By Mrs. Gita Ramesh, Joint Managing Director
Ayurveda is a life science dedicated to the importance of food cure, with the cause of disease highly attributed to incorrect diet. This is why Ayurveda prescribes wholesome food, for every human being to receive the full nourishment required for a healthy body, in synchronization with mind and soul. No food is intrinsically good or bad according to Ayurveda; individuals, depending upon their constitution, react differently to different elements. The right foods in proper combination, therefore, contain great therapeutic potential.
The whole world and every person in it is made up of five elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether. These five elements interact in each individual to form the three doshas; Vata Dosha, representing ether and air; Pita Dosha representing fire and water; and Kapha Dosha, representing water and earth. For a disease-free body and perfect balance of wellbeing, these vital forces should be kept in harmony with each other. Thus, in Ayurveda, recommended prescriptions of diet maintain the tri-dosha system, bringing harmony to the body and mind.
An example of dietary advice pertaining to each individual dosha, is the recommendation that Kapha-dominant people should avoid ghee and butter, Pita-dominant people should avoid chili, and Vata-dominant people should avoid raw vegetables. There is no standard diet for everyone, nor any minimum daily requirements. The food we take and the manner in which we take it should be in harmony with our nature.
Every meal should contain all six tastes in some proportion, in order to nourish the vital forces of the body. Ayurvedic dishes are known for their exotic taste, aroma, texture and colors. Dozens of spices, including cardamom, cloves, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander and ginger enhance nutrition in the food, along with the taste! Ayurveda recommends only freshly cooked and natural food; there is no substitute for this if one seeks to live a healthy life. Meals should be timely, in prescribed quantities and made up of wholesome ingredients.
The water we consume should be warm and preferably boiled with herbs; to enhance the nourishment and easy digestion of food, along with the right dietary habits. It also important to cultivate a lifestyle that includes regular physical exercise, as well as relaxation practices, such as self-massage with medicated oils. Ayurvedic lifestyle means a relaxed self-discipline in one’s approach to life, avoiding anything in excess.
Every principle of diet should be given close attention, in establishing the basis for a long, youthful life. The right environment in which to take meals is also an important consideration in Ayurvedic lifestyle theory. One should eat mindfully, with full attention on the food they are eating. Food should be simple, fresh and easily digestable, containing lot of vegetable and natural spices. Taken in an environment of calm and meditation, diet can be an effective treatment therapy in itself.
Mrs. Gita Ramesh conducts special Ayurvedic cooking courses in Kerala. A fine example of her skill in Ayurvedic cuisine can be found at the award-winning The Ayurvedic Healing Village in Palakkad, Kerala.