Food As Medicine: The Eight Important Aspects Of Food ~ An Ayurvedic Perspective

Food As Medicine: The Eight Important Aspects Of Food
According to Ayurveda, food is considered to be the best medicine. Of equal importance is the consideration, according to Ayurveda, that poor digestion [koshtha] is the primary origin or causative factor for nearly all diseases.

"Ahara Vidhi Visheshayatana"

The Eight Important Aspects Of Food:
Let's discuss the basic principles of food. The eight important aspects of food are called ‘ahara vidhi visheshayatana’ and they are as follows:

1. Prakruti
2. Karana
3. Samayoga
4. Rashi
5. Desha
6. Kala
7. Upayoga Samasth
8. Upbhokta

A Closer Look:

1. Prakruti - or the nature of food
Depending on whether the food is easily digestible or not, food can be classified as heavy or light in quality. Meat is heavy for digestion while rice and vegetables are light. This is the basic nature of the food and while eating we must take this into consideration.

2. Karana - or processing
Generally, cooked food is better for nutrition. Some food substances like fruit or even salads are better taken as uncooked. Food cooked on natural wood or a coal fire tends to have better taste than food cooked with electricity or gas. Microwave cooking destroys prana [life-energy] in the food. Processing includes other methods like roasting, frying, baking, drying, churning etc. and depending on the method of the process can actually change the qualities of the food making food either become more light or heavy for digestion.

3. Samyoga - means combination
While preparing food the ingredients must be compatible and properly mixed together. For example, combining sour fruits with milk will curd and is not considered beneficial due to poor food combining and incompatibity of ingredients.

4. Rashi- means quantity 
While eating one has to consider the individual ingredient quantity and the total quantity of the food that is consumed. Here, again, we have to consider the heavy and light qualities of the substances that are taken. The quantity of food depends on your digestive fire. There is no fixed criteria for the amount of food according to age, sex, race, etc. However, “parigraha”— takes into consideration the quantity of each item and “sarvagraha” means the total quantity to be consumed.

5. Desha - means place 
Ayurveda has divided place into three types marshy, arid, and normal. We also have to consider the place in relation to temperature and cold climate conditions. Ultimately, food must be eaten in a place which is clean. If the surroundings where one eats are good and sattvic [pure], then the food is better absorbed and has good and beneficial effects upon the body and mind.

6. Kala - means time or period 
Only when the previous meal has been properly digested should one consider eating the next meal. One must also change the type of  food as well as the quantity and quality of food in accordance to seasonal changes. Another important consideration is that the main meal ideally should be taken between 10 a.m. to 2  p.m., which is “pitta time”; optimal for digestion.

7. Upyoga Samastha -  means rules for eating
Food ideally should be consumed while it is hot. This will naturally increase the digestive fire. Likewise, meals must be taken in a relaxed, calm and cheerful atmosphere. One should not eat, when the person is nervous, angry, anxious, or in a disturbed state of mind.

Similarly, eating too slowly or too rapidly along with eating while talking, laughing, thinking or watching television is also not advisable. It is better if we concentrate on the food only with the thought that this food is going to benefit both the body and mind. Smoking or drinking too much water or any other liquid after eating is also not advisable.

Make eating food a ritual
It is recommended to take a shower and wear clean clothes prior to cooking. Our guest is God. Therefore,  food should first be served to him and then children. Chanting of mantras and offering a prayer to God is always advisable knowing that blessed food will always nourish both the body and mind.

8. Upbhokta - Person who takes the food
Every person must take into consideration his own constitution, capacity of his digestive power, the season, time of day, and whether the previously taken food has been digested or not.

