Ayurvedic Nutrition: East & WestThe difference between Conventional and Ayurvedic Nutrition:Subject Conventional Nutrition Ayurvedic NutritionWhy We EatPersonal preference, habit, bodyimage, emotions, etc.To take in Prana to liveNutritional Element Calories PanchamahabhutaFocusCounting calories from different foodgroupsHow the body processes what we eatImportance Caloric value Individual ConstitutionBalance Balancing food ingredients Balancing diet depending on PrakritiDietary Recommendations Depends on food groups Depending on the taste of the foodGoal You are what you eat You are what you digest
Ahara: A Definition Food Water Breath Information through senseorgans Ahara: Anything we take-in tonourish our body and mind.
Ahara: Importance1. Food provides building blocks to create newDhatus. Dhatus are the reservoir of the energy indifferent forms. Dhatus are constantly brokendown to utilize energy. So replenishing goodquality Dhatus is essential. For this, balancedfood is important.2. In Ayurveda, eating food is considered as a ritualas food not only nourishes the body but alsonurtures the soul and the mind. Food is called as‘Poornabrahma’.3. Food energizes the Mind. It’s Sattvic, Rajasic, orTamasic gunas depend on the food we consume.4. Let my food be my medicine. Our health dependssolely on the food we intake.5. Strength, health, and our life depend on Agni. ButAgni is also constantly replenished from the food weeat. So to maintain “Sama Agni” eating balancedfood is essential.6. Strength, energy, clarity of mind, radiance of skin,immunity and sharpness of senses depends on thefood we eat.7. Diet is very critical in disease state also. Many timeswrong foods become the cause of the disease andthe right foods, the treatment of the disease. So inhealth or in sickness eating right diet is very critical.8. An important quote from Dr. Coop: “No disease canbe cured unless supplemented by the right diet.About 90% of the diseases can be prevented by rightdiet alone”.
Agni:Life is constantly changing (Nityaga). Energy isutilized for all of the physiological actions andfunctions in the body. Tissues are constantlybeing broken down and rebuilt. They needreplenishment from food, water and air. Thebody does not utilize all foods in the samemanner and they need to be transformed intophysical form to build new tissues. The energyresponsible for this discrimination andtransformation is called Agni. Agni is the Teja Mahabhuta in the body. Agni governs our life, strength, health,energy, luster, Ojas and Tejas. Agni represents the root of healthy lifewhen balanced. If deranged, it causesdisease Agni keeps us alive. If Agni isextinguished, the person dies.The Energy of Transformation,Digestion and Metabolism
Agni: Functions Digests food. Nourishes the Doshas: Balanced Vata creates energy. Balanced Pitta creates radiance. Balanced Kapha creates strength. Nourishes Dhatus. Creates Ojas, Tejas and Prana(Subtle Doshas). Clears mind, thoughts and ideas. Maintains life force. Separates Sara and Kitta (Mala) with Samana Vayu.
Shadrasatmaka Ahara: The Six Tastes1. The sensation that the tongue experiences.2. Taste is the sense and tongue is the sense organ. As soon as thetongue comes into contact with food, the taste is perceived.3. The action of each taste is because of its bhoutic composition.4. There are four varieties of taste buds on the tongue, each perceivingsweet, sour, salty or bitter taste. Sweet and salty are perceived at thetip of the tongue, sour on the side and bitter at the back. Pungenttaste irritates the mucus membrane and astringent taste pulls themucus membrane.5. To maintain Dosha balance and for proper functioning of the body all6 tastes need to be consumed (in certain proportion).6. Sweet taste builds most of the Dhatus so we should consume sweetfoods (grains – not candies) in larger amount.RasaTaste Bhoutic CompositionMadhura | Sweet Earth + WaterAmla | Sour Earth + FireLavana | Salty Water + FireKatu | Pungent Fire + AirKashaya | Astringent Air + EarthTikta | Bitter Air + Ether Tastes are the key factors in the modification of diet.
