Diet and Health
Food is medicine and medicine is food. Most people don’t think of food as medication but in reality it is the single biggest medication we are exposed to.
Food or ahara enhances and supports prana (energy), food enhances our energies and if not taken in a disciplined manner can cause vitiation in our system causing terrible imbalances. Therefore the food what we consume plays a significant role in maintaining our health.
Ojas diet counseling emphasis on Eating right according to constitution ( vata, pitta and kapha), work pattern, stage of life, season, and place one lives which makes a major difference in staying healthy. The diet given by us takes all these factors into consideration by assessing the individual.
Therapeutic diet counseling is nothing but charting out a diet plan based on a particular disorder and correcting the imbalances through diet. Depending on the disorder, the diet is formulated keeping in mind what nutrients need to be given in what form. The digestive capacity is enhanced and proper defecation is facilitated in order to eliminate the toxins out of the system. This helps in bringing back the ojas, tejas and balam in the body harmonizing the energies completely. By bringing the balance in the six taste or rasas in the food, the diet enhances the emotional energies calm, serene and alert. The diet counseling is done keeping the modern perspective of food and the traditional way.
Ojas dietary recommendations not only prevent and heal diseases, but also create a sense of wellbeing.
Factors of Ayurvedic Diet and Dietetics
Eight important rules are implicated in the intake of a proper diet. These are called Asta Ahara Vidhi Visesayatana.
Prakruti (Nature of food articles)
According to the nature or the qualities of the food the impact on us differs. If a food is too heavy as its nature then the impact on us is difficult to digest the food.
Karana (Method of processing)
In order to modify the natural properties of a food different processing can be applied. This modification is brought about by
- Application of heat (vaporization, distillation and sublimation),
The combining process of two or more substances to exhibit special properties which none of the substances ever possessed. For a disorder this method can be applied to treat the problem.
A balanced diet can be achieved by determining the effects of the food substances according to the doshas, quantity and modifying them.
Variations in equalities of substances due to difference in soil, use and climate where it is grown.
In relation to stage of the disease and seasonal wholesomeness is considered under Kala.
Upayoga samstha (Rules governing the intake of food)
The dietary rules are formulated according to the digestive power of an individual.
Upayoka (Wholesomeness of individual who takes it)
Whoever uses the food, his personal strength and doshas are considered to prepare a diet. The rules governing the intake of food come under this are as follows:
Food should not be consumed
Without cleansing the body or before defecation
without wearing proper clothes
Preparation for a person to consume food
- Consuming food at a suitable place and time
- Face and mouth should be well cleaned
- One should eat food that is not used by others
- Food should not be heated several times
- Food should be not very hot and overcooked
- In general, the person should eat food with relish for better results
Cause and effect of food on mind and body has very significant implications in rules.
Foods that should be consumed considering the digestive capacity and habituation are
Foods which are hard to digest, sweet and fatty should be consumed first.
Sour and salty should be consumed next
Lastly foodstuff that is dry, non-fatty, and liquid in nature and of other tastes should be consumed.
Those who have poor digestive capacity should consume liquid and warm foods in the beginning. Then it becomes easier to digest the other foods, which are eaten later, in a proper way as the digestive activity gets stimulated by the heat.
Bhojanottara karma (activities after meals)
After taking the meals, one needs to clean their hands and brush properly inorder to remove the residue of food sticking to the teeth. Walking about hundred steps helps in stimulating the digestion process.
These activities may seem to be very basic but many-a times we tend to ignore them which leads to discomfort later in life.
Dietary Rules (Aharaja Karanani)
In the ancient days, the qualities of each and every food preparation and their effect on the tissues of healthy as well as diseased individuals of various constitutions were studied in detail. Hence we find references of dietary factors as etiological factors, which trigger off, subdue, as well as aggravate many disease processes.
Importance of Taste
The particular sense object that is perceived by the tongue is called rasa. It can also be defined as that Guna which can be perceived only by the Rasana-Indriyas. According to each and every individual the rasas can be evaluated by classifying them into six different types.
E.g. sugar, banana, jackfruit, sugarcane, honey, jaggery, fruits etc,. Generally food is sweet in taste, neutral in energy, and sweet in its post-digestive effect. It nourishes and maintains humors, dhatus, and malas (wastes).
E.g. Amla, tamarind, buttermilk, curds, mango(unripe), sour fruits and pickled vegetables etc. All tissues are nourished by sour tastes except reproductive tissues.
E.g. – All salts and sea food. Salts help in strengthening all tissues but when used in excess it depletes the tissues.
E.g. – Sunthi (dried ginger), maricha (black pepper), pippali (long pepper), hing (asafoetida) etc. Spices and spicy vegetables do not offer much nutrition but they stimulate digestion.
E.g. – Neem, karela (bitter gourd), chandan (sandalwood), manjistha (Indian meddar), marigold, Adulsa (Malabar nut), Vekhanda etc. Such vegetables offer little nourishment but they are useful in cleansing the digestive organs, and help in digestion, if taken before meals.
Eg – Kulath (horse gram), Harda, ashoka, babbul (acacia tree), teak, jambul (black berry), etc. They help in providing minerals but do not build tissue.
Each of the six tastes also produces effects on each of the internal organs. They have the capacity to adversely affect certain organs in the body, when found in excess.