Today, most people above the age of 35 years are suffering from at least one lifestyle disease. Digestive disorders, sleep problems, and stress are more common than a few decades back.
These primary disorders are the base of severe lifestyle diseases like hypothyroidism, diabetes, hypertension, etc. And this is because of the unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits that we are following.
The Root of Lifestyle Disorders
We have severe defects in our daily routine that interferes with our healthy metabolism. They lower our immunity and makes us more susceptible to diseases and rapid aging.
Most of the people today have no fixed routine or time for eating. They skip their meals when they are hungry. On the other hand, they eat voluptuously when they are not hungry but have time to eat.
Similarly, most of us skip sleep in the night, the natural time to sleep according to the bio-rhythm of the body. Instead, they sleep till late. They miss the healthiest time of the day – Brahma muhurat and an opportunity to reset their metabolism.
Flow with the Nature
However, if we review and re-tune our bodies to the natural biorhythm, we will ensure 100% prevention from all diseases and have a life full of vigor and vitality. Ayurvedic ritucharya (seasonal health regimen), dinacharya (daily health routine), and sadvritta (moral and social conduct) ensure a healthy body as well as mind.
Ayurveda defines the wrong food and lifestyle as the root cause of all diseases. The aim of Ayurveda underlines the importance of a healthy lifestyle. According to Acharya Charak the objective of Ayurveda is –
Preserve the health of the healthy | Treat the ones who fall sick||
Compared to Ayurveda, modern preventive medicine depends mainly on health supplements. It is vague and lacks a precise and natural order of prevention. In fact, it has been only a few decades since modern medicine accepted the therapeutic importance of food or meditation.
Ayurveda is one of the oldest sciences to have an elaborate preventive system. Ayurveda defines the ideal food, cooking methods, and food habits. It defines daily lifestyle (Dinacharya), seasonal preventive lifestyle (Ritucharya), and overall prevention of all diseases by maintaining the homeostasis of the body in all kinds of external conditions (Sama Dosha).
Dinacharya is the ideal daily routine, according to Ayurveda, that should be followed to maintain the health regularly. It constitutes the dos and don’ts for everything, right from brushing the teeth to ideal sleep habits. Dinacharya regimen of Ayurveda specifies even the wood(datun) that should be used for cleaning the teeth by the people of different body constitution or prakrati.
It underlines the importance of having an optimal amount of food at the right time and in the right way. It also mentions various other preventive measures like the use of Kajal (Kohl) for the daily prevention of eye diseases, the use of Ayurvedic nasal drops for the prevention of all the disorders in the head region. It stresses the benefits of the right exercise and sleeps patterns for everyone.
Our bodies are exposed to disease-causing factors every second. And therefore, we must actively prevent diseases 24X7. And Dinacharya makes this daunting task completely effortless! It provides a precise and comprehensive guide to complete health preservation. It is a complete code to prevent diseases daily.
Dinacharya also constitutes “Achar Rasayana,” a comprehensive guide to prevent all mental problems like stress, anxiety, etc. It is the ideal spiritual and social code of conduct that, if followed, can save us from various psychological and social problems.
Ritucharya is one of the most interesting Ayurvedic preventive systems. It is one of its kind as it deals with a preventive regimen for each season.
Seasons affect the body due to continuous changes in the external temperature and the environment. These seasonal changes disturb the physiological balance of the body and can cause severe disorders in the long run. Most of the problems in the body first reflect as seasonal disorders.
Ritucharya describes in detail the Ayurvedic concept of seasonal changes and their effects on body metabolism. It is the comprehensive ayurvedic preventive system that helps the body to adjust seamlessly to the changing external environment and prevent any metabolic disturbances.
Ritucharya constitutes the food habits, ideal food for each season, lifestyle changes to be incorporated with the seasonal changes, and so on. The most admirable aspect of Ritucharya is it’s a proactive approach. It makes the body immune to seasonal changes, instead of treating seasonal disorders!!!
Here are some interesting links related to ritucharya
Therefore, the one who will follow Ritucharya will never fall sick through the changing seasons and maintain a very high level of immunity. Ritucharya is the fountain of youth. The one who drinks from it will stay in the spring of health and youth always!!!
Ayurveda stresses the preservation of natural and unrestricted metabolism. It strictly prohibits artificial control of natural urges.
Animals live in an environment free from social bondage. And probably that’s why they stay free from diseases too. Esp. Wild animals do not have any access to medicines. Still, they usually remain healthy and live out their average lifespan, just because they do not exert unnatural control over their bodies.
However, humans lose a lot in the name of civilization and society. We tend to control our natural urges like thirst, hunger, urination, defecation, etc. very frequently. Due to social influence, we tend to control our natural urges forcefully and hinder the natural metabolic rhythm.
Ayurveda suggests that the body should be allowed the freedom of natural conduct. Most of us today have become insensitive to many of our natural urges like thirst, hunger. We might overlook thirst, hunger, or defecation if we are working or watching TV! This outrageous conduct daily impedes the brisk rate of metabolism and lowers immunity.
All classical Ayurvedic texts have a separate chapter elaborating on disorders resulting from unattended natural urges and their treatment. So, it’s a significant health issue.
Next time you are in an important meeting, don’t be sorry to sneeze or cough!
Satva means the mind, and the term satvavjay is the victory over the mind.
According to ancient Vedic wisdom, the body is nothing but a projection of the mind. If you are a “Matrix” fan, you would agree! And, therefore a sensitive, meditative, and balanced mind is the core of a healthy Ayurvedic lifestyle. It is a healthy mind that is unoccupied by external noise or clutter. A soul that listens to the body and let our social obligations, stress, fear, or anxiety take a back-seat, is the very foundation of perennial health.
Each set of human mind and body has its own dharma – swadharma. Hindus whisper “tvama vedosi” in the ears of a new-born child. It means – you are the infinite wisdom. You see, your soul, your body knows what’s best for you. And a meditative mind can help you to discover a distinct and utterly personalized approach to health. Therefore, connecting with the body through meditation is the ultimate cure to all worldly diseases.
Jivem Shardah Shatam
The key of Ayurveda is balance! and with this key, Ayurvedic lifestyle can enable us to have a long, healthy, and fruitful life. Vedic Sutra “Jivem shardah shatam” means – let us live a hundred years(autumns). Ayurvedic preventive lifestyle, armed with healthy daily routine( Dinacharya), healthy seasonal routine (Ritucharya), ideal mental and social conduct ( Achar Rasayana), and other health habits, is the most comprehensive preventive system in the world.
Besides, these rules are simple and easy to follow. They can be readily observed by the sick and the healthy, the rich, and the poor alike. Ayurveda makes no distinction for imparting health to all. Let’s follow these age-old and time-tested tenets of Ayurveda and live a prosperous and healthful life.
There are six stages of disease production proliferation according to Ayurveda they are
Let us take the example of a metabolic pendulum with a certain weight, for example, 10 kg. Let us assume that when the pendulum is stable, there is no disease condition in the body. However, when the pendulum starts to move, the disease proliferates. To be specific, let us suppose when the pendulum moves with a velocity of 1 km per hour, migraine occurs. Since the current velocity is zero, therefore, acceleration will be equal to the resultant velocity :). According to Physical calculations, we would need an approximate force of 10 N to move the pendulum from its normal position to a diseased position. Before the pendulum moves from its original state of rest, it needs a precise power to overcome its inertia of healthy metabolism. The accumulation of vitiated dosha generates this negative force. The collection of the dosha or generation of negative energy is the state of Sanchay. Ideal Ayurvedic treatment should prevent sanchay of any dosha in the body. According to Ayurveda, this is the perfect prevention.
It looks like the concept of the fighter immunity doesn’t work in case of Sanchay. The body does not fight back to prevent diseases. Instead, there is stable inertia in the healthy state that is difficult to imbalance. This stability of health is natural immunity.
