Ayurveda, the ancient system of medicine dating back to thousands of years is a science that teaches us how to live in harmony with nature.
According to Ayurveda, food plays the most important role in the vitality of human health. A lot of diseases can be prevented by eating the right food at the right time according to one's constitution or prakruti.
Ayurveda integrates the science of nutrition and digestion into the science of cooking and places a lot of emphasis on digestion and assimilation of nutrients from food. Proper food combinations, food choices, food timings and cooking methods are also given a lot of emphasis.
Before delving deeper into Ayurvedic cooking, it helps to know about the individual prakruti which could be vata (air and space), pitta (fire and water) or kapha (water and earth).
Apart from the techniques of cooking, Ayurveda emphasizes eating food which is seasonal and preferably specific to the region. Eating fresh food in this manner promotes good health, eliminates toxins and restores balance if there is any imbalance.
Ayurveda classifies food into sattvic, rajasic and tamasic categories.
Sattva guna stands for the mode of goodness. Sattvic food is light, easy to digest and rich in prana or vital energy. It promotes harmony and balance in the body and mind.
Rajo Guna stands for the mode of passion. Rajasic food is heavy, spicy, oily and sour. Some examples of rajasic food are are non vegetarian foods like fish, chicken, eggs and drinks like tea and coffee.
Tamo Guna stands for the mode of ignorance. Tamasic food is unhealthy and increases qualities like lust, greed and anger. Stale food, beef meat, alcohol are all examples of tamasic food.
According to Ayurveda, human beings are made of vata (air and space), pitta (fire and water) and kapha (water and earth). Our constitution or prakriti is decided at birth based on these 3 doshas or humours in the body. For example if vata dosha is more prominent then, you are considered to have vata prakriti.
Connection between Ayurveda and Sattvic diet
Ayurveda says that when we eat food based on our prakriti, the balance in the body is maintained which plays a big role in preventing disease. Sattvic food is known to promote ojas in the body.
Some of the basics of Ayurvedic cooking include:
- Cooking food in a calm, happy and positive state of mind.
Incompatible food combinations have to be avoided.
- Cleanliness has to be maintained throughout cooking.
- Comibining six tastes sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent to bring about a balance in doshas.
- The use of Sattvic ingredients to promote tejas (intelligence), ojas (aliveness and health) and prana (energy levels).
Benefits of Ayurvedic cooking
Health and wellness, increased energy, freedom from anxiety and depression, better mood control, feeling comfortable with oneself are just some of the benefits of Ayurvedic cooking.
Click here to read about Ayurvedic Superfoods.