Written by Dr.Gaurang Joshi
Twiiter @drgaurangjoshi


Appetizing Ginger Pickle & Super Easy Ginger Tea

Appetizing Ginger Pickle & Super Easy Ginger Tea
Ginger is a well-known and widely used herb. It is used extensively around the world and is an important ingredient in many foods, drinks and herbal remedies. It is a heating herb and can increase the digestive fire and heat in the body. Therefore it is an excellent remedy during cold and flu seasons.  Ginger is generally considered a ‘safe’ herb and is used in many desserts and treats as well as hot drinks such as ginger tea. It is a rejuvenative and is especially helpful in removing toxins from the body. However care must be taken if used in excess.

Ginger ...
Ginger is a holistic digestive aid; helps to maintain good digestion and balanced gas production.

Top Health Benefits Of Ginger Root - Dr. Axe 

"One of the #1 benefits of consuming ginger is that it reduces inflammation. A recent medical study from Denmark in the Journal of Arthritis found that consuming a small amount of ginger is more effective at reducing pain and inflammation symptoms that pain medications given by general practitioners today." - Dr. Josh Axe

Ginger has sweet and pungent tastes and is heating. The post digestive effect of ginger is sweet and when used fresh, it has heavy and oily qualities. Dry ginger has light and sharp qualities instead. The main systems in the body that ginger works on are the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems.

Some Actions
·        Helps eliminate toxins
·        Kindles digestive fire
·        Alleviates coughs and pain
·        Rejuvenative
·        Carminative
·        Anti- inflammatory
·        Reduces nausea

* It is important to note that using ginger can aggravate certain conditions, so care must be taken when there is high heat in the body, heartburn, high blood pressure and ulcers.

There are some compounds that involve ginger to address certain conditions. For example:
·        Ginger with black pepper and pippali to create trikatu
·        Ginger with arjuna and guggulu for congestive heart conditions and poor circulation
·        Ginger with turmeric and rose for menstrual pain
·        Ginger with honey and lemongrass for colds

Some Recipes
Ginger is a delicious herb that can add a spicy and sweet flavor to many foods and drinks. Ginger tea, in particular, is a wonderful tea to help eliminate toxins. Taken before a meal or first thing in the morning it is also beneficial in kindling the digestive fire.

"CCF Tea"
Cumin, coriander, and fennel are famous digestive spices, and when brewed together as a tea they make the perfect addition to an Ayurvedic lifestyle. CCF Tea directly stimulates the digestive system, supporting the body’s natural ability to breakdown ama, or natural toxins, in the GI tract.


~ Ginger Pickle Recipe ~

·        1 inch fresh ginger peeled and sliced
·        1 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
·        ¼ teaspoon of rock salt
·        Pinch of Turmeric
·        Pinch of black pepper
·        ½ teaspoon of honey

1.      Put all the ingredients in a small glass jar and shake well.
2.      Let the pickle sit for an hour
3.      This pickle can be eaten before a meal to help with digestion or with a meal. Enjoy!


~ Super Easy Ginger Tea ~ 

·       1 cup of water
·       1 inch fresh ginger sliced

1.      Boil water in a pan and add ginger.
2.      Turn off the heat and cover with lid. Let steep for 10 mins.
3.      Pour into cup and enjoy!

~ If desired, dry ginger can be used instead of fresh.
~ Honey can be added according to taste & a pinch of cayenne pepper for an even more heating effect.
~ Dry ginger has more heating properties than fresh and has a more potent effect than fresh ginger.

Important note:
As ginger increases the digestion of nutrients it may also increase the absorption of some medications. Therefore it is always recommended to consult with your physician before undertaking any herbal formulation.

·        Lad, V. (1999). The complete book of Ayurvedic home remedies
·        Sharma, H. (2011). Ayurvedic Healing. Singing Dragon
·        Lad, V. (2002). Textbook of Ayurveda.
·        Lad, V., & Frawley, D. (1986). The yoga of herbs
·        Pole, S. (2013). Ayurvedic medicine the principles of traditional practice
·        Green, J. (2000). The herbal medicine-makers' handbook a home manual
·        Lad, V. (2012). Ayurvedic perspectives on selected pathologies