Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Health is wealth. We are all conscious about our health and want to treasure it. We may or may not express, but we all would love to enjoy an optimum quality and quantity of life. When we look at ourselves in the mirror, we want to see ourselves energetic, healthy, youthful and good looking. So what should you do to achieve this?
For maintaining good health, you need to monitor yourself regularly and keep a check on all the good and bad things happening internally and externally. You need to take good food, live a planned and disciplined lifestyle, sleep well, be happy, keep away the stress, be yourself, develop compatibility with your environment and surroundings, exercise well, let go the body urges, forgive and forget and address your ailments at the earliest.
But how do you know that you are healthy?
How do you monitor yourself regularly?
How to see health as a conscious factor rather than seeing it as a fear factor?
Well, in this article, from an Ayurvedic point of view, I shall try to give you the best tips of ‘monitoring self’ which would help you to get the mirror image of your optimum health.
Indicators of Your Comprehensive Health
Below mentioned are the important pointers of a good health, as good as an image of your true self in a mirror.
Watch your eyes
A clean and lustrous eye is an indicator of good health. And all people do not have such good eyes.
Look for change in colors or appearance of abnormal colors –
- Pull gently your lower and upper eye lid and see their under-surface. If they are red it means you have good quality and quantity blood. Your circulation will be good. Your blood producing and circulating organs i.e. liver, spleen and bone marrow will have good and optimum health.
- Pale color indicates anemia (low hemoglobin or protein molecule in red blood cells which carries oxygen from the lungs to body cells), blood loss, low quality blood cells, incapability of your blood to carry oxygen to the cells
- Yellow color or lemon yellow color indicates jaundice
Look for dimness of vision, eye strain and eye pain. Get medical attention immediately.
Ayurveda too has explained these eye changes under the topics Pandu Roga (anemia, liver disorders) and Kamala (Jaundice and biliary disorders). Apart from this, Netra or eye is a sight of Alochaka Pitta. Variations in quality and quantum of this pitta lead to many eye diseases and vision disorders.
Read related: Triphala Home Remedy For Eye Care
Watch your tongue
Tongue is the mirror image and index of the gastro-intestinal health. Mainly it points towards the condition of your stomach.
Sarve api rogaaha mande agnau (Madhava Nidana)
According to Ayurveda, all diseases have their origin in mild stomach or belly fire. The fire is an indicator of good digestion, good supply of nutrition and optimum health. Decrease in agni, qualitatively and quantitatively is found out by symptoms like loss of taste, aversion towards food, indigestion and frequent stomach upsets. Tongue, most often is the first organ to show these changes in metabolism, many times even when the metabolic errors in their primitive stages.
- Look for coating on the tongue. A white coating or coating of any abnormal color which keeps collecting frequently in spite of regular cleansing is an indicator of poor stomach health and indigestion. Indigestion is the root cause of many diseases.
- Look for foul smell in the mouth. If your mouth keeps stinking regularly, it indicates a weak stomach. It also indicates metabolic disorders like prameha (urinary disorders), madhumeha (diabetes), medo roga (disorders due to errors of fat metabolism) etc
- Look for dirt on tongue, gums and tongue. When dirt is formed at these places in spite of regular cleaning, it may reflect systemic and endocrine disorders like madhumeha (diabetes mellitus) and prameha (urinary disorders)
- Read related: Effect of Stress, Anxiety on Stomach And Intestines: Remedies
Watch your hunger
Feeling hungry at proper time, hunger which helps you in eating the quantity which really matters (not overeating or under-eating) is an indicator of a good stomach and intestines, a sign of good digestion and metabolism. For this to happen, you should take food in proper time and in proper quantity and be choosy with good foods (food conscious).
Excessive hunger or deficit hunger is a sign of metabolic and endocrine problems which you need to get evaluated as early as possible. High and low metabolism are deviations from normal digestion and reflect many diseases like diabetes, thyroid related diseases (hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism etc).
Proper hunger reflects a perfectly balanced Samana Vayu – Pachaka Pitta – Kledaka Kapha axis.
Read related: Wait A Moment Before Starting To Eat: A Healthy Eating Tip
Watch your Digestion
Keep a watch on how good you are digesting the foods you take on daily basis. Also note which foods you are not digesting properly.
