20 Daily Practices from Ancient India to Prevent Lifestyle Diseases

20 Daily Practices from Ancient India to Prevent Lifestyle Diseases

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 80% of the emerging world’s population relies on traditional medicine for therapy. There is a growing awareness of healthy & natural lifestyle practices as effective disease prevention and management tools. Many of these lifestyle hacks have been unearthed from the time-tested wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine, ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine), ancient Egyptian practices, etc.

These techniques are time-tested, natural, usually harmless, and highly effective in preventing and treating both physical and mental illnesses. Adopting these lifestyle practices can introduce the basic principles of these ancient modalities into our modern lives, ensuring overall health and well-being while preventing and managing different lifestyle diseases.

Here are 20 unique daily practices from ancient India that can help prevent lifestyle diseases:


    Ancient Indians believed that food prepared with personal attention and love nourished the body and refreshed the mind, while food made without mindful emotions creates ‘ama’ or toxins in the body. Whether it is a raw salad or a full-spread meal, it is always more beneficial if what you are offering to your body is prepared with awareness and love. Conscious cooking is considered a therapeutic experience in itself, known as ‘Annayoga’ or ‘Food Yoga’ in Sanskrit.


    Herbal teas or tisanes are beverages made from the infusion or decoction of herbs, spices, or other plant materials in hot or cold water. When consumed within a balanced diet, herbal beverages may improve the antioxidant status and reduce human oxidative stress.


    Ayurveda uses spices, herbs, bark, roots, peels, seeds, vegetables, and fruits to heal the body because disease is just a way of the body asking for special care and nurturing. Ayurveda does not attack a disease with medicines but rather helps the body to come back to balance so that our biological intelligence can kick in, and we can heal on our own. Ancient Indians had natural kitchen remedies and food-based solutions for nearly every ailment of the body and mind. Using these tips and hacks in our daily lives can not only prevent us from succumbing to all the side effects of the pill-popping culture of conventional Western medicine but also be easier on our pockets!


    While Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a blazing health trend worldwide today, ancient Indians practiced fasting as a general way of life. Ayurveda believes that regular fasting is needed to give rest to our Udara Agni, and thus revitalize it. Fasting also detoxes the system, helps improve immunity, and regulates metabolism.


    No, that is not a typo! While there are various theories about how many times one must chew one’s food, the simple rule is: Chew till you can drink it! Yes, food needs to be nearly liquified in our mouth before gulping it down, so the body can easily assimilate it without putting excessive load on our digestive system. Complete chewing allows complex carbohydrates, sugars, oils, proteins, and other minerals to reach maximum absorption levels. Water needs to be moved around in the mouth before we swallow it. This helps the alkaline saliva reach the stomach to neutralize acid levels in the stomach.


    Scientifically, the body does not require our help to detox. The natural systems of the body release toxins on their own. So detoxification just means aiding the process from time to time. This is needed more today, considering the toxic lifestyle practices we have all adapted ourselves to, which in ancient times were unheard of. You can practice daily or weekly detoxing depending on your comfort and need.


    In ancient India, excretion was a mindful activity, usually done in the yogic posture ‘Malasana’, also known as the yogi squat. Our state of mind is directly connected to our gut, and practicing deep breathing and conscious silence while passing stools and urine can ease many chronic excretory issues like constipation, inconsistent bowel movements, etc


    Along similar lines, mindful eating – either in silence or giggling over deep & happy conversations with loved ones, helps promote better digestion, keeps us full with less food, and helps balance our metabolic hormones by associating food with a peaceful and happy state of mind.


    According to ancient Indians, ‘Aahaar’ or intake encompasses everything we consume, including but not limited to food. In other words, from the movies we watch to the company we keep, from the news we read to the gossip we listen to, from the music we hear to the posts we see on social media – everything is intake or Aahaar. Everything affects the overall condition of our body and mind.


