slashing sugar from kids diet improves health in 10 days

While parents, educators and health experts continue to argue about the best ways to help children who are overweight or obese lose weight, researchers have found that just cutting back on the added sugar in diet can quickly make significant improvements to a child’s health.

Forty-three children between the ages of 9 and 18 who were considered obese participated in the study, which was designed to test whether or not it was the extra weight or the added sugar that was making children unhealthy. All of the children were black or Hispanic and had at least one or more symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol and excess belly fat.

For the study, which will appear in the Journal Obesity, researchers from Benioff Children’s Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco and Touro University California removed the added sugars from participants’ diets and replaced them with other types of carbohydrates so that the kids’ caloric intake stayed the same. So, for example, if the kids were used to eating sugar-sweetened yogurt, they were asked to replace that yogurt with bagels. Kids who snacked on pastries were given baked potato chips instead.

After 10 days, the children in the study had lost little to no weight, but they showed significant improvement in cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar — all important indicators of a child’s overall health.

Prior to the study, the kids’ had gotten about 27 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. Earlier this year, the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that Americans limit their consumption of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. For the study, researchers aimed to get the kids’ diets more in line with these recommendations, but without simply cutting calories altogether.

“This paper says we can turn a child’s metabolic health around in 10 days without changing calories and without changing weight — just by taking the added sugars out of their diet,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at Benioff and the lead author of the study. “From a clinical standpoint, from a health care standpoint, that’s very important.”

Credit: Jenn Savedge

24 smart uses for sugar

The history of sugar is not a simple one. From ancient China to the colonies to Candy Land, sugar has been making its mark throughout time in myriad ways. The “white gold,” as British colonists called it, has now reached mundane staple status for much of the western world, sitting in a five-pound bag in the pantry patiently waiting to be spooned into a cup of coffee or employed in a batch of cookie dough.

But that doesn’t mean the coruscating carbohydrate can’t be put to other uses. In a bind, regular table sugar can pinch-hit for a number of other concoctions, often times taking the place of more costly or possibly toxic solutions. Whether for health or beauty, in the kitchen or in the garden, here are a number of ways you can put this versatile ingredient to work.

1. Soothe your babe
According to a study in Pediatrics, babies who were given a one-to-four sugar-water solution (directly into the mouth or administered on a pacifier) before immunizations handled the pain of the shots better than children who received only water.

2. Treat a wound

You can treat wounds with a sprinkle of sugar: Wives’ tale or wise truth? This study showed that pouring granulated sugar on bedsores, leg ulcers or amputations before dressing killed the bacteria that prevents healing and causes chronic pain.

3. Soothe a singed tongue

For too-quick-a-gulp of too-hot coffee, sizzling pizza — whatever your tongue-burner may be — sugar can ease the sting. Suck on a sprinkle of sugar or a sugar cube and the pain should quickly dissipate.

4. Ease a spicy burn

Acidic foods and dairy can lessen the pain of too much spiciness in the mouth, but a dash of sugar works well too.

5. Make a body scrub

Sugar makes a splendid exfoliating agent for body scrubs. You can make a super simple one by mixing sugar with oil (canola, almond, jojoba or olive all work well) to create a loose paste. Add some essential oil or vanilla extract if you like fragrance. Gently rub on your skin and then rinse off in the shower.

6. Make a banana sugar scrub

When bananas have reached the point of no (edible) return, they can be appointed to your beauty routine. Banana is moisturizing and works perfectly as a vehicle for sugar in a body scrub. Mash a ripe banana with 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. (Don’t over mix.) Gently rub on your skin and then rinse off in the shower.

7. Smooth your kisser

Blend a little jojoba or olive oil with caster sugar (also called superfine sugar; you can also make this by putting regular granulated sugar in the food processor for a minute) and a touch of peppermint or vanilla extract, if you like. Place some of the paste on your lips, massage and lick off.

8. Extend lipstick

Sprinkle a bit of sugar atop freshly applied lipstick, let it sit, then lick it off. This works to set the lipstick and will extend the application.

9. Clean cruddy hands

For extra mucky hands (think paint, grease, grime) add sugar to your soap lather to act as an abrasive. You can also use equal parts sugar and olive oil, which acts to soothe and moisturize over-worked hands.

10. Feed your flowers

Add three teaspoons of sugar and two tablespoons of white vinegar per quart of warm water for fresh-cut flowers. The sugar feeds the stems and the vinegar restricts the growth of bacteria.

