Good Food and Bad Food According to Ayurveda – Food that should be consumed in miniscule quantities

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)
  • Acids
  • Salt

Piper_longumPippali (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.

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Acid

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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Salt

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.

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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.

Toxic Food According to Ayurveda

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 –

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Non-Organic Food

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.

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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 –

  • Cancer
  • Allergies
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Intestinal Infections
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Auto-immune disorders (Rheumatoid Arthritis, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune hepatitis, scleroderma, celiac disease and many more)
  • Inflammatory disorders (asthma, peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, sinusitis, Crohn’s disease etc.)
  • Dementia
  • Autism
  • Developmental delay

For more information, please visit the link – Genetically Modified Food – The New Poison

2000px-Dharma_Wheel.svg.pngUnhealthy Karma

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.

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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.

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Global Food

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.

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Packaged/Junk Food

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.


Jivem Shardah Shatam!
(May we live a 100 years)

Good Food and Bad Food According to Ayurveda – Food that should be consumed rarely I

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

  1. Food cooked in a mixture of milk and curd/yogurt etc.

  2. Cheese

  3. Pork (Red meat)

  4. Beef (Red meat)

  5. Fish

  6. Curd

  7. Buffalo meat (Red meat)

  8. Urad Dal ( Black gram)

  9. Sorghum(Jowar)

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.

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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.

Cottage cheese

Cheese

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.

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Red Meat

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.

Good Food and Bad Food According to Ayurveda – I : Food that should not be consumed

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!

chili lot
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Food that should not be eaten regularly (occasionally, once or twice a year or for the medicinal purpose)

  • Dried Meat
  • Dried Vegetables
  • Lotus roots
  • 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.

Dried Vegetables

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.

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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.

dosakaya-pickle-recipe.jpgInstead, 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.

ginger-1191945_960_720That 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.

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Lotus Roots

Lotus roots are considered to be very heavy and not digestible in the human system. Therefore they should not be consumed at all.

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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.

 

Know thy food – Basic Ayurvedic Classification of Food

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How to use Ayurvedic Health Supplements!

General Usage Guidelines for Ayurvedic Health Supplements

Ayurvedic Health Supplements like Chyavanprash, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Gokshura etc. are fast catching on public awareness. However, in order to get the fullest benefit from them, it is important to consider some Ayurvedic parameters and factors that affect their performance.

If you are new to the use of Ayurvedic health supplements, you should reflect upon the following questions and make an informed choice –

How is your digestion?

What is your purpose for taking herbal supplements?

What is your Prakriti? You can check it online. If you are not able to find a good site, try ritucharya.com

Prakriti : Code of Body Physiology

Importance of Digestive Capacity

Efficacy of Ayurvedic medicine is not generalized. It is dependent on the age, digestive capacity and requirements. Therefore it is important to know how strong is your digestion? because if the medicine is not digested, it will not be absorbed by the body. The high undigested doses will produce more toxins than benefits. It is like giving a library of books to an illiterate person. He will be able to get no benefit from the huge number of books.

If your digestion is strong, you don’t get bloating, flatulence, indigestion, acidity etc frequently, then you can start with a good dose of herbal preparations. With a healthy digestion, you will be able to properly digest and absorb the nutrition available in the medicine. In perspective of the above example, in this case, you are literate and will be able to enhance your wisdom by digesting the knowledge from the books.

However, if your digestion is not great and you face the above-mentioned problems with digestion, the first step should be to enhance the digestion process.

In order to improve your digestion, visit

Ayurvedic Lifestyle for Excellent Digestion

Asana According to Seasonal Ritucharya

Healthy Sleep Patterns During The Seasons

Qualities of an Ideal Meal

Types of Ayurvedic Preparation

There are two kinds of preparations available in the market: Classical Ayurvedic preparations and herbal medicines derived from Ayurvedic text.

