Ayurveda Aur Hum

Ayurveda Aur Hum

Importance of Ahar (Diet) in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, food is called ‘mahabhaisajya’ which means ‘the superior medicine. You can maintain your health and prevent diseases for a long time if you eat the right food and follow the right kind of lifestyle as per your needs and in line with the seasons and cycles of nature.[i]

Everything is universal in constitution as per Ayurvedic philosophy. Food essentially contains the five basic elements of nature i.e. the Panch Mahabhutas which are space, air, fire, water and earth. When consumed in appropriate proportions, food can help in balancing similar elements in the body.1

Diet (Ahar) and Prakriti

Ayurveda insists that diet (Ahar) should be chosen according to the Prakriti or constitution of every individual.[ii] Food habits that are beneficial to the body and mind are known as pathya,  and food habits that are harmful or disease producing are known as apathya.1 Pathya can be categorised based on their aggravating or beneficial effects on the Tridoshas – vata, pitta and kapha or based upon their effect on the human mind – Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic.1,2

Diet (Ahar) for balancing Tridoshas

These are some foods that are considered helpful and some foods that may be harmful for each dosha.2

 Vata aggravating food

dry fruits, apples, melons, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, ice cream, , peas, green salads etc.

 Vata beneficial food

sweet fruits, apricot, avocados, coconut, brown rice, red cabbage, bananas, grapes, cherries, oranges, dates, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, mustard greens, okra, onion, peas, spinach etc.

Pitta aggravating food

spicy foods, peanut butter, sour fruits, bananas, papayas, peaches, plums, tomatoes, garlic etc.

Pitta beneficial food

mangoes, oranges, pears, plums, sprouts, green salad, sunflower seeds, asparagus, mushrooms, artichoke, beets (cooked), bitter gourd, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, fennel, green beans, leafy greens, lettuce, okra, onions (cooked), potatoes, sweet and white etc.

Kapha aggravating food

bananas, melons, coconut, dates, papayas, pineapples, figs, plums, dairy products etc.

Kapha beneficial food

Apples, apricots, dry fruits, pomegranates, peaches, raisins, cranberries, basmati rice, sprouts, chicken, green gram (Moong), kidney beans, parched rice, parched barley, wheat etc.

Diet (Ahar) for the mind

Since food equally affects the mind as much as the body, Ayurveda recommends specific kinds of food for individuals based on their Guna or natural behaviour. The three classifications of food are:1

  • Sattvik food: An ideal diet containing vegetarian, non-oily, and non-spicy food- suitable for the mind
  • Rajasik food: Too spicy, hot, sour, salty food -food that excites the mind
  • Tamasic food: Too oily, tasteless, stale and heavy food that leads to a lethargic or dull mind.

(Diet (Ahar) for different seasons

Summer: During summer, when the temperature is high, people tend to sweat excessively. At such a time of the year, Pitta dosha usually predominates. It is not recommended to eat hot, spicy or pungent foods during this time because they aggravate pitta.2

Autumn: During autumn, when the wind is high and dry, more vata dosha is present in the environment. At this time, dry fruits, high protein foods and other foods that increase vata should be avoided.2

Winter: Winter is the season of kapha; it brings cold and snow. During this period cold drinks, ice cream, cheese and yogurt should be avoided. Such foods increase kapha.2

Ayurvedic philosophy believes that we are what we eat. Food is very important for nourishing not just the body, but also the mind and conscience. Hence, the time of eating, the right kind of posture while eating and amount of food consumed matters equally as much as the type of food eaten.2 A balanced diet and healthy daily habits can contribute profoundly in treatment or prevention of diseases.1

References

[i] Ayurveda – The Science of Life. CCRAS. New Delhi. 2012.

[ii] Lad V. Ayurveda: The science of self-healing: A practical guide. Lotus press; 1984.