11. Battle nematode worms in garden

Have you nematodes? If the plants in your garden have unsightly knots at the roots, they may have fallen prey to the microscopic parasites. To combat them naturally, apply 5 pounds of sugar for every 250 square feet of garden. The sugar will feed microorganisms which will increase the organic matter in the soil, making it a hostile environment for the nematodes.

12. Trap wasps

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water, fill a jar with it and set it outside to attract wasps. They will fly in and become trapped. What you do with them next is up to you.

13. Make a natural fly strip

Fly strips can be unsightly, but flies on dinner can be even more so. If you can’t scoot them out the window and you require relief, you can make all-natural fly strips by combining equal parts sugar, honey and water in a saucepan. Boil the mixture, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Let cool. Cut pieces of brown packing tape, punch a hole on the end and make a loop with string through the hole. Dip the strips in the mix, hang to let excess drips drop (with a pan beneath to catch drips) until sticky, then hang where the flies are most active.

14. Make a roach motel

Well, more like a roach last supper. Mix equal parts sugar and baking powder and sprinkle over areas of infestation. Sugar attracts the buggers, the baking powder exterminates them. Replace frequently.

15. Feed the butterflies
Matthew Tekulsky, author of “The Butterfly Garden” (Harvard Common Press, 1985), recommends this formula for feeding butterflies.

1 pound sugar

1 or 2 cans stale beer

3 mashed overripe banana

1 cup of molasses or syrup

1 cup of fruit juice

1 shot of rum

Mix all the ingredients well and paint the mixture on trees, fence posts, rocks, or stumps — or simply soak a sponge in the mixture and hang it from a tree limb.

16. Clean your grinders

Coffee bean and spice grinders can collect oils that are strong in flavor, but sugar can clean them by absorbing the offending elements. Pour 1/4 cup of sugar into the grinder and run it for 2 -3 minutes. Dump out and wipe well.

17. Attack grass stains

Make a paste of warm water and sugar and apply to grass-stained clothing, let sit for an hour (or longer for tougher stains) and then wash as usual.

18. Keep cakes fresh

If you store cake in an airtight container with a few sugar cubes, it will stay fresh longer.

19. Keep cookies fresh

See above!

20. Prevent cheese from molding?

Some swear that storing cheese with sugar cubes will prevent cheese from molding.

21. Transform berries

Nothing beats fresh berries as they are, but you can also make a quick no-cook dessert topping that is as simple as it is versatile. To make “macerated berries,” stir in a teaspoon of sugar and a squeeze of lemon for every cup of sliced berries. Let sit for 30 minutes. Serve alone, with ice cream or whipped cream, on top of cakes, bread pudding, etc.

22. Vanilla your sugar

Split a vanilla bean in half and sink it in a jar full of sugar, let it sit for a week, and voilà, vanilla-perfumed sugar.

23. Sweeten iced drinks

Iced coffee season! Cocktail season! Make simple syrup for easy mixing of sugar into cold beverages. Mix one cup sugar with one cup water in a small saucepan. Bring sugar and water to a boil and simmer about 3 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Store in a clean jar in the refrigerator.

24. Make rock candy

Old-fashioned rock candy is nothing more than sugar and water, and a kick to make with kids. Stir 2.5 cups sugar into 1 cup hot water until sugar is dissolved. Pour the syrup into open containers and add a grain of sugar to each dish. Store in a cool, dry place and check after a few days for crystals. As they form, scoop them out and let dry on a paper towel. A simpler candy does not exist.

Credit: Melissa Breyer

10 things you should never eat

In a world of constant admonitions to eat this and not that, it’s hard to know what we’re supposed to be putting into our mouths. Science flip-flops, experts disagree and food companies get creative with spin — leaving even the best intentioned among us scratching our heads. What to eat?

One way to tackle the problem is by narrowing down the no-no list to the foods that rank as the worst in specific areas. With that in mind, here are our contenders for foods that you might want to kick to the curb if you share the related health concern.

1. If you value healthy cholesterol levels, never eat stick margarine.

At one point we were supposed to give up butter for the healthier option of margarine, but there was just one little problem. Early margarine was chockablock with trans fats, which deliver a double-whammy to cholesterol by raising LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowering HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Many margarines have been reformulated over the years, but not all margarines are created equal. In general, notes the Mayo Clinic, the more solid the margarine, the more trans fat it contains, so margarine that comes in stick form has more trans fat than tub margarines. Also, if you’re watching your processed food intake, remember that margarine is highly processed – so you’re better sticking with butter or olive oil.

