2. Ayurveda Food

Please first refer to the Pakriti Section, found under the Ayurvedic Medicine Page, before reading this page.

 

Food is extraordinarily important for us. Ayurvedic Medicine has a particular food regimen designed for specific pakriti. In Ayurvedic Medicine, it is believed that we are made by the Food that we eat daily, and we should should eat food by giving full concentration to it. We should find the taste and the flavor of each food we are eating, chew it properly and to enjoy it. Also, the final refined product of food inside the body is called as Sara tatva, which makes our body. The waste product during the process is excreted out from our body as urine, stool and other excreta and is known as KITTA.

 

In order to eat and digest with awareness, one should:

  • Eat in a settled environment (ie home, a table)
  • Never eat when upset
  • Always sit down to eat
  • Eat only when you feel hungry
  • Reduce intake of ice-cold food and drinks
  • Eat at a moderate pace
  • Wait until one meal is digested before starting the next (about two to six hours)
  • Sip warm water with your meals
  • Eat freshly cooked meals.
  • Reduce raw foods.
  • Experience all six tastes at every meal.
  • Drink milk separately from meals. Either alone or with other sweet foods.
  • Leave one-fourth of your stomach empty to aid digestion.
  • Sit quietly for a few minutes after your meal.

 

In Ayurvedic medicine, there is a name for all the enzymes and functions that help us eat and digest.

 

Firstly, there is agni. Agni is found in our body in the form of pacak agni (digestive enzyme) which helps in the digestion of food we eat. When our agnis are strong, food that we take are digested into their fundamental elements, these elements are absorbed into the mind-body physiology, where they eventually becomes our cells and tissues. Portion of the digested material that is not useful in our body is eliminated from the body in healthy condition, which will be accumulated if there is blockage in any system of our body.

 

Of course, every pakriti has a particular agni:

Mandagni (weak digestive fire)- kapha predominance

Tikshanagni (strong digestive fire)- pitta predominance

Visamagni (imbalanced condition of digestive fire)-vata predominance

Samagni (balanced condition of digestive fire)- all three humors are in balanced condition

 

Secondly, there is ama. When Agni is not functioning efficiently, toxins and impurities can accumulate. Ayurveda refers to these incompletely metabolised materials as ama. The presence of Ama in the body’s cells and channels of circulation disrupts the free flow of nourishment. Ama is described as heavy, thick, cold and foul, while Agni is light, clear, hot and pure. Diseases are the final result of toxic (ama) accumulation in the mind body physiology. If ama has accumulated over time, our mental and physical functioning will diminish because significant energy is required to overcome the obstructive effects of the toxicity. People with significant ama accumulation are often mentally fatigued and they may experience generalized physical pain as well. Since the condition of tongue reflects the presence of ama in the system, there is frequently an unpleasant white coating on the tongues of people with significant ama accumulations, which is particularly noticeable in the morning.

 

In order to reduce the amount of ama in the body:

  • Drink 1 or 2 cup of ginger and cumin tea after breakfast
  • Eat foods that are freshly prepared, nutritious, and appetizing; minimize canned foods and leftovers.
  • Take foods that are lighter and easier to digest, such as rice, soups and lentils.
  • Fasting for few days with freshly steamed or lightly sautuped vegetables and fruit juices.
  • Avoid fried foods.
  • Avoid cold foods and drinks.
  • Temporarily reduce your intake of dairy products.
  • Minimize fermented foods and drinks, including vinegar, pickled condiments, cheeses and alcohol.
  • Favor the lighter grains such as barley or basmati rice.
  • Reduce highly refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar.
  • Reduce oily, heavy or salty nuts, sunflower, pumpkin or sesame seed or may be taken in small amounts.
  • Reduce intake of animal products. Chicken meat is okay in small amounts.

 

Agni and ama is important to understand how our body is functioning – if it is healthy or not. In order to help maintain the balances of the dosha in the body, it is also important to watch what you eat – according to your constitution.

