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Ayurveda Food

Ayurveda Food
Ayurveda provides a broad description of food and effect of food on the body. The food is categorized according to its taste and Gunas (the fundamental attributes). Ayurveda also classifies food on the bases of doshas (body constitution) and seasons. It widely explains which food item is favourable or unfavourable for an individual and which food should be taken or avoided during particular season. Thus, food is an elaborated subject of Ayurvedic cooking that holds prominent importance in the whole process.

Food according to Gunas

Ayurveda Food, Ayurveda Food in Rajasthan

There are three Gunas in Ayurveda - Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. These gunas are fundamental attributes that represent the natural evolutionary process. These three gunas are presented in every human being with more or less domination. An important way to regulate these gunas in body and mind is ayurvedic cooking or food. On the bases of these three gunas food can be classified as Sattvic, Rajasik, and Tamsik.

Sattvic Food
Sattvic food is most simple and easiest to digest type of food. The food contains most of its nutritional values as it is cooked by using minimal heat and modest processing. It provides the necessary energy to the body without taxing it. It is also considered as a foundation of higher states of consciousness, that is why saints and seers survive on sattvic foods. Sattvic food should be taken fresh or immediately after it is prepared.

Fresh juicy fruits, vegetables (that are easily digestible), milk and milk products, whole soaked or also sprouted beans, grains and nuts, many herbs and spices consumed in their natural and near-natural forms are good examples of satvik food. Common spices like ginger, turmeric, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, and aniseed are highly recommended in Sattvic diet while the vegetables like onion, garlic, red chilies and black pepper and such other pungent and astringent spices are forbidden.

Cow’s milk - the most Sattvic Food
Cow’s milk is regarded as the most complete, nourishing, and sattvic among all sattvic food. Though buffalo milk is also used widely, it is not considered to be as nourishing, and is usually not form the part of a sattvic diet. In the absence of cow’s milk, goat’s milk is recommended as a substitute. An exclusive body of work of Ayurveda deals with the benefits of cow’s milk and explains guidelines for taking care of cows. Milk products like butter, ghee (cooked and dehydrated butter) also used prominently in sattvic diet as they are prepared with very nominal amount of heat and retain their sattvic qualities.

Benefits of Satvik Food
Sattvic diet is best for health and vitality. A person who eats sattvic food has an ideal combination of physical, mental and emotional harmony. Sattvic food increase person’s well-being, and inner peace. Such a person always remained focused in his work, sleeps less and stays energized all day long.

Sattvic food keeps the person disease and disorder free. Person having sattvic food remains sensitive to the various nuances of his sensory being. He/she is less affected by exposure to adverse conditions. Even if he/she falls sick, the recovery is very fast.

Person having sattvic diet is usually of a calm disposition. She/he is not provoked easily and usually not aggressive in nature.

Rajasik Food
Rajasik food is rich in flavour but heavy to digest. It is suitable for people who do arduous physical work. Vegetables cooked in excess butter, with spicy and strong flavoring agents, are typical example of rajasic preparation. Cooked fresh, rajasic food is rich in nutrients with minimum dilution with water. Such food is heavy on salt and sugar and takes longer period to digest than sattvic food. It calls for extended sleeping hours and is sexually stimulating. Sattvic foods that have been fried in oil or cooked too much or eaten in excess, specific foods and spices that are strongly exciting, bitter, pungent, hot and dry are examples of rajasic food. A rajasic food eater is usually aggressive and overflowing with energy as the rajasic food increase the speed and excitement of the human organism. According to Ayurveda this energy can be beneficial if used wisely, it can lead a person towards prosperity, power and prestige.

A person lives on a rajasic diet, has love for life and all the worldly pleasures. Rajasic food is the foundation of motion, activity and pain hence rajasic person has the capacity to suffer the pains, as well as the trials and tribulations of life.comparison to a sattvic person, rajasic person would lead an eventful but shorter life. He/she would be a good worldly being, while a sattvic person is more focused on exploring life beyond physical pleasures.

Tamasic Food
Tamsic food is considered the worst among all types of food. Dry, unnatural, overcooked, stale, decaying and processed food makes for a Tamasic diet. Tamaasic diet consumes a large amount of energy while being digested. Refined food - be it cereals, oils or hydrogenated butter, stimulants and beverages like tea, coffee and soft drinks, fast and ready-to-cook food, canned or frozen food, precooked and warmed food items like burgers, pizzas, pastries, and chocolates, incompatible food as well as intoxicants like tobacco and alcohol are tamasic examples of tamasic food.

Tamasic diet is foundation of ignorance, doubt, pessimism and leads a person to sick and painful life. A tamasic person always at serious discomfort with himself and forgets to lead healthy a happy life. Ayurveda suggests that a householder that live in the world and need to keep pace with its' changes should include both the sattvic and rajasic food in his/her diet. One can lead a long and healthy life by having a balance diet which includes sattvic and rajasic foods. Tamasic foods must be avoided as much as possible.

Food according to Tastes
According to Ayurveda, taste is considerable element in cooking as taste of each food or herb has specific physiological effects. There are six major tastes in Ayurveda that have specific qualities and effects on body. A balanced diet should involves all the six tastes in every meal or at least have them once everyday.

The six tastes are
Sweet or Madhura – Sweet foods have earth and water elements and usually sattvic gunas. These are good for vata and pitta person as they subdued these doshas while kapha person should avoid sweet foods as they increase it. In general, sweet foods are nourishing, cool, moisturizing, and increase weight.

