Ayurveda refers to one’s vigor, immunity, strength, and happiness as “ojas,” and says that a lack of ojas manifests as tiredness, sadness, immune concerns, cold hands and feet, cognitive and memory issues.
As I continue my mission here on LifeSpa.com, I’ve found that ojas is a true example of how we can use the ancient medical wisdom of Ayurveda bridged with modern science to enjoy a healthy, happy, long life.
Unearthing the science of “vigor,” it seems quite basic to our physiology. The most basic form of vigor is produced as electricity in every tiny cell of the body via its sodium-potassium pump.
Every cell in the body pumps sodium (NA+++) or salt out of the cell, and potassium (K++) into the cell.
As you can see, there is one “+” charge remaining from this sodium-potassium pump that results in the production of an electric charge. There is additional electricity produced by a charge created in the cell membrane from the higher concentrations of sodium inside the cell than normally exists outside the cell. This is called the “sodium battery.”
Every tiny muscle cell creates almost 1/10th of a volt from its sodium-potassium pump. A muscle around one inch in size produces 200,000 volts. (1)
When you combine the electricity or “vigor” created by the sodium-potassium pump and the sodium battery, pound for pound, the human body produces more electricity or “vigor” than a nuclear power plant. (1)
But when sodium and potassium levels are out of balance, there is a drastic drop in the electrical (vigor-ojas) production from the sodium-potassium pump and sodium battery. Sodium, or what we know commonly as salt, has been linked to cardiovascular concerns for decades. We have all been told to reduce our salt intake.
However, reducing the salt intake will not turn back and re-vitalize the sodium-potassium pump and sodium battery (rebuild vigor and ojas) unless you increase your consumption of potassium-rich foods. (1)
The key to restoring vigor on a cellular level is by increasing potassium-rich foods and decreasing sodium-rich foods.
In fact, studies suggest that we should be eating 4 times more potassium than sodium each day. (1)
Potassium-Rich Foods = Ojas-Building Foods
An unprocessed, unrefined, plant-based diet is the best way to build ojas and maintain a healthy potassium-sodium ratio.
I have written many articles on how to build ojas by eating more ojas-building foods, but did you know that the classic ojas-building foods are some of the highest potassium-rich and lowest sodium-rich foods?
Here are some of the classic ojas-building foods and their potassium-sodium content. (1,2)
|Serving Size||Ojas-Building Food||Potassium (milligrams)||Sodium (milligrams)|
|1 cup||Whole Cow’s Milk||342||122|
|1 cup||Whole Goat’s Milk||439||83|
If you add up the amount of potassium to sodium you would get from these ojas-building foods, you get 2427.1 milligrams of potassium to 247.2 milligrams of sodium—9.8 times more potassium than sodium.
The science suggests that to recharge the sodium-potassium pumps, we just need 4 times more potassium than sodium. These ojas-building foods deliver almost 10 times as much potassium.
I combined the classic ojas-building foods to make my Ojas Nightly Tonic formula, but there are many more ojas-building foods that also happen to be the highest food sources of potassium.
For example, fresh, fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans are all very high in potassium and naturally low in sodium. (1)
Avoiding Low Potassium, High Sodium Foods
Processed and packaged foods are generally the highest sources of sodium and the lowest sources of potassium. These foods should always be avoided.
Meats tend to have both potassium and sodium, but when you season it with salt, the sodium content explodes—which may explain why vegetarians tend to be so much healthier than meat eaters.
By definition, healthy vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and pescatarians include more whole, fresh fruits and vegetables which have significantly higher potassium to sodium ratios. Vegetarians, in general, are healthier and live longer lives. (1)
We Recommend6 Keys to a Healthy Plant-Based Diet
Hunter-Gatherers Had it Right
When we compare the diet of hunter-gatherers to modern humans, they are surprisingly similar except for two very critical nutrients.
They ate about 100 grams of fiber per day, while we get just about 15 grams per day on average.
They also ate some 7-11,000 milligrams of potassium per day, while the average American gets only about 1,328 milligrams. Even with the RDI at 4700 milligrams per day, most Americans come nowhere close to their potassium needs. (3) Hunter-gatherers also ate very little sodium in their diets, while we generally exceed what the daily dietary allowance allows.
Stay tuned for more on the urgent need for more potassium (vigor-ojas food) in the diet.
Here is a good food list for sodium content in your food: http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/info/books-phds/books/foodfacts/html/data/data5a.html
Here is a good food list for the potassium content in foods: http://apjcn.nhri.org.tw/server/info/books-phds/books/foodfacts/html/data/data5b.html
Learn more about how to get the critical balance of potassium and magnesium here: https://staging.lifespa.com/top-2-most-common-mineral-deficiencies-in-modern-humans/