Suppose if the body was to remain in a situation where there are no external seasonal changes, temperature fluctuations due to respiration and food intake, etc; if the body were to receive all the required energy in the form of electricity just like a mobile phone, then there will be hardly any aging in the body. Such a person will Age so slowly that he might look like an Immortal. According to Hindu mythology, six months of humans are equivalent to a half day of the Gods. I wonder if gods stay in a friction-free, fluctuations free environment! The mythology says that gods have a pure mind that is free from the mental vices of humans.
So, if we drive the body metabolism properly without introducing undesirable fluctuations unnecessarily in the body, the average health of a person will always remain stable. The stability of health is the basis of immunity in Ayurveda.
Disease-causing factors are all around us. Each one of us is facing the same pathogens. However, some of us fall sick, and some do not; in similar conditions. The health of a perfectly healthy person must be like an elephant; too heavy and tough to move. On the other hand, the health of a frail and weak person must be like a dry leaf. Even a mild breeze can blow it away in any direction.
Therefore sanchay is, in a way, a force that is required to move the body from its stable, healthy position into disease position. The pathogens or the external surroundings do not produce this force. The vehicle for this negative force are the doshas. In a way, Sanchay is a kind of disease incubation period.
Ritucharya focuses on prevention of sanchay of dosha during every season. If we can prevent the accumulation of dosha, we can avoid all the disorders in the body, even the minor ones like cough and cold.
Prasar is like a Domino effect in the body. In a healthy condition, the metabolism of the entire work body works in close synchrony. Once the pendulum of disease starts to move, it disturbs the natural metabolism of the whole body and disrupts the normal functions of different systems. Prasar is the stage of discord in the metabolism. It is the stage where the body starts gets affected by the doshas.
The word Prasar means expansion or spread. In this stage, the imbalance of the Dosha spreads to other dosha, parts, or systems in the body.
There is a chance that a strong dhatu will stop the disease pathophysiology in the body. Dhatu is a metabolic station that sustains and promotes the anabolic activity in the body.
For example, suppose that kapha Dosha of a person gets imbalanced who is drenched in the rain and remains wet for a long time. This vitiated kapha dosha affects different parts of the body and stimulates excess mucus formation in the nasal cavity. This process might lead to a common cold eventually. However, if this person is a Pitta Prakriti individual and he consumes a warm soup after getting wet, then and the heat production through digestion will balance the kapha dosha and help to stop the proliferation of common cold. Besides, a good sleep after the soup will help to prevent the vitiation of another dosha like pitta,vata, or both. However, if the person were to stay awake entire night, vata dosha might get vitiated and take the disease to the next level!
However, if the individual does not receive proper treatment in the stage of Prasar, then pathophysiology moves to the next step of prakop.
Prakop comes from the word “kop,” which means anger. Prakop is the stage where the symptoms of imbalance become visible. For example, in the above case, the drenched person starts to sneeze, feels itching in the nasal cavity, tiredness or mild headache, depending on his Prakriti body type and the current state of health.
In the stage of Prakop, accumulated doshas can no longer be contained in the primary disease incubation site and spread in rest of the body like the way a boiling milk spilled out of the pot and spreads all over.
If the person usually is healthy, then prakop will result in mild disorders like a common cold, headache, body pain, etc. However, in a weak and sick person, this slight internal destruction can result in dangerous disorders. For example, a person infected with fully blown HIV AIDS can die from even a flu infection. Prakop is a condition in which body sends a signal for help through mild disorders like body pain, headache, common cold, heaviness in the body inflammation, acidity, constipation, etc. 80 types of vata disorders, 40 types of pitta disorders and 20 types of kapha disorders are found in the stage.
According to Ayurveda, a perfect physician will heal the body in the stage of sanchay, before even the mild symptoms of discomfort occur. An average physician will heal the body after the symptoms of the disease are visible. And foolish physician will cure a person only after the disease takes roots in the body. Buy this logic; most of us are foolish physicians. However, we should strive to move up The Ladder.
Prakop is another stage of pathophysiology which is more visible and therefore more actionable. At this stage, no specific disease establishes in the body. Only dosha imbalance is stabilized, as a precursor to disease formation. Mild symptoms of a probable illness are visible. If you can correct the doshas in this stage, there will be no disease formation in the body.
At this stage, symptoms are visible in the main spots of dosha, for example, chest and the head region is like a head office for kapha dosha. Any kapha imbalance will reflect as a disorder in this region, for instance running nose, heaviness in the head, drowsiness, et cetera. Therefore, it is possible to find out the exact imbalanced dosha and its intensity by looking at the symptoms and their site.
The Domino effect of this imbalance is not limited to the body parts. One imbalanced dosha can cause an imbalance in other doshas of the body as mentioned before. For example, increased kapha Dosha in the body as in the previous case, can block the normal pathway of vata dosha. We can understand this in the following manner – excess kapha Dosha in the body stimulates excess mucus formation and secretion. This excess mucus can block the normal respiratory pathway(vata system) and cause vitiation of vata dosha as well. Therefore, the stage of Prakop is not limited to a single dosha. One imbalanced dosha can extend its imbalance to all other doshas in the body.
Another critical point is the kind of treatment offered at the stage of Prakop.
One interesting concept is that we should allow our bodies to fight against the infections, without taking any medicines –
Dosha correction is one of the options of treatment in prakop. This treatment will erase all possibilities of disease incubation in the future. Another option is symptomatic treatment. For example, in case of headache, you can pop in a painkiller in your mouth. The nerves will become numb, and you will not feel the pain. However, the pain causing factor still be there. This treatment is an ostrich approach towards treatment, which hinders the real healing process.
If the dosha/doshas remain vitiated in this stage, the pathophysiology will move to the next step of sthana sanshraya.
Therefore you do not treat this mild headache resulting from this common cold properly, and it will eventually lead to severe disorders like chronic cold, migraine, sinusitis, et cetera.
The word “sthana” means place.”sanshraya” refers to establishment, accumulation, or lodging. Sthana sanshraya is the stage in which the accumulated dosha find a weak link in the body metabolism and settle down to form the disease. In this stage, a weak dhatu(tissue) attracts the vitiated dosha like the way dry wood attracts termite
In the stage of prakop, disease formation happens typically at the primary site of dosha, example vata imbalance symptoms are found mainly in the abdomen(bloating constipation), extremities(pain in hands and legs). With the pitta imbalance, signs mainly occur in the stomach(acidity), skin(inflammation).In the case of kapha dosha vitiation, symptoms will be found mostly in the chest and head region. For more information, visit the abode of dosha.
However, in the stage of sthana sanshraya, the disease can occur in any part of the body depending on the vulnerability of the body part, organ, or system. Considering the previous example of the drenched person, if respiratory system is the weakest in the body of this individual, then imbalanced doshas will accumulate in the body and cause-related disorders like asthma, pneumonia, tuberculosis, upper respiratory tract infection et cetera.
This development will not happen in a day. The stage of sthana sanshraya takes some time depending on the overall health, age, mental state, nutrition, and multiple other factors. It might take weeks or even years for the disease to occur depending on the rate of exposure to wrong food, lifestyle, and negative mental state.
Sthana sanshraya is the stage when doshas choose the best spot for disease occurrence. It all happens naturally according to the laws of nature. As this stage stabilizes, doshas prepare the selected body part or system for disease acceptance.
We often notice that we face symptoms which subside once a proper disease occurs. For example, a person might face initial difficulty in breathing regularly. However, after some time, the regular breathing normalizes to a certain extent, and a proper disease expresses itself in the form of asthmatic attacks.
Initial disharmony in the metabolism becomes stronger and establishes as a parallel bio-rhythm. In this case, the smaller symptoms might subside to produce regular and stronger syndrome.
