I recently read 'Spoonfood: Why everything you know about food is wrong' by Tim Spector, head of the British gut project whose work has changed the way people think about food and its relationship with our bodies. Tim and many other scientists now recognize that virtually every aspect of our physiology and wellness is influenced by the gut microbiome. Crucial discovery through painstaking years of research has given us the evidence showing that the diversity of food and gut bacteria is the key to overall health.

This teaching is at the heart of Ayurveda as well, a traditional health system focused fundamentally on diet and digestion. It absolutely blows my mind to think that a 5000 year old ancient knowledge system entails philosophy and practice that is comparable to recent trends and discoveries in contemporary medicine. Both emphasise the idea of wellbeing and health through lifestyle and dietary changes.

I recall, when I was a child, my mother tried to make me drink kashayams that (for the lack of a more elegant word) tasted...bad! The young me didn't understand why I needed to drink a strange, bitter concoction to fix a skin issue or an allergy. With a more studied and thoughtful exploration of both Ayurveda and modern science, today I see how the gut can be considered at the epicentre of many health issues.

While starting out at Birdsong, we did a deep dive into what dinacharya practices of Ayurveda tell us about daily health and wellness habits. Gandusha is one of the main early morning rituals, advising us to take in some oil (coconut or sesame), swirl in our mouths for as long as possible and then spit it out. The benefits of this oral health and hygiene are immense. From reducing bad breath to improving gum health, cleaner teeth and even pulling out toxins. Some of these claims are also made by modern day mouthwashes. Except, rinsing your mouth with alcohol and chemical based mouthwashes may actually be bad in the long term as it can potentially kill all the good microbes in the mouth as well. So we took the concept of the ancient - Gandusha - swirling coconut oil and modernised it with the infusion of exciting, refreshing flavours of Mint, Citrus and Vanilla... and that’s how we made the ancient relevant and modern.

I am as much a believer of modern science as I am of traditional remedies. Medical science and its discoveries have done tremendous good for our individual and collective living. Its impact on life expectancy, vital diagnosis and life saving interventions have propelled us to a new era of progress. When married with the ability of traditional health systems to look at baseline parameters like diet, habits, sleep etc and treat the individual as a whole, this interconnected approach can have tremendous impact on the quality of our lives.

Just like when languages perish they take away with them an entire culture and way of being, losing out on the knowledge of a rich, complex traditional health system deprives us of the benefits of a philosophy that defines who we are as people, at least in some ways. Whether the ethnobotanical and folk uses of plants by indigenous communities or classical Ayurveda, when married with modern science, they can hold the key to a life of wellbeing.


- Radhika
Co-founder and CEO @ Birdsong Life


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August 15, 2022