    Abhyanga, or massaging your skin with warm (sometimes herbalised) oils, is one of the most potent acts of self-care. Touch is our most powerful sense and largest organ because it never goes off! And when we touch and knead our own selves into a nice massage, it makes our brain release endorphins and oxytocin, improves blood circulation, helps the body detox, improves self-love, relieves locked stress and tension, slows aging, and strengthens muscles and joints.


    Neti is an ancient yogic practice of flushing the nasal passages with warm saline water using a simple kettle-like pot called a neti-pot. It helps cleanse your nostrils and sinuses from all the toxins, pollutants, and allergens, allowing you to breathe freely and comfortably. Clean and clear breathing by itself is healing and can prevent disease, besides ameliorating digestion, mental well-being, and immunity.


    Oil pulling is known as “kavala graha” or “gundusha” in Sanskrit. It is an ancient Ayurvedic technique of swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for a few minutes and then spitting it out. This action is excellent for dental hygiene & health and also draws out toxins in the body.


    All that we eat and drink passes through our tongues. Keeping our tongue clean is vital to ensure our body is not continuously absorbing toxins. Tongue scraping or jiwha-prakshaalan removes volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that build up on our tongue, causing mouth odour. Tongue scraping also boosts immunity, aids digestion, and activates taste buds.


    Ayurveda considers walking as a tridoshi exercise – in other words; it balances the three doshas (kapha, pitta, vata). Balancing the three doshas is believed to lead to health and well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular brisk walking can help you maintain a healthy weight, prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease and high blood pressure, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your mood, and improve your balance and coordination.


    Practicing yogic postures or Asanas can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, keep off weight, improve cardiovascular health, strengthen immunity, and improve metabolism – hence maintaining optimum health and well-being.


    Deep breathing (sometimes called diaphragmatic breathing) is a practice that enables more air to flow into your body and can help calm your nerves, reducing stress and anxiety. It can also help you improve your attention span and lower pain levels. Taking 5-minute deep breathing breaks about 5-6 times a day can go a long way in preventing diseases and keeping us healthy. Pranayama (conscious & healing breathwork) also helps reduce stress, lowers inflammation, and helps alkalize your blood PH levels.

    17. MEDITATE

    Meditation has been linked to larger amounts of gray-matter in the hippocampus and frontal areas of the brain. More gray-matter can lead to more positive emotions, longer-lasting emotional stability, and heightened focus during daily life.


    In ancient Indian philosophy, they call this Mananam – the act of having deep heart-to-heart conversations with yourself. It may sound crazy at first, but talking to yourself in your mind can lower stress levels, improve self-image, and release the happiness-hormone serotonin. You can talk to yourself mentally in silence, audibly in the mirror, or writing through a journal. A study conducted at Michigan State University concluded that “third person self-talk” allowed participants to regulate their emotions, and they experienced better stress relief. So, start fixing up those rewarding appointments with yourself.


    Sleeping as much as you need and want aids in better hormonal balance, rejuvenates mental health, enhances skin texture, improves immunity, aids metabolism, and increases overall body stamina. An ancient Indian quote goes, ‘Nidraa samadhi-sthitih’ meaning, good restorative sleep is equivalent to a deep calming meditation. Always aim at catching more shuteye! Turning in earlier is a great way to add more quality and quantity to your night naps. The World Health Organization has officially classified night shift work as a probable carcinogen as it interferes with our body’s natural sleep cycles. The Ivy League Harvard Medical School stated that good quality sleep reduces the risk of chronic, life-threatening diseases, including cancer.


    Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature profoundly impacts our brains and behavior, helping us reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress and increasing our attention capacity, creativity, and ability to connect with other people. Ancient Indians believed that we are all a part of ‘nature’ and that all of existence is one natural whole! Hence, great significance is given to connecting with nature. Studies have also found that self-connection induced higher parasympathetic activity in participants, promoting stress reduction and emotional regulation on a physiological level, while lower levels of self-connection have been associated with mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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