Therefore it is essential to note that if a minor disorder subsides, it might not mean that core pathology inside the body subsides completely. Probably, the minor ailment is stabilizing into a more prominent disease.
The prime site of the disorder depends on various factors. Considering the same example, if kapha dosha gets vitiated in a vata dominant Prakriti person then, kapha can easily vitiate vata. In this case, doshas have a choice of disorders like migraine, urinary disorders, diabetes at et cetera. All these disorders require both kapha and vata dosha vitiation.
Now, if the person has frequently faced mild urinary infections in the past, a weakened urinary system becomes the natural choice for the doshas to settle down. If this person is obese, eats lots of sweets, follows wrong food and lifestyle practices regularly, the doshas can later aggravate the disorder into a severe urinary infection, bladder stones, and even diabetes.
Age of the individual also makes a lot of difference in pathogenesis. Youth is dominated by the pitta dosha dominates. If the concerned individual is a young person, then the above-vitiated dosha will form milder symptoms as pitta dosha has properties contrary to both vata and kapha. Because of the purifying nature of fiery Pitta dosha, most of the toxins in the body get burnt. Therefore youth is a phase when the person has maximum immunity towards diseases.
On the other hand, vata Dosha is the dominating factor in the old age. Vata dosha governs all movements in the body. Therefore, An older adult is highly vulnerable to diseases. Also, the range of possible disorders in the old age is much more extensive as compared to that in the other phases of life.
In the old age, the best site of sthana sanshraya are the main sites of vata Dosha- for example, abdomen, large intestine, limbs, skin, etc. For this reason, some of the diseases are more common in aged people like osteoarthritis, dementia, baldness, etc.
Abode of dosha.
If the imbalanced doshas are not treated or appeased in the stage of sthana sanshraya, then that this pathogenesis progresses to the next stage-vyakti.
The word vyakti refers to “expression,” “entity,” or “individual” in Sanskrit. In this stage of pathogenesis, the full expression of a specific disorder or syndrome is visible. This disorder is easily identifiable and distinguishable from others, for example, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, vitiligo, et cetera. This disease has a specific name and exact manner in which it impacts the body. For example, a cataract affects the vision and can lead to blindness.
In this stage, the disease implants itself thoroughly in the body. The faulty metabolism becomes a part of the bio Rhythm and body adjust its functioning around it. The word vyakti forms another word, “vyaktitva” – personality. In this stage, you can see the whole character of the disease! All the primary symptoms of the disease are present in the stage of vyakti.
However, differential diagnosis is still applicable in this stage.
In this stage of pathophysiology, the disease is firmly established in the body and openly challenges healthy metabolism. The body responds with attempts to accommodate normal metabolic functions around the diseased system and generate enough resources to overthrow the disease.
Vyakti is the stage, where the enemy comes out of the trojan horse and attacks on the Achilles’ heel.
At this stage, the disease can cause significant permanent damage to the body if not appropriately treated.
All the disorders are easily treatable up to the early stage of vyakti. With a failure to provide proper treatment, the disease diversifies itself to create complications. In the next phase – bheda, the condition can become incurable yet manageable (diabetes, vitiligo), or fatal(cancer).
The word bheda refers to “variety”, “diversification”,”hole”,or “secret” in Sanskrit. In this stage of pathophysiology, the disease differentiates into its varieties; for example, migraine with or without Aura, with or without headache.
Beda is also the stage of appearance of complications. For examples, the occurrence of diabetic neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy, etc. as the primary disorder diabetes broadens its impact on the body. Imagine, the British came to India as merchants and became the rulers. They made rules contrary to the ancient law of the land and forced the natives to follow them. In the stage of bheda, the body is almost under foreign control. Only a violent revolt can change the scene of power.
A person requires extensive treatment in the stage of bheda. Now the focus is not to cure the disease completely, as many diseases might convert to incurable due to the permanent damage to the body. However, at this stage, a vaidya should try to maintain the health by regular external intervention(perennial medication and preventive lifestyle) and elongate the lifespan of the patient.
Six stages in a story-form
If you try to understand the whole system of pathophysiology, according to Ayurveda, we can take the example of terrorists attempting to overthrow the government and capture a nation. Here the maligning factor is not pathogens or environment, but the doshas. Doshas are the dissatisfied population!
Initially, there has to be some malfunctioning at the end of the government that leads to dissatisfaction in a small section of the population. The growth of dissatisfaction is the stage of Sanchay in case of the body. This discontent population is the base for a more massive discord.
If the government tries to do no substantial correction in response to this dissatisfaction, gradually the discontent might spread to a larger section of the population. This spread is the kind of Domino’s effect that we talked about in the stage of Prasar.
As the discontent spreads to a larger population, the disgruntled group might get enough support and confidence to express it’s dissatisfaction to the government, in the form of rallies, strike, destruction of public property, non-cooperation et cetera. We can assume this to be the stage of prakop, where we can see mild symptoms in terms of the disorder; however, a proper disease is still not established.
If the dissatisfied group does not get a proper response from the government, it might lose hope and take things into their own hands. This group can form an organization to ensure the protection of its rights and to nullify the effect of government. The dissatisfied people start together in the incubation centers from where they can spread and become more powerful. Here is the stage of sthana sanshraya, where the disease finds a weak link in the metabolism and establishes itself in there.
As this group forms and grows inside the country, it shows its presence by openly opposing the government functioning and control. By this time, the disconcerted people are established and organized. At this stage, they are not to individuals but the whole body of people, running a parallel government inside the nation. This development can also is similar to the situation of a civil war inside a country where two opposing forces are trying to gain power over the entire nation. Such is the stage of vyakti when the opposite force comes into full expression.
One major organization of dissatisfied people can branch out into several other organizations with a similar purpose. For example, the same organization can form a youth wing, a women’s wing, educational Institutes to propagate their ideology, a personal army et cetera et cetera. It is possible that these baby-structures develop into full-fledged and independent organizations in the long run. In this manner, anti-government forces become more established and stronger than ever before. At this stage, it is very much possible for this force is to overthrow the central government and take complete control in their hands. Such is the stage of Bheda where the disease manifests with multiple Independent and robust complications. This stage of the disease can be even fatal.
These are the six stages of pathogenesis that every disease in the body goes through. The natural preventive mechanism of the body can prevent most of the disorders in the stage of prakop. The common cold, cough, headache, etc. are body’s attempts to eliminate the pathology.
With external help like frequent seasonal Detox(ritucharya), adjustment of food and Lifestyle according to seasonal changes and age, peaceful mental state, we can prevent the accumulation of the dosha and eliminate the foundation of disease formation – Sanchay.
Here lies the importance of knowing the six stages of disorders. This information can help us to prevent ailments and maintained a perfect state of health forever.
In ancient times, it was recommended that the mother should not feed the infant for the first 6 days after its birth. After 6 days, when the newborn was fed mother’s milk for the first time, it was an ocassion for festivity. In India, it was called Chatti, and the breast-fed milk was called chatti ka dodh.
This thick yellow milk today secreted in the first few days after delivery is called colostrum. Colostrum is a storehouse of nutrition. Colostrum has much more nutrition as compared to the regular milk that comes after the secretion of colostrum subsides. Modern science advocates feeding colostrum to the infant, on account of the massive nutrition that it contains.
However, more is not always better. Adquate is better than more. We don’t need more nutrition, what we really need is balanced nutrition. The nutrition that we derive from a food depends more on our capacity to digest it and not on the total amount of nutrition that the food contains. Colostrum should be avoided as the first food for the newborn. Ayurveda says that the digestive system of the infant is not prepared to handle anything heavy to digest.
Colostrum has a very high amount of proteins as compared to normal breast milk. Proper protain digestion needs a good amount of proteolytic enzymes, and according to modern science, there is almost no pepsin-induced digestion in the infants for a maximum of 2 weeks. Feeding Colostrum is almost similar to feeding grains to the infant.