2. If you think artificial sweeteners are helping you lose weight, you’re wrong.

One would assume that swapping caloric sugar for a non-caloric sweetener would lead to weight loss, but apparently the body has an ironic sense of humor. Evidence is mounting that artificial sweeteners may lead to weight gain, and even worse, may lead to higher glucose levels. Time reports on a study that found sugar substitutes contribute to changes in the way the body breaks down glucose. As part of the study, researchers gave people who didn’t normally use fake sweeteners the sugar substitutes for seven days, and half of them showed higher blood glucose levels after just four days. Study author Dr. Eran says, “We found that the artificial sweeteners we think of as beneficial and that we use as treatment or preventive measures against obesity and its complications are contributing to the same epidemics they are aimed to prevent.” And not only are they bad for you, scientists have found artificial sweeteners in treated wastewater, posing potential risks to fish and other marine life.

3. If you like a calm hormone system, never eat canned coconut milk, soup and vegetables

Not all cans used for food are lined with the industrial chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), but those that are should be avoided. BPA is a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt the hormone system, even in small amounts. It has been associated with an array of ills, from infertility and breast cancer to obesity, diabetes, early puberty and behavioral changes in children. In 2011, FDA tests of 78 popular canned foods found the chemical in 71 of them; and a Harvard study found that those eating a single serving of canned soup daily for five days had 10 times the amount of BPA in their systems compared to those who ate fresh soup instead. BPA concentrations in different cans of the same food differ a lot, so specific items to steer clear of are hard to discern. But a study by the Breast Cancer Fund found the highest concentrations in canned coconut milk, soup and vegetables. Look for products from companies that have moved away from using BPA.

Avoid cereal

4. Never eat kids’ cereal if you’re watching your sugar intake.

This may come as no surprise, but cereals aimed at kids are packed with sugar. What you may not realize, however, is just how much sugar they contain. The leading sugar-crammed cereals, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks and Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs, both contain 56 percent sugar by weight. Yes, more than half of their weight is sugar. Ouch! And one serving, which is only three-fourths of a cup, delivers 50 percent of the recommended daily sugar intake per serving as recommended by the World Health Organization.

5. Never eat soybeans and soybean products if you’re concerned about genetically modified food.

Regardless of what side of the genetically modified (GM) fence you sit on, avoiding GM ingredients is not easy. Some say that more than 75 percent of the food in grocery stores is genetically engineered or contains GM ingredients. Corn and soybeans top that list. And while corn may be the more prevalent crop, much of the GE corn goes to livestock feed. Soybeans and their products, however are in a surprising array of products we consume. Around 93 percent of soybeans grown in this United States have been genetically modified, reports Environmental Working Group. Meaning that if you want to avoid GM foods, watch out for labels that list soy proteins, soybean oil, soy milk, soy flour, soy sauce, tofu or soy lecithin unless they are certified organic or GMO-free.

6. Never eat tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel if you’re worried about mercury.

Methylmercury is a neurotoxin that can be harmful to the brain and nervous system when a person is exposed to too much of it. Thanks to human activity, it is found in most types of fish and in some fish in much higher concentrations that others. The FDA and the EPA have this to say to pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, and young children: Avoid tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish and king mackerel. Sounds like a good plan for everyone.

7. Never eat “industrial” hamburgers if you like clean food.

Grass-fed beef from cows that live on a farm is one thing, but industrial meat from factory farm cattle is a whole different beast. Filthy conditions, copious growth hormones and a diet comprised of genetically modified corn all add up to abysmal beef — but that’s not all. As Michael Pollan tells Rodale News, a steak or roast usually comes from a single animal, but processed ground beef is a mix of meat from hundreds of animals. “This vastly increases the risk of contamination,” he says — and indeed, the USDA has found dangerous levels of disease-causing bacteria in more than 50 percent of the ground beef samples it has tested. “I love hamburgers, but only eat them when they’re grass-fed and ground by a butcher,” Pollan says.

Avoid soda

8. Never drink soda if you don’t want diabetes.

A European study found that people who drank a 12-ounce sugar-sweetened soda daily were 18 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes over a 16-year period compared with those who did not consume soda. Previous studies in the United States found that daily soda consumption increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 25 percent.