 

Let’s first discuss spices:

S.N Name of Spices Taste Effects on Dosha
1 Ajwain Pungent, Bitter VdownPupKdown
2 Asafeotida Pungent VdownPupKdown
3 Basil holy(Tulsi) Pungent, Bitter VdownPupKdown
4 Big Cardamom Pungent, Bitter VdownPupKdown
5 Black cumin Pungent VdownPupKdown
6 Black pepper Pungent VdownPupKdown
7 Cinnamon Pungent, Bitter, Sweet VdownPupKdown
8 Clove Bitter, Pungent VupPdownKdown
9 Coriander Bitter, pungent, sweet, Astringent VdownPdownKdown
10 Cumin Pungent VdownPupKdown
11 Fenugreek Bitter VdownPupKdown
12 Garlic All taste except sour VdownPupKdown
13 Ginger Pungent VdownPupKdown
14 Hemp seeds Bitter VdownPupKdown
15 Mustard seeds Pungent, Bitter VdownPupKdown
16 Turmeric Pungent, Bitter VdownPdownKdown

 

For Grains:

S.N Name of the grains Taste Effect on Dosha
1 Barley Sweet, Astringent Vup Pdown Kdown
2 Buck wheat Sweet, Astringent Vup Pdown Kdown
3 Maize Sweet Vup Pdown Kdown
4 Millet Sweet, Astringent Vup Pdown Kdown
5 Oat Sweet, Astringent Vup PupKdown
6 Rice Sweet Vdown Pdown Kup
7 Wheat Sweet VdownPdown Kup

 

For Dry fruits and nuts:

S.N Name of the dry fruits and nuts Taste Effect on Dosha
1 Almond Sweet Vdown Pup Kup
2 Cashew Sweet Vdown Pup Kup
3 Coconut Sweet VdownPdown Kup
4 Dates Sweet VdownPdown Kup
5 Peanuts Sweet Vup PdownKup
6 Raisin Sour, sweet Vdown PdownKdown

 

Lentils

S.N Lentils Taste Effect on Dosha
1 Bengal gram/ chick pea/chana Astringent, sweet Vup Pdown Kdown
2 Black lentil Sweet VdownPup Kup
4 Cow pea/ black eyed bean Astringent, sweet Vup Pdown Kdown
6 Gahat/ Horse gram Astringent VdownPup Kdown
7 Kidney beans Astringent Vup Pdown Kdown
8 Mung/Green gram Sweet,astringent Vup Pdown Kdown
9 Pea Sweet Vup Pdown Kup
10 Red gram/ rahar Astringent Vup Pdown Kdown
11 Lentil/red lentil/ musuro Sweet VupPup Kdown
12 Soya bean Sweet, astringent VdownPup Kup

 

Fruits

S.N Name of the fruits Taste Effects on Dosha
1 Amala Five Taste except Salty VdownPdownKdown
2 Apple Sweet, astringent VdownPdown Kup
3 Apricot Sweet Vdown Pup Kup
4 Avocado Sweet, Astringent VdownPupKup
5 Banana Sweet, astringent VdownPdown Kup
6 Bayer/ Plum Sour, Sweet Vdown PupKdown
7 Cherry Sour, Sweet Vdown Pup Kdown
8 Coconut Sweet VdownPdownKup
10 Dates Sweet VdownPdown Kup
11 Grapes Sweet VdownPdown Kup
12 Guava Sour, sweet Vup PdownKup
13 Jack fruits Astringent, sweet VdownPdown Kup
15 Litchi Sweet Vdown Pup Kup
16 Mango Sweet VdownPdown Kup
17 Mausam Sour, Sweet Vdown Pup Kup
18 Melon Sweet VdownPdownKup
19 Orange Sweet VdownPdown Kup
20 Papaya Sweet Vdown PdownKup
21 Peach Sweet VdownPupKup
22 Pear Sweet, Astringent Vup Pdown Kup
23 Pineapple Sweet VdownPdown Kup
24 Pomegranate Sweet VdownPdownK down
25 Raisin Sour, Sweet Vup Pdown Kdown
26 Strawberry Sour, Sweet Vdown Pup Kup
27 Sugarcane Sweet VdownPdown Kup
28 Water melon Sweet VdownPdown Kup

Vegetables:

