Ayurveda, the Indian science of life that prescribes living the healthiest way possible, is a science every living human being should know about. According to ayurveda, every individual has unique needs for balance. Since diet is one of the most important ayurvedic tools for achieving balance, ayurvedic healers generally design individualized diets for people they see, based on various factors such as age and gender, the doshic tendencies that need to be balanced at a given time, the strength of the body tissues and the digestive fires, and the level of ama (toxins) in the body.
Additional factors considered, would be the place where a person lives, along with the seasons, which are also factors that affect dietary dos and don’ts. The ayurvedic individualized approach to choosing foods for balance, can be a little intimidating at first, and there are some universally applicable principles that are important to follow if you are living, and or want to live an ayurvedic lifestyle.
It’s probably safe to say that many people today are searching for alternative lifestyle changes that will lead them to a healthy well balance life. Most people are beginning to slowly understand that they have to take better care of themselves and with that, people are increasingly looking for things that work. For centuries, Indians based their natural diets on individual temperament (swabhav) and body type (prakriti) as well as their age and profession. The practice of ayurveda is composed of the two words ayus (life) and ved (science), and it is considered a preventive measure against disease and sickness.
Body faults are also an important component of the practice – for example individuals fit into one of three basic categories – vata, pitta or kapha. For each fault, a different diet is prescribed. The Vata people can eat all types of nuts in small quantities, while those with Pitta constitutions should not eat too much sugar. The Kapha type people typically have naturally cold and clammy constitutions, and therefore this type of individual should avoid excessive intake of cold drinks and foods.
To better understand as well as embrace this unique and exceptional science, you need to first understand what the four basic tastes are in Western foods. They are – sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Indian foods include these as well as chilly and astringent tastes. If you eat Indian food on a regular basis, you no doubt have come to know a great many things about Indian cuisine, and all the various spices that make up this wonderful food. For a healthy understanding and appetite of an ayurvedic diet and lifestyle, begin here:
Six Tastes in Ayurvedic Foods (Supreme Relationship Building)
In ayurveda, foods are classified into six tastes-sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Ayurvedic healers recommend that you include all of these six tastes at each main meal you eat. Each taste has a balancing ability, and including some of each minimizes cravings and balances the appetite and digestion. On the other hand, the general North American diet tends to have too much of the sweet, sour and salty, and not enough of the bitter, pungent and astringent tastes. A fruit-spice chutney or a spice-mix can provide a little of each of the six tastes if you are in a hurry, but it is ideal to choose foods from each category for complete, balanced nutrition. Just in the category of fresh vegetables and herbs, for example, you could choose fennel bulb or carrot for the sweet taste, fresh lemons for sour, arugula or endive for bitter, radish or white daikon or ginger root for pungent and cabbage or broccoli or cilantro for astringent.
Balancing Physical Attributes (Your Partner will Love It) Dosha Diet Principles
In ayurveda, foods are also categorized as heavy or light, dry or unctuous/liquid and warm or cool (temperature), and different qualities balance different doshas. A balanced main meal should contain some foods of each physical type. Within this overall principle, you can vary the proportions of each type based on your constitution needs for balance, the season of the year and the place you live. To keep Vata dosha in balance, choose more heavy, unctuous or liquid, and warm foods, and fewer dry, light or cool foods. To help balance Pitta, focus more on cool, dry and heavy foods, and to balance Kapha, try more of light, dry and warm foods. If you live in cooler climates, you’ll want to gravitate towards warm comfort foods, and vice versa. Similarly, in winter, when Vata dosha tends to increase in most people’s constitutions, almost everyone can benefit from including warm soups and nourishing fresh paneer cheese and whole milk in their diet. In the summer, plan on eating more cool, soothing foods to help keep Pitta dosha in balance.
Spices and seasons
Certain spices contain various overlapping properties. For example, cardamom, an aromatic stimulating spice, is slightly astringent and sweet, as well as pungent. Cardamom is used frequently in Indian cooking to refresh the mind, strengthen the heart and lungs, and relieve pain. Traditionally, seasons also play a huge role in predicting the best means of substance for the body, a focus still largely followed in India today with the seasonality of available fruits and vegetables and the effects of often-extreme temperatures during seasons.
The vessels are also fascinating in the ayurvedic context, as it is believed to impart certain properties to the cooked food. Certain treatments have to be given to the food from the start. Spices must be ground on stone, shifted to a copper vessel, cooked at a certain temperature, stirred with an iron rod, finished and served in a particular vessel according to the properties of the ingredients.
Materials such as wood, clay, terracotta, cast iron, tin, brass and noble metals, such as gold, all have distinct uses in cooking. Glass, leaves and copper are also mentioned in ayurvedic treaties, along with non-stick utensils.