and digesting food differs. It is essential for an individual
to choose the foods that have the opposite qualities to those
that are already predominant in the constitution. In Ayurveda
food, drinks, and spices are classified according to their
taste, the gunas, the energetic effect they have on the doshas,
as well as their post-digestive effect on the tissues. All the
foods are included in individualís diet according to the dosha.
Dosha is also closely inter-linked with season as every season
has it correspondence dosha.
The dosha aggravates in their related
seasons and one need to include in his diet the foods that
subdued the dosha. For example, summer season corresponds to
Pitta dosha, while the winter and autumn is the season of
Kapha and Vata. Spices hold a prominent place in ayurvedic
cooking and nutrition. Many of the spices used in Ayurvedic
cooking such as turmeric, ginger, cumin, fenugreek, coriander
and cardamom, etc are also medicinal herbs used in Ayurvedic
herbal formulations. When used in cooking on daily basis these
spices greatly improve the digestion, absorption and
assimilation of food. They are also helpful in improving one's
appetite and elimination, nourish the internal organs and
correct doshic imbalances. There are six major tastes
explained in Ayurveda (sweet, bitter, pungent, sour, salty,
astringent) that have specific qualities and effects on body.
Ayurveda recommends the inclusion of all the tastes in the
meal and spices provide a harmonious blend of these six
Ayurvedic theory of nutrition favors the use of vegetables,
spices, whole grains and fruits, as they are energy-boosters.
These foods are said to have natural healing and nurturing
substances to such an extent, that when one is completely on
such a diet, the fatigue-causing toxins will not accumulate in
the body. Vegetables are very important for their vitamins,
minerals, roughage and freshness. Dark leafy green vegetables
are specially recommended in ayurvedic diet as they contain
minerals that no other vegetable contain. Fruits are also high
in vitamins and nutrients, provide instant energy, and termed
as power foods.
Another fundamental aspect of Ayurvedic nutrition is proper
food combining or food compatibility. In Ayurveda, not all
foods are compatible, there are certain foods when eaten
together can disturb the normal functioning of the digestive
fire and promote the accumulation of ama (toxins) in the body.
Various factors, such as the tastes, qualities, properties,
basic nature of food, energies of certain foods, as well as
how long they take to digest, affect the compatibility of
foods. Heavy foods such whole grains, dairy, meats and
starches do not combine well with light foods such as fruit,
because they are quick to digest. Similarly, sour and acidic
fruits are not combined with milk, which is sweet and cooling.
If taken together they cause the milk to curdle and it becomes
heavy in the intestines. Hence, Ayurveda gives great
importance to the art of food combining or food compatibility.