By: Cyndi Wilkins
(4 min read)
Folk healers are people from all levels of society who live and work intimately with their environment. Their healing practices range from home remedies related to nutrition and treatment for minor illnesses to those with an intimate knowledge of medicinal plants.
These healing practices have had their folklore preserved and passed down throughout the generations. Such healing practices are considered sacred and associated with certain kinds of rituals that help safeguard them.
It is interesting to note that in folk traditions, there is a considerable overlap between healing plants and sacred plants, all honored with great respect and devotion through the act of ritual.
In the last few decades, there has been a growing interest in alternative forms of therapy on a global scale. The sacred Sanskrit-based Ayurvedic practice is such a therapy and, for centuries, was practiced by certain segments of society. Even today, Ayurveda is held in high esteem among the more ‘scholarly’ practices of modern biomedicine.
The basic concepts of Ayurveda have been modified over the years with many spas and hotels offering more simplified versions of treatments, stimulating a sort of ‘tourism’ for well-being.
Personally, I find one of the more fascinating concepts of the Ayurvedic system is its five-element approach to nutrition. In Ayurveda, it is believed that all matter and energy consist of the five elements…Air, Water, Fire, Earth, and Ether.
It is said that our personality traits carry a distinct vibration corresponding to the food energy unique to our system. When we consider this, there is much truth to the saying, “we are what we eat.”
When we are young, our metabolisms are strong, so the body can better tolerate our not-so-healthy food choices. I know those powdery donuts are yummy, (sorry to call you out, Dana!) But as we age, all that sugary junk food builds up a residue on our cells and creates what we call ‘oxidation.’
Think of it as the rust build-up on your car as it ages. If you do not regularly maintain your car, you will eventually need a new one. Unfortunately, we do not have the ‘trade-in’ option on our bodies.
The body, being the physical manifestation of energetic intelligence, requires food that is in alignment with its vibration. When we feed our body the proper nutrition, healthy cellular activity happens spontaneously, allowing it to do the job it innately knows how to do…heal itself.
Our cells communicate with each other in a language all their own. When we “feel good” after consuming certain foods, it is a signal from our bodies that there is integration among the “whole,” working toward a state of balanced health.
Energetically speaking, all foods carry a particular vibration, and it is best to feed your body with the foods that best match your energetic signal. The quality of the food products you choose is equally important as poor quality equals poor digestion.
Let’s break this all down into the Ayurvedic system’s five-element approach to nutrition:
AIR- (breath and circulation) Corresponds with anxious, overly active personalities. Recommended foods include citrus fruits, nuts, fermented foods, yogurt, and acidophilus to balance intestinal tract health.
WATER- (soft tissue: skin, muscle, ligaments, etc.) This element represents a highly emotional personality. Helpful foods include water-based foods such as celery, cucumber, green leafy, squashes, and sea foods.
FIRE- (heat of digestive system) Persons of great mental energies represented here… Seeds, grains, and legumes (all rich in proteins), replenish these energies.
EARTH- (solid, bone material) Persons who engage in hard physical labor require foods of this category to replenish their systems…Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, beets, and onions.
ETHER- (represented in all the joints) The Ether element responds to the way in which food is prepared. Vital nutrients can be removed during preparation, so steaming, as opposed to boiling is preferred for vegetables.
Now, if you are like me and love to explore more natural ways of boosting your body’s immune system and resistance to dis-ease, try this yummy little concoction I have created to sip with my tea!
Add one orange peel, 2 or 3 slices of fresh ginger, and the peel of 1 red onion (the crepey part we throw away) to a large saucepan filled with water. Cover and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, allowing it to simmer for at least ten minutes. Then pour the hot fluid into your favorite mug with whatever tea you like and enjoy sipping on it all day!
The pith of the orange peel is your best source of vitamin C, the ginger will stimulate your digestion, (Oh boy, does it ever!), and the peel of the red onion is loaded with polyphenols, a natural antioxidant to help rid your cells of all that nasty oxidative stress.
It is the build-up of oxidative stress on our cells that contributes to disease. In fact, there is compelling data that Dementia and Alzheimer’s are deeply influenced by the lifestyle choices we make every day, such as, what we eat, how often we exercise, the quality of our sleep, and how we respond to stress.
Remember, this is just a general guide. Everyone will fall into several categories in the Ayurvedic approach to nutrition, as each of our digestive processes is unique. So just be mindful of the way your body “feels” after consuming certain foods, and you will enhance your quest for balanced health.