Throughout your life, your bones provide structure and strength. They anchor your muscles, protect your vital organs, and provide the foundation for movement. As you age, it’s important to nourish your bones naturally—especially for women, who are more prone to bone-density loss. Ayurveda offers a wealth of simple, nutritional strategies for supporting healthy bones at every age.
Vata Dosha and Bone Health
From the perspective of Ayurveda, the thinning of bones and bone mass can arise from an imbalance in Vata dosha, the mind-body energy associated with air and ether. Vata dosha is cold, dry, and irregular in nature. When Vata is out of balance, it can lead to those same qualities of dryness and irregularity in the bones. The key, therefore, is keeping Vata dosha in balance.
Foods That Balance Vata Dosha
Foods that are warm, moist, unctuous, and grounding are very helpful in bringing Vata dosha back into balance. Think soups, stews, and stir-fries, and beverages like warm tea. Healthy fats like ghee and olive oil are also beneficial, as are seeds and nuts—which also happen to be a good source of calcium, a key nutrient in building healthy bones. Almonds are especially high in calcium. Read all about the Ayurvedic view on almonds, which are very balancing to the mind and body alike.
Foods That Aggravate Vata Dosha
Foods that aggravate Vata tend to be raw (like salads), cold (like ice-cold beverages or ice cream), dry (like crackers or frozen foods), or overly processed (i.e. dry breakfast cereals, etc.). Whenever possible, try to avoid Vata-increasing foods.
Top Ayurvedic Foods to Support Bone Health
Foods that are naturally rich in calcium are beneficial in promoting bone health. These include:
- Organic milk and dairy products
- Dark, leafy green veggies (like kale and chard)
- Sesame seeds
- Yogurt (best taken in the form of lassi, a probiotic beverage)
Sesame seeds deserve a special call-out here, as they are a highly celebrated source of calcium in Ayurveda (look for white sesame, or “til” seeds). These seeds are extremely warming, and increase Pitta dosha, the mind-body energy associated with fire and water.
Milk is a great source of calcium and is wonderful for growing kids, teenagers, pregnant women, nursing mothers and recovering patients, Vata types, and at times for Pittas, as well. Because milk is rich and heavy in nature, Ayurveda recommends boiling it and adding spices to enhance its digestibility.
Recipes to Maintain Healthy Bones
Try these two simple Ayurvedic recipes, which contain ingredients that are high in calcium.
Sesame Seed Paste to Support Strong Bones
During summer, soak one teaspoon of white sesame seeds in some water and leave them overnight on your kitchen counter. The next morning, drain the water and chew the seeds slowly. During winter, don't soak the seeds. Every morning, just chew one teaspoon slowly. You can top this with a half glass of warm milk, if you like.
Warm Milk for Bone Health
Boil milk with a couple of strands of saffron, cut; pitted dates; and roughly-cut almonds. You can also add spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, turmeric root, and cloves. Strain, add raw honey (after the milk has cooled) and enjoy.
You can drink this beverage without straining it, taking care to chew the dates and almonds. People with sleep issues often benefit from this drink. It’s also a great hit with growing kids, who love the sweetness of the dates and the "bite" of the almonds. It can be served for breakfast or as a bedtime beverage. Note: the spices in this beverage can be quite heating! So adjust as needed for your season, climate, and dosha makeup.
Other Helpful Recipes:
- This Fresh Fruit Smoothie is a delicious summer drink with sweet, juicy fruits that balance Vata dosha. Be sure to drink it room-temperature, not cold.
- Brown Rice is a great source of calcium, which is beneficial in supporting bone health. This recipe calls for ghee, which balances Vata and adds healthy fats.
- Sprouted Mung Dhal (substitute sprouted mung beans for yellow mung dhal) is among the most nourishing—and simple!—Ayurvedic dietary staples. Flavor it with spices to suit your palate and dosha type.
- Our Stir-Fried Okra recipe features a Southern favorite veggie: okra, another great source of calcium. Spices and ghee further enhance the Vata-balancing benefits of this dish.
- Ginger Lassi helps with digestion and calls for yogurt, which is rich in calcium (always choose organic whenever possible).
To Your (Bone) Health!
We hope this article offers you a helpful guide to the kinds of foods you can eat to balance Vata dosha and support healthy bones.
When it comes to balancing Vata dosha, it’s also beneficial to avoid undue stress. Try to avoid situations that make you feel overly anxious or tense; try to follow a good routine; and make a point of getting enough sleep at night. Good digestion is important, too. Try not to eat on the go; make a point of sitting down to eat your meals mindfully in a quiet, settled environment.
Focusing on self care is a small way of saying "thank you" to your body for being the incredible phenomenon it is!
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