Good digestion of food taken in proper quantity, good quality and in proper time will show the below mentioned signs and symptoms –
- Clean and clear, tasteless belching
- Feeling of lightness of the body and freshness of mind
- Alertness (not feeling droop, drowsy or dizzy)
- Timely hunger and thirst
- No stomach upsets or abdominal discomfort, no acid regurgitations
- Absence of indigested food or vegetables in the stools
- Absence of belching, sour eructation, bloating, vomiting sensation, distension of abdomen or belly
Proper digestion reflects a perfectly balanced Samana Vayu – Pachaka Pitta – Kledaka Kapha axis
Watch your Bowel Movement:
Proper bowel movements indicate that your body is flushing off the unwanted things and toxins at the right time, in right quantities.
You would know that your bowel movements are good when the below mentioned symptoms are present –
- Feeling an urge to defecate and passing of the stools in one sitting, without much effort or any stimulants like coffee or tea or any hot drink or laxatives
- Feeling of satisfaction after defecation and not having sense of incomplete evacuation or frequent urges after coming back from the toilet
- Not having frequent urge to defecate throughout the day, not having an irritable bowel (feeling an urge to defecate immediately after taking some food or drink)
- Not having chronic constipation or diarrhea which is not responding to any medications or diet changes
- Absence of erratic bowel movements, i.e. sometimes good and complete and sometimes bad and incomplete
- Absence of indigested food particles, grains and vegetables in the stools
- Your stools float in the pan, neither sinks nor scattered in pieces or pellets
- No bloating or distension of belly
- Absence of mucus or blood in the stools
- Absence of abdominal discomfort or pain before, during or after defecation
- Feeling of lightness of body and pleasantness of mind after defecation
Proper evacuation of bowel and bladder points towards good apana vayu functions
Read related: Constipation Causes, Ayurvedic Treatment, Home Remedies
Watch your Exercise
Daily physical exercise can help to prevent many systemic, metabolic and lifestyle disorders like overweight, obesity, PCOS (women), arthritis, diabetes, heart and lung problems etc
Check if you are able to find time for exercise, if not find time at least for walk or jog or any type of activity which keeps you going.
When you do good quality and quantity of exercise –
- You look young, energetic and by par with your biological age
- Your fitness levels are good; you can do day long activities and not feel tired at the end of the day
- Your body dimensions will be good; you don’t look obese or overweight
- Your sleep, bowel movements and metabolism will be trimmed
- You will have toned muscles and good immunity
- Your energy levels are high
- You don’t get easily exhausted or tired.
Ayurveda has always emphasized the need of exercise on daily basis. Vyayama or exercise bestows karma saamarthya (efficiency to do the day-do-day activities with precision by helping to maintain proper physical health), deepta agni (kindles the digestive fire and keeps the metabolism balanced and intact), medasaha kshayaha (destroys excessive fat in the body), vibhakta ghana ghaatratvam (helps in providing good and strong chiseled body frame and healthy stature)
Read related: Exercise In Morning Or In Evening – Ayurvedic Opinion
Watch your Immunity
Immunity is your body’s capacity to avoid diseases and infections or capability to get rid of ailments quickly with no or minimal effort. This is directly proportional to your body’s defense mechanism.
When you have good immunity
- You don’t catch up with frequent infections and allergies
- You don’t have diseases which run a long course
- Even if you happen to catch up with infections or allergies or suffer from disease, you would come out of it with no or minimal effort
- You will be physically and mentally healthy
- You will be fit and energetic, do not get easily tired or exhausted
Good immunity shows a good balance of dhatus (tissues in terms of quality and quantity) and ojus (essence of all the tissues, reflecting immunity). It also shows that the body is detoxifying itself in a proper way regularly and also the doshas are placed in their normal places, not interfering with each other activities and carrying the body functions properly and uninterruptedly.
Watch your Heartbeats and Breathe
Heartbeats and good breathing are witnesses for life processes going on in a smooth way.
But your heart and lungs are probably under trouble if you have these symptoms –
- You are getting easily exhausted and feeling short of breathe with even small quantity of activities (activities of daily living)
- You can hear your heartbeats or feel them often, when there are no reasons for that to happen, like fear, panic, stress, anxiety etc
- You feel tired and shortness of breath, very early, while going uphill or climbing stairs. In case of stairs, you feel exhausted and breathless after climbing a few steps.
Not feeling breathless and not hearing or feeling heartbeats with minimum exercise or exhaustion, keeping up the breath and heart beats fine indicates a balanced Prana Vayu – Udana Vayu axis.