Increases Kapha, reduces Vata and Pitta, builds andstrengthens all of the Dhatus, stimulates salivation,improves circulation, strengthens the heart, acts as ademulcent, expectorant, mild laxative, relieves thirstheartburn and increases milk production.Examples of SweetComplex carbohydrates, sweet fruits, grains, rootvegetables such as potatoes and beets, sugar, honey,milk, cheeses, oils and meats.The Effect of the Tastes on the BodySweet (Madhura)
Increases Kapha and Pitta, reduces Vata, stimulates acidsecretions, helps digestion, reduces gas, increasescirculation, works as an anticoagulant and sharpens thesenses.Examples of SourYogurt, limes and other sour fruits, alcohol, vinegar andcheese, etc.The Effect of the Tastes on the BodySour (Amla)
Increases Kapha and Pitta and reduces Vata, makes foodtasty, strengthens Agni (Deepana), improves digestion(Pachana), maintains electrolyte balance in the body, acts asa laxative, sedative, is calming to the nerves and Vata,relieves spasms. Salt baths remove toxins from the body,make the Dhatus flabby due to water retention, increasethirst and salivation and vitiate the blood.Examples of SaltyAll salts: Rock, sea, gypsum and black salts.The Effect of the Tastes on the BodySalty (Lavana)
Improves metabolism, helps digestion and absorption,reduces congestion, improves circulation, relieves pain andmuscle tension, anticoagulant, cleanses mouth, raises bodytemperature, kills worms, promotes sweating.Examples of PungentJalapenos, ginger, black pepper, pippali, cloves, cayennepepper, garlic and wasabi (horse radish).The Effect of the Tastes on the BodyPungent (Katu)
Constricts blood vessels, stops bleeding and flow, promoteshealing, antidiuretic, antibiotic, antibacterial, haemostatic,constipating.Examples of AstringentAlum, the peel of a fruit, unripe banana, pomegranate peel,turmeric, golden seal, leafy green vegetables, blueberries,cranberries and beans, etc.The Effect of the Tastes on the BodyAstringent (Kashaya)
Purifies blood, detoxifies body, antibiotic, antiseptic,antihelmentic, antipyretic, reduces body temperature anddepletes the tissues (especially reproductive tissue); livertonic.Examples of BitterLeafy vegetables, Neem, aloe, golden seal, fenugreek, blacktea, myrrh and bitter melon.The Effect of the Tastes on the BodyBitter (Tikta)
The Effect of the Tastes on the Mind & EmotionsTastes affect not only our body but our mind also. As they have an effect on our emotions, it isimportant not to overindulge.Taste Action on Mind Effect of OverindulgenceMadhura: Sweet Compassion, satisfaction Attachment, possessivenessAmla: Sour Discrimination, stimulation Envy, jealousy and angerLavana: Salty Confidence, zest for life Greed, over ambitionKatu: Pungent Extroversion, boldness Anger, violence, hatredKashaya: Astringent Introversion Insecurity, fearTikta: Bitter Dissatisfaction, isolation Grief, sorrow
The Effect of Too Little TasteTaste Effect of UnderindulgenceMadhura: Sweet Weak Dhatus, debilityAmla: Sour Acid imbalanceLavana: Salty Water imbalanceKatu: Pungent Weak digestion, poor circulation, cold extremitiesKashaya: Astringent Excessive dischargeTikta: Bitter Accumulation of toxins
Food Guidelines→ Eat according to your Age and Body constitution→ Eat fresh and seasonal vegetables and fruit→ Eat freshly cooked and warm food. It strengthens Agni,digests food better, reduces excess Kapha and Vata→ Eat food, which has enough oil, and is moist enough (notfried). It tastes better, helps Agni, Builds Dhatus, andincreases strength.→ Do not eat food with wrong combination. E.g. Honey andghee when combined in equal quantities is poisonous.Mixing sour fruits and milk curdles the milk.Along with what we eat, where we eat, how we eat, when we eat make all thedifference in our health. This thought is unique in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic eating is notgeneralized. It is “person” specific.
Food Guidelines: Eating1. Eat enough quantity considering the state of Agni, and Doshas.2. Eat three meals a day.3. Eat after previous food is digested.4. Set specific time and place.5. Eat with proper frame of mind (a happy mood).6. Create a pleasant environment (flowers, music, incense).7. Wash hands thoroughly.8. Feed somebody before you eat.9. Bless your food before eating.10. Do not eat very slow or very fast. Take your time and chew your food longer (each bite 32 times, according toAyurveda). Food starts digesting in the mouth by Bodhaka Kapha. We enjoy the taste of the food while it is in themouth. It reduces the amount of food we eat.11. Do not eat on the run or while watching TV. Concentrate on the food and eat.
Food Guidelines: EatingQuantity of Food→ Consider the age, constitution, season, balance/ imbalance of Doshas,exercise, type of food.→ The rule of thumb: eat food to ½ your capacity. Drink water to ¼ of yourcapacity and leave room for ¼ of your capacity, for the food to move inthe stomach for digestion.→ Eat heavy and sweet foods in less quantity. Eat light food to fill yourstomach.The signs of right quantity of food are:1. Feeling satisfied2. Not feeling heavy3. Should be able to breathe, talk and walk easily4. Indriyas become sharp
Drinking Water→ 70 % of our body is made up of water. To replenish waterloss is very important. So everybody should drink water→ If we drink before the meal, the Agni becomes weak(diluted), fills the stomach with water so the personbecomes weak.→ If we drink water right after a meal, it creates moreKapha, causing weight gain. It is considered as a poison.→ Sipping water during the meal is ideal. It helps digestion,absorption, and Dhatu building. Drinking a little water during meals andwhen you are thirsty is the most ideal wayto drink. The quantity of water variesdepending on Constitution.The realm of Ayurveda has no boundaries……Thank YouDr. Jayarajan KodikannathAcademy DirectorKerala Ayurveda Academy (USA)www.ayurvedaacademy.com