What is Diet in Ayurveda ?

Ayurveda diet is unique for each person. It depends on body constitution , dosha ratio, age , gender, nature of physical work ,times of day and seasons. This helps to keep diseases at bay.

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Ayurveda emphasizes on healthy diet to keep diseases at bay. These diets are tailor made to each person, based on his or her constitution , dosha ratio, age , gender, nature of physical work etc. It also depends on times of day and seasons.

Aim of Ayurvedic Diet

Ayurveda insists vaidyas to analyse dietary needs of each and every individual . The importance given to diet and nutrition in the ayurveda system of medicine, cannot be under estimated. Agni or body fire metabolises the foods consumed. Hence agni should be optimally maintained to prevent indigestion. According to Ayurveda indigestion leads to liberation of ama or body toxins. Hence the main aim of Ayurvedic diet is to eat foods which are nourishing and do not cause indigestion. For Example soybean is not recommended in Ayurveda for human consumption.

Ayurveda Emphasises on Vegetarian Diet

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Dr. Mahesh Satyan says that , 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 in Ayurvedic Diet

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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.  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. These balance agni and aid in comfortable digestion. Herbs also cleanse our body system off toxins and impurities and helps in the process of elimination. They relieve constipation and normalise bowel movement.

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. Amalaki rasayanas (rasayanas made from Amla) and Triphala rasayanas are highly recommended in ayurveda as these help in digestion, assimilation and elimination. The best way to consume spices is by consuming them after cooking.

6 Tastes or Rasa in Ayurvedic Diet

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Ayurveda favours the inclusion of all the six tastes or 6 rasa: sweet (madhura rasa) , sour (amla rasa) , salty (lavana rasa) , astringent (kashaya rasa) , bitter (tikta rasa) and pungent (katu rasa) 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.

Diet Based on Doshas:

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Ayurveda recommends foods based on the doshas of each person and what type of food is beneficial for each body type.

Vata Dosha Pacifying foods.

Vata dosha 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 and Fruits for vata dosha:

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.

Pitta Pacifying Foods.

For people with pitta dosha dominant constitution, milk, rice, beans and fruits as also spices such as cumin, coriander are recommended.

Pitta pacifying Vegetables:

There are no restrictions on the consumption of vegetables by the pitta 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 chilli are good for kapha constitution persons.

Ayurvedic Diet Based on Diseases

Texts of Ayurveda suggest that when a person suffers from a disease, vaidyas or ayurvedic doctors have to analyse his dosha vitiations , strength of agni, extent of toxin accumulation etc and then frame diet chart which helps him to get rid of his disease.

You can know about following diets based on diseases in this website

1. Ayurvedic Diet for Erectile Dysfunction
2. PCOS or PCOD Ayurvedic Diet
3. Ayurvedic Weight Loss Diet
4. Ayurvedic Diabetes Diet for South Indians
5. Ayurvedic Diet for Psoriasis
6. Ayurvedic Diet for Acne and Pimple.

Vegetables in ayurvedic diet:

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.

Do’s and Don’ts in Ayurveda Diet

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 colours, flavourings, 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.

Note:
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.

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