- Acharya charak says ahara(food) is nothing but which maintains the equilibrium of bodily dhathus, promotes health, preventing body from diseases.
- Ahara provides building blocks to create new dhathus, dhathus are the reservoir of the energy in different forms. Dhathus are constantly broken down to utilize energy. To replenish good quality of dhathus, balanced food is important.
- According to ayurveda food not only nourishes the body also nourishes the mind, so that food is also called as “Poornbrahma”.
- Ahara also considered as a medicine, because if wholesome food is taken in a planned way, there is no need of medicine. If unwholesome diet is taken, even there is no use in taking medicines, hence ahara is called “Maha bhaishjya”.
- Ahara considered as a primary factor to balance doshas(Biological humours).
According to acharya charaka food is 4 types:
- Asitam – Wholesome eatables
- Peetam- Beverages
- Leedham- Linctuses
- Khaditam- Masticables
This ayurvedic dietetics doesn’t deal only with nutritional contents of food like carbs, proteins, vitamins, minerals but also explains about importance while consuming food why we should see the nature of the food, quantity of food, combination, and mode of preparations.
As per ayurveda dietic principle, there are eight factors should be followed while having food, They are:
- Prakriti(Nature of food)
- Karana(Processing/ Mode of preparation)
- Upayoga samstha(Dietery rules)
- Upayokta(Health or nature of the individual who takes/ User)
Prakriti(Nature of food):
Each and every food (Ahara) has it’s individual natural characteristics. Characters like lightness, heaviness, moisture, dryness are the factors which makes changes in the food properties.
For example: Nature of black gram is heaviness due its nature during digestion process it will take more time, but green gram is light in nature so it will be digested little quick, so when a person’s digestive power is poor if he takes black gram it will cause problem in the digestive system, hence while consuming food we should see the nature of the food.
Karana is the process to modify the natural properties of substances. This process is done in various ways like heating, churning, boiling, frying, roasting etc. due to this process nature of the food can be changed like the food which is light in nature can become heavier.
Combination of foods will help to enhance qualities of food, when two foods combined together can produce some special properties.
Also this explains about dietetic incompatibility or improper combinations like certain food items should not be mixed or taken together.
- Taking milk, fish, and honey together will produce toxic effects.
- Taking honey, ghee in equal quantity will cause toxic effects.
Food is best taken in the right quantity. Even good food in the wrong quantity can cause harm. If too much of food is taken, its not digested properly will produce toxins (ama ) in gastrointestinal tract. So this helps to understand importance of right quantity of the food.
There are two types of quantity :
- Sarvagraha (Total quantity of food consumed)
- Parigraha (Quantity of each particular food item)
If food is taken proper way & in a right quantity, individual will experience following signs:
- Will feel lighter & satisfied.
- Will be able to breath, talk, walk easily.
- Indriyas (senses) will become sharp.
- The place where food is grown can also make changes in the qualities of food.
- Factors like soil, climate, and water are plays role in changing properties of food.
- A substance which grown in desert will be dry in nature
- A substance which grown in marshy or watery region will be cold (seta),moisture( snigdha).
- The food should not be taken with in the yama(3 hours) after the previous meal, also it should not be taken after the second yama because it might cause depletion of strength. Therefore ideal time to have food after 3 hours of previous meal and before the completion of 6 hours.
- Eating at an improper time or before the lightness of the body felt will lead to large number of disease.
- Eating food after an appropriate time also will tend to aggravate vata dosha which will affect digestive fire and causes digestive disorders.
One should consider season also while having food, because if the food which is hot in potency consumed in summer season (grishma ruthu) and food which is cold in nature, having it in winter season(hemantha ruthu) will cause various health issue’s.
Hence while taking food one should give importance to time and season.
Upayoga samstha(Dietary rules):
One should not take food
- Without reciting mantra.
- Without washing hands, feet, face.
- Without cleaning the mouth.
- Without taking bath.
- Without offering oblations to the god &departed ancesters.
- With disturbed mind.
- Which is dirty
- Which is in unclean dishes
- Improper time & place
So while taking food one should follow the above mentioned dietary rules.
Upayoktha (Health/ condition of the person eating food):
- Physical & Mental strength
- Pleasure of the senses
Written by: Shreyas Yoga Retreat
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