Ayurvedic Dietetics and Traditional Indian Food
Food is the basis of life, and what we eat makes up for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Traditional foods and their dietary guidelines are well prescribed in Ayurveda, which forms the very basis of authentic Indian cuisines. Many of the Ayurvedic dietary principles that are practical and rational are already deep-rooted in Indian kitchens. Given such close similarity to Ayurvedic dietetics, the traditional Indian food came to be known as Ayurvedic food.
According to Ayurveda, a body is made up of three doshas (energies) called Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and three gunas (properties) called sattva, rajas and tamas. The doshas and gunas need to be balanced and maintained in a state of equilibrium for perfect health. The goal of Ayurvedic practices, including Ayurvedic diet, is to prevent any imbalances in the doshas.
Let us now learn about the various health benefits of following an Ayurvedic diet.
7 Major Health Benefits of Ayurvedic Diet
1. Helps Improve Digestion and Metabolic Processes
Ayurvedic diets include many wholesome foods that are nutrient-rich, easily digestible, and capable of improving gut health. Traditional Ayurvedic practices are used to transform the way wholesome foods are metabolized, and to prepare foods in ways that help relieve digestive discomfort, such as fermenting, smoking, grilling, pickling, steaming, etc.
Ayurvedic diet also helps people overcome undesired health conditions, such as hyperacidity, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea, constipation and heartburn. Ayurvedic diet also limits the use of processed, inflammatory foods like artificial additives, processed grains and refined fats that can lead to poor gut health.
2. Supports Weight Management
Following an Ayurvedic diet appropriate to one’s dosha promotes weight loss or maintains a healthy weight. Ayurvedic diets may also help normalize hormones, improve insulin sensitivity and help prevent diabetes.
3. Encourages Eating Organic, Seasonal and Locally Grown Foods
The Ayurvedic diet always changes with seasons because we need different sources of nourishment at different times in the year. No matter what someone’s dosha is, it is important to eat a diet that balances whichever dosha is peaking due to the season.
4. Help Stabilize Moods
As per Ayurvedic principles, psychological states such as nervousness, anger, lust, anxiety, greed, desire, ego and attachment, are closely linked to what we eat. Ayurvedic diet can help improve moods by customising it to an individual’s specific needs. For example, an Ayurvedic diet may include lighter foods like smoothies and fruits to reduce someone’s anger and lust.
5. Fights Low Immunity, Stress and Fatigue
An Ayurvedic diet can help overcome fatigue, lethargy and low immunity to illnesses due to stress. Foods like cooked vegetables; spices like garlic, cardamom, pepper and ginger; and honey improve energy levels and boost immunity. Along with a healthy diet, Herbs like ashwagandha and ginseng also improve the body’s ability to deal with stress and fatigue.
6. Enhanced Detoxification
Ayurveda recommends internal cleansing and self-detox regime (including diet and herbal preparations) at every change of seasons. Detox is considered especially beneficial in the spring when all of nature is rejuvenating itself. Diet needs special attention during detox to avoid overtaxing your digestive system and to allow purification to occur easily and completely.
7. Improved Fertility and Reproductive Health
According to Ayurveda, infertility occurs when a person’s reproductive tissue is deprived of nutrition. The Ayurvedic diet for infertility focuses on developing healthy reproductive tissue and involves strict compliance and adherence to Ojas, the essence of all the bodily tissue. So, Ojas nurturing foods should be taken to regulate ovulation and enhance fertilization. Ojas building foods are milk, ghee, nuts, dates, jaggery, honey, whole grains, etc.
Food is considered just as powerful as medicine. Therefore, one of the most important things we can do to improve our health every day is to eat wisely and follow a traditional Ayurvedic diet to help build a radiant, lifelong health. In this era of rapid globalization and international processed foods trading, health-conscious citizens around the globe must adapt traditional Indian and Ayurvedic foods to sustain overall health and vigour.