What is Ayurveda (Part Two)

11 Jan

ayurveda yoga 2

Eating habits – like all habits, in fact – are determined by the balance of mental gunas, or qualities, which are described in the Ayurvedic tradition as sattwa, rajas, and tamas. Rajasic and tamasic dominance in the mind leads to eating and lifestyle habits which are counterproductive to health. For example, we may know that coffee is bad for us, but the rajasic quality in our minds makes it the case that we are unable to put a stop to this addiction.

But to get us started, take note the broadest and most important general dietary guidelines that Ayurveda provides:

1. Reduction and elimination of ama from the system

2. Increasing the digestive fire and improving assimilation

3. Increasing Sattwa in the mind

4. Reduction of symptoms of digestive dysfunction

5. Clearing of chronic disease (this takes time)

Ayurveda recognizes six tastes that make up complete nutrition. They are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each taste is made up of two elements:

Sweet – Earth and Water

Sour – Fire and Earth

Salty – Fire and Water

Pungent – Fire and Air

Bitter – Space and Air

Astringent – Earth and Air

Later we shall learn how these elements are related to what are called doshas, and how we can use our knowledge of the elements in order to balance our own particular dosha.

As a general overview, here are some foods prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine, which can be used in the specialized diets we can adopt in order to balance our particular dosha. Very soon, you will know which of these items you ought to add to your cabinet!

Sweet – almonds, grains, dates, fennel, raisins, raw sugar, milk, honey

Sour – lime, raspberries, yoghurt, fermented foods, lemon, alcohol

Salty – salt, soy sauce, seaweed, miso

Pungent – hot peppers (cayenne, chilli, black pepper), garlic, mustard, ginger, thyme, cinnamon

Bitter – dandelion coffee, green-leafy vegetables (rocket, spinach), burdock

Astringent – chickpeas, green beans, unripe bananas, turmeric, alfalfa, sprouts, pomegranates.

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