Food as Medicine – An Ayurvedic Approach

Ayurveda is an ancient therapeutic system that is 5000 years old and predates every alternate healing system.  It is now recognised in the West by modern nutritional science and is making an impact on all over the world . Ayurveda sees food as a form of medicine.  In Ayurveda there is a relationship between food and health, the old saying “We are what we eat”.   Food is one of the most potent medicines known to man and the foundation of any Ayurvedic Regimen. In Ayurveda we have Three Gunas or three mental qualities. They are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva means the path of equilibrium and essence of life to peace.  This is often referred to as spiritualism. Rajas means activity and is the path where one follows material luxuries and tends towards greed. Tamasic is the path where one lacks energy and  is lethargic or dull. Sattva is a state of purity of mind and peace which heals the body and increases the body’s immunity.  It includes simple food like fresh juicy fruits and vegetables.  Food categories include grains (rice, whole flour –wheat) nuts, seeds, dairy products and legumes like moong beans and red lentils. Food which is not over cooked, food that is unrefined and not to oily or greasy.  Spices can be used in moderation with the right combination according to the body’s constitution. Rajasic foods are bitter, sour, salty, pungent, hot and dry. They increase the speed and excitement of the human being. It is the foundation of motion, activity and pain. Tamasic foods are dry, old, decaying, distasteful and unpalatable.  They consume a large amount of energy while being digested in the body.  They are the foundation of ignorance, doubt, pessimism, dullness and lethargy in individuals.  Foods that have been strongly processed, canned, frozen and are too old and stale or incompatible with each other like meat, fish, eggs and liquor. These food make the body prone to inflammation and growths like cyst, tumors etc. The proper balance of the body, mind and spirit is in the Sattvic mind which is the path of spiritualism and is attained by the Ayurvedic diet and knowledge of herbs and spices through Ayurvedic cooking. Ayurveda uses a very wide range of more than 500 species of herbs and spices.  A more holistic approach to eating and following a healthy lifestyle can help reduce stress and increase body’s immunity to fight against  life-style diseases like diabetes, hypertension, insomnia and cancer.
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