Keeping the mind, body and spirit in balance, Ayurveda promises to prevent disease more than treating it and aims to preserve health and wellness by emphasizing diet, herbal remedies, exercise, meditation, breathing and physical therapy. It is an alternative medicine system which believes that the entire universe is composed of five elements namely, vayu (air), jala (water), aakash (space or ether), prithvi (Earth) and teja (fire) and is quite popular in the Indian subcontinent where its historical roots are embedded.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Manisha Mishra MD, Ayurveda Medical Adviser at Charak Pharma, shared, “Ayurveda, our ancient medical science, believes in maintaining an equilibrium of functional elements (Vata, Pitta, Kapha also known as doshas) in the body as an imbalance in the same leads to diseases and compromises the immune system causing multiple health issues.”
It is no secret that keeping our immune system strong helps the body fight these diseases on an ongoing basis as these various bacteria, viruses and allergens can manifest in our respiratory tract and lead to runny nose, throat congestion, asthma or can appear on our skin via eczema and rashes and finally in our digestive system through an upset stomach. Suggesting simple Ayurvedic ways to correct and treat this, avoid the triggers and also bring back a balance in the functional elements of the body through a healthy diet and lifestyle, Dr Manisha Mishra recommended Ayurveda food tips to stay healthy and build immunity.
1. A well balanced diet: Ayurveda recommends a well-balanced meal comprising all 6 tastes like sweet, sour, salty, pungent, astringent and bitter in meals for improved immunity and good health. Also eat mindfully and avoid binging.
2. Ghee or clarified butter: Ayurveda believes that toxin build up leads to allergies and ghee can neutralize most toxins affecting the body. So add a spoonful of ghee to your meals for a strong immune system. It also is great to improve gut health, enhance skin radiance and strengthen memory too.
3. Probiotic: Remember to incorporate natural probiotic foods, but prefer buttermilk over curd (curd is heavy to digest and causes mucus), pickles and other fermented food which improve gut health.
4. Rejuvenator or rasayan herbs: Rasayan or rejuvenator herbs are known for their anti-aging, memory enhancing and immune boosting properties. They improve overall wellness and are also known to strengthen specific organ functions. There are many rasayan herbs like pippali or long pepper to strengthen the respiratory system, amla for better digestion and haldi to fight allergies.
5. Ayurveda Spices for better digestion: Warming spices like ginger, cumin, black pepper not only improve digestion but also help to eliminate allergy causing toxins or ama from the body. Improved digestion ensures better immune system to fight allergies
While boosting up your immunity with Ayurveda, it is important to avoid certain foods. “Avoid stale, cold, processed food as they are not easy to digest and may compromise digestion leading to formation of toxins and weakening the immune system.,” recommended Dr Manisha Mishra. She added, “Incompatible combinations of food like milk and fresh fruits, non-vegetarian food cooked with milk or cream and honey with hot water are not advisable in Ayurveda as they trigger allergic conditions.”
Elaborating on the list of Ayurveda food tips, Dr Chanchal Sharma, Ayurvedic Expert at Aasha Ayurveda, asserted that our eating habits are the biggest contributor in spoiling the health of our body and if our eating habits are not right, we cannot keep ourselves healthy even if we want to. “In Ayurveda, to correct these habits and to keep the body fit, the biggest emphasis is on day time regime, sleep pattern and seasonal regime. Whatever food we eat, should be according to the kala (time) and according to the season. That’s the best way to keep ourselves completely healthy,” she advised.
Highlighting the basics, Dr Chanchal Sharma pointed out that Ayurveda firmly believes that good health begins with good food, proper diet is the foundation of a strong digestive system, a balanced diet, according to the principles of Ayurveda, meets our individual and physical needs and that a nutritious diet acts like a medicine to promote vitality.
Listing major healthy tips of Ayurveda, she suggested:
1. Eat only when you are hungry – when your previous meal is completely digested.
2. Eat food in a quiet and comfortable place.
3. Don’t worry about anything while eating.
4. Eat food in sitting posture only and do not watch Television, avoid reading books, using phone, working on laptop while eating.
5. Proportion of food should be one third of your hunger. We are all different, born with different needs and different stomach sizes and different digestive powers. So listen to your body and eat according to your needs.
6. Have fresh and warm food. Avoid fermented foods as much as you can.
7. Eat quality food – Make sure your food is juicy or slightly oily as this will ease digestion and improve absorption of nutrients. Avoid foods that are too dry.
8. Ghee should be added in your diet.
9. Do not eat incompatible foods together. This can lead to stomach upset and disturb doshas in your body. Some incompatible foods are fruits and milk, fish and milk , salt products with milk etc.
10. Do not eat food too early and too late. Because doing so; can disrupt your digestive system.
11. Eat on a regular basis – Ayurveda and nature like regularity to the chakra so you should follow it.
12. Avoid too much water intake just after having meals.
13. Don’t take curd at night.
Elaborating that Ayurveda has also mentioned eating and consuming suitable foods for various diseases, Dr Chanchal Sharma insisted that every food has its own desh, guna, kala, virya, vipaka and rasa. “Only Ayurveda gives the best description regarding this. With the consultation of an Ayurvedic doctor, you can make your food work as the medicine,” she gushed. The expert added, “Food has been given the status of medicine in Ayurveda. That is, whatever we eat and drink, they all act like medicine for our body. Ayurvedic medicine is a major way to build a healthy strong body through diet, exercise and a range of lifestyle practices. That includes sleep, a balanced diet, and mindful living.”
Both the experts concluded that if one follows an ayurvedic diet, they can keep in control, all the diseases that are mainly related to one’s stomach. If frequent allergies keep flaring up, it is better to keep up the immune fitness by taking Ayurveda supplements under expert guidance.