Fight obesity with ayurveda

Most people are not very sure about the definition of obesity. They know it means overweight, but how does one fall into the "obese" category? One method used to measure obesity is body mass index (BMI). Anything between 20 and 25 is considered ideal, while anyone with a BMI over 25 should consider active weight control regimens.

Here's how you can calculate your BMI: Divide your weight by your height in metres multiplied by two. For example, if you weigh 75kg and stand 1.75m tall, your BMI - 75 divided by 3.5 (1.75x2) - is 21.4.

Ayurvedic physician K.A. Nicy, who is with Ayurvedic Healthcare, says ayurveda considers both being underweight and overweight as "disorders affecting homeostasis of the body". She adds: "This is due to imbalances of Kapha, one of the three basic systems primarily responsible for maintaining homeostasis. Kapha maintains fat and adipose tissue, in addition to other various functions in the body."

Mrs Nicy adds that, in obesity, an abnormal digestive process takes place: Increased, irregular appetite which, in turn, leads to irregular absorption and depositing of fat and adipose tissue, especially around the hips, buttocks, abdomen and face. Once deposited, they are difficult to remove.

"Ayurveda aims at treating the root cause by normalising the digestive capacity and gradually taking off the abnormal fat deposition," says Mrs Nicy, adding that according to ayurveda, obesity is associated with diseases of the heart, diabetis mellitus, liver problems, abdominal distension, joint pain, arthritis, tiredness, lethargy, poor initiative, poor sleep and even snoring.

When it comes to fighting obesity, ayurveda emphasises a graded weight reduction rather than any sudden fluctuations which may adversely affect the body homeostasis. Plus, massage therapy is used to reduce the fat. Here are some of the massages that can be used:

l Udvartana: A dry herbal powder is applied over specific areas or all over the body and deeply massaged with specific gentle movements by the therapists. This removes Kapha toxins from the body, tones the skin and helps to remove cellulite, revitalise the sense of touch, gives a good complexion to the skin, and tones up muscles after childbirth.

l Sweda: A herbal steam bath that helps to balance the Doshas and ailments of a person. It opens the pores and cleanses the system through the skin. It is usually very effective when taken after Abhyanga (oil massage).

Mrs Nicy also has some home remedies from ayurveda that can assist weight reduction and supplement your diet and exercise programmes:

1. Mix one teaspoon of fresh honey with the juice of half a lime in a glass of lukewarm water - drink five times a day at regular intervals

2. Substitute your evening coffee with a glass of buttermilk mixed with a small pinch of roasted cumin seeds, a few green coriander leaves, a little salt and some grated ginger (this is an excellent refreshing tonic that also improves digestion, helps to prevent flatulence and gastric problems)

3. Simple breathing exercises can calm the mind. And, as a result, prevent overeating habits, which are commonly seen in anxious individuals. Breathing exercises can be practised anywhere - in the office, at home or even while travelling.

4. After exercising, do not drink cold liquids. With exercise, you are trying to increase the metabolic fire in your cells which in turn burns more calories. Drinking cold liquids at this time will negate this important benefit which exercise bestows. Drink water at room temperature instead.