S.N Name of vegetables Taste Effect on Doshas
1 Asparagus Sweet VdownPdownK down
2 Beans Sweet VupPdown Kup
3 Beet root Sweet, astringent VdownPup Kdown
4 Bitter gourd Bitter VdownPdownK down
5 Bottle gourd Sweet, Astringent VupPdownKdown
6 Broccoli Sweet, astringent Vup PdownKdown
7 Cabbage Sweet Vup PdownKdown
8 Capsicum Pungent Vdown Pup Kdown
9 Carrot Sweet, Bitter VdownPup K down
10 Cauliflower Sweet, Astringent Vup PdownKdown
11 Cucumber Sweet Vup PdownKup
12 Egg plant Sweet, bitter VdownPdown Kup
16 Okra Sweet VdownPdown Kup
17 Lemon Sour Vdown Pup Kup
18 Mentha Pungent VdownPup Kdown
19 Mushroom Sweet, Astringent VupPdownKdown
20 Mustard leaf Pungent, Bitter VdownPup Kdown
21 Pointed gourd Bitter VdownPdownK down
22 Potato Sweet, Astringent Vup PdownKup
23 Pumpkin Sweet VdownPdown Kup
24 Radish Astringent, Sweet VupPup Kup
25 Rayo leaf Pungent, astringent VdownPup Kdown
26 Skush Sweet, astringent VdownPdown Kup
27 Spinach Sweet VdownPup Kdown
28 Sprouts Astringent VupPup Kdown
30 Tomato Sour, Sweet Vup Pup Kup
31 Turnip Astringent, bitter Vup Pdown Kdown
32 Watercress Astringent VupPup Kdown

 

As with everything, there are certain foods you need to avoid eating together:

– Avoid taking milk with sour or citrus fruits. The action of hydrochloric acid in the stomach causes the milk to curdle. For this reason Ayurveda advises against taking milk with sour fruits, yogurt, sour cream, cheese, and fish.

– Honey should never be cooked. Honey digests slowly when cooked and the molecules become a non-homogenized glue that adheres to mucous membranes and clogs subtle channels, producing toxins. Uncooked honey is nectar. Cooked honey is poison.

– Do not eat meat protein and milk protein together. Meat is heating and milk is cooling so they counteract one another, disturb agni and produce ama.

– Do not eat honey and ghee (clarified butter) in equal amount

 

Certain things to know about ghee (clarified butter):

  • Is digestive
  • Helps to improve absorption and assimilation
  • Nourishes the body and lubricated the connective tissues
  • If taken in small amount, it pacifies all three doshas. Ghee pacifies Vata and Pitta
  • It is yogavahi- a catalytic agent that carries the medicinal properties of herbs into seven tissues of the body
  • It should not be used by the people with ama/ toxins in the body

 

Certain things to know about curd (yogurt):

 

  • Helps in diarrhoea
  • Prohibited to take at night

 

Certain things to know about honey (maha):

  • Honey should never be heated
  • It helps in wound healing, and respiratory problems, lowering the kapha doshas in the body
  • Honey is yogavahi- a catalytic agent that carries the medicinal properties of herbs into seven tissues of the body
  • It is good for eyes

Relationship between Six Tastes, Three Doshas and Five Elements

We should use all the taste (rasa) in our every day meal. But we should know our constitution and which taste is responsible for increasing or decreasing the particular dosha. The main concern is the amount of the taste we are using. Also, there should be appropriate selection of food from each group in our meal. All the six taste should be included in our food in the proper amount.

 

Relationship between Rasa and Dosha:

Taste\Rasa Dominating pancamahabhuta Vata Pitta Kapha
Sweet\Madhur water, earth +
Sour\Amla earth, fire + +
Salty\Lavan water, fire + +
Hot\sharp\Katu fire, air + +
Bitter\Tikta air, space\ether +
Astringent\Kasaya air, earth +

Note:-” is decreasing the dosha; “+” is increasing the dosha. For example bitter taste is decreasing the kapha dosha so people with dominating kapha can take bitter taste as a part of their daily food, where as sweet taste is increasing kapha dosha so people with dominating kapha should take less amount of sweet taste food.

(fire and air elements are light and tend to move upward, hence resulting in heating the upper part of the body, producing lightness. Earth and water elements are heavy and move downward, so the sweet taste cools the lower part, the urinary passage and can produce heaviness in the body)

 

All of these notes and pictures were provided to me by the Ayurveda Health Home of Kathmandu, Nepal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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