Ayurveda is a practice that goes beyond just providing treatments for various ailments; it also offers guidance on maintaining one’s well-being. Ahar, Nidra & Bramhacharya are all very important pillars in Ayurvedic philosophy – each one teaching someone different things about how to live as opposed to just surviving.
Ayurveda places emphasis on Ahara (diet) and explains the importance of choosing foods that are healthy for you; both physically, mentally, and spiritually. Humans need food to survive, grow and maintain their bodies. Lifestyle disorders are rampant because people are ignorant about what they put in their mouths every day.
Acharya Charak’s Ahar Vidhi gives us important guidelines about what we should eat and what we shouldn’t. He established Ahara Vidhii Vidhan (dietary guidelines) for which the scientific explanation is presented below.
- Ushnamashniyat (Consuming warm food)
The most crucial rule when it comes to eating is that one should take Ushna (Hot) food. Eating hot foods makes the taste of what you’re eating more appetizing, stimulates digestion, and causes Vata and Kapha-reduction. When you eat cold food it takes more energy for your body to digest it which can result in sluggishness.
- Snigdhamashniyat (Diet should include fat)
Fats improve the taste of a diet, promote satiety and thus aid in digestion, pacify Vata dosha because of its qualities that enhance physical growth, give strength to all five senses and improve physical strength. Fats also improve complexion and enhance one’s natural beauty.
Fat contains a large amount of energy and essential fatty acids required for growth, building cell membranes, and forming the nervous system. It also helps absorb vitamins such as A, D, E, & K. These vitamins promote immunity, and healthy skin, or hair, Vitamin E combats oxidative stress; Vitamin D promotes calcium uptake leading to stronger bones.
- Matravatashniyat (Balanced Diet)
According to Ayurveda, the quantity of a meal consists of two parts: the sarvagraha (the entire amount), which includes every single item on your plate, and the parigrah (the individual ingredients). A balanced diet will consist of a variety of food items in the right quantities from each group – carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. This way you will get all micronutrients necessary for your body. You also want to make sure that you are eating enough but not too much at once- this will cause undue stress on your digestive system and could lead to discomfort or serious problems.
A well-balanced diet stays within what a person’s Agni and Balas can handle, enhances longevity, is well-digested, and leaves the body without causing any problems.
- Jeerneashniyat (Meal taken after digestion of previous meal)
One should wait until they have digested the previous meal before eating another one, to avoid overloading oneself and increasing the risk of adhyashana – or put simply when it comes to food and health- excess is never good. This prevents indigestion, which leads to ama formation – this is the root cause of most diseases.
- Veeryaviruddhamashniyat (Consuming food that does not conflict with potency)
It is necessary to take veerya-aviruddha ahar to prevent problems arising from viruddhaveerya ahara such as impotency, blindness, hypersensitivity, kustha rog (skin disorders), or fever.
- Ishtadeshe Ishtasarvopkarnam chashniyat (Meal taken at proper place and in proper utensils)
Meals should be eaten in their appropriate setting with clean utensils to prevent poor hygiene and allow for a peaceful dining experience. Stressful conditions can cause an increased release of cortisol, which can lead people to eat more calories. Negative moods make us seek comfort through food.
- Naatidrutamashniyat (Not eating too quickly)
Too-fast eating can result in a number of problems, like choking or other respiratory tract infections or ailments such as GERD. Eat slower for better digestion and to prevent overeating because it takes the brain about 20 minutes to recognize that the stomach is full. Slow eating also leads to decreased food consumption, increased nutrient absorption, improved appetite regulation, and improved satiety.
- Naativilambitamashniyat (Not eating too slowly)
If food is eaten too slowly, the digestive enzymes in saliva don’t mix properly with the food leading to improper digestion. This means you won’t feel full from your meal and will end up eating more than what was needed. Not only does this lead to consuming excess calories but also causes the food to get cold.
- Ajalpanahasan Tanmanabhunjeet (Eating without talking or laughing, mindful eating)
Acharya Charaka says that even a small amount of food if eaten without paying careful attention can result in indigestion because of confusion, sorrow, fear, anger, and sadness. There are chances for us to mistakenly consume an improper amount of food when we’re distracted by something else – whether it’s work-related or personal. If one eats while doing other things such as watching TV then they will never have time to relax or feel fulfilled after an unhealthy meal has been consumed; which leads us back down the rabbit hole again!
People today are rushing around so much- eating on the go instead of savoring every bite, hence it’s clear now then how fast-paced lives make people more vulnerable than ever before to health problems caused by an unhealthy diet.
- Atmanamabhisamikshya Bhunjeet Samyak (Eating according to one’s needs)
A diet should be tailored to one’s body type, individual needs, and lifestyle. It is important for pregnant women and those with young children to eat enough healthy foods that provide the necessary nutrients. A person who is elderly will need less yet nutritious food than someone in his or her youth due to having less energy. Additionally, it is important for those who are sick to focus on nourishing themselves based on their specific illness.
Ayurveda is a treasure trove of precious insights. Diet is the most crucial factor in maintaining good health; not just what we eat, but how we eat it can make or break us for life.
After reviewing the points above, we should conclude that healthy eating should be based on āhāra vidhi vidhān–dietary guidelines which are indeed scientifically supported. More healthy eating habits could lead to lowered risks of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, infertility, and many other health problems.