Q: What foods are good for menopause?
Agni Aunt, Dr Shijoe Mathew answers:
Menopause is a natural transition phase in any women’s life and, as in the case of any transition, the changes create discomfort initially. The Dosha (vital energy) associated with this discomfort is Pitta (fire element) and Vata (air element). If a person is suffering from an imbalance of Pitta and Vata before menopause, this discomfort will be much higher. The fire imbalance usually results in excessive heat, night sweats and mood swings. The Vata imbalance results in dry skin and hair, vaginal dryness, insomnia and slow metabolism. Based on the set of symptoms experienced by a person, you may want to follow a diet balancing either Pitta or Vata or both.
For Pitta imbalance, avoid foods that are spicy, such as chillies, cayenne and black mustard seed. Salty foods and foods that are sour, such as ketchup and other salad dressings and condiments made with vinegar, should also be avoided. Acidic foods like coffee and alcohol must also be kept to a minimum. Include lots of sweet fruits and root vegetables in your diet — sweet potato, beetroot, pear and berries are all recommended. The favourable grains are oats and rice. Use cooling spices like cinnamon, fennel, cardamom and coriander regularly in cooking.
For Vata imbalance, eat more foods that are cooked, warm and contain healthy oils. Regular use of virgin coconut oil or ghee in cooking, maintaining proper hydration, regular self-oil massage and hot baths are good for Vata.
Q: What foods can help to combat tiredness?
Agni Aunt, Dr Deepa Apte answers:
Ayurveda believes that tiredness is due to weak digestive fire or Agni which may cause the production of toxins (Ama) that make the body heavy. Hence the main aim is to strengthen the Agni. Upon waking up on an empty stomach, consume 200 ml of warm/hot water to stimulate the Agni or fire. Make the following Ginger-Honey Chutney ® and take ½ teaspoonful of it mixed in a cup of hot water after every meal including breakfast. The combination once again helps to regulate the digestive fire to give you a feeling of lightness.
Fresh grated ginger – ½ a cup
Lemon juice - ½ lemon
Honey - 2 tablespoons
Crushed black pepper – ¼ teaspoon
Salt to taste - pinchful
Likewise, another suggestion or alternative is the Agni Drink ® to boost energy and relieve tiredness. Take equal amounts of the following:
Mix together equal portions of all the above ingredients. Add ¼ teaspoon of it to hot water and drink it as a herbal tea 2-3 times a day. The above helps to strengthen the digestive fire and hence alleviate tiredness. According to Ayurveda certain faulty food combinations may lead to fatigue and tiredness, including the combination of fruit and dairy, especially in the morning, as these lead to sluggishness of the system and may cause a feeling of heaviness.
Focus on fruits like apples, berries, cherries or prunes as they help to get rid of Kapha-related sluggishness and heaviness from the body. Many people talk of an energy slump around late afternoon. The best remedy for this is to consume Chyawanprash (Ayurvedic jam made of approximately 36 herbs and spices, a vegan preparation), approximately 1 teaspoonful in a mug of hot water. It is also high in vitamin C, which helps to boost the nervous system and the immune system.
A good night’s sleep ensures that there is no tiredness the next day. To ensure a good night’s sleep, take a mug of nutmeg milk every evening around bedtime. To make this, take ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg in hot milk (dairy, almond, rice or coconut milk) and mix well. Along with this, soak your feet in a bowl of hot water with a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon. Leave your feet in for 15 minutes for a soothing effect.
Q: What foods are good to help you think clearly and give you energy?
Agni Aunt, Charlotte Bech answers:
Foods that give clarity of mind are: all vegetables and fruits, particularly the citrus fruits. Avoid yeast, bread and cakes, biscuits, crispbread etc. with yeast. Avoid white refined sugar and white refined flour. Avoid meat, poultry and fish. Foods that give energy are: beans, lentils, peas, and dairy products, as they provide healthy protein.