The first impression that appears on our minds when speaking of Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, is a lean, emaciated figure, weak from weeks of fasting in an attempt to end British Raj in India. Although Gandhi did push himself to physical extremes to enact political change, health records claim that he led an unbelievably healthy life because of his active lifestyle and diet.
As the nation celebrates Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary on October 2 this year, let us all take some valuable health tips from his life cycle.
Fasting Promotes Good Health
Contrary to common belief, fasting can do a world of good to your overall health. It gives your body some time to detox and cleanse the stomach, utilize the unused sources of nutrition, like fats, thus helping it cope with infections that might be present. Fasting also relieves bowel problems, like constipation. According to the principles of Ayurveda, one should fast at least once a week. Gandhi himself fasted for 21 days to encourage unity between the Muslim and Hindu communities.
Watch What You Are Eating
Gandhi once quoted – ‘The body is not meant to be treated as a refuse bin, holding foods that the palate demands.’ He himself chose a vegan lifestyle for six years, as he strongly believed one’s diet should be healthful and of prime importance to learning self-restraint. A vegan diet is richer in essential nutrients – vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, fibre and antioxidants; and can protect you against a range of serious health conditions or ailments including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, even cancer. A healthy vegan diet includes fruits and veggies, whole grains, peas, beans, seeds and nuts.
Be an Early Bird
Gandhi preached others to go to bed early and rise early the next morning to live a fit and active life. He himself slept for only 4-5 hours every night and woke up before dawn. People who wake up early tend to have regular sleep habits, unlike the night owls who follow an erratic sleep schedule. However, as recent findings suggest getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, we should try to fall asleep early and wake up rejuvenated the next morning to look forward to a productive day.
Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol
Gandhi preached complete abstinence from tobacco and alcohol. While tobacco puts you at risk of certain conditions like high blood pressure, cancer and stroke, alcohol increases the incidence of diabetes and heart diseases.
Walk Some Kilometres
Physical exercise does not have to be vigorous or done for long periods to promote health. Simply walking is a great way to maintain or improve your overall health. Gandhi walked a distance of 18Kms daily for forty years! That explains the secret of his commendable strength and will power. However, only a 30-minute walk every day can boost your cardiovascular fitness, reduce excess fat, strengthen bones, improve endurance and muscle power. It is also linked to minimal risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.
For centuries, meditation has been in practice in India. Several studies suggest that meditation helps reduce anxiety and stress, thus keeping your mind peaceful and healthy. Meditating for half an hour daily can reduce the stressors and bring your blood pressure down over time. People who remain calm are therefore less likely to develop heart conditions and hypertension.
As Gandhi said – ‘A man is the product of his own thoughts. He becomes what he thinks’. Setting the mind right with positive thoughts enhances your skill, improves your work capacity and boosts mental health.
Gandhi was wise to say – ‘An eye for an eye will make the world blind.’ Having said that, he urged the one and all to practice compassion. Compassion has been shown to have benefits on your mental health. Pursuing a compassionate lifestyle helps you become more open to others, be empathetic less judgemental.
This Gandhi Jayanti, we all should embrace his preaching not just in the field of politics, economy and humanity, but also in the aspects of health, and try to incorporate these health tips from his life span.