When practicing more and more yoga, nutrition plays an important role in maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
Eat all food as raw as possible. All cooking destroys vitamins and breaks down fiber in food. When using oils other than for cooking, use cold-pressed sunflower, sesame, flaxseed or safflower oils (keep these refrigerated).
Drink at least 1.5 – 2 liters of water a day. For other drinks, try diluted fruit juices, vegetables juices and herb teas. Freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices are great for detoxifying the body; they are high in natural enzymes and nutrients. Try carrot, beetroot and celery.
Avoid foods with added salt. Don’t add salt to your cooking or your food. It isn’t needed. Not a good idea to eat salty foods before a yoga session as it can increase thirst during class. Add fresh and/or dried herbs, miso and tamari sauce instead. Avoid sugar and other foods with concentrated sweetness. Honey and maple syrup are marginally better. Dilute fruit juice and soak dried fruit. Sugar can increase tooth decay, excess is converted to fat, suppress the immune system and increase acidity in the body.
Avoid fatty meats like beef, pork and lamb and other high saturated fat foods. Have more vegetarian sources of protein e.g. tofu, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, tempeh, quinoa, seaweed – combine these with whole grains to get complete protein. Avoid ‘processed’ and ‘fast’ foods with long lists of preservatives and additives, as these are usually high in salt and saturated fat.
Avoid frying foods. Grill, bake or poach instead. If you do fry, use olive oil or a small amount of butter for as short a time as possible. Avoid regular consumption of tea or coffee. These can contribute to dehydration and loss of valuable nutrients via urine. They act as diuretics causing you to lose water. On average, don’t drink more than a glass of wine, spirit or pint of beer a day. Strictly no alcohol is to be consumed before a class.
Eat little and often with some good quality protein at every small meal to even out blood sugar levels and energy throughout the day. Obviously do not eat at least 2 hours before a class.
Aim to eat fish at least 3 times per week. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, and sardines contain omega 3 fats, which are healthy for the heart and blood circulation and are also anti-inflammatory in action. Aim to eat one large raw mixed salad a day – choose colorful vegetables such as spinach, red cabbage, grated carrot and beetroot, yellow peppers, pois mange tout, green beans, sprouts etc., the more color you eat the greater the antioxidant intake. You will be utilizing more oxygen in the classes and oxygen can also contribute to free radical production, which can be damaging to cells.
Eat good quality high complex whole grains: millet, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut etc. as these are good sources of fiber, chromium and B vitamins. Eat Bio live yoghurt as it contains cultures that enhance digestion and can help to maintain healthy gut flora. Try dairy alternatives such as organic soymilk, rice milk, oat milk, cashew and almond milks. Goats and sheep milk products are also nutritious and some lactose intolerant people can tolerate these.