The infant’s intestine is very mild and immature. It cannot tolerate exposure to heavy concentration of digestive enzymes required to digest heavy food. Besides, the quality and amount of digestive enzymes is also not sufficient for proper digestion of colostrum.
Now when colostrum is under-digested, it can create underdigested toxins. Good amount of digestive acid also acts as a preservative and prevents food decay inside the intestines. However, this underdigested food rots inside the alimentary canal in absense of the preservative effect of digestive juices.
Probably, that’s why fecal matter of a colostrum fed baby is green-black and sticky even after expulsion of muconium, whereas that of a normal breast milk fed baby is mustard colour or yellowish.
The toxins thus formed can cause severe damage to babies immature and tender digestive system. Besides, according to recent scientific researches , excess protein intake can cause severe lifestyle disorders lie diabetes, cardiac problems and even cancer. Such children might develop a lot of digestive problems, allergies and autoimmune disorders in their later years.
It is important the tender digestive system of the newborn is not over-worked. Overburdened body parts quit their jobs eventually , for example a pancreas with zero insulin secretion or, thyroid with low thyroxin.
Now many scientists argue that milk contains protease that helps in protein digestion inside infant’s stomach, true. But now what should we research on is the quality and quantity of protease present in colostrum, and whether it is sufficient to digest the high amount of nutrition present in colostrum.
Ayurveda is not against breast-feeding. Infact, it is the oldest science that says that no solid food grains or outside food should not be fed to the newborn before 6 months of age unless the quantity of mother’s milk is not sufficient for its growth. Modern science also agrees to this concept today.
Today we find that babies are growing obese, which was almost non-existent a few decades back. Many of these babies are force-fed highly nutritious and fortified food. They need force feeding probably as they have lost their natural hunger.
And you need more taste stimulants when the kids are not naturally hungry. And that’s why we see so much food with excess salt, sugar, fat and taste enhancers. Later in life, there is more possibility of these kids to be led more by their tongue than their stomach. This tendency makes them highly susceptible to all kinds of lifestyle disorders. Sometimes I wonder whether highly nutritious colostrum is the reason behind all this.
No breastfeeding for the first 6 days also helped the mother to recover faster, as her metabolism is not burdened with lactation. It also helped her to produce a better quality and quantity of breast-milk later. Also, if we do not force the mothers to breastfeed from the day one and give them a holiday for days after delivery, it might also help them to recover emotionally. This can effectively prevent post partum depression in many mothers.
And what happens to the colostrum if the baby is not feeding on it? This highly nutritious fluid gets reabsorbed in mother’s body and helps it to heal faster.
Ayurveda is also one of the oldest science that describes defects of the mother’s milk and its remedies. Like all other body fluids, milk can also have defects which can be corrected. We can discuss about it in our next video.
But if the infant should not drink mothers milk for the first six days then what should the little one drink? Infant formula? ….Ayurveda recommends that newborn baby be should be fed diluted cows milk for the first six days after its birth. This diet will allow enough time for two babies intestine to develop properly and accommodate the new food. Overburdened body parts quit their work just like in the case of malfunctions in a fatty liver or insulin less pancreas. Overburdened intestine might also react similarly.
Ayurveda prohibits feeding colostrum to the babies. However at the same time, it describes the properties of colostrum, and how it is excellent for human consumption, however, it is still recommended to consume cause college from only if you have excellent digestion. There are many animals like calls elephants camel where the babies drink the colostrum and colostrum, and they do not face any problem undefined. However, we should note that these babies are born equipped to walk even Run only a few hours after birth. I assume that the digestive system must be equally equal to handle a heavy dose of colostrum as well. However human babies are for different than all these animals.
This entire concept went to the drain because of the use of unhygienic and unboiled Cow’s milk for the babies. Unsanitary living conditions and habits like Failure to wash hands properly before feeding the baby, contaminated utensils et cetera lead to severe infections in the digestive system in the infants. This was the leading cause of the high rate of infant mortality due to diarrhea in India. Many would recall the high rate of infant mortality caused by unhygienic use of a branded infant formula across the world a few decades back.
It is important to note that propagation of this concept in the uneducated and poor masses can be dangerous because of inherently unhygienic conditions lack of basic hygiene awareness. That they should feed their babies colostrum from day one. Instead of witching to unhygienic prepared Cow’s milk.
As of now, we have no scientific proof for this concept. The biggest bases for the validity of any concept in Ayurveda is pratyaksha pramana (visible and verifiable proof). Therefore I do not claim that it is true. However, I am in the process of experimentation and hope to discover the truth behind this Ayurvedic concept whatever it may be.
In this blog, we are going to discuss Varsha Ritu in detail.
The best translation of ritucharya is seasonal conditioning of the body as prevention against diseases and aging.
In India, we have well-defined six seasons. However, in many Western countries, they have four visibly distinct seasons – winter, autumn, summer, and spring. An elaborate rainy season(Varsha) or Shishir(late autumn) might be hard to witness.
However, seasonal changes occur due to the movement of the earth around the Sun and changes in the distance from the Sun. Lunar months keep on changing with respect to the solar calendar. However, solar months are stable. Therefore, we have a leap year to adjust the difference between the lunar and the solar calendar. I find solar months to be more reliable as a base for ritucharya. This concept can help people in the west to accommodate the food and lifestyle according to the changing seasons.
It is essential to note that the seasonal do’s and don’ts differ according to the land, climate, and culture. Below are some of the guidelines that can help everyone to formulate their ritucharya. In case you have any confusion, feel free to contact me anytime.
According to the Solar calendar, this year rainy season starts with Mithun Sankranti – 15th June 2019.
Ideally, the complete practice of Varsha ritucharya should start with Mithun Sankranti. Gradual changes can be induced one week before Mithun Sankranti.
Sattu dissolved in water It is important to note that sattu can be used in many ways. However, Charak prohibits the use of Sattu dissolved in water particularly. Sattu made in the form of paratha, mixed with spices like garlic, is warming in nature. It does not cause excess cooling effect during the rainy season in the body.
Sleeping during the daytime siesta If you sleep during the daytime in the rainy season, it might lead to an excess of kapha Dosha in the body. Since the body metabolism and digestion is retarded during the rainy season, excess kapha dosa can further slow it down and cause multiple disorders and aggravate existing diseases.
Exposure to morning dew Many people practice walking on the morning dew early in the morning. This practice is beneficial in the summer season but can be highly harmful in the rainy season. It can trigger cough, cold, and other kapha related disorders in the body.
Sleeping Outdoors Many people practice sleeping outdoor during the summer season. However, sleeping under the open Sky even when there is no possibility of rain is an unhealthy habit during the rainy season. This practice leads to the high exposure of morning dew.
Besides, it is believed that sleeping under cloudy Sky can severely vitiate the vata dosha and lead to paralytic attacks. This belief is not scientifically proven. However, there are many instances of such paralytic attacks.
All these practices are opposite to health practices recommended in the summer. The transition from summer to the rainy season is the most significant transition of the year as the weather fluctuates drastically from dry and hot to wet and cold.
Swimming in rivers Swimming in rivers is strictly prohibited during the rainy season. This recommendation Works great as a health practice as well as a safety measure as the rivers might get flooded during the rainy season. As the rainwater joins the river, lots of impurities from the land can get dissolved in river water and can cause diseases; especially the skin disorders or digestive problems in case this contaminated water is swallowed during a swim.
No sunbath Sunbath is also not recommended during this season. Sunrays passing through the clouds are not considered safe in Ayurveda. Scientific evidence for this practice
This study shows that the organs can independently react to exposure of light without interference or guidance by the central nervous system. I have a hypothesis that Sunbath diverts body’s preparation for the rainy season when there will be no or minimum Sun exposure. Exposure to Sun activates the sweating mechanism, which is not very useful during the rainy season.