Genetically modified herbs

Because of huge popularity and demand of some Ayurvedic herbs like turmeric, ashwagandha, shatavari etc, these herbs are being genetically modified to produce more of their active ingredients, for example high percentage of curcumin in turmeric, or high level of withanolides in ashwagandha. However, these herbs are completely unnatural and cannot be expected to bring the benefits of original ashwagandha.

All the genetically modified products are capable of surviving incompatible environmental conditions. However, according to Ayurveda any herbs that grows in uncompatible season, soil or conditions does not contain the natural properties and can even have a poisonous effect on the body.

Therefore, please do not use turmeric with high curcumin levels in the name of Ayurveda. Ayurveda does not approve of genetically modified products.

Use of digestives

The major benefit of classical Ayurvedic health supplements like Chavanprash, paka preparations is that they contain a good amount of digestives(clove, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, clove, salt, and multiple other spices) in the preparations themselves. These ingredients help in easy digestion and assimilation of the nutrition. Apart from the stated benefit, these ingredients add multiple other qualities to the health supplement. For example, the ideal Chavanprash preparation contains 64 ingredients. And therefore Chavanprash helps in multiple physiological dimensions. It is anti-aging, improves stamina and immunity, is great for eyes, skin, liver; helps in blood purification, improves appetite, sleep quality, digestion and overall metabolism. Therefore if you are using some classical preparation like this in a dosage appropriate to your digestion, it will be properly digested and absorbed.

However, if you are using herbs in the form of extracts, capsules, or powdered form, which are normally single ingredient formulations and do not contain any kind of digestives, you really need to have a good digestive power to gain the maximum benefit from the herbs. Otherwise, there is a probability of indigestion, flatulence or other problems. Inappropriate consumption of herbal preparations might cause health distortion instead of health benefits.

Type of preparation

Many so-called Ayurvedic products use gelatin capsules, preservatives, colouring and flavouring agents. But these formulations decrease the best effects of the herbs.

Let us take the example of turmeric. Today we have raw turmeric capsules available in the market in the name of Ayurveda. But according to Ayurveda, raw turmeric is very difficult

Types of Foods Preparations

Dosage

The dosage of the Ayurvedic Health Supplements is also dependent on factors like digestion, age, health requirements of the body or medicinal purpose.

Tapering dosage is always recommended in Ayurveda, which means that you start with half of the final dose and gradually reach the full dosage so that there is no toxin formation in the introductory phase of the medicine.

Tapering dosage allows the body to assess and decide to accept or reject the medicine. It also helps to prevent allergies at an early stage.  Tapering dosage is like a proper introduction of a stranger before he enters the house. It is like taking the consent of the owner (our body). If a stranger suddenly enters the house, even with good intentions, the owner might feel attacked. There can be mild or severe reactions by the body when a high dose of a medicine is suddenly consumed, unless in extreme conditions.

Tapering dosage is applicable in stopping the medication as well. If the medicine is consumed for a reasonably long period of time, the body might become dependent on it. Imagine suddenly shaking away a hand that is placed on your shoulder! According to Ayurveda, a medicine or a health supplements should not be stopped suddenly, unless urgently required. Similar to the tapering introduction of the medicine, there should be a gradual and phased reduction in the dosage of the medicine. This helps the body to adjust to the new condition.

For example, if your optimal dosage of Chavanprash is 2 tsp, you should start the medicine with 1 tsp and increase it to 2 tsp after a week or so. Similarly, if you are stopping the intake of Chavanprash, you should decrease the original dosage to 1 tsp and stop the health supplement completely after a week. This duration and incremental dosage differ from person to person. It is good to consult a physician in case of any medicines containing heavy metals or minerals.

Tapering dosage, increasing or decreasing, is an important factor in preserving the homeostasis of the body.

Timing

Timing is another extremely important factor according to Ayurveda. Timing helps the medicine to reach the focused organ or metabolic system we want to improve.

