We’ve all learned how important it is to eat a balanced diet to ensure whole-body health. But did you know that certain foods and herbal medicines can support the health of specific tissues and body systems? In Ayurveda, digestion is described as a multi-step process, in which each of the seven dhatus (tissues) receives nourishment in a sequential and selective way.
When you eat a spoon of beans, for instance, the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates (and all the other components) of that food will be broken down and passed from tissue to tissue, five days for each one, even as certain elements of the food will be nabbed by certain systems because they need them most. Overall, the process takes thirty-five days; at the end the whole body gets fed as it should, and you’re left with a refined, distilled essence of vitality called ojas.
Muscle tissue, known as mamsa dhatu, is third in the chain of dhatu-digestion, following the lymph/plasma layer (rasa dhatu) and blood (rakta dhatu). Muscle is responsible for binding the structure of the body so we can move with stability and agility. Protein helps maintain muscle. The Ayurvedic approach to digestion offers that all foods will support all the tissues, especially whole, unprocessed foods, because what nourishes rasa will nourish rakta, and what nourishes rakta will nourish mamsa . . . and so on down the line.
Rather than guzzling powdery protein shakes and noshing on crumbly power bars to feel strong, then, a more holistic—and tasty—way to support healthy muscle is to ensure you’re eating meals that will be easily digested by your whole system, from start to finish.
Support Your Muscles
This bowl offers an unconventional take on muscle support through a balance of foods, tastes, and textures that take advantage of seasonal, summertime ingredients—when we might be focusing on building (and showing off) our muscles as we play and exercise outdoors. While summer might keep many of us out of the kitchen, it’s important to consume lightly cooked foods during this time of year when our digestive fire, known as agni, is a little lower than other times of year. Typical sources of protein (namely, meat) might be difficult to digest when agni is low, hence this creative take on protein-rich plants, which are lighter and thus easier to break down from the start of the digestive process, and thereby pass down the dhatus.
Read the full post & recipe on The Alchemist’s Kitchen (published 6/5/2021).