9. Never eat certain apples if you’re worried about pesticides.

Organic apples are okay, but if you’re concerned about pesticides steer clear of conventional ones. For four years running apples have topped EWG’s Dirty Dozen list with U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists detecting an average of five or more pesticides on raw apple samples, including some at high concentrations. One chemical in particular has caused a stir; diphenylamine (DPA) was found on 80 percent of samples tested. In 2012, the European Commission banned DPA due to its potentially potent carcinogens.

10. Never eat processed meat if you want to avoid … premature death!

We know you don’t want to hear this, but studies show that people who indulge in a lot of processed meat (like ham, bacon and sausage) have a greater risk of premature death and developing conditions such as cancer and heart disease. One comprehensive study included data from 448,568 people in 10 European countries and concluded that those who ate the most processed meat were 44 percent more likely to die prematurely from any cause than those who ate little of it. High levels of consumption bumped up the risk of death from heart disease by 72 percent and cancer by 11 percent. Many studies concur. One study from Harvard found that those who ate processed meat on a regular basis were more likely to die over a 20- to 30-year period, compared with those who didn’t consume red meat regularly; the same study also found that substituting other healthy protein sources, such as fish, poultry, nuts or legumes was associated with a lower risk of death over the study period. We know beans aren’t exactly the same as salty, smoky meat … but if you want to work towards living a longer life, you may want to abandon the bacon.

Source: Melissa Breyer

6 time tested way to revitalize your metabolism

We may be able to live without food for three weeks, water for three days and air for three minutes. These are our most basic needs. But to thrive, we also need love, fulfilling relationships and harmony with nature, according to Suhas Kshirsagar in his new book “The Hot Belly Diet.” The quality of those experiences — from breakfast to the bedroom to the wild blue yonder — affects the quality of our health and ultimately of our lives.

Whether we want to lose weight, gain energy, heal from a chronic disease or simply find more meaning, the Hot Belly diet gives a simple yet uncommon prescription from India’s 5,000-year-old holistic medicine of Ayurveda. As a classically trained Ayurvedic doctor, Kshirsagar sees patients with everything from autoimmune conditions and heart disease to obesity and fatigue that all share a common denominator: a weak “digestive fire,” or metabolism. To stoke that fire in the belly, Kshirsagar says it starts, not surprisingly with our gut.

The gut stops here

You’ve probably had gut instincts about something or gut feelings about someone that proved spot-on. The only evidence you had were butterflies in your stomach or a burning desire to take action. Ayurveda looks at the digestive system as a second brain, and new science backs it up.

The Hot Belly diet explains that nerves in our gut actually process information and generate responses just like our gray matter. Research shows our gut can act separately from our brain to independently control our functions! Pretty wild, huh?

Not to Ayurveda, which has long viewed digestion as the cornerstone of health. Kshirsagar says a whopping 70 percent of our immune system lies in the gastrointestinal tract. Whether you want to lose weight or improve immunity, you need to befriend your digestive system. Nutrients from that butternut squash and spinach curry you ate for dinner (see recipe in “The Hot Belly Diet”) feed all your tissues, from arteries to adrenal glands. If digestion is impaired, toxins build up in the organs and over time, cause disease.

Here’s some surprisingly simple gut-nourishing strategies:

Ditch the ice. Just say no to cold, carbonated drinks. Instead of a frosty glass of H20 with dinner, drink it room temperature or warm instead. (I ask food servers all the time and they never flinch.) Cold water extinguishes digestive enzymes just when you need them to break down that Caesar salad. (Raw vegetables require more digestive power than cooked ones.)
Better yet, drink warm water throughout the day to stoke your metabolism, increase the absorption of food (think less bloating, gas and belching), lose weight and dispel toxins. When possible, boil water for 10 minutes before drinking to purify and energize it. We are made of about 70 percent water after all, and interestingly, more than 70 percent of the earth is covered in water, NASA says.
Make a medicinal beverage by adding a slice of alkalizing lemon, warming ginger or herbal tea to hot water. The Hot Belly diet also suggests spicing it up with cinnamon, mint, thyme or turmeric.
Add digestion-enhancing spices to your meals, such as fresh ginger, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, and fenugreek.
woman at farmers market surrounded by vegetables
Try to shop at farmers markets or natural food stores.