The timing of a medicine can be divided into mainly 2 parts – seasonal and daily timing.

Seasonal Timing

According to Ayurveda, the seasonal cycle and biorhythm of our body, both are synchronized to the sun. Dosha, one of the important physiological factors in Ayurveda are severely affected by the changing seasons and so is our body. Ayurveda has a specific seasonal health regimen to prevent the effects of seasonal changes on the body. This regimen is called Ritucharya. There are many health supplements that are designed specifically to preserve the homeostasis of the body in different seasons. Each season has its own range of health supplements based on the Prakriti and requirements of the individual. For example, Chavanprash, paka and alcoholic preparations are best suited for winters, Amrakalpa(Summer Rejuvenation Therapy: Amrakalpa) is a fruit-based detoxification therapy best suited for summers. Use of season based health supplements is more effective as compared to using same health supplements throughout the year because the requirements of the body keep on changing according to the change in the climatic conditions. Therefore Ayurveda recommends differential health supplement therapy for a perfect balance between the external and internal body environment.

One of the best examples of seasonal health supplements is Ritu Haritaki

Introduction to Ritucharya

Effect of Ritu (seasons) on Dosha

Brief Ritucharya for 6 seasons

Daily Timing

After the seasonal health supplements are decided, daily timing of intake is the most important thing. Daily timing of the medicine is decided according to the theory of Vata subtypes. For easy understanding, the recommendations of this theory regarding the time of medicine intake are explained in brief below.

Focused Body PartTiming of Health Supplement
For organs in and below the pelvic regionBefore breakfast (lunch in case breakfast is missed)
For organs involved in digestionmiddle of the meal
For general effect on entire bodyAfter breakfast/ Lunch
For medicinal effect on throat region(speech-related organs – vocal cords, related muscles etc), heart, esophagusBefore dinner
For respiratory problemsbefore bed

Many factors are stated above, that should be considered regarding health supplements or medicine intake. Sometimes, it is not possible to incorporate all the factors at the same time. If you are not able to factor all the requirements at the same time, you can consider the factors in following hierarchy –

  1. Digestion improvement
  2. Decide on best formulation
  3. Dosage Tapering
  4. Timing

For example, first, improve your digestion with healthy dietary and lifestyle habits. Take a preparation that you will be able to digest in the best manner. Gradually increase the dosage. If you are not able to follow the proper timing for the medicine, then also the medicine will benefit you if the other primary factors are integrated properly

Every human body reacts differently to the same medicines. It is important to be aware of the physiological changes that you feel after the start of health supplement consumption. The awareness will help early identification of any kind of positive or negative changes in the body. Immediately contact your medical advisor if you notice signs of a possible allergy.

With some experience and practice, you will be able to decide the best possible formulation, dosage, and timing for your Ayurvedic health supplements. However, it helps to consult any experienced Ayurvedic physician if you are confused or using Ayurvedic health supplements for the first time.

Best Wishes!

Prakriti : Code of Body Physiology

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Dosha governs the health patterns and susceptibility to diseases of a person. 3 Dosha Vata, Pitta and Kapha are like 3 legs of a tripod on which the health is based. Any of the legs is disturbed, the health gets imbalanced. In every person, there is a constitution based on the 3 Dosha, which is also called the Prakruti or the health pattern of the person. Prakruti depends on the natural tendency of Dosha in the person. There are total 10 kinds of Prakruti depending on the combination of the 3 Dosha. More about Dosha

Qualities Of Dosha

General Functions of Balanced Dosha:

Dosha and The Subprime Crises

Some examples of Prakruti –

  • Vata Pitta Kapha
  • Vata Kapha Pitta etc…

The Prakruti is made of 3 Dosha in a hierarchy according to their importance in the body; the most prominent, lesser and the least effective Dosha, according to the extent of the effect they have on overall constitution respectively. Every person is born with his Prakruti.

Your health is governed by your constitution, your Prakriti!

