“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need”
Most of us have at least once before heard someone saying somewhere that “food is medicine”…
What then is the right food from an Ayurvedic perspective? What is the Ayurveda diet?
Ayurveda as a medical science and as a system that “knows” (veda = knowledge that is experienced, understood and shared) about life (ayu = life), how to improve health and how to heal disease, gives a lot of attention to the prevention of disease. Ayurveda has known for thousands of years that diet plays a huge role in our health and promoting well-being. Every serious Ayurvedic physician will cover dietary aspects in his or her consultation and advise you on what you should be eating and what you should not be eating at this point in time. These recommendations are based on the understanding of your individual constitution, or Prakriti in Ayurveda. Other factors that need to be taken into consideration are your lifestyle and the climatic conditions of the area you live in, as well as your age and the strength of your digestive system. Since we all live under different circumstances and also get impacted differently by these circumstances, it is clear that a one-diet-fits-all approach is a futile concept according to Ayurveda.
You already follow a specific diet? Vegetarian? Vegan? Keto? Paleo? Raw?
Here is the catch…
While the Ayurveda diet generally favours vegetarianism, it must be stated clearly that it takes a very flexible and pragmatic stance on the subject of diet. Whatever is required to bring about improvement of your health and well-being and balance your physiology, is what Ayurveda will recommend to you. In this way, Ayurveda is neither attached to nor does it condemn any dietary approach. Here is a striking example: although cows are worshipped in India, you can find references in the classical Ayurvedic texts (Samhita) on the consumption of beef for medical purposes and detailed descriptions of its benefits and its usage in special medical preparations.
According to Ayurveda, any substance that we consume or interact with, has one of these 3 effects on our body:
In other words: the Ayurveda diet cannot be reduced to a group of foods and given a fancy name. Everything has its time and place in the Ayurveda diet because every substance has the potential to benefit or harm us. Whatever food is medically beneficial in a specific situation and under specific circumstances is recommended.
Before choosing a specific diet, you have to clarify for yourself what it is you want to achieve with your particular approach. Once you have achieved results, you need to switch your approach to one that maintains these results (your health). Holding on to the same approach with foods that do not fall under the first category mentioned above – Swasta hita – will most likely have an adverse effect on your body in the long run. For example, a prolonged paleo diet will increase toxicity in your gut and liver and can cause cancer, kidney diseases or heart disease; a Keto diet will increase acidity and can cause ketonuria; a raw food diet might in the long run impair with your nervous system, increase your susceptibility to stress and anxiety and can cause insomnia, arthritis and constipation.
Confused? Hold on… here is what Ayurveda recommends:
1. Eat the right amount of food at the right time
Eat your main meal at around lunchtime and eat only when you are hungry. Never overeat, instead, stop eating way before you feel full. As a rule of thumb, about 1 quarter of your stomach should remain empty after your meal. That’s the way to go in order to not overload your digestive system and ultimately keep your body as much as possible free of metabolic toxins. If your job involves a lot of sitting, better stick to just 2 meals per day and replace one meal with a healthy juice or fruits. Do not eat carbohydrates for dinner (or only very little) and finish your dinner early. We recommend to eat dinner before 7pm and your bedtime should be at around 11pm latest.
2. Eat according to your unique constitution
According to Ayurveda, we are all unique in the way our body works metabolically. Some of us for example can eat a lot and hardly gain weight while others can’t seem to loose weight whatever they do. The reason for this is what Ayurveda describes as your constitution (Prakriti). Your constitution and your current imbalances (Vikriti) will determine what food items are good for you at this particular point in time and which ones will increase imbalances in your body and thus should be avoided. Once you know your constitution (by consulting an Ayurvedic Physician) and you do not have any substantial imbalances, eat about 80% of the time the food that is recommended for you.
Looking for inspiring and life-changing Ayuvedic Programs?
3. Follow the seasons and eat seasonal food
Our grandmothers already knew that it is important to adapt our eating habits to the climate we live in and to the change of the seasons. Since our physiology is influenced by the climate we live in and since food likewise affects our body and mind, we should always choose food items that neutralise or counter-balance the negative influences the climate has on us. For example, during hot summer days we should focus on eating light food that cools the body, like fruits and salads, and stay away from heavy food and drinks and spices that increase body heat. Our body reacts (compensates) to external heat by reducing digestive functions (it slows down Agni). That is why your appetite is generally reduced during the hot season and heavy food should be consumed only in moderation. The opposite is the case during winter. Here, the cold in the environment is naturally balanced by the body through an increase in digestive functions (stronger Agni). While it is good to eat heavier, warming food during this time and consume products that increase circulation, it is not recommended to eat food items that increase phlegm and stagnation. So stay away from cold drinks, milk products and raw food during this time and stay physically active. Alcohol in moderation can be beneficial during winter.
4. Cook your own food
When cooking becomes an expression of love, the right food can increasingly become medicine. That is why Ayurveda recommends to cook your own meals or have them cooked by someone who loves you or cares for you. You might know that thoughts and feelings influence us, so it is very helpful to prepare dishes in a state of emotional balance and mental clarity
5. Eat natural, unprocessed and clean food
It goes without saying that natural, unprocessed food, ideally from an organic source, should be the basis for your nutrition. Processed food is usually full of preservatives, sugars, artificial colourings and other unwanted substances. These substances enter your body and need to be digested. Due to their artificial nature, they often cannot be properly digested and used by your body and will have your digestive system work extra hard to get rid of them. So stay away from processed food and artificial ingredients as much as possible.
6. Fast periodically
Fasting will allow your digestive system to wind down and enable your body to complete unfinished digestive processes. It will also get rid of defective and dead cells in your body and rejuvenate your cells and organs. Depending on your body type and strength, we recommend to either fast on water, vegetable broth or clear vegetable soups.
Better Diet – Better Health
It often takes extra motivation and effort to make changes in our lifestyle, but once you see (or better: FEEL) the results of eating correctly, you will be very, very happy you made the step and you know that it was worth it. Some of the potential benefits of improving your diet are:
Optimum health can be achieved through Ayurvedic Detox and Rejuvenation procedures, dietary and lifestyle changes, herbal medications and various Ayurvedic treatment methods. AmrtaSiddhi offers authentic Ayurvedic programs in a professional environment that is caring and inspiring.
By determining your individual constitution and imbalances, our Ayurveda experts are able suggest the ideal diet for you. You can have complete confidence in the profound knowledge of our Ayurveda experts. We at AmrtaSiddhi are looking forward to welcoming you as our guest!