Feeling of ‘shortness of breath’ while going uphill or upstairs also suggests sluggish liver, sign of deficit blood supply, weak oxygenation of tissues by blood cells, reduction of red blood cells or deficit hemoglobin (anemia). This also points towards impaired Ranjaka Pitta and Vyana Vayu functions.
Read related: How to do pranayama – A simple pranayama technique
Watch your Weight
Over weight and obesity are the root causes of many systemic illnesses and also risk factor for many diseases. Keeping the body weight at check in relation to ones height is very essential to avoid many dangerous disorders.
‘Medasavrita Margatvat Pushyanti Anye Na Dhatavaha, Medastu Cheeyate Tasmaat Ashaktaha Sarva Karmasu’ – Madhava Nidana, Medo Roga
According to Ayurveda, when the fat accumulates the channels of the body, no tissue is nourished. It leads to malformation of other tissues while the fat tissue is enriched. Deficit tissues reflect bad health and immunity. It is also said that when the fat accumulates in the channels and cells of the body, it disables a person’s capacity to do any type of work or activities of daily living.
Read related: Effective Obesity Treatment, Remedies And Ayurveda Tips
Watch your Skin
Skin is a representative of our color, complexion, attractiveness and glamour. Each one of us wants to keep our skin attractive and young.
- The skin or twak is a primary seat of Vayu.
- The skin health often reflects the interior health. Skin health is said to be directly proportional to the nutritional status of the body according to Ayurveda.
- Twak sara or best quality skin is directly related to the Rasa Sara (quality and quantity of rasa or nutritional fluid in circulation).
- Many skin diseases may not just be limited to skin; they may reflect the disturbance of circulation and availability of rasa and reflects the health of rasa vaha srotas (channels of circulation of nutrients).
- Chronic and stubborn skin disorders like psoriasis reflect the disturbed immunity in the body.
- Skin ailments also shows the disturbance of Bhrajaka Pitta (subtype of pitta located in the skin, responsible for color and complexion and to maintain skin immunity).
Read related: Ayurvedic Remedies, Medicines for Skin Glow, Complexion
Watch your Stress
We all live in a stressful world. Stress contributes to majority of our illnesses, either as a cause or as an aggravating factor or as a trigger. We need to beat that stress to live happily and healthily. There are many signs and symptoms which tell that you are suffering from stress. The important ones are
- You are feeling too low, depressed, withdrawn and detached
- You are not able to cope up with your day to day work and are not able to strike balance between personal and official lives
- You are highly reactive, with high end emotions. You tend to react for simple things, many times without reason or trigger.
- You are not happy with anything, you have complaints
- You feel self and life to be worthless
- Your thoughts are predominantly negative and you anticipate or visualize failures
- You have regular body pains, disturbance of sleep, headache, gastric complaints and worsening of your ailments, repeatedly and for no obvious reasons
Being devoid of stress denotes a balance between Prana Vayu, Udana Vayu, Sadhaka Pitta and Tarpaka Kapha. It also denotes Prasanna Mano-Indriyatwam (pleasantness of mind and senses), which is a mandatory part of comprehensive body-mind health.
Read related: Stress Symptoms and Natural Measures for Stress Relief
Watch your Sleep
Sleeplessness and stress are two sides of the same coin. Good quality and quantity of sleep is mandatory for good balance between body and mind health. Sleep relaxes the body and mind and prevents many psycho-somatic disorders. Good sleep also helps you to recover from your ailments.
Sleep or Nidra, according to Ayurveda is one of the Upastambhas i.e. supporting pillars of health. Good quality and quantity of sleep is said to provide sukha (happiness, pleasantness of mind), pushti (good nourishment and built of body), bala (strength and immunity, endurance), vrushata (sexual vigour), jgnana (wisdom) and jeevita (good quality and quantity of life). An imbalanced and improperly managed sleep destroys all the above said qualities.
Good quality and quantity of sleep is marked by below mentioned qualities –
- You feel fresh and energetic in the morning
- You don’t feel hangouts, i.e. a feel to sleep for some more time or difficulty to move yourself from the bed
- You don’t carry drowsiness or fatigue along the length of the day
- You don’t feel like sleeping in the noon or at evening
- Your sleep is not disturbed by dreams, nightmares, thought processes and due to natural urges
Read related: 20 Simple Ayurveda Sleep Tips On How To Sleep Better
Watch your Happiness
There is no perfect definition for happiness. It is only your compatibility with everything and everyone and moreover with yourself. It is an instinct and attitude to see everything in a positive perspective. It is an attempt of making the minuses into pluses. It is to conquer the difficult moments and relish the beautiful ones. It is to keep the interior in a state of balance, living on priorities, let going things, forgiving and forgetting, enjoying ones independent space while respecting the others space. The more we keep ourselves happy, the more we are healthy. A healthy body and happy mind reflects happiness and the vice versa is also true. Happy hormones help the body to function normally.