Minimum sexual activity Excessive sexual activity is also prohibited during the rainy season. In the rainy season, overall body strength is below average. Sexual activity requires A lot of energy and produces an immediate feeling of exhaustion in the body. Therefore it is not supportable in the rainy season. Sexual activity during the rainy season risks severe vitiation of vata Dosha in the body. Zero sexual intercourse is an excellent option during the rainy season, especially for middle-aged and older people.
Use of Honey The must-use substance in the rainy season is honey.
Honey is one of the elixirs of Ayurveda. Charak Samhita recommends the use of honey every day for good health.
Use of honey is especially recommended in the rainy season according to Charak Samhita According to Charaka, honey causes vata vitiation. Cyclic water vitiation in the rainy season is a natural apart of natural annual biorhythm of the body. However, Charak highly recommends the use of honey during the rainy season.
Honey is a natural kapha balancing substance. When kapha dosha blocks the natural Pathways of vata dosha, we experience pain in the body. Lack of Sunlight during the rainy season can aggravate kapha dosha. There is a possibility that the use of honey helps to dissolve the excess mucus and clear the vata channels in the body. This kapha elimination helps to alleviate several disorders like body pain, pain joint pain, headache, depression during the rainy season.
However, honey should be used in a limited quantity. Two to three teaspoon is the right amount for everyday use. Excess use of honey can cause severe indigestion.
Time for pakora Sometimes people feel body pain, joint pain, headache, etc. during the cold weather caused by excess rain. During this time you should use sour, salty and slightly oily food, for example, poha, upma, fermented food like Idli Dosa, paratha, fried savories like pakoda, mangoda, chilla et cetera.
Sour, salty, and oily food helps to balance the vata dosha. Sweet food is a little heavy to digest as compared to sour and salty food. Sour and salty food is naturally digestive in nature. Oily food helps to prevent the dryness caused by vata dosha.
However, it is crucial to consider the digestive capacity of the individual. Young people with healthy digestion can have fried food items like Pakoda, samosa, aloo Vada extra whereas older adults with weak digestion can have shallow fried food like paratha,cheela or slightly oily food like dosa et cetera.
Aged grains It is highly recommended to use aged grains of jowar, wheat, and rice, to protect the digestive fire during the rainy season. These aged grains are very easy to digest.
Non-vegetarian soups Acharya Charak recommends Non-vegetarian soups prepared from the meat of jangalya animals and birds (creatures found in the plains with moderate climate). These soups help to prevent vata vitiation in the body due to their heavy and oily nature.
No greens Use of green leafy vegetables is not recommended during the rainy season. All the green vegetables like spinach, methi, lal saag, etc. cause vata vitiation in the body. All the non-seasonal fruits and vegetables should never be used during the rainy season.
Mangoes in varsha ritu
Mango is a gift of nature. It is a complete detox package for the summer season
However, according to a common folk belief, you should not consume mango after Devshayani Ekadashi. Devshayani Ekadashi falls typically in June.
According to the traditional belief, mangoes that ripen after Devshayani Ekadashi are particularly acidic and harsh in nature. These mangoes can vitiate pitta and vata dosha in the body. They can also aggravate all kinds of digestive and skin problems.
According to my personal experience, the mangoes that come after Devshayani Ekadashi are peculiarly sour. There is no scientific evidence for this belief. Therefore we should experiment on a personal level.
Beverages for varsha ritu Use of mahua based alcohol(for vata and kapha Prakriti people) and plain water (for pitta Prakriti people) mixed with honey, helps to accelerate the digestive process during the rainy season.
All kinds of alcohol stimulate the digestive system and produce more heat in the body — this excess heat help to compensate for the lack of Sunlight during the rainy season.
Charak recommends the use of boiled underground water during the rainy season.
Stay dry with herbal skincare You must avoid exposure to moisture in the rainy season as it can Trigger multiple skin disorders like fungal infection etc.
The rainy season has a very high level of humidity in the air which is ideal for incubation of pathogens, especially fungus. Charak Recommends that you should rub your body with a thick towel and apply medicated powders on your skin as prevention against pathogenic infestation highly prevalent during the rainy season. This health practice is especially applicable for people with excessively dry and malnourished skin.
In case of non-availability of Ayurvedic medicated powder, you can use powdered turmeric, sandalwood, aguru, etc.
You can you use medicated Herbs for Ubtan and bath as well.
The sequence of a sutra is important as it indicates the priority or importance of the recommended health practices. All the above health practices are in appropriate sequence as mentioned in Charak Samhita (Sutra Sthana-6/35) except the point mentioning green vegetables.
Hope this information helps all! Please feel free to comment or contact me for any doubts/queries.
Food is the most elaborate topic in almost all classical text of Ayurveda. According to sage Atreya beneficial food is the only factor in the reinforcement of health and harmful food reinforces only diseases. Unfortunately today people eat whatever they want and whenever they want to. No wonder that they fall sick and have to undergo a recurrent treatment. Even a machine crashes if exposed to frequent repairs; our body is much more delicate than that. Therefore prevention is the only way towards a long and healthy life.
Food is classified in many ways in Ayurveda. According to Charaka Samhita food is mainly of two types of Sthavara and Jangam. The word Sthavara means stable. Sthavara food is detonated to plants and other immobile things. The word Jangam refers to highly mobile animals.
Ayurveda classifies food into four types according to its usage –
Aashan (soft,edible food like rice)
Bhakshya (hard and chewy food like meat)
Lehya (semi-solid like chutney)
Ayurveda classifies all the edible food material primary into two parts: medicinal Herbs and edible stuff.
Charak Samhita further divides food into following classifications.
Suka Dhanya (wheat, rice, etc.)
Shami Dhanya (pulses)
Mans Varg (meat)
Shaak Varg (vegetables)
Phala Varg (fruits)
Harit Varg (herbs)
Madya Varg (alcohol)
Jal Varg (water)
Goras Varg (milk)
Ikshu Varg (sweeteners)
Krittaan Varg (prepared/cooked with a combination of different ingredients, example porridge, bread, soup, etc.)
Aahar Upyogi Varg (useful for food preparations)
Thanks to nature, we have a massive variety of food items to choose from.
Ideally, the food should change according to the Prakriti, time of the day health status of the individual. However, some food items can be consumed every day by the people of all Prakriti without any harmful effect. These food products are beneficial even for disease people. However, it is essential to always go by the advice of your physician.
All these food items are easily digested with minimum production of toxins and contribute to the fueling of digestive fire. Like the way oiled, dry wood that catches fire instantaneously and burns without smoke, giving the vital heat and light to the surrounding; similarly these foods provide adequate ABSORBABLE nutrition to the body, without creating any friction in the normal metabolism. This means that the body doesn’t have to fight with them for nutrition. They are like willing friends, ready to share the good things. Also check Concept of Nutrition In Ayurveda
However, it is important to know the right way of cooking, proper combinations and appropriate amount of eating the best of the foods. If the above factors are not proper, even the best food will ruin the health. In the coming blogs, we will also discuss the proper method of cooking and consumption of above edibles.
Rakta Shali is the finest in rice.
Among pulses, Mung Dal causes the least dryness.
Distilled water is most potable in drinkables.
Saindhava Lavana is most fitting among salts.
Jivanti is best in leafy vegetables.
Cow ghee is matchless in Ghee category.
Cow milk is the healthiest of all kinds of milk.
Sesame oil is the most preferred among oils.
Ginger is the best among roots.
Black currant is the best among fruits
Natural brown sugar candy is the best among sugarcane/sweet products.
