Ayurvedic diet in Holistic healing

Ayurvedic diet in Holistic healing

In traditional Ayurvedic beliefs, food is considered to be Mahabhaisajya, or the most superior medicine. A large part of the Ayurvedic treatment of an ailment is the focus on Ahara or food, and in most cases, a pathya diet is followed. A pathya diet is one which is pure, beneficial, tasty and nutritious. 

What is to be noted is that the modern understanding of the word ‘diet’ is not applicable to an Ayurvedic diet. While the colloquial understanding of the term diet tends to concentrate only on the foods that are consumed, Ayurveda takes into account, not only the food that is consumed, but also when it is consumed, how it is consumed, and the emotional state of the person at the time of consumption.

This is done in order to uphold an overall high level of holistic health, and also for the prevention and management of disease.

Diet is regarded as one of the three pillars of life or Trayaupastambha in Ayurvedic tradition, and it is believed that the preservation of a healthy weight and eating a well balanced meal is an essential part of supporting both physical and mental health. When it comes to the food itself, Ayurveda advises us to customise our meals in order to respect our unique demands, based on the three doshas of ayurvedic tradition. 

Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, the three doshas, are the foundational elements of the body and are established at the time of conception in the womb. Every individual is composed of a certain balance of these three forces. Despite the fact that everyone has a mixture of all the doshas, most people seem to have an abundance of one or two of them. This special blend is your Prakriti. The ratio of each of the three doshas constantly changes as you go through life depending on your surroundings, nutrition, seasonal and climatic conditions, age, and a variety of other factors. The balance of the doshas can have an impact on your health, energy levels, and mood and these are what matter in the end. The doshas are a component of everything that occurs in nature, including the food we eat, just as they mix in different quantities to account for our distinct Ayurvedic body types, consequently adding truth to the saying “you are what you eat”

The Charaka Samhita, an encyclopaedia of literary research on Ayurveda, states that there are eighth factors that determine whether food is wholesome or unwholesome, to adequately nourish yourself. 

  • Prakriti: Nature (rasa, virya, vipaka, prabhava); for example, heavy meats like pork pacify vata (by balancing vata’s inherent lightness)
  • Karana: Processing; churned yoghurt becomes takra
  • Samyoga: Combination of foods changes their qualities
  • Rashi: Quantity (even good food in the wrong quantity is harmful)
  • Desha: Habitat and climate
  • Kala: Time; the ripening of fruits can make them sweet instead of astringent; similarly, seasons impact what we should or shouldn’t be eating; for instance, we should avoid consuming foods that are very heating in nature in the summer
  • Upayoga samstha: Rules governing food intake, which include eating warm, unctuous, cooked food, in the proper quantity (eating an anjali of food, with half the amount of space in the stomach for solid food, a quarter of it for liquids, and the remaining quarter should be left empty); eating mindfully, when hungry, well-paced, so you’re not eating too fast or slow, or on the go, washing up before eating, and chanting mantras (offering gratitude) before eating
  • Upayukta: The person who consumes food that is satmya (that they have grown habituated or adapted to, in accordance with what is suitable for their given state and level of health or illness)

The majority of diseases, including Rheumatoid arthritis, are brought on by toxins (Ama), which are produced by incorrect digestion or the consumption of unwholesome foods, and end up affecting the joints.

The link between unhealthy eating and diseases is well illustrated, for example, how having an excessive amount of sweet, or Madhura Rasa can lead to diabetes. A person may gain weight if they consistently ingest foods that are difficult for them to digest. Today's ailments, which are classified as lifestyle disorders, include rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes (madhumeha), obesity (sthoulya), cancer (arbuda), liver diseases (yakrit vriddhi), sleeplessness (nidranasha), anxiety neurosis (chittodvega), and bronchial asthma (tamaka swasa). The main preventable causes of these lifestyle disorders are poor eating habits and practices. 

In Ayurveda, food is believed to be Poornabhrama, that which satiates the mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, all dietary aspects should be given the consideration they deserve as described in Ayurveda in order for an Ayurvedic treatment to be considered successful. 

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