There is some food that can be consumed regularly but only in small quantities or after a short break. Salt is the best example of such food. Too little salt or too much salt, both will spoil the dish. But just the appropriate amount can do wonders to both the taste and the health.
3 such food items are described in Charak Samhita, that might or might not be taken every day, but should be consumed only in a very small quantity.
- Pippali (Long pepper)
Pippali (Long pepper)
Ayurvedic properties of Pippali
Pippali or long pepper is light to digest, unctuous, sharp (rapid action), bitter with sweet vipaka and anushnasheet virya (not too hot or cold temperament).
Appropriate Use of Pippali
Looking at the qualities, it looks good for everyday use. Pippali is also used in many ayurvedic medicines. But, according to Acharya Charak, it should not be used every day because, after a long use, it has a tendency of increasing phlegm formation.
Excessive Use of Pippali
Regular consumption of Pippali is said to vitiate both Kapha and pitta. It does not pacify Vata also. It is beneficial to use Pippali only for a short duration and in small quantity, as prescribed by a trained Ayurveda physician.
Ayurvedic properties of Acids (Charak Samhita)
Acid or Amla( Sanskrit) stimulates the taste buds, fuels the digestion, causes weight gain, increases the mental alertness, strengthens the sense organs, increases strength, balances the Vata, satisfies the heart, stimulates salivation, extracts the ingested food towards stomach( as a result of salivation) or extracts from the ingested food, lubricates/moistens the alimentary canal, nourishes the body. Acid is light, hot temperament and unctuous in nature.
Appropriate Use of Acid
Acidic food products such as aerated drinks, canned food, Tamarind, Vinegar, soya sauce, citric acid, lemon juice etc. should not be used in large quantity every day. They as be used as flavoring or seasoning agent in minimum required quantity. Also, elderly people should refrain from using such sour tasting edibles because these food items vitiate Vata and can cause joint pain, general body pain, and swelling. Too much of acid consumption should be strictly avoided during autumn, summer, and springtime for a healthy long life because these are the seasons where the body is the weakest. (Effect of Ritu (seasons) on Dosha)
According to the ideal food habits, the acidic food should be consumed in the middle of the meal as it will stimulate the digestion of the sweet food eaten earlier, it will kill the satiety generated by the sweet food, reheat the digestive tract and promote lubrication in the alimentary canal.
According to Ayurveda, a complete meal contains all 6 kinds of tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent). Therefore, some acid should be there in the diet every day in very small quantities. But in order to ensure that we do not need to add extremely sour food items like tamarind, vinegar, raw mango etc. to our meals. Some good sources of acids that can be used every day are Awla (Indian gooseberry), Orange, Sweet lemon, Citron, Pomegranate (slightly sour) etc.
Excessive Use of Acid
It is important to note that all these symptoms are caused only due to excessive use of acid. Slight use of acidic substances by a healthy person will not cause the following symptoms. However, if the person already has vitiated pitta or is suffering from some disease, even a small amount of acid might cause significant damage, just like a small push to anyone standing on the brink of a pond might make him fall in the water.
Excessive use of acidic substances in daily food intake can cause a lot of problems –
- It can affect dental health. An acidic environment in the mouth can promote dental cavity.
- Acidic food over-excites the muscles in the eyes and causes them to shut. Such overstimulation might cause eye disorders.
- Acidic food overstimulates the nerves in the skin and causes goosebumps.
- Acidic food increases Pitta Dosha. Along with it, it creates all kinds of pitta problems like inflammation, swelling, balding etc.
- Acidic food can cause blood disorders.
- Acidic food causes inflammations in the muscular tissue
- Acidic food slows down the metabolism
- Acidic food causes swelling in the body of the degenerated, injured, thin and weak.
Apart from the above-stated disorders, excessive use of acids causes early hair fall, damage to eyesight and impotence. It is interesting that Charak Samhita specifically mentions that people in eastern countries (China, Thailand etc.) use too much acid in the food. This the reason for the specific facial features(chinky eyes) found in them (Charak Samhita: Viman Sthana – 17). However, earlier even the oriental people did not use vinegar and soya sauce every day. Their traditional daily diet was mainly rice and vegetables only. According to Confucius “Although there are plenty of meats, they should not be cooked more than the staple food.” Staple food here is the rice and the vegetables.
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Ayurvedic properties of Salt
Salt is a good digestive. It serves as a great humidifying agent. It stimulates the hunger. It helps to remove the Kapha . It helps in the formation of feces in the intestines. It is fast acting, spreads quickly in the body. It promotes the expulsion of the feces. It is a declogging agent. It eliminates vata too. It prevents the accumulation of Dosha. It can overpower all other tastes. It stimulates the saliva secretion. It is not heavy to digest, but unctuous and hot temperament.
Appropriate Use of Salt
Salt should be used in minimum possible quantities. It can be used in almost all the dishes, but its amount should be minuscule. One should never consume excess salt.
Excessive Use of Salt
Excessive use of salt can cause serious disorders in the body –
- pollutes the pitta dosha and blood tissue. It can cause all kinds of blood and skin related disorders.
- increases the heat and thirst in the body. Excess salt can even cause fainting.
- can cause wasting in the muscles and promotes accumulation of poisonous substances in the body.
- can cause loosening of the gums.
- can cause impotence.
- reduces the capability of sense organs.
According to Charak, excessive use of salt causes weakness and low stamina in the body, baldness, early hair whitening and wrinkled skin.
Basically, salt induces and stimulates the chemical or digestive processes that can turn destructive if uncontrolled. According to Ayurveda, salt is considered to the nutritive factor majorly responsible for accelerated aging.