Another important factor is the quality of food. Now if the above food items are genetically modified(GMO) and strewn with pesticides and insecticides, they will not be healthy at all. In that case, it is far healthier to eat organic oats than inorganic rice. For more information, please check Toxic Food According to Ayurveda
Food affects not only the body but also the mind. Food procured with hard earned money, through fair means is satvic or pious. It bring nutrition to the body and peace to the mind.
Ayurveda says that food also has a soul and corruption in food production, hoarding or profiteering taints the soul of the food. Such food can bring no peace or health! The one who consumes it contributes to the evil. Such activity is called Pragya Aparadha (crime against wisdom) in Ayurveda. It is crucial to be aware that Ayurveda considers Pragya Aparadh, or crime against wisdom to be the first cause of any disorder. So, let’s ensure whatever food we eat is grown organically and procured at a fair price.
Another factor to Pragya Aparadha is righteous consumption of meat. Having described the best of the non-vegetarian food, I would like to stress that what is beneficial for all is profitable for all. Today we have more population of human beings than any of the animals.
Most of us are aware of the terrible conditions meat producing animals are reared in. They are treated with antibiotics and hormones to increase the amount of meat in their body. Anyone who eats meat procured from such animals, consciously or unconsciously, is commits Pragya Aparadha. He/she is liable to fall sick in the long run.
Therefore it is very very important that, even if you choose to consume meat, you must ensure that it is free of antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals. You must also ensure that these animals have a free-range, natural life and are not caged in terrible conditions, like prisoners. If you do not, you will contribute to their unfortunate fate.
Emotions like anger, fear, sorrow play a decisive role in the health of the body, even in an animal. Animal kept in unhealthy conditions will have a higher level of stress hormones in its metabolic system. Its digestion, tissue fluid, blood, muscles, and all the systems will be severely affected. If you consume meat from such animals, all these toxins will be transferred your body as well. Therefore, Ayurveda believes that what is good for all is good for one. If you, as a consumer choose meat which is free from animal maltreatment and use of unnatural chemicals, you embrace their good as well as yours.
The way an animal is killed for meat makes a huge difference. There is a fascinating concept of Bali in ancient Vedic culture. Bali means sacrifice. The Vedic culture believes that life is sacred everywhere, even in plants and animals. If I am taking something that belongs to another person, I must have willing permission of the owner. The concept of Bali projects the need to seek permission from the creator. It is said that all food should first be offered to the higher energy. This concept of reduces the attitude of hapless consumerism and take only what is required, example the concept of halal in Islam. If practiced properly, it can rid us from the threat of Pragya Aparadha!
All living things have souls even the cells in our body. And All religions believe that life force or the soul never dies. It gets transformed from one form to the other just like electricity. The concept of Bali signifies a mystical factor of internal evolution. For example, if a person working in a small company get a job in multinational, he gets exposed to finer trade practices and grows as a professional.
It is believed that when we eat an animal, we internalize its sanskaras(karma backlog) as well. Consciously or unconsciously, we become responsible for the spiritual upliftment of that creature. We must suffer his karma backlog and contribute to the spiritual evolution of that soul. Probably, this is the reason that the intellectual class in India preferred vegetarian food, as non-vegetarian food might retard their spiritual growth.
Therefore vegan is the best and the most spiritual diet for the present times.
I hope this information helps you in making the right food
choices for physical mental and spiritual growth.
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.
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.
One famous Ayurvedic proverb states – “The one who eats proper food does not need any medicine The one who eats improper food will not benefit from any medicine”
According to Ayurveda, digestion is the key to strong immunity and healthy metabolism. When we eat improper food, it first affects the most important pillar of our health – our digestion.
Therefore good food is the basis of all health. Ayurveda states that food in its most natural form is the most nutritious, but food which is environmentally incompatible is toxic for the human body too. According to the above rule, the modern Ayurvedic standards for non-consumable food are defined as follows –
Vedas state that the food and water available to all human beings should be the same. Today this statement is so relevant in terms of non-organic food. Non-organic grains and vegetables are grown with the help of a bulk of pesticides and insecticides. These food items are hardly suitable for consumption. They can cause a variety of health issues, including multiple types of cancers. Therefore the new mantra for the Ayurvedic life is the organic food.
Most of the people are unaware that some of the pesticides and insecticides are designed to disrupt the physiological functions of the insects/pests. For example, an insecticide called “Roundup” acts on the intestines of the insects and tear the internal linings of their intestines. The insect population soon dies and the crops are thus saved. However, imagine what will happen when such food is ingested by the human. When we eat food that is sprayed with such pesticides, it affects our intestines in a similar way it affects the pests. Now it is scientifically proven that these chemicals cause severe damage to the intestines. They can make the intestines leaky after regular use for a long term. When the undigested food material oozes out of the leaky intestines into the abdominal cavity, it can cause severe allergies. Interestingly, a few decades back very few people would be suffering from allergies but nowadays people can develop an allergy to almost anything, right from peanuts to pollen, thanks to the non-organic food.
Genetically Modified Food
The newest and the most overlooked health threat is the Genetically modified food. This is a more serious threat than the use of pesticides and insecticides. In case of genetically modified food, the genes of one organism are planted in the DNA of another organism, for example, genes of fish are planted in the DNA of rice so that the genetically modified rice crops will not rot in the case of floods. But this is good only for the farmers and more so for the seed manufacturing companies. It is neither good for the consumers or for the environment.
The Myth of GM Food
For a long time, it was propagated that genetically modified food is crucial to bring an end to the food security in the poor populations of the world. Therefore for decades, there was no open opposition against GM food, but Gm food does not solve any problem of the world. In fact it has added many severe problems that are more complicated than the food crises. What good is the food but that causes diseases when consumed? The body has the natural potential to determine foreign objects and expel or kill them. Genetically modified food is not natural in its constitution. When it is consumed, the body fails to identify it as a nutritional substance. Genetically modified food is different in constitution than its natural counterpart. For example, if you see a person who has 3 eyes and 2 noses, you would definitely be scared and would run for protection. The body produces a similar response when it sees an unidentifiable object, which is basically a genetically modified food item. The body tends to attack the GM food and get it out of the body, instead of trying to absorb nutrition from it. Just imagine what will be the state of your health if your body is trying to kill your food!
The list of diseases that genetically modified food can produce is very long. The health problems caused by genetically modified food are –
Auto-immune disorders (Rheumatoid Arthritis, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune hepatitis, scleroderma, celiac disease and many more)
According to Ayurveda, the source of the food is very important. If the source of food is corrupt and evil, the food will bring the consequences in terms of karma. Because of this reason, in earlier times people refrained from eating in the house of anyone who is evil and corrupt.
In case of genetically modified, non-organic food, the farmers who buy the genetically modified seeds are forced to buy them again and again because genetically modified crops fail to produce seeds with similar qualities, as their parents. These genetically modified seeds not only require more fertilizers and other chemicals, they also consume more water than the natural seeds. Thus after a few years, the fields under farming for genetically modified food become infertile and the region faces the drought problem. Therefore we must stay reminded that if we are buying non-organic food, we are contributing to the problems of large-scale farmer suicide in our country. It is important that all ardent supporters of Ayurveda should say no to non-organic and genetically modified for the sake of their health as well as for nature. What is Evil, is evil for all. It does not bring good to anyone. Let’s save ourselves and our environment from the evil GM food, generated out the greed of few people.
Non Seasonal Food
Today we find almost all vegetables and fruits in almost all the seasons; we find greens around the year, which were naturally available only in winter. However, according to Ayurveda, this is a completely unhealthy trend. Ayurveda strictly prohibits one from consuming non-seasonal food. Non-seasonal food is considered to be unnatural and devoid of its original nutritional value. But unfortunately, because of the use of chemicals and genetical modification, many original and naturally occurring species of edible plants have become extinct. What we eat today might not exactly be food, it is “FOOD LIKE SUBSTANCE”.