Imagine a bowl full of matter which you are carrying and you have to prevent the matter from falling, evaporating or freezing. Some substances will have a tendency to fall, some will evaporate and some might freeze in the same environment. So first you need to know which type your matter is and then you need to have different arrangements accordingly to preserve it.

Water in the bowl will have a tendency to spill and fall, so you need to cover the pot and walk slowly (Vata). Consider petrol, it will evaporate or even catch fire so you need a cooler temperature for it (Pitta). If the substance freezes or has a tendency to solidify, then it is very convenient. It is most stable and easy to carry thing (Kapha). Kaphaj people, if they take good care of their body, are considered to be the healthiest people.

Prakriti decides the way your body functions in normal conditions.

Prakruti also decides the ailments that you can be more prone to (but unfortunately it does not decide a disease that you will never catch, that is why Dosha are called so. Dosha means the one which spoils…). Also, the symptoms of the same disease will be different and will have different magnitude according to individual Prakruti.

For example, a person with Vata Prakruti will be more prone to itching; another person with Pitta Prakruti will be prone to more swelling or burning sensation in the same medical condition. Likewise, a person with Kapha Prakruti can feel heaviness or numbness.

Prakruti with the predominance of Vata is called Vataj, vice versa Pittaj and Kaphaj Prakruti.

10 Prakruti types are

  • Vata
  • Pitta
  • Kapha
  • Vata Pitta
  • Vata Kapha
  • Pitta Vata
  • Pitta Kapha
  • Kapha Vata
  • Kapha Pitta
  • Vata Pitta Kaphaj

There are certain features that are characteristic to each Prakruti according to the Dosha governing it.

It is important to know your Prakriti just like your blood group. Prakriti is the single most important decisive factor in all kinds of Ayurvedic treatments.

 

Healthy recipes you must have this rainy season! : Part 1

During summer, body is in cooling mode. Suddenly, with the start of rains the external environment becomes cooler. But the body systems have their own intertia of momentum. They take their time to change and adjust to the external environment. The time taken to adjust to the new conditions is a ripe time for seasonal disorders. This causes Vata Dosha to becomes vitiated in Rainy season. For more details on effect of seasonal changes on dosha, please follow the below link :

Vata Dosha in rainy season

The physiological shock that body receives cause seasonal joint pain, flu, body ache and a hoard of other diseases. Change in food habits and lifestyle can help prevent seasonal physiological shock to the body. This systematic change in food and lifestyle is called Ritucharya.

Ritucharya

Sandhikal

Brief Ritucharya for 6 seasons

 
The food in rainy season should be vatahar or contrary to vata Dosha. I this post, I have covered two great vata reducing ingredients – Ajwain (Ajowan caraway, bishop’s weed or carom) and Methi dana (fenugreek seeds).

Ajwain

Ajwain balances vata and kapha. It increases pitta. It is an excellent spice to ease digestion, eliminate gastric trouble and bloating . It has anti spam, germicidal, antiseptic and antipyretic properties. It is a good body cleanser and helps detoxification of blood and liver.

Methi dana

Methi dana or fenugreek seed is kapha and vata balancing spice. It is known for its blood purifying effect. It also has excellent effect on heart, lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar. It is a great digestive and prevents acid reflux (heart burn) or gas trouble. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti diabetic and anticancer effects. It helps relieve body pain, muscular cramps and menstrual problems.
 
Find below links of delicious based on these 2 ingredients.

Proscribed

Following vata enhancing food should be avoided during rains.

  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Brinjal
  • Green vegetables
  • Green peas
One should use good amount of asafoetida, ginger, garlic, methi, ajwain, mustard oil, ghee, garam masala ingredients ( tejpatta, tejphol, etc.) if using the above vegetables.
 
Following acidic food items should be minimized in diet to avoid joint pain, body pain etc.
  • Tamarind
  • Vinegar
  • Acidic items
  • Chinese food