What Ayurveda say about food?
Ayurveda, has always emphasized the importance of food in various contexts. Ayurveda explains that everything absorbed by five senses like Mouth (food, water), Nose (air), Ear (sound), Skin (Sunlight), Eyes (vision) is Food. The Brhatrayees and laghutrayees has in great detail explained about the importance of food, its qualities and effects, even modes of cooking, the importance and health benefits of eating right and the procedure of eating right as well.
Food (Aahara) is one of the tripods of life as per Ayurvedic classics.
The transforming of food is done by ‘Agni’ or digestive fire, which forms the edifice upon which the Ayurvedic system is built. When Agni is strong, our body fully assimilates nutrients and eliminates what it doesn’t need and when it is weak, the incompletely digested portion of the meal forms a sticky, toxic substance called Ama which blocks the microchannels of the body and settles in areas of the body that are out of balance, thus disrupting the functioning.
A coated tongue, bad breath, dullness of the senses, depression, and unclear thinking can indicate the presence of Ama. Drinking plenty of warm water, proper chewing, freshly prepared food, proper chewing prevents the formation of ama. Body is born of food. In adequate amount, it gives us long life and youthfulness. In inadequate amounts, it produces toxins in body.
Ayurveda categorizes food into three categories: Satvic, Rajasic and Tamasic.
Sattavic Food : food that can be digested easily and brings balance to one’s mind. It helps in building immunity and improving the healing response in those who are unwell, such as- Fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, fresh fruit juices, cereals(red rice), Herbal tea, fresh Cow’s milk, Dry fruits, Nuts, Honey, Jaggery and freshly cooked foods
Rajasic Food: Oily, aromatic, spicy and attractive to taste . This includes non-vegetarian food, all whole pulses and dals, which are not sprouted, Canned food, Paneer, Cream, Yeast, Sugar, Pickle, Vinegar, Garlic, Onion and salted foods.
Tamasic Food : All foods that are not fresh and are unnatural, overcooked, stale and processed. Such as-Alcohol, Non-vegetarian food, Mushroom, Drugs, Beverages, Fried foods etc.
Sushruta Samhita mentions that an individual, whose Doshas are in balance, appetite is normal, body, mind, and senses remain full of bliss, is called a healthy person. By following these Ayurvedic dietary principles in our daily life, one can enhance his/her health. The Ayurvedic diet is one that not only nourishes the body but also restores the balance of ‘Tridoshas’ which is very much essential for maintaining Health. Based on doshas, some foods are beneficial and others detrimental. The same foods may have the opposite effect on another dosha. The science of Ayurveda teaches us that the right diet that balances the Doshas is the foundation of healing.