Let us take the example of green leafy vegetables. Greens, unlike general knowledge, are hard to digest and cause a lot of digestive problems if not digested properly. The greens are naturally produced in winter, and winter is the season when the digestion is at its best. Therefore, the greens are full of their best nutritional qualities and also, the body is able to extract the best nutrition from them. Thus the perfect match of digestive power and nourishment is naturally achieved. On the other hand, digestive power if the weakest in the rainy season and thus not many food options are available in terms of vegetables and also fruits which can be consumed raw. Watermelons are naturally produced in summer and help to prevent dehydration. Coconuts grow in hot and humid weather and are cool in temperament. Nature has a perfect match for all our nutritional requirements. Therefore, let’s follow nature for a perfect health.
According to Ayurveda, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and grains are best suitable for the native people. For example, Kesar (saffron) is a spice that is abundantly found in the cold regions of Kashmir. Kesar is a hot temperament herb according to Ayurveda and is naturally good for the local people. Dates are naturally found in the desert area and they are sweet and provide instant energy to the local people, where other kinds of vegetation might be scare. Therefore, according to the law of nature, everything grows naturally in the place where it is most required. Ssomething that is grown in a different climate than that of the place where you live, is not naturally compatible with your health. Therefore, if you do not have the money to buy exotic vegetables like zucchini or squash in India, or Quinoa in the USA, or Basmati rice in Canada’ consider yourself lucky! Local food is the best for you.
The packaged food contains dried vegetables, preservatives, acidity regulators, stabilizers, and a host of other chemicals apart from the real food substance. Packaged fast food also contains a lot of excess fat, sugar, and unwanted chemicals.
If we can avoid all of the above food items, then there is a huge possibility of our staying alive and active for a minimum of 100 years. Besides, we will save a lot of pollution caused by unnecessary transportation.
The ayurvedic hypothesis is that the food items listed above diminish digestive fire and release more toxins than nutrients during their digestion. The only person with extremely good digestion power is able to absorb proper nutrition from them. Let us assume that consuming the above-listed food is like putting damp wood in the fire, which takes a long time to get burnt, produces a lot of smoke while burning and still might not get burnt properly. Only a very strong fire can burn the damp logs. A weak fire will get extinguished by them.
Food that should be used rarely
Food cooked in a mixture of milk and curd/yogurt etc.
Pork (Red meat)
Beef (Red meat)
Buffalo meat (Red meat)
Urad Dal ( Black gram)
Also, it is important to note that according to Sutra rule, the foods listed above are more harmful than the foods listed below. That means a mixture of milk and curd is the most dangerous in the entire list, worse than even beef and pork.
Milk and Curd (yogurt) Mixture
According to Ayurveda, milk and curd are different in the constitution and so is their digestion process. Milk is sheeta virya (cool temperament) and curd is ushna virya (hot in nature). Milk is an almost neutral emulsion and curd is acidic.
Let us imagine the cooking (digestion) of rice in two different forms. If we cook completely raw rice, mixed with already cooked rice then the cooked rice will get overcooked and lose its nutrition. If we focus on the cooked rice, the raw rice will not get cooked properly and will not be absorbed if consumed.
When something does not get properly absorbed in the body, it starts to putrefy and produce contaminants. Thus, digestion of milk and curd together produces incompatible substances, which might not be easily absorbed, thus producing more toxins.
This mixture should not be consumed at all. If consumed, it should not be more than once a month for a young and healthy person.
Cheese is made from adding acid(for example – lemon) to the milk.
According to Ayurveda, Cheese (Sanskrit – Kilat, Hindi – Paneer) is a good food for people suffering from insomnia (with good digestion). Cheese is heavy to digest but nutritious. It promotes semen and muscle formation and balances the vata dosha.
According to Charak, colostrum, cottage cheese water, or cottage cheese is for the people who have EXCELLENT digestion. There are very few people who can claim that today. Therefore, you should think twice before you consume cheese. Besides, even if you have a great digestion, cottage cheese should not be consumed every day.
Consumption of other types of cheese that are aged is better than eating cottage cheese. But even the aged cheese (like Cheddar, Mozzarella. Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) Pecorino etc.) should not be consumed in heavy quantity (example: pizza, cheeseburger etc.)every day. No wonder, the cheese was rarely used in earlier days. Now-a-day, in any party or celebration I can find cottage cheese in almost half of the menu. Such food is the cause of our low immunity towards all diseases.
Ideally, you should consume cottage cheese only once or twice in a month if you are young and healthy.
Consumption of beef is highly restricted in Ayurveda. It is important to note that beef is mentioned to be used only in specific diseases like the vataj disease, chronic coryza, recurrent fever, dry cough, weakness, excessive digestive juices in the body or certain muscular disorders (Charak Samhita – S.S-17/19). However, the word “only” is very important here. It should be used “only” in the above diseases.
Pork is considered “guru” or hard to digest. This single quality should make it a fairly undesirable food for most of the population. It is not dry in nature like the Urad dal, but if we have to compare the 2, pork will be at least a 100 times harder than Urad dal to digest! Again, it is can be used in certain diseased conditions but definitely not every day.
Buffalo meat is again Guru or very hard to digest. Besides, it causes excessive sleep and obesity. Similar to beef and pork, it has many good qualities. It is unctuous, hot temperament and gives strength and stability to the body. It endows enthusiasm to the mind. But because it is hard to digest, it should be consumed only once in a while.
These foods are like medicine, they help when consumed in some specific conditions and kill when consumed every day. Consider antibiotics, they are good, but you cannot eat them every day! According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, red meat like beef and pork might have a carcinogenic effect on humans, with possible risks for colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, Gastric cancer, and prostate cancer.
You should consume any kind of red meat once or twice in a month if you are young and healthy. Also, you should refrain from red meat during the rainy season. Red meat soup with few meat pieces is the best preparation that is the easiest to digest in all seasons.
Digestion is the door to health or disease
According to Ayurveda, digestion is the key to health as well as disease. Digestion is the main route through which the nutrition can enter the body. It is like the assembly line which processes the raw material to the finished product. But if the raw material has defects, it will not only produce an imperfect end product but also derail the normal functioning of the assembly line.
Heavy food is like an impure raw material that requires more resources and time to produce the same end product – energy and nutrition. This naturally makes the heavy food a low-profit bargain for the body. You should not stay in a low margin business if you have to thrive. In fact, it has more possibilities to be a loss-making transaction for the body (toxins from undigested food). Therefore, we should make sure that only the most profitable food goes into our mouths.
This is a hypothesis according to Ayurveda and more research is invited to verify the truth.
Please find the details on curd, fish, urad dal and sorghum in the next blog.
Keeping in mind that food cannot be cooked separately for all persons in a house, Acharya Charak describes the food quality that should be taken regularly for all seasons and all prakrati, along with food that should be used very rarely by all prakrati individuals. However, it is particularly important to refrain from the bad food even if you have to stay hungry, as it is said that one should not eat poison even if he has nothing left to eat!
Food that should not be eaten regularly (occasionally, once or twice a year or for the medicinal purpose)
Non-vegetarian diet for the weak
Dried Meat and Vegetables
It is very convenient and sometimes cheap to store dried meat or vegetables for easy use later. Many times people store dried vegetables to be used during the offseason. Dried or dehydrated meat/vegetables are now being frequently used in “Ready to cook” food. But such products should not be used every day.
The food should be consumed in its fresh or natural form as much as possible. According to my personal hypothesis, food that is naturally juicy, like most of the meat and vegetables, when consumed in dried form, tends to absorb extra water from the intestines for getting into its original digestible form. It might swell in the intestines. If the adequate amount of moisture is not available, it might not be digested properly. Such food might create toxins due to incomplete digestion.
