My grandfather introduced me to healthy eating and exercising when I was very young. This was the beginning of my healthy lifestyle journey. He taught me to eat an apple with cheese every morning for breakfast, and till date I have been following the same regime.
Later in my life, I learned about the principles of health behind these childhood routines. I learned that blood flow and digestion are the two key parameters to check whether your body is functioning properly. This made me connect the dots, and I finally understood how healthy eating and exercising could help maintain a properly functional digestive system and blood flow.
The story didn’t end there…I then came across a new category of foods called “functional foods”. Until recently, I used to categorize foods as healthy or unhealthy, but I discovered that there was another level of foods, called functional foods. Functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. This completely changed my life; suddenly I was introduced to a whole new world of possibilities.
I was amazed to learn that with the help of functional foods and herbs, such as Ashwagandha, I could enhance my energy levels and reduce stress; with the help of Brahmi, I could enhance my mental functioning; and Amla could improve my digestive functioning. My quest for herbs led me to science of Ayurveda.
Here I will share a few functional foods that I have incorporated into my diet, and their benefits:
- Amla is an indigenous plant of India known to have more antioxidants than the antioxidant content in 10 oranges combined. Amla has high quantities of Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium and Phosophorus which nourish the skin, hair, eyes and bones. Amla has played a vital role in my life. I drink two teaspoons of organic amla juice empty stomach every morning, and I also apply Amla and Hibiscus oil once a week. I have seen a marked difference in my hair quality.
- Another functional food that I am really fond of is Cocoa, also known to be very high in antioxidants. I consume cocoa primarily because of its effect on the mood. Consumption of cocoa-basedproducts enhances the flow of blood to the brain, and thus it has favorable effects on learning and memory functions. A cup of hot cocoa in the evening helps me relax after a long day at work.
- I was introduced to Oatmeal when I was in college. Oats are rich in fiber, which expel toxins and keep you feeling full for longer. They also contain essential minerals including iron and calcium. Along with college I also had a part time job, so I needed sustained energy, and my roommate taught me how to make “the world’s greatest oatmeal”. Apart from oats, this oatmeal that we made was loaded with other super foods such as tofu, dates, banana, and brown sugar.
Today, I have completely incorporated healthy diet, exercise and Ayurveda into my lifestyle. These habits, inculcated from a young age and enhanced through my personal quest in later years, have helped me stay away from lifestyle diseases that many people my age are suffering today. My wish is for youth across India to experience the same health and vitality through these natural solutions, which begins with the simple awareness that this way of life exists!
Rahul Parakh is chief operations officer at Devang. He studied at Purdue University and is passionate about natural ways to live a healthy and optimal life.