Sour or Amla – Sour foods have earth and fire elements and usually Rajasic gunas. Such foods are good for vata people as they subdued this dosha. Pitta and kapha person should avoid sour foods as they increase these doshas. In general, sour foods are warm, oily and increase weight.

Salty or Lavan – Salty foods have water and fire elements and usually Rajasic gunas. Good for vata people as they subdued this dosha, salty fods should be avoided by pitta and kapha person as they increase these doshas. In general, salty foods are warm, dissolving, stimulating, softening, oily, and increase weight.

Pungent or Katu –
Pungent foods have air and fire elements and could be Rajasic or Tamasic. They are good for kapha person because they subdued this dosha but should be avoided by vata and pitta persons as these doshas increased with such foods. In general, pungent foods are warm, dry, stimulating, and decrease weight.

Bitter or Tikta – Bitter foods have air and ether elements and usually Rajasic gunas. These are good for pitta and kapha person as they subdued these doshas while vata person should avoid such foods as they increase it. In general, bitter foods are cool, dry, purifying and decrease weight.

Astringent or Kasaya - Astringent foods have air and earth elements and Rajasic gunas. These are good for pitta and kapha person as they subdued these doshas while vata person should avoid such foods as they increase it. In general, astringent foods are cool, dry, and reduce stickiness.

Food according to Doshas
Ayurveda consider each person as an individual with different composition and needs. There are five basic elements in Ayurveda air, water, earth, fire and ether that forms three basic doshas. Each individual has his/her own composition of these elements which determines his/her dominant dosha. Thus every individual requires different diet according to the dominant dosha. A food, which is beneficial for one, could be detrimental for another. For example, Vata is a cold dry dosha, hence person with Vata as predominant dosha need warm, nourishing foods, while the Pitta person requires cool food to balance his fire element.

Pitta Dosha
Pitta Dosha and overeating are the main causes that trouble pitta, hence such food items should be reduced. Instead starchy foods such as vegetables, grains and beans, salad, milk and ice cream should be included in the diet. Alcoholic and fermented foods should also be avoided. Pitta person should not take coffee also as the acid in the coffee is also pitta aggravating, instead they can have herb teas like mint, licorice root or other that pacify pitta.

If you have a mixed body constitution like, pitta-vata or pitta-kapha, then you should include portion for the second influential dosha also.

Kapha Dosha
Kapha is mainly water element thus influences the heavy, moist aspects of the body. To keep kapha under balance warm, dry, light food cooked with less water and minimum of fat is needed. One should increase the use of pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. Kapha people should consume limited amount of sugar, oil and salt as well. Lightly cooked vegetables and raw fruits and vegetables are more beneficial for kaphas. Kapha people usually have a tendency to overeating that should be controlled because it lead to weight gain due to slow digestion. Any spicy food is good for kaphas such as very hot Mexican or Indian food, especially in winter.

For kapha types, breakfast is optional that means they can skip it they like. If breakfast is taken it should be very light. They can have foods such as hot-spiced cider, buckwheat pancakes with apple butter, corn muffins, and bitter cocoa made with skim milk and a touch of honey. The main meal should be at the middle of the day, and only a light, dry meal in the evening is advisable. Kapha person can take honey, hot water, lemon juice and ginger to energize themselves in the morning. Ginger tea can also be taken.

Vata Dosha

such foods are good for settling disturbed Vata. Food items such as warm milk, cream, butter, warm soups, stews, hot cereals, fresh baked bread, ripe fruits, salted nuts are good for vata. Breakfast is very important for vata people. They can add hot cereals such as cream of rice or wheat, any warm, milky, and sweet food item in their breakfast. Vata person should avoid high caffeine drinks instead of them they can opt herbal teas. Spicy Mexican or Indian foods that are cooked in oil also good for vata people. On the other hand cold foods such as cold salads, iced drinks, raw vegetables and greens are not very good for persons with vata imbalance. They should avoid eating candies, dry fruits, and unripe fruits.

Ayurveda Cooking and the Seasons
According to Ayurveda with the changes in season our body needs different foods to adjust itself to the outside environment. Every season brings about nurturing qualities and the body needs plug into the nature for rejuvenation. The main role of food is helping the body to maintain its normal temperature. As the outer temperature swings with season, our body needs energy to maintain its own temperature. For example, summer is hot season when temperature rises and our body need cool foods to subdued heat. Ayurveda further explains the relation between season and doshas and recommend foods accordingly. Summer is a pitta season, in which individuals are prone to sunburn, acne etc, so cool, light fruits and salads are recommended to pacify the pitta imbalances. Winter is a vata season and cold, arthritis, rheumatism etc are more likely to occur, so Ayurveda recommends warm, oily and hearty meals like beans, whole grains and meats to lubricate the system against dryness of Vata season. Spring, which is a kapha season, increase the chances for bronchial ailments and common colds etc, hence honey, millet and greens are advised for season to dry the body of the mucus.

Common Tips for Healthy Food
Use organic foods as much as possible.
Avoid frozen, canned, processed, and genetically modified foods.
Avoid consuming fake foods which have small nutritional value, refined white flour, white sugar, margarine, preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors.
Avoid leftovers, either cold out of the refrigerator, or reheated.
Cook foods slowly, on a lower heat, and avoid microwave.
Use fresh, ripe fruits and veggies.
Eat fresh food that is freshly prepared.
Add a wide variety of seasonal, wholesome foods in your daily diet.
Choose foods according to the season, your specific imbalance and Ayurvedic body type.



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