The Jain Route to Better Health
Eight days in the holy month of Bhadwa (Bhadrapad), Jain followers all over the world fast and pray for forgiveness. This holy period referred to as ‘Prajyushan’ includes various methods of prayer in different postures while reading or listening to holy sermons from their religious leaders. Many will be surprised to know that this age-old practice that preaches non-violence is so deeply connected to health and fitness. Here are a few instances that indicate the ‘divine’ connection –
Eating before sunset
This Jain ritual ensures that people partake their dinner before sunset. Dinner is the last meal of your day, and as the day ends, our body processes and metabolism slow down. So, if we eat late, that food is not utilised for energy. It instead gets converted to fat, resulting in weight gain. All nutrition based experts provide diet plans with early dinner as well.
Prayer in different yoga postures
The ritualistic Jain forgiveness prayer in the evening referred to as ‘Pratikraman’ is an hour-long procedure with different postures. This ensures that every follower does include exercise in their daily routine. This daily mandatory workout keeps the risk of excess fat storage at bay and ensures flexibility in the body.
Many religions require that we learn the importance of food and sacrifice by fasting. Ramadan is unique example of the same, a dawn to dusk fast followed by all Muslims for a month. Jain followers avoid food and water for the last day of this holy period and eat after sunrise the next day. Avoiding food helps the body burn all the glucose, then the fat stored to provide energy. A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored are dissolved and removed from the body. “ After a few days of the fast, higher levels of endorphins appear in the blood, making you more alert and giving an overall feeling of general mental well being,” says Dr Mahroof, Oxford. However, one must be cautious about how ‘long’ they can fast, as the body needs regular food supplements to function without exhaustion and sickness!
Say NO to potato!
Vegetables grown under the ground, for example potatoes, onions, beetroots are avoided as they are believed to contain microorganisms from the soil. This could be literally translated to a low – carb diet (potatoes among the highest sources of carbohydrates in a vegetarian meal); which helps cut down on a lot of fried and processed products as well – namely potato wafers, french fries, burgers with potato filling and the famous ‘aloo parathas’. The basic diet consists of legumes and non-leafy vegetables, basically highly nutritious homemade food.
Does it work?
All religions come with a code of conduct and certain rules, that today’s generation find difficult to adapt to, but all do spread learning and preach ‘awareness’ in their own personalised way. Jainism preaches humility, non-violence, forgiveness so that all its followers are healthy – mind, body and spirit. The recent surge in fitness and wellness, has quite a few experts go back in time and make put people on strict routine of good diet, regular exercise and meditation. Whether you do it as Jains or slowly begin to understand your genes – it will work in some time ?
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About the Author
Dr. Pallavi Jain is part of the Scientific Team at Mapmygenome. She has a Bachelors Degree in Biochemistry with Genetics and a PhD in Molecular Medicine (UK). She recently completed an intensive course in IVF from Origio, Mumbai. She enjoys swimming and reading.