Air-Bath for Better

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Have you ever put on minimum of clothes and let cool breeze caress the skin? Those who have experienced it, must have felt an exhilarating and energising experience. In fact, human beings are the only ones who keep their skins covered all the time with clothes and deprive themselves of the contact with refreshing air.

For the health of the skin as well as for the general health, it is essential to occasionally expose one’s skin to direct air, especially when the season is not cold. This is called air bath and it not only helps in toning up the skin but it has also been observed that various serious diseases respond well to regular ‘air bath’, if taken daily.

It should be noted that one third of the nerves of the body end upon the skin and air bathing has a very beneficial effect on them. Air bath relaxes the nerves. By its relaxing effect, it improves practically every function of the body.

Along with the lungs, intestines and kidneys, skin is one of the most important secretory organ. Through perspiration, it eliminates liquid waste matter. In case the skin is sluggish and not working properly, other secretory organs, particularly kidneys, have to overwork in removing the liquid waste matter from the body, thereby affecting kidneys in the long run. Those who suffer from kidney disorders are greatly helped by taking air bath as this energises the skin and relieves the kidneys.

Further, the skin is also a respiratory organ and an apparatus for controlling our internal warmth. Not only our lungs but also all the pores of the skin inhale fresh air constantly and supply oxygen to our blood. Thus, a healthy skin does not force the lungs to over-exert themselves.

Air bath should be taken when air is comfortably cool and enjoyable. If the air is very cold and the person starts shivering, he will only be harming himself.

In summer, air bath can be taken early in the morning or in the evening or even at night, when the breeze is enjoyably cool. In winier, ii should be taken a little later In the day, when the air is not very cold.

Air bath should be taken when a soft breeze is blowing, so that one can feel the ‘embrace’ of the air. If the air happens to be still, to get the desired results the person should either walk vigorously or apply some slight friction over the skin by rubbing the body with his own hands.

During the air bath, one should have least clothes on the body, only that much which are barely needed so that air can play upon the skin and stimulate it. Whatever clothes are worn should be made of cotton, loosely woven and preferably white or light loured so that even the covered portion of the body is not deprived of fresh air and natural light.

Air bath may be taken for as long a time as may be convenient. FLftecn to thirty minutes at a time should be sufficient. It should be followed by a regular bath in water so that dust particles falling on the skin arc removed. If one cultivates the habit of living in the midst of plenty of fresh air, right from childhood, the body will become strong and the person will never suffer from cold and such ailments. Infants should be allowed to play in fresh air, naked.

Only in the beginning one may feel a little cold while air bathing but soon warmth returns as the rate of blood circulation increases. If possible, it is better to take air bath by the side of river, pond or a sea coast where the air is pure and cool. A water bath can be ely enjoyed also.

Air bathing has several other benefits. The mind becomes pure and calm. In a state of anger, it cools down the affected person and makes the blood pressure normal. Besides, it relieves the tension the nerves and makes them strong and healthy.

Published in PROUT on December 15, 1990.

Balancing the food in your diet to keep acidity in check

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Most diseases, especially those of the digestive, urinary and circulatory systems, originate from an unbalance between alkaline and acidic matter in our body.

Human blood is predominantly alkaline; 80 per cent of it is made up of alkalies while the remaining 20 per cent is acidic. Therefore, to maintain this balance, our diet should consist of foods which are mostly alkaline in nature. Just like our blood, no food is completely alkaline or acidic.

All kinds of fruits, vegetables, sprouted cereals and some of the dry fruits are alkaline in nature, while all kinds of unsprouted grains, proteinous foods and some of the dry fruits are mostly acidic; hence the latter should not form more than 20-25 per cent of our diet.

Here, it is important to note that contrary to popular belief, sour fruits like oranges, mausambis, pineapples and green guavas are not acidic but alkaline in their action upon the digestive system. In fact, the alkalinity and acidity of any food item is determined by its final action upon the digestive system or the kind of residue it leaves in the stomach after the process of digestion is complete.

Many food items may appear to be acidic in nature but may be alkaline in their final action while other types of food may appear to be alkaline but may produce acidic residues upon digestion. Therefore the classification of food into acidic and alkaline groups should be done according to the kind of residues they leave behind.

In ancient times, human beings were close to nature in that they were dependent upon the fruits of nature for their food. Their food consisted of fruits, roots, vegetables, and herbs.

No organised cultivation was carried out and whatever grew in the wild was their food. Essentially, people ate what nature had really “intended” them to eat; these kinds of food were predominantly alkaline as per the need of the human body.

But as civilisation advanced, mankind’s food habits changed drastically and acidic foods like cereals, non-vegetarian items like meat, chicken, fish and eggs became its main food while fruits, vegetables and herbs were relegated to a secondary role.

All non-vegetarian food items produce the most acidic residue in the stomach and therefore are not an ideal diet for human beings. While cooking non-vegetarian items, lot of spices and oil are used which further increases their acidity. One should cut down the consumption of such items drastically, or better, eschew them completely.

Among vegetarian items, most grains are acidic. Among the grains also, the dicot family of grains, which includes all kinds of pulses, grams, peas and peanuts, are more acidic than the monocot family of grains which includes rice, wheat, millet, corn, maize and barley. Again, among monocot family of grains, coarse grains like millet, corn, barley, etc. are less acidic than wheat and rice.

The alkaline elements of the grains lie on their outer coverings or the skin just below it. It is, therefore, advisable that one should consume cereals and pulses without discarding this useful cover. Because of this reason, unpolished parboiled rice, wheat flour made from whole grain wheat and whole pulses and grains should be preferred.

