Ghee- The Wonder FAT

Looking at the wondrous health benefits of ghee through an Ayurvedic lens will sound contradictory to the modern day belief that ghee is fattening and leads to heart problems. Ghee is an example of a saturated fat that is healthy and highly recommended in Ayurveda. However, Ayurveda recommends using  “traditional ghee” for one and all, from infancy to old age. Traditional ghee is the one that our grandmothers churned from fresh cow’s milk as opposed to the various branded ghees available in the market that are made from heated milk fat or hydrogenated oil.

Ghee obtained from cow’s milk is considered the best. Buffalo milk is colder in nature, oilier and heavier. Traditional Ghee helps to pacify Vata and Pitta in a body. Imbalances in these two doshas contribute to several of the diseases known to us. Ghee also has a diuretic and laxative property. Hence it is highly recommended during pregnancy. It helps to ease bowel movements, reduce flatulence, aid lactation and the smooth delivery of the child

Most modern day mothers are skeptical and very reluctant to give ghee to their babies. Because they believe that ghee would make their child obese. On the contrary, Ayurveda teaches us that ghee helps to improve fat metabolism, because of its saturated short chain fatty acid structure. It calms the liver, improves the immune system and promotes memory and intellect in children. Traditional Ghee being sweet in nature also produces a sense of satisfaction when consumed and hence calms the body and mind. Ghee basically increases the Ojas (vigour) in the body. It is also an excellent aphrodisiac and increase semen production in men.

Traditional Ghee has the quality of being oily and hence acts as a lubricant. This contributes to making the skin smooth and soft. This oiliness also provokes the agni and hence helps to stoke the digestive fire without increasing the Pitta. The proper functioning of the digestive fire is very important to nourish and provide strength to the body. This isoilinespecially critical for infants and toddlers as their body is still learning to produce its own natural oil (sebum). If your child has dry skin, start thinking about increasing his/her dietary fat in the form of ghee rather than applying skin creams and lotions. Because of all these properties Traditional Ghee is used to prepare many Ayurvedic medicines. It is used as a medium to assimilate medicines and helps incompatible ingredients to work well together. Its penetrating qualities make it a carrier (Yogavahi) for transporting herbs and medicines deep into the tissues. It inherits the quality of the herb or drug and enhances its potency.

On a “lighter” note, Ghee is used in temples to light lamps. It’s supposed to purify and ward off negativity. Ghee gives longevity by slowing the aging process. Older the ghee, better is its healing property.

To recapitulate, here are some (not all) uses of Ghee

  1. It can be used as a laxative tonic for kids by mixing one teaspoon Traditional ghee to a glass of milk
  2. It helps to pull out toxins from the body. Hence it can be used in Oil pulling, which is an ancient Ayurvedic technique for pulling toxins from your body. You can use Ghee with water and gargle for 10 minutes
  3. Pregnant women can have a dollop of ghee every morning for a smooth delivery.
  4. It helps to clear a blocked nose. Add 5 drops of ghee into your nostrils.
  5. Ghee can be used for cooking and sautéing. When added to pulses it helps to reduce the flatulence caused by the pulse.
  6. Heals the wounds in the mucus lining of the stomach and balances the acid level in the stomach.
  7. Protects body from degenerative diseases as it has antioxidants.
  8. Improves immunity.
  9. Improves mind power like better decision making, memory power, better learning capacity.
  10. Softens the skin and maintains the beauty of the face
  11. It is recommended that be it ghee or oil, the quantity of fat consumption per day should be limited to 10 to 15 grams per person assuming that the person is not obese. 1gm of oil or ghee provides 9 calories. When ghee is consumed at levels above 10% total calories, it can increase risk of cardiovascular disease. At levels under 10% of total calories, however, ghee appears to help lower cardiovascular risks, especially when other fats consumed during the day are exclusively from plants or plant oils.
  12. Last but not the least, Ghee has healthy doses of butyric acid. Butyric acid has been shown to have preventive and therapeutic effects for a healthy colon. It has also shown to be important in preventing colon cancer.

Childhood Obesity – A Modern Epidemic

In the past, a child’s cuteness quotient was associated with how round or chubby he was.  But in recent times, this cuteness quotient has been associated with a serious modern epidemic called Childhood Obesity (Sthaulya). This can be due to nutritional, genetic or lifestyle disorders. In Ayurveda it is classified as Ahara (Diet), Vichara (Mental Status), Vihara (Routine) and Bijadosha (Hereditary). This disorder can spill into adulthood and cause other complications like diabetes, heart diseases and other cardiovascular disorders. According to WHO, childhood obesity has increased by about 60% in the last 20 years.

 Some children are genetically predisposed to being overweight. Studies have shown that an active lifestyle can shed about 40% of the fat, attributable to one’s genetic predispositions. The globalizing effect of the Internet and technology has made the world smaller, at the cost of our children leading more sedentary lifestyles. Sedentary lifestyle along with unhealthy food is a dangerous combination for childhood obesity. Psychological factors can also play a big role in the child’s wellbeing and health. Therefore a healthy lifestyle coupled with nutritious diet can help shed that extra bulge.

A healthy kids’ countdown ‘5210’ was started in Maine (USA) to raise healthy children.  Keeping in mind the unhealthy & demanding lifestyles of modern day children, we have modified the steps a wee bit and call it the Jammi’s ‘5+2 0(1) 0’ plan.

5+: Take 5 helpings of fruits and vegetables a day. Need not limit it to 5.

2:  Indulge in at least 2 hours of physical activity.  Physical activity need not be about running a marathon. Make sure your kids start simply by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and have them do at least 30-minutes of moderate yet structured physical activity.

0(1): We recommend not watching Television. We believe this to be the primary cause for a sedentary lifestyle. But if you must, then reduce screen time to one hour a day, but only after they reach a certain age (7 years).

0: No aerated and sweetened drinks. This increases the toxins in your body.

According to Ayurveda the optimum time to prevent Obesity is between  5- 10 years. Yoga is also believed to be very beneficial in controlling obesity. Proteins should be taken more often as proteins help to reduce hunger. Ensure that you eat a lot of fruits, greens, vegetables and whole grains.

Shedding those extra pounds is not about achieving any unrealistic standards of beauty, but about adopting a healthy lifestyle and raising happy, healthy and self- confident children.