Food and Nutrition - 1
Ayurvedic Dietary Guidelines
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian system of medicine. It is based on natural and holistic medicine. The term Ayurveda has been derived from two words ayur and veda. Ayur means longevity and veda means science. Thus Ayurveda is a science that deals with longevity. However longevity must not be confused with long but unhealthy life. Ayurveda emphasises a balance between food habits, living conditions and rightful thinking. Importance of balanced food is the most important component of Ayurveda. Now we must understand that Ayurveda is based on three basic principles or energies --- Vatta, Pitah and Kapha. Energy of movement is known as vattta; energy of digestion is pitta while the energy of digestion is pitta. Every one of us has the qualities of vatta, pitah and kapha. However there should be a balance between the three, otherwise our body will fall prey to many diseases.
Now Ayurvedic dietary guidelines can help us maintain the balance between these three principles. Unlike western system, Ayurdeda considers food as something sacred, not just meant to feed our belly and please our palate. There are certain guidelines in Ayurveda which must be followed while the intake of food.
Dietary Guidelines in Ayurveda
Unlike western food habits Ayurveda lays stress on certain guidelines. As we know that due to unhealthy food habits many people suffer from digestion problems. These digestion problems mostly arise due to the imbalance between the vata, pitah and kapha. Our ancestors have laid certain guidelines following which we can avoid all of our health problems including digestion problems.
According to Ayurveda the food should be taken as Prasad of God. We must offer prayer before taking our food. The food should be prepared by loving hands. When prepared with loving hands then we can have life energy also known as prana. The place for eating food is very important. The food must be taken in its proper place. The environment must be calm and free from any sort of stress. All types of no-win discussions should be avoided while having food. It is most important for the people with pittah predominance.
One should be in proper frame of mind while taking food. Any stress, anxiety, distraction and anger can have detrimental effects and the life giving food can become no less than poison. Food taken should be oily and moist. According to Charak Sahimta oily and moist food brings downward trend in vatta tendencies and increases nervous and muscular power. Ayurvdeda strongly discourages the intake of cold drinks. These drinks weaken the agni or digestive fire. Only small quantities of liquid should be taken during the meal.
Food with opposite potencies should be avoided. For example hot and cold food should not be combined. It will lead to the building up of toxins in body. Overeating should be avoided at any cost. One must have only seventy five per cent of his capacity. Overeating leads to increase in kapaha dosh. In fact, Ayurveda considers having food something like sadhana which is generally forgotten by most of the people of the modern era. The result is that now more and more people are suffering from obesity, heart diseases and diabetes. The deadly pandemic Covid 19 is also the result of the notorious food habits of the Chinese.
However, we must keep in mind that Ayurvedic food guidelines are not rigid. The only purpose is to create awareness about sacredness of food. In this modern era we tend to flout these guidelines regarding food quite frequently.