came across an interesting online course on Ayurveda called 'Colon Karma Cure' by Dr. Helen Thomas. Dr. Thomas is an enthusiastic chiropractic doctor who loves sharing her passion for Ayurvedic medicine. Dr. Helen studied Ayurveda with Dr. Deepak Chopra and many other well-respected Ayurveda practitioners. Helen teaches people to recognize individual body types and provides them the opportunity to learn how to balance themselves through awareness and simple lifestyle changes. She is the author of multiple books and articles on the subjects of health, beauty and wellness. Colon Karma Cure is her recent creation. Helen kindly agreed to do an interview and share her thoughts on everything Ayurveda. We discuss lots of sensitive topics from gluten and dairy intolerances, to eating on-the-go and snacking, from caffeine and insomnia to healing indigestion.
Nadya: Dairy and gluten intolerance is a controversial topic that is becoming very popular. What does Ayurveda say about food intolerance and allergies?
Dr Helen Thomas: It is a difficult subject. A lot of people equate gluten to grains and it is not the case. Usually, people are allergic to refined forms of gluten that are added to highly processed baked items, sauces, and cereals. It comes in unnatural form and our body can’t recognize and digest it properly. That allergic reaction to highly processed forms of gluten does not mean that all grains are bad. Many grains are super healthy and can be a great source of healthy carbs and proteins, especially for vegetarians. Millet, amaranth, teff, couscous, quinoa, are high in digestible protein while at the same time gluten-free.
Traditionally, dairy is an important part of an Ayurvedic diet. Unfortunately, dairy intolerance became very wide-spread in the last 20 years. In my experience, however, milk digestability is a matter of its preparation. In the US most people are used to drinking milk cold while in Ayurveda cold milk is considered poisonous. On the other hand, warm freshly boiled spiced milk can be a medicine and a highly nourishing food for nerve cells. There is a big misunderstanding around milk intolerance due to its preparation and the kind of milk that is being sold at the supermarkets. Only about 5% of the people who come to me complaining of dairy intolerance have a true allergy to milk.
Most of the dairy milk at the store is homogenized, pasteurized, and full of chemicals. Is it okay to drink it or is it better to use a milk alternative like almond, soy or oat?
According to Ayurveda, fresh cow's milk or buffalo milk is preferred. However, in India, the motherland of Ayurveda, you can still easily get raw fresh milk brought daily to your door. In the United States where raw milk farms are being hunted down, people are forced to look for the least pasteurized unhomogenized milk, at best. In either case, milk has to be boiled, never taken cold. To improve digestive processes, milk should be spiced with dosha specific spices. If you decide to stay away from dairy then almond milk is a great alternative for Vatas, oat milk is good for Pittas, and hemp is light enough for Kaphas. Kaphas should always add warming spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, or black pepper to their milk.