Ayurveda – Food and Diet

Ahaar (Diet) has its own importance for good health. No one can expect to maintain his health in an excellent state unless he adopts the scientific way of intake of suitable and nutritious food. In a way diet in itself can serve the purpose of medicine. If we know properly the science of nutrition and the inherent qualities that exist in various edible items which form our diet, we can successfully cure many diseases. The scholars of India have minutely analyzed our food contents. All the dieticians of the world prescribe consumption of appropriate and suitable food after assessing the requirements of body. The Upnishadas go one step ahead and proclaim that diet not only regulates our body but also our mind. Whatever causes an effect on our mind becomes a part of our thinking process and ultimately we are led mentally to decide accordingly. Ahaar (diet) is an effective controller of our views and actions. Diet nourishes our indriyas (organs), vitalizes our Prana and ultimately rears our mental tendencies also.

Actually our Indian scholars in their interpretive exposition on diet make one more declaration. They hold that even the small details like the manner in which the money for food has been earned and/or the atmosphere happy or sad in which it has been consumed also leave their effects on the personality development. These circumstance and inclination bred factors of diet have yet to be explained in bio-chemical language. Maharishi Charak has been a masterly exponent of Ayurveda. He once asked a question on health from Vagbhatt – one of his disciples. The answer which he received holds a memorable place in Ayurveda. He replies “Hitbhuk, Mitbhuk and Ritbhuk” or eat what suits you, eat in appropriate quantity and eat in consideration of climate and weather. Maharish Charak cautions that whosever does not follow these golden rules, invite diseases for himself. As a matter of fact we eat for fulfilling three basic requirements of body. Firstly food is taken to sustain and develop the physical organs, secondly to compensate for the wear and tear that is occurring in the body every day and thirdly for producing energy and agility in the body along with increasing our resistance powers against diseases etc. However when we start eating we tend to forget the rules that should be followed for taking a proper diet and are carried away by taste only. This taste oriented food is not always good for health. Considering all these factors we should be guided in our diet by the answers that we get to three important questions: What should we eat? How should we eat? And when should we eat? Whatever components of food we are taking in our diet such as Fat, Vitamins, Protein, Sugar, Water, Salt etc, are converted by our body in more them 1000 compounds through its internal machinery. These products reach to various parts of our body through blood and nourish them. To make this process more effective we should select our food which suits to our nature, tendencies and age. We should also remember that all nourishments should be taken through natural foods only and not through non-vegetarian food. Apart from careful selection of what should we eat, we should also pay due attention to the manners of taking our food. Even ordinary food gives better nourishment when it is taken without any tension, and happily than the food of even high nutritive value which is taken in a state of depression, tension or apprehension. Food taken in depressing circumstance may cause even serious illnesses. Food taken in hurry also is neither good for body nor for mind. Those who want to take the work of teeth from their intestines may not retain their health for long. Therefore, it should be kept in mind that only that food is digestible and suitable for health which is masticated properly and is allowed to become liquid with saliva before it goes to intestines. Another important point to remember is that food should be taken only when an appetite therefore is felt because food taken without appetite or taken when you are already suffering from indigestion is like poison to your body.