Ayurveda, translated as “science of life” is the ancient natural wisdom of health and healing. It’s also the mother of all healing systems. It focuses more on root causes rather than symptomatic treatment. Ayurveda looks at health in terms of physical, mental and subtle aspects of the whole body. It goes really deep into considerations, such as cooking preparation, storage, times, seasons, age of the patient, environment, lifestyle and food habits (such as sequence of eating and pleasant eating atmosphere, and where and how food is grown).
The modern, affluent lifestyle has taken us away from the use of fresh fruits and vegetables. The diet has become high in saturated fats, refined sugar, meat and commercially processed foods. These tasty, rich, heavy and sweet foods have little nutrient value. People substitute lack of nutrition in food by chemical supplements. Modern science only sees food value as calorie and bio-chemical content. There are many subtle aspects that Ayurveda recognizes.
Eating is a sacred act that involves the entire self and needs to be done right.
Eat in moderation and only when there is real hunger. Do not eat food standing. Sit and eat silently.
Fast occasionally to detoxify the body and clean the gastrointestinal tract. Fasting also improves mental strength. Do not have a large meal when concluding the fast.
Eat simple. Too many kinds of foods in a meal will cause distraction to the mind. Eat food with love and care. It will increase life energy in the person.
Try to eat light and warm for dinner for good sleep and digestion. Eat about three hours before sleep. Avoid cheese, ice cream, yogurt, melons and cold foods for dinner. Warm milk is good when taken in the evenings. Largest meal should be taken during lunch time. Get up early before sunrise. Best time to eat is one hour after getting up in the morning until sunset. Chew food thoroughly. Digestion begins in the mouth with salivary action. Chewing also enables easy digestion. Eat one-third solid, one-third liquid and one-third air. Avoid overeating and know that a burp is a signal from the body to stop eating. Do not combine hot and cold foods in the same meal. Do not combine raw and cooked foods together unless they are small in amount, Avoid leftovers beyond one night and do not combine fresh foods with leftovers. Use mild spices in the meals for taste, overcoming bad combinations and also for improving digestion.
Use ghee or clarified butter instead of refined oils. Ghee is a healing food. It helps improve intelligence, memory and digestion. Use natural oils like coconut, peanut and mustard oils. Do not eat the same oil or, for that matter, the same dish every day. Create variety with different kinds of wheat, rice, lentils, vegetables and fruits in meals.
Use jaggery/unprocessed sugar directly prepared from the cane juice, instead of the white refined sugar. Use honey instead of white sugar. Honey is a good source of heat and energy and is good for digestion.
Cumin and fennel help reduce gas when added to any cooked food.
Make a powder of fennel seeds and natural sugar in the ratio of 2:1. In the morning with an empty stomach, have one tablespoon of this mix with warm water for a month. This will help patients with migraine problems.
Ginger and garlic are best antiviral drugs.
Do not eat honey with an equal amount of ghee by weight. It becomes toxic. Use local honey.
Avoid melons with most foods including dairy, fried foods and starches. Melons are a full diet in themselves. They help in reducing weight.
Fruits should generally be eaten alone. Avoid mixing milk with fruits. Only mango and milk or dates and milk are exceptions.
Keeping a small piece of ginger in the mouth and gently chewing it helps with cough problems.
Guava, pears and papaya are useful against constipation.
Avoid eating radishes with milk. Radish is very good for diabetes patients.
Deep fried foods are not good for the eyesight.
Cooking or baking of honey is not recommended.
Have a small amount of green chilies in the diet. It is antibacterial and improves immune system.
Eating cashew nuts with honey every day enhances memory.
Mixing black pepper and ginger in warm yogurt/lassi is good for digestion and during cold weather.
Ajwain, or carom seeds, and cumin seeds are good against acidity. Roast any one of them and eat with natural salt. When jaggery/natural sugar is added to it, it will help fight constipation. Simply smelling carom seeds can open a blocked nose.
Lastly become a vegetarian. Avoid meat, fish, chicken and eggs. It’s good for health. Meat is high in cholesterol, uric acid and toxic chemicals from the use of hormones, antibiotics, unnatural feed substances, additives and preservatives.
Do not drink anything standing. Sit and drink silently. Drink water by slowly sipping small quantities of water to allow saliva to mix. Saliva is alkaline in nature. Stomach is acidic in nature. For good digestion, this neutralization will help. Birds and animals drink water slowly too and we should learn from them.
Drinking small amounts of water while eating stimulates digestion. Water taken after meals causes indigestion and obesity. Drinking excess water during meals is bad for digestion and dilutes nutrients content in the food being eaten. One should instead drink small amounts of water several times during the day. Completely avoiding cold water and cold soda drinks; instead, drinking warm water is very healthy for the body and will also help in reducing weight. Cold water shrinks large intestine and causes constipation.
Drink water that has been kept overnight as the first thing in the morning. It will cure constipation problem. Swallowing a piece of garlic with water in the morning will help patients suffering from blood pressure, heart and liver problems.
Drink butter milk for good digestion. Mix natural salt and mint leaves to enhance its properties,
It’s better to drink juice in the morning, buttermilk in the afternoon and milk in the night.
Drinking tea made from Cinnamomum tamala, or Indian bay leaf, helps people suffering from common cold and headache. Adding cloves, basil and ginger and cinnamon in the tea is helpful in protecting against cold in winters.
Drinking warm milk mixed with a half tablespoon of tumeric helps heal the body against any inflammation, Alzheimer’s and liver problems.
Drinking carrot juice daily helps relieve stress.
Drinking aloe vera juice daily helps patients suffering from jaundice and weakness.
Avoid milk with banana. This sweet and sour combination creates toxins that can cause sinus congestion. Adding crushed cardamom helps improve the digestive power of milk. Having milk with sour fruits or meat causes milk to curdle in the stomach causing indigestion. Do not have milk with yogurt/lemon/tomatoes or cucumbers.
Drinking Azadirachta indica, commonly known as neem juice, is very good for blood purification and skin problems. When mixed with honey and applied on the face, it is good for the skin, removes dryness and pimples. Applying a mix of lemon juice and honey is also good for the skin.
Consuming milk and fish at the same time produces toxins that disturb digestion and cause skin disease.
Boil 5-6 cloves and a cup of water. Bring the temperature down to the room temperature and drink this water. It helps bring relief to bronchitis patients.
Vegetable juices have a calming effect and detoxify the body. It’s better if they are taken after the meal. Fruits and fruit juices should be eaten by themselves and not mixed with any meal.
Lemon fights against free radicals in the body, is an antioxidant and reduces chances of cancer. Use lemon juice in the diet. Mix few drops of lemon juice in a teaspoon of honey. Applying this paste on gums twice a day cures bleeding gums.
Alcohol is addictive and not helpful for evolving our consciousness and thus not recommended in Ayurveda. The modern lifestyle is such that we drink alcohol to get peace in the night and coffee to stimulate us during the day,
Do not have yogurt with milk, sour fruits, fish, cheese, banana and hot drinks.