Ayurvedic practices promote healthy diet

Ayurveda, or the “science of life,” is a vast and ancient medical science that was developed in India more than 5,000 years ago.

Ayurveda focuses more on healthy living and well-being. Eating in an ayurvedic way and living the lifestyle brings the body into balance. There are positive and negative attributes of such a diet. In ayurveda, food is considered not only a mixture of basic ingredients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins, but something that serves as a source of energy for the mind and soul.

Ayurveda characterizes bodies (doshas) into three types: pitta, vata and kapha. Pitta is a medium frame and tends to become angry or irritable; vata tends to be slender with a tendency to worry; and a kapha individual normally has a broad frame and is the least active of all three doshas.

Ayurveda has categorized food into three types based on its basic quality, such as the sattvic (spiritual); rajasic (active); and tamasic (ignorance and pessimism). Sattvic food is enriching and elevating while rajasic food has a basic tendency to stimulate or aggravate some aspects of the mind, heart or senses. Tamasic food is one that leads to a devilish streak in a person or it can induce lethargy.

According to ayurveda practices, every individual has unique needs for balance. An ayurvedic diet is based on various factors such as age, gender, doshic tendencies, strength of body tissue, digestive fires and the level of ama (toxins) in the body.

Foods are classified into six tastes — sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent — which should be included in each main meal. American diets tend to have too much of the sweet, sour or salty and not enough of the bitter, pungent and astringent tastes. Since each taste has a balancing ability, including some of each minimizes cravings and balances the appetite and digestion. 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’s wise to choose foods from each category for complete and balanced nutrition. For example, you could choose fennel or carrot for the sweet taste; fresh lemons for sour; arugula or endive for bitter; radish or ginger root for pungent; and cabbage, broccoli or cilantro for astringent.

In ayurveda, foods are categorized as heavy or light, dry or liquid and warm or cool, as different qualities balance different doshas. Choose your foods wisely, based on your needs for balance, the season of the year and the place where you live.

Everyone can benefit by including some sattvic foods at every meal because they help promote mental clarity, emotional serenity and sensual balance, and help coordinate the functioning of the body, mind, heart, senses and spirit. Consider including a wide variety of foods in your diet, such as whole grains, lentils and pulses, dairy, nuts, honey, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, healthful oils or ghee (a form of clarified butter), spices and pure water. Prepare and eat them in their whole and fresh forms.

Following the ayurvedic way, each meal should be a feast for all of your senses.

Poughkeepsie resident Chandra Balusu, MS, CDN is a NYS certified dietitian/nutritionist. Email her at life@poughkeepsiejournal.com.

Source : www.poughkeepsiejournal.com