Thoughts on "superfoods" from Ayurvedia Advisor - interview with Dhanya Nambiar
Photo by Maddi Bazzocco from Unsplash, and Ayurveda Advisor Dhanya Nambiar
This month we've been speaking to Dhanya Nambiar, certified Ayurvedic Advisor. She's chatted to us about the renewal of this ancient holistic practice and how it's gained global popularity, as well as the beautiful concept of Ayurveda being the "science of life".
I'm very excited to be asking Dhanya our final question this week on her thoughts about "superfoods". Particularly as such an ancient practice has endured through the centuries with our changing food systems, and what we eat today.
As Ayurveda is an ancient holistic practice does the concept of superfoods fit in this practice?
Dhanya: I think this is part of current popular culture, which is useful in raising awareness of some lesser known foods, but is largely driven by celebrities, marketing and social media trends. The limitations of the superfood trend are that they put a lot of pressure on growing specific crops due to a surge in demand, which brings the price of these goods up so it is no longer affordable. It also creates the perception that eating these foods will compensate for other aspects of health such as poor sleep, excessive alcohol or caffeine, and a lack of movement. Superfood trends can also damage the environment as it causes reduced crop diversity and the destruction of local wildlife habitats as natural land and traditional farming areas are cleared to grow these foods.
Food is super when it is local, seasonal and whole, when it is cooked and eaten fresh in a balanced meal, when it is digested well, and when it is part of a natural, peaceful lifestyle. The Ayurvedic perspective is that food is only as useful as our ability to digest it, so we can absorb the nutrients and eliminate the waste. When digestion is weak, it doesn’t matter how good the food is, because it cannot be absorbed by the body.
One of the other trends I have noticed is cutting out a class of food such as gluten, dairy, nuts, fructose, etc, because people find they cannot digest these foods. Rather than the food itself, it is likely that many people have weak digestion from certain diet and lifestyle habits. In Ayurveda, all of these foods in appropriate quantities are helpful to the body, and the good news is that Ayurveda also offers some wonderful and sustainable tools to strengthen digestion, so people can enjoy food (and life) again!
Dhanya Nambiar is the founder of Prana Ayurveda, and a certified Ayurvedic Health Advisor through the Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga School.
She has a PhD in public health and a decade of research in mental health and addiction. Dhanya’s vision for Prana is to empower individuals to find their true state of wellness in mind, body and spirit through simple, everyday practices. Having personally healed from chronic inflammation and weak digestion through Ayurveda, she discovered how making adjustments to food and lifestyle brought changes within weeks – more energy, clarity around what her body needed and most importantly a positive relationship with herself. That’s what she wants to share with others to help them discover their plan for balance and longevity. Find out more at Prana Ayurveda or follow her on Instagram @prana_with_dhanya.