How to get best nutrition from your diet: (Ayurvedic principles of having food articles):
Ayurvedic classics have given some basic principles for having food for its proper digestion and assimilation in the body, so it can give us its best nutritive values. These principles are known as ‘Aahara-vidhi-visheshayatana’ which literary means the factors which are responsible for the wholesome and unwholesome effect of the food or of the method of diet intake. These are some special factors in the science of diet and dietetics which give rise to favourable and unfavourable effects to the food for its proper metabolism in the body.
According to Ayurveda, Aahara (Food) may be of both type, wholesome and unwholesome. The wholesomeness depends upon the variation in dose, time, method of preparation, habitat, constitution of body, disease and the age of an individual. Due to the above reason Ayurvedic classics have laid down some examination methods, rules and regulations for having diet. Even one who takes wholesome diet, he should have think about the following points to achieve the proper digestion, assimilation and nourishment to the body. Both, healthy or ill should exam these points while selecting the food.
According to Ayurveda, these factors are –
1) Prakrti – Nature of substances
2) Karana – Processing of substances
3) Samyoga – Combination of different substances
4) Rasi – Quantum of substances to be taken
5) Desa – Habitat of substances
6) Kala – Time as per age, seasons and conditions
7) Upayoga Samsthà – Dietetic rules
8) Upayokta – Habit and state of individual
The above mentioned factors are most important for the preventive and curative aspect of health. They are to be examined before food intake and are to be followed during food intake.
1) Prakrti (Nature of Substances):
Prakrti indicates the nature of substances, i.e. inherent attributes (heaviness etc.) of diet and drugs e.g. Masa (Phaselus radiatus Linn.) is heavy and Mudga (Phasenlus Mudga Linn) is light to digest, due to their nature. Likewise, Pork and beef, are heavy for digestion as compare to meat of deer or meat of goat, due to their nature.
As regards to sex, generally the meat of male animals is heavier for digestion as compare to female ones. But on the contrary Prakrti Pariksana is not so important for the person who have strong digestive power (e.g. in the case of Pitta Prakrti- constitution of the body having ‘pitta’ dominance).
2) Karana (Processing of substances) :
Karana means the processing of the inherent attributes of substances. Processing results in the transferring of the desired attributes in the substances. It can be achieved by dilution, by giving heat, by cleansing, storing, maturing, flavouring, impregnation, preservation and through container etc.
For example, Curd aggravates oedema by its nature but after crushing it, it alleviates oedema. One can use rice in various ways by adopting various types of processing i.e. Process with water (boiling), it will be ‘Peya’, ‘Vilepi’, ‘Yavagu’, etc., Process with milk, it will be ‘Khir’, Process with Jira and other seasoning (fried) it will be ‘Jira rice’. Though these all are the preparations of Rice, but according to various types of processing they all are having different types of qualities and nutritive values. Another example is milk. Milk becomes easily assimilate in the body and become lighter to digest when it boiled with water. On the contrary if milk is boiled alone it will become heavy to digest. Honey taken with any hot articles like luke warm water or by any other means or by a person afflicted with heat leads to death.
3) Samyoga (Combination of Substances) :
Samyoga is the combination of two or more substances. This results in the manifestation of specific attributes, which can not be manifested by individual substances, e.g. combination of honey & ghee (clarified butter) or honey, fish and milk.
For example, Neither honey nor ghee(clarified butter) is poisonous and not even causing death, on the contrary these both articles are having tremendous nutritive values but when these two articles coming together in equal quantity and taken, this may result in death. Similarly, neither fish nor milk causes Skin diseases individually but their combination undoubtedly causes Skin diseases. Meat of domestic, marshy and aquatic animals should not be taken mixed with honey, sesame, jaggery, milk, black gram, radish, lotus stalk or germinated grains because it causes deafness, blindness, tremors, coldness, indistinct voice, nasal voice or even death. After eating Radish, Garlic, Drumsticksi, etc. one should not take milk because of the risk of leprosy.
Samyoga (Combination) may rise the harmful effects as well as can give useful effects too. e.g. if rice is prepared with the combination of Mutter, Spinach etc., it will become ‘Pulao’, which is become more delicious and having nutritive values. Same as for the patients of Diabetes Mellitus are mainly advised to take combination of ‘Yava’(Barley) with whole wheat flour for making the Bread or Roti by the physicians.
Regular use of milk along with ghrita (clarified butter) having the best ‘Rasayana effect’ (Anti oxidant effect).
4) Raasi (Quantum of Substances) :
Rasi is the quantum of total (Sarvagraha) or individual (Parigraha) substances which determines the results of their administration in proper and improper dosages. The quantity of food depends upon the power of digestion. For the purpose of having food, the stomach capacity should be divided into three parts; one part of it should be filled up with solid food articles, the second part with liquids and the third part should be left empty. One who takes food with due regards to this principle, does not fall a victim to any of the harmful effects which arise out of food taken in improper quantity. This measurement will certainly vary from person to person. A measured amount of food given to an individual is not only the criteria for his full satisfaction. It is not only that the amount of food should be regarded by subjective signs and symptoms and individual behaviour should also be taken into consideration. Faculty of Ayurvedic Medicine, considering the signs and symptoms of the intake of food improper quantity, says that there should be no undue pressure in stomach due to the food taken, no obstruction to the proper functioning of heart, there should not be any pressure in the sides of the chest, no excessive heaviness in the abdomen, there should be proper nourishment of the senses, there should be relief in hunger and thirst, there should be the feeling of comfort in standing, sitting, sleeping, walking, exhaling, inhaling, laughing and talking. No standard measurement can be prescribed for all individuals. In fact, the power of digestion even of a single individual varies from time to time and so there is bound to be some variation in the standard measurement of food to be taken by a person. But for all practical purposes, the standard measurement of food for an individual is to be determined on the basis of his digestive capacity.
