When you need a high-energy fix, do you reach for a power bar or power shake? Or do you resort to caffeine, chocolate, or high-sugar snacks when you feel that "end of the day" sag? It may surprise you, but the real energy-boosters are fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and whole grains. These are the foods that are rich in 'Chetna,' the healing and nurturing influence of nature. They are so alive with nature's intelligence that fatigue-causing toxins cannot accumulate in the body when you eat them.
Grains for Power
Athletes have long relied on carbohydrates in grains for long-term endurance and energy. Yet not all carbohydrates are created alike. A Croissant, for instance, is high in fat and low in nutrition. The most nutritious carbohydrates are whole grains, which have been found to lower cholesterol, inhibit cancer-causing activity and harmful bacteria in the intestines, and lower blood glucose level. And of these whole grains, Maharishi Ayurveda considers Rye, Quinoa, Amaranth and Millet as the most nutritious, because they are especially high in protein and minerals. They are also high in fiber, and thus have a detoxifying value. These are the same auspicious grains that are described in the Vedic texts and are used for Vedic ceremonies.
One-half cup of Amaranth (measured dry), for instance, contains 14 g. protein, 8 mg. iron, and also Magnesium and Zinc. The same amount of Quinoa contains 13 g. of protein, 9 mg. of iron and 3 mg. of Zinc. Rye is also high in Protein, with one-half cup yielding 15 grams of protein and 4 mg. of zinc. Millet is a good source of B vitamins.
All of these grains contain Copper, which is an essential trace mineral that improves energy and immunity, and their Zinc content also boosts Ojas, the finest product of digestion that creates lightness, inner energy, immunity and bliss.
To prepare power grains, place 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add a teaspoon of Ghee and 1/2 cup of the grain. Boil for ten minutes and then lower to a simmer. Cook until the grain is tender.
Adding Ghee is important because otherwise the grains create internal dryness.
Energizing Vegetables and Fruits
Other high-energy foods include fresh vegetables, which should constitute forty percent of the meal. Green, leafy vegetables are especially high in minerals and fiber, so should be eaten often.
Fruits are also a source of energy. You can start the day with a stewed apple, and if you feel hungry in between meals, try snacking on a juicy pear. If you are feeling heavy and bloated after lunch, eat a fresh papaya, because they contain enzymes that aid digestion. If you have a strong digestion and more Pitta in your constitution, Mangoes are a rich Ojas-producing food, and half a Mango contains 2 mg. beta-carotene and is a rich source of Vitamin C.
According to Maharishi Ayurveda, Raisins are among the best of fruits because they enhance Sattva (purity), pacify the mind and heart and increase the coordination between them. They are also a rich source of Iron and Vitamin B6, and provide Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, and Potassium. Raisins aid digestion and elimination when they are soaked in water overnight. One handful per person is a good amount.
A Date-Milk Energy Shake is a nourishing way to end the day, because it promotes sleep and calms both Pitta and Vata sleep imbalances.
Date-Milk Energy Shake
4-5 whole dates (Medjool dates are ideal)
1 cup whole organic milk (un-homogenized if possible)
1 pinch cinnamon powder
Boil the milk until it creates a foam. Turn off the heat and cool until the temperature is comfortable for drinking. Combine the milk with the other ingredients and blend until the dates are ground up. Drink it warm in winter and at room temperature in summer.
Beware of Energy-Draining Foods
Just as there are foods to boost energy, other foods drain it. Any fast foods, canned, frozen, packaged, leftover, or old foods - or foods laced with preservatives, chemicals, and additives - are difficult to digest and contain little nutritional content.
If you do eat some of these foods, and you feel heavy after eating, drink half a glass of water with 1/4 of a fresh lime squeezed into it.
But if you are feeling dull, sluggish, and drained of energy every day, it probably means that your diet contains too many energy-draining foods, which have clogged your micro-channels with toxins. This means that you need to overhaul your diet to include foods that create Ojas and energy.
Adding spices to your food is an easy way to increase the value of Chetna, or nature's intelligence. Try sauting Cumin, Coriander, Fennel, and Turmeric in Ghee, then add vegetables or cooked grains. Or add spices to your drinking water to boost your energy.
1 quart water
1/4 tsp. whole cumin
1/3 tsp. whole fennel
2 pinches of licorice
Boil the water first. Place it in a thermos and add the spices. Sip the water throughout the day to improve digestion and increase your energy. If you are a Pitta constitutional type, you may want to let the water cool to room temperature before drinking.
The important thing is to eat foods every day that boost your energy, rather than relying on artificial boosters when you feel your energy sag, because there will always be a negative side-effect.
Information provided in this article is for the sole purpose of imparting education on Ayurveda and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.