As per Ayurveda — ALL good health starts with a good digestion; with the proper metabolism of food. Accordingly, the most important for our health is to eat wisely.
Food is medicine when consumed properly. Selection of foods should suit to our physiology, climatic condition and the natural organic grow of the land we live in. It’s important we follow a sattvic(life supporting) routine that enhances digestion, our bodies will reap the benefits and we will find that our days will be happier, healthier and filled with real vitality — at any age.
Here are our must-dos dietary habits as per Ayurveda:
- Eat naturally intelligent foods. Don’t choose processed foods, genetically-modified foods, and foods to which artificial preservatives or other synthetic chemicals have been added. Our bodies possess the natural intelligence to process the foods that are closest to nature, such as fresh whole grains and organically-grown fruits and vegetables. We have evolved as a species over millions of years eating whole, natural foods. It is just in the last few hundred years that artificial ingredients and toxic pesticides have been introduced into the food chain. It is no wonder that the incidence of cancer has exploded in the last few centuries. Whenever possible, choose organic, unprocessed foods.
- Cancer is a symptom of a toxic environment- Remember “Cancer is caused by a toxic environment, including our food supply. It is the body's response to toxicity. When our bodies are thrown out of balance due to long-term exposure to toxins and from living an unhealthy lifestyle, the result is cancer. According to Ayurveda, cancer is one of the most extreme expressions of imbalance in the body. The social and long-term cure for cancer is cleaning up our environment and food chain. How we sow, so shall we reap. When we toxify our mother earth, the result is that our bodies become toxic.
- “Let’s pursue what is in our control - Living a balanced lifestyle, getting adequate rest, staying hydrated so our bodies can rid themselves of impurities, getting some form of reasonable exercise and eating pure foods are all in our control and are something we can do to help stay healthy.”
- Shun food fads, and inculcate the same in your growing kids. Each year there are fad diets that come with media hype of new research on certain foods, drinks, or a new diet that is “guaranteed” to work. Keeping up with the latest on what to eat, how, or when, can be a challenge. Ayurveda is the ancient science of whole living, not a fad. It has been around for over 3,000 years, is time tested and individualized in its approach. As per Ayurveda, our body is intelligent enough to signal us what it needs. Choose your food based on what your body accepts and digests better. Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables and natural organic food that is reaped of that region as per the climatic conditions.
- Opt for lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, not only for their nutritional value, but also because they are good natural internal cleansers. Start your day with apples, bananas or pears. Eat a handful of berries or citrus fruits for your mid-afternoon snack. For a variety of Ayurveda recipes, visit our recipes page!
- Ayurveda recommends bio available food. Cook your veggies rather than eating them raw. Although raw veggies “may” contain more vitamins and nutrients, they can be harder for our bodies to metabolize. So best is to steam/sautee; in either case, room has been created in its cellular structure for our enzymes to penetrate and much more quickly digest it. If you are a salad eater, try eating your raw veggies at lunch, giving your body plenty of time to digest your food. During the early afternoon hours when the sun is highest in the sky, our digestive agni is working at its maximum potency. And as the sun goes down, so does our agni. So to burn our largest meal of the day, we eat it at lunch — we add it to our strong digestive fire at noon.
- Add spices not just for flavor or aroma but for its therapeutic value to any meal. Spices help boost natural immunity, and most of them can rev up our digestion so our bodies are able to absorb and assimilate the nutrients from the foods we eat! If you are new to the world of spices and aren't quite sure what to choose, read through our section of spices.
- According to Ayurveda, each meal should contain all six flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent. The dominance of the flavors will be based on our predominant dosha makeup.
- Cleanse your system for proper digestion. The build-up of ama — digestive toxins resulting from improper digestion — in the physiology is, according to Ayurveda, the root cause of most disorders. Read through our Ayurvedic Detox Diet Improper digestion can be the result of a few habits:
- Eating late in the evening when the body is ready for rest and not prepared for the heavy work of digestion. Eat a lighter, well-cooked meal at least three hours before bed, and try to be in bed around 10:00 p.m. or before.
- Eating raw veggies or heavy meals in the evening that are harder to digest.
- Having weak digestion, due to an imbalance, or due to stress in our lives.
- Poor hydration. When the body is not hydrated, it cannot remove impurities from the lymph system properly. Blood production and flow may be negatively affected, possibly inhibiting our body’s ability to carry and maintain oxygen and nutrients.
- Body cleansing is recommended during change of seasons, to detox and rid the body of ama, is recommended for optimal health. Detoxing is particularly recommended in the early spring, because that is the time nature starts the annual cycle of regeneration as well. During cleansing, we can eat light, yet nourishing foods such as mung bean soup or kichari, and drink lots of warm water through the day. Sip detox tea. Fresh, sweet juicy fruits are excellent cleansers.
- Choose to drink what’s good for your health! Don't start your day with bed tea. Start with lukewarm water, that’s most basic yet most overlooked drink — drinking lots of warm water through the day helps to re-hydrate our system and flush toxins out of the body. Morning should include green tea or lemon water with honey. Try avoid caffeine, alcohol and carbonated soft drinks, and switch to life-giving, vitality-boosting beverages. Avoid drinking ice-cold water, especially before, during and after meals.When we drink ice-cold water, it slows blood flow in the region of the stomach and slows the action of digestive enzymes. Blood flow and digestive enzymes are directly responsible for strong digestion, and anything we can do to support blood flow and enzyme action will help our digestion — “help, don’t hinder.”
- If you are tea drinker switch to therapeutic Herbal Teas, Green Teas, Fruit Infusions that not only offer comfort any time of the day or night, but more importantly, they are specifically formulated according to the ancient records of Ayurveda and have the balancing effect described for each one.
- Cultivate good eating habits- Our busy lifestyles can lead us to eat on the go, eat while working, skip meals or eat "junk" foods. However, Ayurveda holds the belief that we can add life to our years and years to our lives by following a good eating routine. This healthy Ayurveda routine includes: eating three regular meals at about the same time each day; making lunch the main meal of the day (heavy dinners can tax digestion and disrupt sleep); and cooking and eating fresh food. Leftovers are considered less sattvic than fresh foods, and when convenient to do so are best avoided. To understand better how we should eat read " Right Way of Eating Meals as per Ayurveda"
- Balanced health goes beyond physical wellness to well-being in mind, spirit, emotions and senses as well. The food we eat can nourish our mind, body and emotions, not just our body.
- Cooking and eating in a harmonious atmosphere turns food into nectar. A pleasant, tidy, cheerful environment and the nurturing company of friends or family will actually make mealtimes more nourishing.
And finally……Remember, according to Ayurveda, we metabolize with all five senses? We don’t metabolize just our food….everything we hear, touch, see, taste and smell becomes part of us, so choose wisely and live a healthier life.