American diets really hate on fat, but in fact, your body needs fat for digestion and optimizing bodily functions. In Indian food, clarified butter called Ghee is considered the best fat you can eat.
In Ayurvedic texts, they pronounce that “Ghee is life” – that’s how important it is! When eaten in right amounts, although it is fat, it’ll actually help you lose weight!
I recently witnessed just how powerful fat could be in Alaska, watching salmon swim upstream!
The salmon eat fatty foods in the ocean, and once fall comes, they use up all that fat to swim upstream. Over waterfalls! Some swim up mountains! By the time they get to their destination to lay eggs, they are dried up.
I once fell into a whitewater river, and let me tell you, it is not easy to swim upstream… I actually couldn’t do it! Think of all the fat the salmon burn up just to stay in one place in that stream!
And since nature is so beautiful, bears will eat the fatty salmon swimming upstream in the fall, and use all those stored fats to hibernate the entire winter!
“To get ready for hibernation, animals will eat more than usual during the fall to store up body fat. During hibernation and torpor, they will use up this extra body fat to live off of while not losing any muscle. This allows the animal to come out of hibernation thinner and still as strong as it was before winter.”
We can follow that just like the salmon, if we’re extra active, we need MORE fat, not less. Of course, just like the bears, some people could have stored fat, which we first need to burn off before adding too much more to our diet.
We can also follow the seasons, just as these animals do. Eat more fat in late fall, and burn it off (by exercising, since we don’t hibernate) in the winter, coming out with muscles and less fat in the spring!
These are just my observations from watching nature. Here are some great excerpts from expert Ayurveda books I’ve read on the subject of fat:
“Ayurveda does not leap to either ‘fat is bad’ or ‘fat is great.’ Ayurveda prescribes the responsible use of fats, considering with awareness and caution our own dosha requirements and digestive limitations.
From a commonsense perspective, it’s better to eat rich, fatty foods earlier in the day rather than in the evening. The season as well comes into play. You can eat more ghee in winter, less in summer and fall, and the least (or even none at all) in the spring.
If you suffer from the symptoms of indigestion or toxins, you should abstain from eating ghee or any other fat until you have undergone a physical detoxification.”
“Butter is tonic to the brain, especially after it has been clarified into ghee. One tablespoon of melted ghee with half a teaspoon of sugar or maple syrup early in the morning helps promote mental coolness in Pitta types. Replacing the sugar with a teaspoon of honey helps promote mental cohesion in Vata types.
Ghee increases the digestive fire without increasing Pitta, helps to remove the effects of poisons, promotes beauty, improves the complexion and luster, and is aphrodisiac. It promotes mental stability and intelligence and is a good vehicle for most herbs.”
~ Dr. RobertSvoboda. Prakriti: Your Ayurvedic Constitution
“Ghee is a product made from unsalted butter. It is an excellent appetizer, enkindling agni, and it enhances the flavor of foods. It also helps digestion because it stimulates the secretion of digestive juices.
Ghee also helps to enhance intelligence, understanding, memory and ojas. It relieves constipation if taken with warm milk.
When used with various herbs, ghee carries their medicinal properties to the tissues. Combined with licorice, calamus root or gotu kola, it is used extensively as an Ayurvedic medicinal.”
“Ghee relieves chronic fever, anemia and blood disorders and is useful for detoxification. It does not increase cholesterol as do many other oils and it has anti-vata, anti-pitta and anti-kappa properties. Thus it aids in the balancing of the tridosha. Ghee promotes the healing of wounds and alleviates peptic ulcer and colitis. It is good generally for the eyes, nose and skin.”
~ Vasant Lad. Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing: A Practical Guide