“From food all creations are born, whatever dwell on earth, by food, again, surely, they live, then again to the food they go at the end.” – (Taittiriya Upanishad)

Food is Brahman. Ayurveda, the science of life considers diet very essential for nurturing the body. A healing diet would consist of those foods which according to Ayurveda help in purifying the body. The cleansing action of Yogic Kriyas when gradually followed by a healing diet, gives good health.

Anna means food. Rice is revered as a symbol of auspiciousness. The first food grain given to a baby is annam. Rasa is juice, that denotes taste, is intrinsic of food. It is expressed as sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Sweet taste gives goodness, virility and strength e.g. Dates & Sugar. Sour taste is attributed to activity, courage e.g. Pomegranate, lemon.

Salty taste helps in fortification while penetrating into the most subtle cells of the body. E.g. Rock salt. Pungent taste imparts stimulation and invigoration. e.g. Ginger, Pepper. Bitter foods help in purification and improving appetite like Bitter-gourd, Neem. Astringent foods act along with bitter foods to discard damaged tissues and toxicity from the system.

However, any of the Rasas eaten in excess cause imbalances in the body.

Food comes from nature. According to Ayurveda, Nature is composed of three modes, Sattva, Raja and Tamas. Sattva is tranquility, Rajas is activity and Tamas is inertia. Everything in the Universe is pervaded with one or more of these qualities of energy. Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic food can affect the body, mind and emotions. It is absolutely important to eat the right foods.

Sattvic Foods:

  • Mind Calm
  • Sweet & Cooling
  • Whole Grains & legumes, Brown Rice, Whole wheat, Mullet, Corn, Soy bean, lentils, Oats, Beans
  • Freshly picked Organic vegetables like celery, cauliflower, gourds, lettuce, green beans, broccoli, asparagus
  • Fresh Fruits like Apples, Peaches, Oranges, Bananas, Dates, Guava, Berries & Papaya

Rajasic Foods:

  • Mind Restless
  • Heat Producing
  • Spices like Salt, Chili, black pepper, Ginger, onion, radish, Garlic
  • Stimulants are Rajasic like Coffee, Tea, Sugar, Cola Drink, Chocolate, Beer, Alcohol in moderation

Tamasic Foods:

  • Mind dull
  • Heavy, Debilitating heat or cold producing
  • Preserved Meat & Stale foods
  • Ice Cream, Deep fried foods like French Fries, pickled foods, excess garlic & Alcohol
  • Hard Liquor

The ancient Ayurvedic treatise, Charak Samhita, cites certain foods that are essential for good health. These can be eaten always: Old Rice (Bran intact, Red, Unpolished), Barley, Mung Beans, Gooseberry (Amalaki), Rain Water, Rock Salt, Honey and Ghee. These foods are healthy and incorporated in healthy diets.

Health begins with one’s daily activity and the diet one follows. Daily yogic sadhana along with optimum diet can pave the way for Atmajnana. Diet is the cornerstone of health.

Notes:

1. A caution about honey is that it easily turns toxic when heated so honey should never be cooked.

2. Curd (yoghurt) is heavy and it blocks the channels of circulation due to its high cholesterol content. It should not be eaten at night.