The Ayurvedic diet belongs to the Ayurvedic science. The term Ayurveda comes from “Veda” = knowledge, and “Ayu” = life, and means the knowledge of the lifespan. Knowledge and wisdom allow us to correct our mistakes and come back to the original point. It is not merely a medical science, now recognized by the World Health Organization, but it is a way of living in harmony with the natural rhythms of life.
It deals with a range of issues such as keeping a good state of health, the use of spices, the rejuvenation, the detoxification and purification, the physical level, the mental level, the emotional level, the spiritual level, tolerance, understanding and not affecting other people, the diseases.
All living and non-living beings are equally made up of the same essence. Living beings have a soul in the active state, while non-living beings have a soul in the sleep state. Living beings nourish themselves while acquiring the inherent qualities of every substance they eat. In nature there are three processes: creation, conservation and destruction or union that correspond to the Indian mythology of the TRIMURTI: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and represent the principles of Tridosha, respectively Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
The applications of Ayurveda are based on the principle of Tridosha, which are the three energies that govern the universe and respectively arise from the five elements or fundamental factors: Ether (akash), air (vayu), Fire (tejas), water (jal or ap), earth (prithivi).
According to the 'Ayurvedic diet" food nourishes the body and comes from the same five elements which compose the body. These five basic elements of food are digested in the body by their respective enzymes and after the assimilation are converted in the various tissues. According to the modern medicine, food is made of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, water and after the digestion, these components are split into amino acids, sugars, fatty acids… In Ayurveda we always think in terms of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
For the proper functioning of the body, mind and soul should take care of the proper diet, the correct combination of foods and their preparation, and the rules linked with the eating of food. According to the Ayurvedic medicine, in a proper diet it is necessary to keep in mind the individual digestive ability (Agni); the correct amount of food to be digested, assimilated and eliminated; the mood; the feelings; the seasons; the hunger of each different person.
In Ayurveda there are six main flavours that have an impact on the conscience and emotions, especially when they are assimilated in excess: the sweet flavour causes satisfaction, greed and accumulation; the acid flavour causes envy and jealousy; the salty flavour causes strong desire for various situations; the spicy causes excitation, impatience and anger; the bitter causes dissatisfaction; the astringent causes introversion, anxiety, fear.
A substance which is beneficial for a person, is called “satmya” and there are three types of “satmya”. The first one is “pravar”, superior, in which there is the intake of all six flavours with “satvic” food (i.e. pure), and it makes the person strong, full of longevity and resistance. The second one is “madhya”, which 2-5 flavours and give strength to the person; and the third satmya is “avar”, which combines only one flavour and make the person less resistant.
Food supports life of all living beings. All living beings in the universe need food. Appearance, clarity, a good voice, longevity, creativity, happiness, nourishment, vitality and intellect depend on the proper alimentation. The actions we take to realize our earthly desires or for enlightenment also depend on alimentation. (Charaka Samhita).
According to the Ayurvedic vision, the most important concept for a correct diet is the digestive ability, so called “Agni”. Agni metabolizes the heterogeneous nutrients coming from the external world and, separating them from the scrap, transforms them into those homologous elements of our body. We can compare the concept of Agni with the concept of the digestive enzymes, but it extends to the successive stages of the metabolism and is therefore indicated as the metabolic power. If the digestive ability is strong, the person lives a long life without diseases, while if the digestive ability is weak, the person will easily get sick.
The factors that contribute to weaken the digestive fire: - eating meals at irregular hours – unhealthy food - eating when there is indigestion - fasting - usual consumption of cold drinks – eating solid foods before the digestion of the previous meal - excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages - usual and excessive eating of food which can be difficult to digest - suppression of natural needs – eating in the presence of anger - excessive worries.