7 Food and the
7.2 Food as Medicine
Food is the best medicine and the best long-term treatment available in any system of medicine anywhere in the world. A balanced diet is critical for good health. Wrong diet is responsible for 90 percent of physical disease. Wrong diet can also reduce or nullify the effects of herbal treatments, therefore Ayurveda places considerable importance on the correct food and the optimum ways ti prepare and eat that food.
A balanced diet for Ayurveda can be very different from what we commonly understand in the West. Balance is no reference to the three humors and agni (the digestive ability), not to vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. This is because Ayurveda perceives people as individuals and not machine. The six tastes are used to determine which foods are good for your constitution. First you must determine your individuals constitution, then you must know the basic action of the tastes on you-for example, sour, salty, pungent tastes increase pitta, so should be avoided in every meal if you are pitta. Lastly you can choose he food that balance or harmonize your constitution over a long period of time.
With a machine it is possible to provide a maintenance plan for each model-2 door, 4 door, big, small. But for human beings it is impossible. One persons poison s another persons medicine. This is due to the predominance of different humors. A V person will need very different foods than a K person. All constitutions must adjust their diets according to the seasons. This is especially true for people with mix constitutions.
The analogy of the car is perfect for many doctors and nutritionists today. They look at people as machines that need different fuel and lubricants to operate smoothly. Why doesnt the mechanical school of diet and medicine work? Well, it does work if it happens to fit your constitution, and is doesnt if you are of another constitution. Thats why there are many different dietary methods existing today, because there are so many different constitutional possibilities. Western nutritional theories do not consider that you may digest food and minerals differently from the next person.
While you may be able to run all cars on gasoline and achieve similar results - i.e., It runs - you cannot feed all people on the same food with similar results. Someone may be satisfied with a Chinese meal for four or five hours while another person may be hungry again in two hours. The metabolism of each person is very different and has different needs. The metabolism is the sum total of the three humors, balanced and controlled by pitta and agni.
Food and drink are the most important medicines for the body because they are the most consistently ingested substance in the body. What you drink ultimately turns into prana and what you eat ultimately turns into ojas (ojas is the basis of your reproductive fluids and of the immune system). The best quality gasoline will provide your automobile engine with a longer life, so, too, will the best quality food provide you with a longer life. Ayurveda says that food closed to its natural state provides the best quality of prana, therefore vitality to the body. Processed foods do not have enough (if any) prana to vitalize the body over a long term; they also produce little or an inferior quality of ojas. That means that buying a fresh head of broccoli at a large supermarket is better than frozen or commercially canned broccoli, but by far the best choice is to buy it from the farmer.
Ayurveda states that food is far easier to digest when lightly cooked. And if it is cooked with a little spice it is even easier to digest. Just think, you have a head of broccoli, fresh from the flock, and you wash and eat it raw. Pretty boring isnt it? Ayurveda thinks so too. They like to cook with a few spices, like cumin and onion, but you could just as well us thyme and rosemary (depending on your constitution). Adding this to a rice dish or lentils, or topping off your pizza with it makes a much more interesting meal.
Ayurvedic cooking is not am endless repetition curies and it has little or nothing to do with commercial Indian cooking as experienced in India. If you want to get a quick case a heartburn, ulcers, or just plain old diarrhea, go to India. Unless you are lucky enough to eat at the home of a traditional family, you wont experience Ayurvedic cooking in India. Traditional families will not use chilies, garlic, onion, or other strong spices because it is known to promote aggression and imbalances the mind. (This explains the aggressive assaults by beggars, vendors, and shopkeepers on non-chili eating tourists.)
Yes, it is amazing! You dont need to eat yellow sauces the rest if your life in order to eat according to the Ayurvedic system of plants and food energies. Because as mentioned earlier, there really is no such thing as Ayurvedic food. There is only a system to ascertain the energetic actions of plants and foods. With this system of assessment it is possible to use food from any climate or culture in the Ayurvedic manner. The correct balance of food energetic for your constitution is the best medicine and the best dietary regime for a long, healthy life.