(Last Updated on : 02/12/2010)
The ancient Indian science of medicine ayurveda, emphasizes that every individual requires balance and considers diet as one of the essential tools for achieving balance. Ayurvedic diet generally suggest personalised diet for people whilst considering factors like age and gender, the doshic tendencies that needs to be balanced at a given time, the potency of the body tissues and the digestive abilities. With a copious tradition of more than five thousand years ayurvedic diet is more than mere pathya but a holistic health treatment that include, herbs, mediation, massage and yoga. The science of Ayurveda teaches that right diet is the foundation of healing.
Ayurvedic diet is an essential form of Ayurvedic treatments as foods provides the nutrients, which are necessary to carry out the activities pertaining to digestion and metabolism. Ayurvedic food is not merely a mixture of proteins, vitamins, fats and carbohydrates but is a basis of energy for the mind and soul. It just not only nourishes the body but also supports in restoring the balance of Tridoshas which is again a must thing in maintaining health. Ayurvedic diet can be categorised depending on dosha or constitutional type and also based on the six types of tastes According to Ayurvedic diet there are six types of tastes namely, madhur, amla, lavan, katu, tikta and kashay. These rasas or tastes are present in all types of ayurvedic food.
According to the ayurvedic principle of diet there are six types of taste, Madhur, which is sweet, composed of Prithvi (earth) and jala (water), amla is sour composed of prithvi (earth) and tej (fire), lavan is salty, comprises tej (fire) and jala (water), katu is pungent comprising tej (fire) and vayu (air), tikta is bitter comprising akash ( ether) and vayu ( air ) and kashay which is astringent , comprising Prithvi (earth) and vayu ( air ). According to Ayurveda, the tastes can increase or decrease the three doshas namely Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The sweet taste or Madhur is known for increasing Kapha dosha. Amla or sour is known for elevating Pitta dosha. Lavan is known for increasing both Pitta and Kapha doshas. Katu or pungent is known for increasing Pitta and Tikta or bitter taste is known for accentuating Vata dosha. Ayurveda therefore recommends specific ayurvedic diet for Kapha Dosha
, diet for Pitta Dosha
and diet for vata dosha
. An Ayurvedic diet is complete only when a wide variety of food is consumed which balances the nutritive content required by the body. Any diet, which solely concentrates on one type of food, is incomplete as it is unable to balance all aspects of the physiology.
In Ayurvedic foods, time indeed plays an important factor and therefore there are different diets for different seasons. Charaka, the great Ayurvedic practitioner recommends ten rules for food intake, which is known as aharavidhividhanam and also elaborates on the varied seasonal diet. Quite ideally therefore, ayurvedic diet for monsoon
is far different from the ayurvedic diet for summer
or from the ayurvedic diet for winter
. Even there are specified ayurvedic Diet for spring and late winters
and also for Early Winter
Charaka opines that whilst considering ayurvedic diet it is also necessary to be equipped with certain utensils in the kitchen. Typically referred as the Ayurvedic kitchen, this further adds to the holistic development of the body. The selection of spices is also important for preparing a healthy ayurvedic diet. In Ayurveda it is recommended to take the diet at the correct time. It can be said without doubt that a healthy ayurvedic diet helps to build the immunity and defense mechanism in human body.