In maida, polished rice, branless flour, white sugar and washed pulses, the alkaline elements get lost in the processing. When grains are soaked in the water and allowed to sprout, the alkaline elements in them are enhanced. Such sprouts can be used both in the raw form as well as in the cooked form.

Refined, tinned, bottled and preserved foods contain artificial flavouring and colouring agents as well as preservatives which are nothing but inorganic chemicals. Even if the food items are alkaline in nature, during processing and when they come into contact with these inorganic chemicals, they become acidic.

Further, the alkaline elements in the food are highly sensitive to high temperatures and because of this reason overcooked food looses all its alkaline properties and becomes acidic. In order to get the maximum alkaline elements, one should include large proportions of fruits and vegetables in one’s diet. Vegetables which can be eaten raw should be eaten as salads.

Among dry fruits, nuts like almond, cashew, walnut and pistachios are acidic in nature, while coconut, raisins, figs and dates are alkaline in nature. If they are used, their quantity should not be very large and one should mix items of both groups and take.

Milk and non-concentrated milk products like curd, butter milk, and whey may be acidic or alkaline depending upon the kind of gastric juice present in one’s stomach. If someone is suffering from acidity, milk and its products will produce acidic residues, otherwise not. Again, the alkaline elements deteriorate if boiled too often and used after a long time.

Concentrated milk products like khoya, sweets, ice-creams, butter, cheese and ghee produce acidic residues. In sweets and ice-creams, white sugar is also used and in others including ice-creams, preservatives and colouring agents are used which make them still more acidic.

It may not be possible to change our food habits over night. Nevertheless, the knowledge of alkaline and acidic food is imperative for even a slow switch over.

 

Published in The Pioneer (newspaper) on May 28, 1994.

This man believes in letting nature work its own cures

Bhuwan Mohan meets Sri Swaminathanji who has nursed thousands to health with a little help from nature, and without charging a penny

 

He has no formal degree in any stream of medical science but, has still successfully been treating patients for the last 40 years. Not only those who are suffering from acute and chronic diseases but also those afflicted with dreaded and degenerative diseases.

He has never taken the Hippocrates Oath which binds a doctor to serve patients selflessly with full devotion, but has been following it in toto nevertheless. Nor does he charge any fee for his services. He could speak no Hindi till the age of 25 but now is a forceful speaker of Hindi, beside Tamil, Sanskrit and English and now edits a magazine published in Hindi and English.

He can give you much wisdom on mother and child care and about ways to run a family with harmony but is a bachelor himself and has never married.

He is a saint who, instead of Rishikesh or Tiruvannamalai has made a crowded place like Delhi his abode to serve humanity. Perhaps you have heard of Sri Swaminathanji, a 68-year-old bachelor, who looks much younger than his years and is commonly referred to as a naturopath.

However, that is now what he would like to be called “since it gives the impression that it is I who is curing the patient. Actually the cure comes from within and nobody, no outside agent, no drug or potion in any form can ever succeed in making one healthy. It is nature and nature alone which helps in regaining health and my duty is only to help people understand the simple laws of nature.”

“All diseases are due to one cause,” he says. “Wrong living in a manner which violates the laws of nature and therefore there is only one treatment” change your ways and swim along with the tides of nature.”

He continues: “In fact, the minor diseases are nature’s way of warning you that your eating and living habits are not correct and you should mend your ways before it is too late. Due to wrong living, foul matter accumulates in the body and the only way is to get rid of it in a sensible manner. But, instead of eradicating the cause of the disease, we fight with the symptoms and resort to drugs and such other methods without changing our ways. These outside agents may give relief for sometime, but the real causes persist.”

“The suppressed diseases cannot remain suppressed for long and erupt again in much more dangerous forms. Still, if we fail to understand nature’s warning and resort to various methods which go against the grains of nature, it reaches a bursting point and the disease turns into degenerative form.”

What Sri Swaminathanji teaches are simple laws of nature – how to eat, when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, fasting methods, exercises with moderation, interpersonal relations for better living and so on.

What he teaches apply equally to healthy people so that they continue to enjoy the bounties of nature. And in cases of acute diseases, remove the real cause so that the diseases do not go into the seed form to germinate into much more dangerous forms later.

Sri Swaminathanji, a leading nature therapist, sees patients at 10-M, Lajpat Nagar III on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 1700 and 2000 hours. The rest of the days he is available at his Laxmibai Nagar residence. Contrary to any speculation that his “clinic” may be equipped with the most modern medical paraphernalia, all he has is clear understanding of the laws of health and disease and some very authentic books. While he has been treating different types of patients, he advises everybody to master the subject – it requires nothing but a few hours of study and reflection over what had been studied, he says.

He is ever ready to clear doubts, if any. In fact, he has been conducting study groups in Delhi and has been travelling from one end of the country to the other for over four decades now, spreading the message of natural hygiene. His patients come from far. Some come for consultations in Delhi and then take advice on the phone.

Swaminathanji is not a professional and does not charge anybody for consultations. “I don’t live on your disease,” he replies if someone tries to pay him. In fact, he warns against professional healers. “They develop a vested interest in the disease and not in its eradication.”

The source of Sri Swaminathanji’s income is the pension which he receives from him government job. He took premature retirement at the age of 52 to devote himself fully to the cause of natural hygiene.

He has written two books on nature cure in Hindi and edits the magazine The Life Natural.