Ayurveda lays utmost emphasis on the dietary habits of individuals as a way to nourish the body, maintain good health, prevent disease and to balance the doshas. All ayurveda recipes, then, will have certain inherent qualities that will help an individual remain healthy. It feels that most diseases are associated with and originate in our digestive system and is a result of wrong and improper dietary habits.
Ayurveda also insists that the dietary needs of each and every individual are different and hence specific body constitutions need specific diet. The importance given to diet and nutrition in the ayurveda system of medicine, then, cannot be under estimated. The conversion of food in to nutrition is called Agni or fire in ayurveda. A vegetarian diet is always preferred over non vegetarian diet. Ayurveda suggests that an individual’s diet should contain rich amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and foods rich in fibre as these will provide energy and help the individual maintain good health.
A good meal as suggested by ayurveda would also include colours, aromas, flavours, tastes, textures etc that would soothe all our sense organs apart from providing our body with all the needed nutrients. Ayurveda discourages the use of animal flesh in our diet as also the consumption of coffee and alcohol..
Herbs and spices do play a vital part in all ayurveda diets and recipes. Ayurveda suggests that one consume herbs before a meal, during a meal and after a meal. juicevitamins etc. Herbs are known to increase the digestion process and help in assimilation of food due to their ability to transport the healing and nutritive value of food to the tissues, cells and organs. Herbs also cleanse our body system off toxins and impurities and helps in the process of elimination. .
Eating a lemon prior to a meal increases the appetite as also chewing fennel seeds after a meal helps in the digestive process and makes our breath more fresh. Amalakhi rasayanas and Triphala rasayanas are highly recommended in ayurveda as these help digestion, assimilation and elimination. The best way to consume spices is by consuming them after cooking. Ayurveda favours the inclusion of all the six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, astringent, bitter and pungent at every meal. These easy to digest recipes offer quick assimilation, prevent diseases, provide immunity from diseases, impart improved sleep and concentration, maintain youthfulness and offer energy, strength and vitality to an individual.The ayurveda system of medicine recommends suitable and unsuitable types of food for each category of body constitution. These are to be followed for a long and healthy life free from diseases. The food consumed by a person should have relevance to his body constitution. Ayurveda recommends foods based on the doshas of each person and what type of food is beneficial for each body type.
Vata Pacifying foods.
Vata pacifying foods include ghee, soft dairy products, wheat, rice, corn and bananas. It is recommended that a person with vata constitution consume foods like hot cereal with ghee, soups, vegetables, cooked grains, chapattis etc. Unlike other body constitution persons vata persons can consume spicy foods as well. . Vegetables: Asparagus, carrots, cucumber, green beans, onions, garlic, turnips, radish, sweet potatoes etc Fruits Mangoes, melons, peaches, bananas and all sweet fruits Grains Rice, wheat and oats.
Pita Pacifying Foods.
For people with pita constitution, milk, rice, beans and fruits as also spices such as cumin, coriander are recommended. Vegetables: There are no restrictions on the consumption of vegetables by the pita constitution persons. They can generally consume all types of vegetables. Fruits: There are also no restrictions on the type of fruits that they consume. All fruits are generally good for them.
Kapha Pacifying Foods.
And for kapha dosha persons, foods with bitter, pungent and astringent tastes are beneficial. Foods such as puffed rice, millets, and leafy vegetables as also spices such as ginger, turmeric, and chili are good for kapha constitution persons.
Vegetables: All vegetables are god for these persons. But if some of these kapha persons suffer from diseases such as asthma, lung congestion, heart disease, obesity etc then, it would be best to avoid sweet juicy vegetables like cucumbers , sweet potatoes etc Grains: Rice, wheat, millets etc are recommended.In the Ayurveda system of medicine, apart from consuming the type of food suitable for each dosha type, the seasons and the place where one lives are also taken in to consideration. Ayurveda diet, stresses the importance of consuming whole foods, eaten in as natural a state as possible. And it is also to be noted that if the digestive fire is not strong enough, then, even wholesome foods can turn into toxic matter in the body.
Ayurveda system of medicine does not recommend foods that are frozen, canned or refined as these dilute the food off its nutritive value. Also to be avoided are processed foods with artificial colors, flavorings, additives or preservatives. Also foods that are genetically altered and grown with the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides are also not favoured in ayurveda. The best option, then, would be to consume foods that are organic, natural and locally available. Ayurveda also stresses the importance of rotation of an individual’s diet so that one does not consume the same type of food each and every day of the week. There should always be variety in the types of food consumed as this will provide us with all the needed nutrients, increase the digestion process as also it will increase one’s liking for every type of food.
Food Intake -Do’s and Don’ts. Certain guidelines have been suggested in Ayurveda regarding the dietary habits that should help an individual maintain good health, nourish the body and balance the doshas.
- One should always consume cooked foods and avoid raw foods.
- Fruits and salad vegetables, however, can be eaten raw.
- The food consumed should neither be too hot or too cold.
- Curds are recommended after a heavy meal as it helps digestion.
- One should always chew one’s food properly.
- One should wash the hands, feet and face before every meal.
- Food should be consumed only if the bowel movements are proper.
- There should always be a gap of three hours between every meal.
- It is advisable to have a heavy lunch; however, a light dinner is recommended.
- One should always limit the intake of food to two thirds of the stomach capacity.
The following food combinations are best avoided - Never consume milk and meat
- Starchy foods such as potatoes and fruits should not be taken together.
It is to be noted that this information is purely for educational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please consult your ayurveda physician for all your specific dietary needs.