You are not just what you eat, but also how and when you eat it! Yes, your diet happens to be the best preventive medicine, according to Ayurveda. It is what is responsible for your health, diseases, sorrows or even joy.
Although specific medicines are required for the management of specific diseases, diet is the best among all medicines. In fact, without a proper and balanced diet, no medicine can perform well.
Importance of diet, as per Ayurveda:
Simply said, food is the source of proper nutrition for all living beings. While it acts as nectar and nourishment for human beings on judicious consumption, it can even act as poison on inappropriate consumption. And therefore, knowing what works for your body in terms of food is necessary to stay healthy.
According to Sushruta Samhita, a good diet has the following benefits:
- It strengthens the body
- Maintains the body
- Increases life
- Adds radiance
- Increases enthusiasm
- Improves memory
- Infuses energy
- Keeps the digestive fire alive
Diet rules and guidelines given by Acharyas in Ayurveda:
As we mentioned earlier, food is considered as the main element of health in Ayurveda. A good diet is based upon the nature of the individual’s body. As per Ayurveda, diseases occur due to imbalance of elements found in the body. This traditional medicine system takes three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha – into consideration. A nutritious and quality diet is important to keep these three doshas in balanced state in the body.
For that, let us understand that there are three categories of diet:
1. Sattvic diet:
This is the purest of all foods. This nourishes the body, calms the brain and increases immunity. This includes whole grains, vegetables, fresh fruits, milk, ghee, nuts, sprouts, honey and herbal teas.
2. Rajasic diet:
This food is salty and spicy. People who do heavy physical work can use thiS food.
3. Tamasic diet:
This includes onions, garlic, tobacco, non-vegetarian, alcohol and fermented things. Such food increases laziness and heaviness in the body, says Ayurveda.
Nutritional balance in food, per Ayurveda:
Just as modern science recommends eating a balanced diet, Ayurveda urges people to consume Shadrasatmak diet. It means six juices – sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent – should be included in one’s food.
Apart from these, there are 8 special rules of consuming a diet, according to Acharya Charaka, one of the principal contributors to Ayurveda.
1. Nature (Prakriti)
Some food items are light by nature. Moong dal, for example, is light and easy to digest, whereas urad dal is heavy and takes longer to digest. So, while taking food, keep the heaviness or lightness of a food in mind.
2. Karana (Sanskar)
Through sanskar or the way we cook, other qualities are created from the natural qualities of the food we may be preparing. For example, there is a difference in the taste of food prepared on gas, stove and oven, because the food receives fire or heat in different ways.
Similarly, while plain curd obstructs the channels of the body, using the same curd as buttermilk by churning it, becomes better for digestion. Or while rice prepared in the cooker is heavy to digest, boiled rice cooked in the open is lighter to digest.
3. Combination (Sanyog)
Eat by mixing two or more food items. This can be of two types:
- Combination of such a substance which is not opposite to body tissues and is beneficial for the body.
- Combination of such substances which are injurious and harmful for the body. Such contraindicated diet should not be consumed.Things like junk food, milkshake, banana shake, mango shake are ‘incomplete food combinations’ which can damage the internal organ, and produce toxins, which can further cause health problems.
4. Amount (Quantity)/Matra:
The quantity of food depends on the digestive fire. It is suggested that you eat a little less than your appetite. Do not eat food on a full stomach.
5. Country (Location):
Do not depend too much on ready-made food products. Fresh and quality grains should be used to prepare food. Food items like wheat, rice, pulses should be of good quality and vegetables should be freshly produced.
6. Kaal (Time):
One should eat on time. Take your next meal only after the last meal eaten is digested properly. Eat food when you feel hungry, not when your taste buds nudge you to indulge in it.
7. Utilization institution (rules compliance):
Talking, laughing, watching TV, reading newspaper and usage of phone should be avoided while eating food. Also, do not eat food in a hurry, too late or too slowly.
8. User (consumer):
At the end of the day, the benefits of a diet depend on the consumer. How are you eating your food? Are you eating it hot or not? Are you eating on time or not? All these things depend on the consumer.
The bottomline is that you need to eat well to stay well!