It is further to be pointed out that, the quantity of food consumption is vary by person to person as per his constitution of body, age, digestion power, nature of food articles, season etc.
As regardless of heavy substances, if taken in a little quantity, become light todigest, likewise light substances become heavy if taken too much. Thus quantity is one of the factors governing heaviness and lightnessof substances.
5) Desa (Habitat of Substances):
Desa relates to the habitat. It determines attributes due to –
Procreation (Growth): Drugs growing in Himalayan mountain range are very efficacious and those in deserts are light.
Movement of substances in particular locality: Animal which graze light food or those inhibiting deserts or those who are very active are light to digest; otherwise, they are heavy.
Their acclimatization to that region: One can acclimatized to different types of localities by using substances having opposite qualities, e.g. use of hot and unctuous substances in marshy land and cold and unctuous substances in deserts.
Meat of those animals who are born or move into the water (Jalaja) and marshy land (Anupaja) and who takes heavy food is heavy (for digestion), similarly those who take light food and are born or move in desert (Dhanvaja) are light to digest.
6) Kala (Time) :
Kala(Time) stands for both the time in the form of day and nights and the status of the individual (viz. condition of health and age).
In Swasthavastha( For healthy individual), ‘Kala’ is considered as ‘Nityaga’. In this status, Food should be taken as per Daily Routine. This type of diet acclimatized body function with the external environment e.g. in summer the external environment is too hot, so to acclimatized to it sweet and cold food articles should be taken, while hot food articles are indicated for winter.
In Rugnavastha (For ill), ‘Avasthika Kala’ is considered where time is considered by Vyadhi Avastha(illness), i.e. in the condition of Jwara(Fever), ‘Langhana’(Fasting) should be done for 7 days.
7) Upayoga Samstha (Dietetic rules):
Upayoga Samstha stands for the dietetic rules.
The dietetic rules given below should be followed while having diet.
One should consume only that in proper quantity which is –
- Usna: The food should be enough hot and freshly prepared.
- Snigdha: It should be unctuous, so it facilitates to early digestion, stimulates the peristaltic movements, increases the plumpness of the body, strengthens the sense faculties, promotes strength and brings out the brightness of complexion; it does not impair the power of digestion and it gets digested without any difficulty.
- Matravat: In proper quantity; not too less or not too much.
- Jirne Asniyat: One should consume the next meal only after previously ingested meal is digested completely.
- Viryaviruddham Asniyat : One should take food having no contradictory potencies. By taking such food one does not get afflicted with such diseases may arise from the intake of food having mutually contradictory potencies. Diseases caused by the intake of food having mutually contradictory potencies are ‘Kustha’(skin diseases), blindness, tumours, carbuncles etc.
- Ishta Dese Ishta Sarvopakarane : One should take food in proper place equipped with all the accessories. By doing so one does not get afflicted with such of the factors as would result in emotional strain which normally occurs when one should takes his food at improper places without required accessories. Wholesome food taken even in proper quantity do not get properly digested when the individual is afflicted with grief, fear, anger, sorrow, excessive sleep and excessive vigil.
- Natidrutam Asniyat : One should not take food too hurriedly. If food is taken in hurry, it enters into a wrong passage; it gets depressed and it does not enter into the stomach properly.
- Nativilambitam : One should not take food very slowly because this will not give satisfaction to the individual. In this situation one would take more than what is required; the food would become cold and there will be irregularity in digestion. By taking food very slowly, enzymes responsible for digestion will come in contact with food in an irregular manner and this will result in poor digestion.
- Ajalpan : Taken without talking with others
- Ahasan : Taken without laughing.
- Tanmanabhunjit : Taken with the concentration of the mind. One taking food while talking, laughing or with detracted mind subjects will get the same trouble as the one eating hurriedly.
- Atmanamabhisamiksya : One should take food in a prescribed manner, with due regard to his own self.Giving a detail of these principles, ‘Maharsi Charaka’ (Sage Vaidhya Charaka, Faculty of Ayurvedic Medicine) further says that, one should not take food…
- without wearing precious stones in hand, or
- without taking bath, or
- with turn apparel, or
- without reciting Mantras, or
- without offering oblations to the God, or
- without making offering to the departed ancestors, teachers, guests and dependents, or
- without applying sacred scents, or
- without garlands, or
- without washing hands, feet and face, or
- without cleaning the mouth, or
- with face turned towards the north, or
- with disturbed mind, or
- surrounded by the insincere, uncultured, dirty persons, or
- in uncleaned dishes, or
- at improper place and time, or
- in a place without sprinkling with sacred waters, or
- which is dirty, or
- which has been served by opponents.
8) Upayokta (Habit of The Individual) :
Upayokta is he, who takes food, is in the main responsible for the wholesomeness by the habitual intake of things (Oka Satmya). It is known as a ‘Satmya’ (habitual) which differs person to person