Ancient text of Ayurveda mentions aahar i.e. diet is the best preventive medicine and is solely responsible for health, illness, sorrow, and happiness. Diseases start from food imbalance and health of an individual also is dependable to diet. Although specific drugs are required for management of specific disease, Aahara is best of all the medicines. There is a well-known proverb nowadays that we take medicines like food nowadays and food as medicines. Eight Important rules are involved in the intake of a proper diet these are called Ashta ahara vidhi vishesaayatana. (Eight factors of diet & Dietetics).
The word Ayurveda consists of the words ayu meaning “life” and Veda, meaning “knowledge” or science. Ayurveda defines health as a balance of three doshas, the Agni, the Dhatus and the malas as well as the sensorial, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. There are two main objectives of Ayurveda i.e. maintenance of the health of healthy person and restoration of health in a healthy person. The treatment in Ayurveda system is holistic and individualized having two components of Preventive and Curative. The preventive aspect of Ayurveda is called ‘Swasthavritta’ and includes personal hygiene, regular daily & seasonal regime and appropriate social behavior. The curative treatment consists of there main constituents, Ahara (diet) Vihar (lifestyle) and Oushadha (medication)
Concept Of Ahara(Diet)
According to Ayurveda, Ahar ie.diet is the best preventive medicine and is solely responsible for health and illness, sorrow & happiness. Although specific drugs are required for management of specific disease, Ahara is best of all the medicines. No medicine can perform well unless it is accompanied by proper food. The Food habit that promotes health is called Pathya (wholesome diet) whereas the one which is not congenial to the body is called as Apathya (unwholesome diet). The concept of shad rasa (six tastes) is a central point in Ayurvedic cuisine. These six tastes- madhura (sweat), Amla(sour), Lavan (salty), Tikta (pungent), Katu (bitter) and Kashaya (astringent) should be present in balanced proportions.
Ahara Vidhi Vishesaayatana
Eight Important rules are involved in the intake of proper diet. These are called Ashta Ahara Vidhi Visheshaayatana (Eight Factors of diet and Dietetics) All these eight factors are complementary to each other and denote wholesomeness of diet. Their consideration is essential.
- PRAKRITI (Nature of food articles) Food should be taken keeping in view the characteristics of the foodstuff like guru (heavy)-laghu(light)/sheeta (cold potency) ushna (hot potency)/(singdha unctuous) ruksha (dry) etc. Rice, moong is laghu by nature whereas milk, black (Urad) are a guru by nature.
- KARANA (method of processing) Preparation is the process performed to modify the natural properties of substances. It refers to alteration/ modification in the qualities of the foodstuff by the effect of cooking, storing, preservation, flavoring, and specific utensil, condiments, spices etc e.g. adding black pepper to curd makes it less abhishyandi 7
- SAMYOGA (combination) Sometimes the action of a combination of diets is different from the action/effect of the individual components e.g. the combination of honey and ghee, fish and milk taken alone is very good for our system but if they are combined together, they become toxic.
- RASHI (quantum) It refers to the quantity of food to be taken. It is usually advised to eat up to ¾ of the need.
- DESHA (habitat/climate) The effect of food on the body depends upon the area/location from which the food has been collected and the geographical origin of the consumer.
- KALA (time) It refers to time of the years, time of the day, stage of the disease, age of the consumer and the stage of digestion/ Indigestion of the previously consumed food Right time to have food is when there is no bloating of the abdomen, urine & stool are passing normally, there is no sour eructation, there is feeling of lightness in the body especially in the region of chest and abdomen, there is no feeling of stiffness and there is feeling hunger.
- UPA YOGA SANSTHA (Rules governing the intake of food) ü Always wash hands before taking food. ü Always eat only hygienic food. ü Always pray before taking food. ü Never eat reheated food. ü Never consume very hot food. ü Never consume food that has been kept uncovered. ü Neither eats too slowly nor to fast. ü Always avoid talking while having food.
- UPAYOKTA (wholesomeness of individual who takes it) The user is the one who makes use of food and habituation depends upon him.
Thus it is concluded that ahara i.e. diet should be taken keeping in view the fundamentals of Ashta aahara vidhi viseshaayatana to reduce the morbidity due to lifestyle disorders and achieving the noble goal of maintaining the health of the healthy. In this way ahara i.e, diet plays an important role in maintaining the health of an individual. Thus the need of the hour is to explore the potential of the science of dietetics in Ayurveda and find ways and means to adopt the recommendations of our ancient sages to achieve the ever cherished target of ‘Health For All’