Most of the vegetables that grow above the ground like cabbage, cauliflower, brinjal, beans, peas, bottle gourds, etc. are dry in nature and they cause Vata imbalance(dryness in the body) when consumed without hot spices/oil etc. Also, most of the green leafy vegetables are heavy, dry and have a tendency to cause bloating (esp during the rains) if not cooked along with proper spices. When these vegetables are used in the dried form, the dryness produced in the body is multifold. Besides, it can seriously derail the digestive system. This is true for almost all the vegetables.
Therefore, if you have the option of using dried red chilies for the fresh green ones, please choose the fresh green chillis. Dried methi leaves, normally used as a flavor enhancing agent in Indian cooking, also should be used once in a while.
Meat, esp pork is supposed to be extremely heavy in nature and can cause severe digestive problems (Vata derangement) if consumed in the dried form. Beef is recommended only in diseased conditions, not otherwise. Most of the meat is heavy to digest. Dehydrated meat is harder to digest and can cause severe Vata vitiation in the body.
It is said that such food takes a long time to get digested and after digestion does not fuel the digestive fire, instead leaves it weakened. Therefore such food is classified as Dhatupradushak or contaminator of the metabolism/tissue systems. In order to understand this concept, let us take the example of throwing sand on the fire. The sand does not get burnt but brings down the intensity of the fire. It might even extinguish a weak fire!
Ideally, we should stop using the packaged ready to cook masalas which contain dried vegetables like onion, garlic, or dried chicken pieces.
Instead, meat or vegetables stored in pickled form are oiled, tender and better option for easy cooking than the dried ones.
However, dried meat and vegetables, even when used rarely, should be cooked in water/moisture/oil in order to make them soft and easily digestible. They should be served hot in order to stimulate the digestion. Digestive herbs like ginger, black pepper, asafoetida, cumin etc. should be used to make them easy to digest and absorb.
That reminds me about dried ginger powder! There are some exceptions to everything. Dried root vegetables like potato chips can be kept for long duration and consumed after frying. The use of water or oil for proper cooking is indispensable. Still, a fresh potato is a 1000 times better than the dried potato. The dried ginger powder is an Ayurvedic medicine, easy to digest and produces heat in the body and therefore is not a bad food choice. Pumpkin in dried form is not damaging to health, therefore Vadi(a dried Indian curry material) made by sun-drying the chunks of pumpkin paste and spices, are not harmful.
Also, this concept is not applicable to the medicinal herbs(aushadhi) like Ashwagandha to coriander seeds. They can be stored in the dried powdered form of at least one year. However, their other preparations like jam (chavanprash), tablets, alcohols are more useful and have a longer shelf life.
Dried meat and vegetables are not great everyday food, but they might be used for medicinal purposes, as according to Ayurveda, everything in the universe can be used as a medicine. For example, dried radish soup is used to relieve severe bronchitis.
Considering all the health dimensions of dried vegetables and meat, it is best to avoid most of the dried vegetables and meat, unless prescribed by a trained physician.
Lotus roots are considered to be very heavy and not digestible in the human system. Therefore they should not be consumed at all.
Non-vegetarian diet for the weak
Normally a person who is weak and thin is advised to consume a non-vegetarian diet, as according to Ayurveda also, flesh is the best diet to increase flesh. However, a weak person with a bad digestion should never consume non-vegetarian diet, as it can seriously hamper his digestion capacity. Ideally, according to the Ayurvedic procedure of weight gain, a very weak person should improve his digestion and health primarily on a vegetarian diet and digestive medicines. After that, he should gradually move to a non-vegetarian diet. A non-vegetarian diet for a weak person with retarded digestion is like a college assignment for a school kid. The chances of successful completion are almost nil. Besides, such a diet will cause further retardation of the already weak digestion.
The central idea of the above guidelines is to preserve the digestion. Digestion is the fuels the life-force in the body and anything that hampers digestion should be avoided at all cost.
According to Ayurveda, the one who eats healthy food will never need any medicine; and the one who eats unhealthy food will never benefit from any medicine. Therefore it is important to know thy food!
According to Ayurveda, every edible substance on earth has 3 properties –
Doshashamak (Pacifier of Dosha)- It balances the dosha (physiological systems of the body). Herbs like turmeric, ginger, black pepper can be classified as Doshashamak. Turmeric balances Kapha and Pitta, ginger and black pepper balances Vata and Kapha.
Dhatupradushak( Contaminator of Dhatu)- It contaminates the vital tissue systems. Ayurveda believes that the diseases can occur only when there is a suitable environment for their incubation inside the body system. A contaminated dhatu is the ignorant king who unsuspectingly allows the trojan horse of diseases inside the body. It is like the traitor of Sparta who gave away the strategic secrets and led to the defeat of his kingdom. Therefore, all diseases have roots inside the body and these roots are formed by the Dhatupradushak food and lifestyle habits we practice.
Onion can be considered as an example of Dhatupradushak, as it is Guru (heavy to digest). Anything that is heavy to digest is taxing for the digestive system to absorb. It has a hot temperament and helps to balance Vata. However, it is heavy, sweet in taste, and unctuous. Therefore, onion has a tendency to vitiate Kapha Dosha. Onion is also sharp in action and has bitter as its secondary taste. Therefore, it can vitiate pitta dosha by disturbing the physiological processes.
Swasthyahitkarak(Beneficial for Health) – It is the substance that is indisputably good for health. It is important to note that all Ayurvedic guidelines should be considered in a context. Sutra is the system that provides a comprehensive context for all rules. Ghee, Honey, rice, moong dal are some of the swasthyahitkarak foods, that cause almost no harm to the body in the widest range of situations.
Now, there is no physical substance that when taken in any quantity, any time and in any manner will be incontestably good for health. For example, rice is considered good for health and according to Ayurveda, one should have it every day. But uncooked rice is disastrous if consumed, an excessive amount of cooked rice is not good, polished rice is unhealthy etc. Therefore, there is a context where a substance is doshashamak, dhatupradoshak or Swasthyahitkarak. This is the broad view.
Now for practical purposes, how can we classify day to day objects in these 3 categories? Well, we can do that in the same way as we classify the solid, liquid and gas. Everything that exists on this earth can acquire any of the 3 states of physical existence, in specific conditions. For example, oxygen is a gas in normal circumstances. However, it can be transformed to liquid when compressed, or even solid. But still, for all practical purposes, it is classified as a gas, because that is its natural form of existence. In the same way, even arsenic can be good for the body. It is actually used in many of the Rasa Shastra medicines. But, for all practical purposes, it is classified as a toxin. Because it has a natural toxic effect on the body. Similarly, haritaki (Terminelia chebula) is extolled to be as benevolent as a mother towards the stomach but it is not supposed to be consumed more than a specific period of time. Still, for all practical purposes, it is a swasthyahitkarak herb.
Besides, it is important to note that each human body is different. What is good for one person might not be good for the other. For example, eating curd might be good for a person with good digestion, but buttermilk is better for a person with weak digestion. But this classification is still applicable for everyone. For example, as swasthyahitkarak substance, Ghee is invariably good for all humans, (pure and natural) milk is nourishing for all children. Similarly, too much acid like vinegar is dhatupradushak for all people. And Amla is pitta doshashamak for everyone.
Therefore, irrespective of the body type, this classification is the basis on which we can choose the food that we should eat or the food that we should avoid, in general.
Swasthyahitkarak food items should be consumed every day.
Doshashamak food items should be consumed according to requirement.
Dhatupradushak food items should be consumed rarely or not at all.
If we follow these plain and simple rules of eating, we will never fall sick.
The most interesting thing about substance(dravya) as described in Ayurveda is Kal (time), Disha(dimension), Mana(mind) and Atma (soul) are classified as substances. Therefore the above 3 classifications are applicable to the lifestyle and the thought process also.