Ayurveda completes the definition of Swastha or health by telling ‘…Prasanna Aatma Indriya Manaha Swastha Iti Uchyate’ i.e. Along with the balance of physical components, the pleasantness and a state of balance of soul, senses and mind is considered as a state of comprehensive health.
Read related: 6 Easy Tips To Stay Positive, Happy And Successful Forever
Watch your Urges
The body produces some natural urges. When the body wants some things to be kept mobilized from the body, our duty is to cooperate and let go. We should never meddle with the natural impending body reflexes or urges. Keep a watch if you are forcibly avoiding the below said adhaaraneeya vegas (the urges which should not be forcibly avoided) while giving priority to other things in life –
- Vata (urge to fart)
- Vin (urge to defecate)
- Mutra (urge for urination)
- Kshavathu (urge to sneeze)
- Trishna (urge to drink water, thirst reflex)
- Kshudha (urge to eat food, hunger reflex)
- Nidra (urge to sleep)
- Kasa (urge to cough)
- Shrama shwasa (forcibly controlling the breathlessness caused due to exertion)
- Jrumbha (urge to yawn)
- Ashru (urge to cry or weep)
- Chardi (urge to vomit)
- Retas (urge to ejaculate)
Repeatedly withholding or forcibly obstructing to the above said naturally impending reflexes may make you prone for many diseases.
Read related: Vega Dharana: Suppression of urges, types, symptoms, and management
Watch your Mind
We are often what we think! We need to save the memories of good things, people and events and flush out the bad, odd and undesired ones which constantly keep worrying us. Mind undergoes severe damage while swinging between emotions and reactions. It deserves a state of balance and peace. One should try to keep away the high end emotions to enable the mind to be at peace and carry its activities in a normal way. A healthy mind reflects a healthy body, and both together reflect a healthy life.
We need to keep away the Manasika vegas (reflexes or urges of the mind to react to various stimuli). They are –
- Kama (lust, desire)
- Krodha (anger)
- Lobha (greed)
- Moha (attachment)
- Mada (pride, egosim)
- Matsarya (jealousy, envy)
All these are the causes of stress and disturbance of mind health. They are called as Ari Shad Varga (6 enemies of mind). They are also called Dharaneeya Vegas or the urges which should be forcibly controlled or monitored. Though expressing these feelings might help at times, it is better to have a control over these negative emotions.
Check if you have any of these enemies within you. Try to drive them out to enjoy a comprehensive mind health.
Read related: How to Improve Brain Speed and Memory Space? 25 Sure Shot Tips
Watch your Movement
Movements are related to your upper and lower limbs and your backbone. Movements happen due to perfect coordination and synchronization of the bony joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. If you have longstanding pain or catch (stiffness, rigidity, restriction of movements) in these parts, it reflects either an arthritis or inflammatory or degeneration process.
- If Vata is vitiated severely you will have pain, swelling and degeneration
- If Pitta is vitiated you will have inflammation and burning sensation (along with redness, rise in temperature and swelling)
- If Kapha is vitiated you will have stiffness and swelling with collection of fluids in joint spaces and soft tissues
- If Ama or circulating endotoxins or immature essence of digestion is involved, inflammatory symptoms along with severe pain can be seen in the mentioned parts
- If Rakta (blood) is involved or vitiated, symptoms resembling the pitta flare-up are seen
In all these conditions, restriction of movements and disturbance of day-to-day activities are seen. If the symptoms persist for long duration, kindly get the opinion of a doctor because they may reflect a serious internal pathology or an auto-immune process.
Just Before Finishing
It is always good to know our health status, to know where we stand at a given age. Health should be a conscious factor and not a fear factor. There is no need to panic on noting small changes in body and mind health. We are human beings; small changes do happen due to influence of many factors around us. We need to worry only if the symptoms persist for long time and do not get addressed. In these cases we should never neglect our health and seek for medical attention immediately. By doing so, we would have aborted a small disturbance progressing to a dreadful disease!! This article presents few key points which we need to remember about our body and mind, to enjoy a comprehensive health. The above mentioned aspects, when aware about, show the mirror image of your health status!!
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)