It’s about the prana

You may have seen the Sanskrit word prana written on yoga T-shirts. It translates into energy or life force. We extract energy from food. It stands to reason that freshly harvested, whole foods carry more nutrients than processed flours, sugars and fats manufactured in a factory or pesticide-treated produce shipped thousands of miles from the seed to your spoon.

According to the Hot Belly diet, one out of two Americans eats fast food every day. One out of four people drink at least one sugary soda. Is it no wonder more than two-thirds of adults are overweight in the U.S.? Those rates have tripled since 1980, and we’re foisting unhealthy habits on our youngest citizens. One out of every three American children is overweight.

We know now that lifestyle causes up to 80 percent of all illness, according to Kshirsagar. The glass-half-full part: Diet, exercise and stress management can prevent, or even reverse, four-fifths of chronic disease. Empowering, right? Ayurveda goes beyond the typical “eat your veggies” prescription to say what goes into your mouth is only as nutritious as the prana it contains.

The Hot Belly diet fix: Eat super foods made in and by nature. If you can, shop at farmers markets or natural food stores where groceries are organic and non-GMO. Favor seasonal vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, sprouts and lean proteins. Avoid simple starches including flour and white sugar, as well as alcohol, red meat and leftovers. “The wisdom we’re talking about lies in eating foods that are fresh, alive and vibrant,” Kshirsagar says.

Feed your genes

If you climb on a surfboard and do nothing, you’ll soon be under water. Kshirsagar likens this to the dynamism of our body. Our molecules literally respond to the quality of our environment. As we surf life, it’s up to us to ride waves of food, water, air, thoughts, livelihood, people and purposes that are nourishing. It just feels better. And, it actually changes the expression of our genes. Seriously.

Ancient Ayurveda and modern epigenetics reach the same conclusion: genes are not fixed. The Hot Belly diet says just 10 percent of diseases are genetic.

“The old rule was your genes are mechanistic,” Kshirsagar explained by phone. “Once you inherit those from your parents, you can’t change those. Now we understand you can turn your genes on and off. You can actually change your brain structure.”

Imagine the body as an energy and information field with particles integrating and disintegrating in every moment. Take exercise. New science proves that physical activity literally reverses the aging process by altering how genes act. In 2008, Canadian researchers who put seniors on a six-month strength training protocol found the sexagenarians’ strength shot up 50 percent. Not too shocking. What did surprise the scientific community: Seniors showed changes at the genetic level comparable to their 20-something counterparts.

We’re wired to move. The Hot Belly diet recommends doing something active every day. A walk after lunch or dinner works wonders for digestion. Not only does movement improve circulation, release happy-feeling endorphins and turn on good genes, you may feel better in your blue jeans.

Rise, set and dine with the sun

Since we Homo sapiens migrated indoors, we often overlook that teaming ball of fire that powers our solar system. Like all life, we’re inextricably tied to the sun, which regulates when biochemicals, acids, hormones and other substances are released in our body. Our digestive fire runs hottest at high noon, for instance. Why? The sun is literally highest in the sky and in Ayurveda we have the same element of fire within us — along with water, earth, space and air.

“I see so many patients in my practice that eat whenever they want, they sleep whenever they want, they have sex whenever they want. They are totally violating all the rhythms of nature,” Kshirsagar says. “When they are sick they would like to find a natural cure for their unnatural living. Ayurveda is a true natural medicine. It talks about respecting food, air and water that is given to us free by mother nature.”

Recent studies indeed show when people consume most of their calories midday, they lose weight compared to people who eat the same number of calories later in the day, according to the Hot Belly diet. If you want to improve your metabolism, make lunch your primary main meal and eat a light supper. I experimented with this protocol when writing about Ayurveda’s ideal daily routine and lost 12 pounds in a few months, even though that wasn’t my intention. (I feel so much better skipping a heavy dinner that I’ve continued this regimen and haven’t regained the weight.)

