According to ayurveda Aahara (Dietary Habits and Nutrition), Nidra (Sleep), and Bramhacharya (Celibacy/Continence/Abstinence) are considered as the three pillars of life, predominantly described in classical treatises as “Traya Upastamba”. The word literally means three pillars or triad of life. These three important pillars can better way be compared with health behavior of modern day and in fact are the important behavioral determinants of health. Among this Ahara (food) is the most important factor for sustenance of life. It is described as the foremost pillar among the three pillars of life in Ayurveda.
Ahara is considered as Mahabhaishajya (the superior medicine). Various lifestyle disorders and numerous diseases occur due to faulty dietary habits which may be prevented by proper Ahara and eating habits. In modern science food is classified according to the chemical nature like carbohydrates, vitamins, proteins, dietary fiber, fats, water minerals. A vitamin is an organic molecule that is an essential micronutrient which an organism needs in small quantities for the proper functioning of its metabolism. Essential nutrients cannot be synthesized in the organism, either at all or not in sufficient quantities, and therefore must be obtained through the diet. The definition of a balanced diet indicates the role of carbohydrates, protein, fat, minerals and vitamins intake in daily food. In Ayurveda vitamins and minerals were not mentioned as a separate entity. Ahara is considered as a whole and the classification ahara is based on its taste (Shad rasa), they are : Madhura/sweet, Amala/Sour, Lavana/salt, Thiktha/Bitter, Kashya/Astringent, Katu/Pungent .
Ayurveda insists that Ahara should be chosen in accordance with the Prakriti or constitution of individuals. Hitakara/Pathya food (Wholesome food) as per Ayurveda is conducive for the maintenance of good health, longevity, strength, intellect, good voice and complexion. For a disease free life, Ayurveda emphasizes on the importance of proper nutrition through intake of food by appropriate food choices, food combination, and cooking methods, in the right quantity which gets digested as well as metabolised in time. The time, season and place for the food intake are also important. Altered digestion process can be cause for malnourishment. Ayurveda calls digestion process as Agni. It is advised to refrain from Ahitakar Ahara (unwholesome food). In Ayurvedic classics, Nitya sevaniya Aahara dravya (wholesome daily foods) and Nitya asevaniya aahara dravya (unwholesome daily foods) have been described in detail. Daily consumption of Nitya Sevaniya Dravyas does the promotion of health of healthy individuals and prevents the disease condition.
Acharya Charak enlisted the foods which are advisable to consume daily are Shashtika shali (a kind of rice maturing in 60 days), Godhuma (wheat), Yava (Hordeum Vulgare Linn), Mudga (Phaseolus mungo Linn), Saindhava (rock salt), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Antariksha jala (rain water), Ghrita (ghee), Go- dugdha (cow milk), Madhu (honey) and Jangala Mamsa (meat of animals dwelling in arid climate). Can be correlated as a balanced diet in today’s era. Acharya Vagbhata explains some extra Dravyas like Godhuma (wheat) Sunisannaka, Jivanthi, Balamulaka, Pathya, Mrudwika, Patoli, Sharkara (sugar), Dadima can be consumed habitually.
Apathya(unwholesome food) – Fish, Dadhi, kurchika, avi dugdha, avi grita – (Curd, Kurchika & fish, are Kapha Prakopaka and heavy to digest), Alkaline foods, flours and germinated grains should not be used regularly. Alkaline foods are Pitta Prakopaka. Dry vegetables, uncooked Moolaka (raddish) is Vata prakopa & germinated grains are Tridosha Prakopaka,. (In ayurveda there are three biological elements in our body; they are vata, pitta and kapha which should be balance.
According to Ayurveda, the diet which nourishes both the mental and physical built is called a balanced diet. Diet is said to be the basis of life, strength, complexion, Ojas (vigor or virility), growth and development, functioning of Indriyas (sense organs), happiness, clarity of voice, luster, pleasure, increase of Dhatus (tissue), intellect, health etc. Satisfaction, nutrition, patience, Buddhi (critical understanding) enthusiasm, virility, strength, good voice, glare, life, geniuses and radiance etc.
About Author – Dr Aryambika US has done her graduation in Ayurveda from the prestigious Amrita Viswa vidyapeetham, Amritapuri campus Kollam Kerala and PG Diploma in Yoga from Annamali university , Chidambaram. She has worked for the past five years in the capacity of an Ayurveda consultant, she also got an opportunity to work under the guidance of eminent ayurvedic physicians Dr L Mahadevan and MR Vasudevan Nambuthiri. Her expertise is in treating lifestyle and chronic diseases also she is a good panchkarma practitioner. Currently she is working as a part of Millioneyes Healthcare Technologies pvt ltd which is into the space of preventive healthcare empowered with Ayurveda and AI.