Ayurveda is one of the oldest traditional healthcare systems that originated in India over three millennia ago and considers poor digestion as the main factor behind poor health. It concentrates more on healthy digestion rather than muscle building or weight loss. The diet has existed for more than a thousand years and emphasizes more on balancing different kinds of energy present in the body. According to the healthcare system, those energies are responsible for improving one’s health. It is said to promote the state of mind along with better mental health.
There are five elements that build up the universe and these elements form three types of energies popularly known as ‘doshas’. According to Healthline, these energies i.e., doshas are responsible for all kinds of physiological functions in the body and, based on the dominant dosha in one’s body, their ayurvedic diet is determined.
The three doshas include:
It includes air and space elements which are cool, dry, light, and rough by nature. People with Vata as dominant energy should restore balance through foods that are:
- Warm, hydrating and contains spices such as soups and stews
- Full of healthy fats such as olive oil, ghee, organic cream and avocados
Pitta dosha comprises of fire and water elements that tend toward hot, oily, light and sharp qualities. Therefore, people with pitta dosha are advised to eat foods which are:
- Cool like peppermint, cucumber, cilantro and parsley
- Astringents like beans, legumes, pomegranate and green tea
The elements of kapha dosha are earth and water and they represent heavy, cool, oily and smooth qualities. This emphasises eating foods that are:
- Light, warm and dry like beans and popcorn
- High-roughage foods such as vegetables which help in maintaining balance.
Principles Of Ayurvedic Diet:
1. According to Ayurvedic principles, interruption in the food cycle by adding snacks between the three meals can lead to incomplete digestion. The complete digestive cycle takes a minimum of four hours to lighten the stomach for the next meal and three meals each day without snacks can keep the stomach and mind stress-free.
2. Ayurveda says, overeating is the reason of weight gain and it also accelerates the aging process. Therefore, the diet advises eating until you are satisfied but not full because it becomes difficult for the digestive system to store extra fats.
3. The Ayurvedic diet advises to eat food that comes straight from the earth i.e., fresh and whole food and each meal must include all six tastes i.e. sweet (for grounding, strengthening and nourishing), sour (for cleansing and purifying), salty (for balancing and regulating), bitter (for detoxifying and mineralizing), astringent (for anti-inflammatory and cooling) and pungent (for warming, and stimulating).
4. According to the Ayurvedic diet, in order to keep the digestive power strong, one should reduce ice cold foods and beverages and eliminate distractions while eating as meal-time is an opportunity to connect with energy. Watching television, using mobile phone or talking while eating distracts the connection between food and your body, hence leading to improper digestion.
5. It is always advised to stop eating three hours before sleeping as during sleep, the body and mind repairs, heals and restores energy and for this reason, the last meal of the day should be light and completed on time to avoid imbalance.
6. Ayurveda suggests that one should have the largest meal during lunchtime because noon is considered the best time for the digestive system for breaking down heavier or difficult-to-digest foods. This is also the appropriate time for iced and sugary food. Ayurveda also promotes including herbal tea in the diet.
The Ayurvedic diet is very beneficial for the mind along with the body but it’s considered highly restrictive and subjective since the food is categorized depending on physical qualities and state of the body of a person, i.e., different food works differently for all the three doshas.