Here’s the Hot Belly diet meal plan to maximize your digestive fire, shed pounds and just plain feel better:

Eat breakfast between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Indulge in lunch as your heartiest meal from noon to 1 p.m. If your diet includes harder-to-digest foods such as meat, dairy, nuts and raw vegetables, you can best metabolize them midday. Only eat until you’re about two-thirds full, leaving space for your stomach to digest all that food!
Dine lightly for supper before 7 p.m. on soups, cooked vegetables, grains and other vegetarian fare.
Midnight munchies sit partly undigested in your GI tract, packing on pounds instead of infusing you with prana. If you wake up feeling groggy, eat dinner earlier, skip seconds and notice if you feel better the next morning. Ayurveda calls sleep the “diet of the mind.”
In “The Hot Belly Diet,” Kshirsagar explains the body metabolizes waste and revitalizes our immune system primarily between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. If we’re awake during those hours we lose vital functions that don’t happen any other time. No wonder studies show poor sleep habits contribute to brain fog, memory loss, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression, according to the Hot Belly diet.

Let us eat while we eat and fast while we fast

Wolfing down a burrito at your desk, binging on leftovers and Showtime or snacking while surfing Instagram — sound familiar? What about grazing throughout the day while doing just about anything? In a food and media-saturated land, we tend to treat eating as a robotic nuisance, forgetting what we put into our mouths gives us the fuel to live and literally becomes our bodies. Staring at an electronic screen while eating may be the social norm, but there are downsides. The obvious one: We miss our body’s fullness cues and eat more. Distracted eating also compromises our digestion since we’re not taking the time to chew properly, the first step in breaking down food. And Ayurveda contends we can only digest so much at once — whether that’s food, drink or information.

Hot Belly Diet Author, Suhas KshirsagarHere’s a simple fix that may take practice for us multi-tasking moguls: Take small bites, savor the smells and flavors of your meal, notice how it feels in your mouth. Try eating with your left, or less dominant, hand to slow you down. Before eating, Kshirsagar also suggests looking down at your plate and asking, “Do I think this is good for me to eat at this time?”

Then, when you’re sated, stop eating. That’s right, don’t eat again until your next meal. “Of all the lessons I teach, one of the most important one goes against conventional dieting wisdom that says ‘you should never wait until you’re hungry to eat,’” Kshirsagar says. “This is perhaps one of the most harmful pieces of advice out there in diet circles. Hunger is a vital marker of health.”

He says appetite means digestive acids and enzymes are building. If you snack between meals, especially when you’re not hungry, you sap your metabolism, storing excess fuel as fat and toxins. Remember, our DNA is still wired from our ancestors who, by necessity, went long stretches without food while hunting and gathering. We may fly by a drive-through for a double cheeseburger, supersize French fries and 32-ounce soda, but our biology is designed to work up an appetite before feasting on something as labor-intensive as meat.

Sure enough, the New York Academy of Sciences published a study in 2002 stating that grazing all day can put one at risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, according to the Hot Belly diet. NBC News reported on a 2013 study showing diabetics who ate only a large breakfast and lunch lost more weight than those who consumed six mini meals with the same number of calories. Kshirsagar says we’re made to relish well-deserved meals when we’re truly hungry. Ayurveda’s takeaway is to find pleasure in food when you do eat, offering thanks for this bounty with your attention.

Scenery, silence and sex

Lest you think Ayurveda is about deprivation, Kshirsagar advocates cultivating a healthy sex life. “Just as we need water, food, and oxygen to live, so do we need to practice one of the greatest creative forces through which we can express and share our love,” he writes in “The Hot Belly Diet.” Not only can lovemaking be a potent source of pleasure and intimate bonding with our partner, science shows that sexual appetite and performance is indicative of overall health and longevity.

As you’re probably gathering, Ayurveda advocates that our well-being rests on the health of our relationships with ourselves, others and the greater world around us. Nature can be a portal into our place in a grander picture. With lives that are electronically connected 24/7, Kshirsagar believes it’s even more essential to disconnect from that flat stream and experience the living sensations of the natural world.

Walk, hike, swim or cycle in the fresh air. Explore local parks. Feel your feet sink into the grass, sand or dirt. Move your chair to a skyward window. Bathe in the metamorphosis of dawn and dusk. Stargaze on a clear night. Whether in nature or somewhere private, find a few minutes for quiet self-reflection every day. Ask how your body feels. And your heart.

“Slowing down aligns you with what’s happening around you in the universe,” Kshirsagar says. “I always like to say to my patients for fast acting relief, try slowing down. When you find times of quietude and silence, this is the language nature speaks. You’re able to turn into that language which is very nourishing.” Ayurveda speaks of immortality, not that the body is immortal. Rather that there is a part of our self that is never born and never dies.

Credit: Rebecca Tolin