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Ayurveda and Food

If diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; if diet is correct, medicine is of no need. Let the correct food to be your medicine

As a natural system of medicine, Ayurveda accepts that diet can promote general health and both prevent and cure disease. Ayurveda is a way of embracing food as life-giving energy, and a way of understanding how your individual nature and the influences around you determine how well your food will serve you. Ayurveda explains that your dietary needs and your digestion are affected by the rhythms of nature and the changes that occur in your life. Living an Ayurveda lifestyle is to make food choices that are based not only on your original Dosha, but according to the quality of the food, the current season and your location. The foundation of Ayurveda nutrition is based on the idea that you are the result of what, when, where, how and why you eat.

As a practice based on science and spirit, Ayurveda encourages you to prepare and eat your food in a peaceful, loving and pleasant environment; and to greet your food with reverence, acknowledging its source with gratitude. The enduring principles of Ayurveda beautifully express the essential nature of eating mindfully and gratefully as a path to living healthily and happily. The most important principle in the Ayurveda Diet is that your food is fresh, natural, seasonal, as often as possible local and finally customized.

Ayurveda proposes that all six tastes be included in every meal in Dosha balancing ratios which assist your brain and body to communicate in way that helps efficient digestion and leaves you satisfied. Including all six tastes is a great way to incorporate Ayurvedic diet into your lifestyle and at the same time improve your health. Proper digestion leads to good assimilation of nutrients and contentment reduces food cravings and over eating. In general, any time you go against your own nature, or fall out of harmony with natural law, your digestion will reflect that and create disorders in metabolic process.

Ayurveda places a great deal of emphasis on digestion or Agni, stating that nourishing food will have minimal effect on the body, if the digestion is not balanced. Agni is pivotal in digesting and transforming food into cell nourishment. Digestion can be weak, strong, or irregular, depending on your body type or imbalances: If your digestion is weak or dull, and you eat too much food or food that is too heavy for your digestive system, it will form undigested matters in the system. When the Agni malfunctions, it will gradually lead to accumulation of toxins produced by undigested food (ama) which lead to disease. Once it settles in a specific area, over time ama becomes reactive and mixes with the subdoshas, the dhatus (body tissues), or malas (waste products such as urine). When it combines with these parts of the physiology, it becomes amavisha, a more reactive, toxic type of ama.

The logical principle is that digestion or Agni transforms ingested food into the necessary basic elements for the cells. When the Agni is not balanced, the ingested food will not be transformed to cellular nutrients. Cell absorption and elimination will also be affected thereby causing disease and “blocking” food channels. The quantity and type of food that can be easily digested, depends on the digestive capacity. Eating habits and types of food consumed need to be adjusted according to digestive types. Digestion also changes with seasonal changes and if diet is not adjusted with lifestyle and weather changes, the body may produce diseases. An irregular daily routine can also disrupt your digestion which cause diseases and mental, emotional and physical stress will also affect the digestion.

According to Ayurveda there is no standard diet prescription, as diets are based on the body constitution and it is advisable to base daily diets around wholesome food. According to Ayurveda each individual has to have different nutritional approach based on age, lifestyle, climate, health conditions and most importantly body constitution - thereby offering individualized nutrition. Ayurveda principles though complex and deep are also holistic and logical and are supported by several scientific studies substantiating the medicinal values of plants and food, creating “health-food”.

Ignoring laws of correct living which result in accumulation of toxins in the body, predictably results in disease. Ayurveda prescribes an individualistic approach to the dietary and lifestyle practices which promote health and longevity. Ayurveda dietary and cleansing practices are among the simplest, but most profoundly effective in the world. By identifying your dosha and applying the principles of living prescribed by both the ancient Rishis and modern Ayurveda practitioners, you can restore your health and have good life expectancy.