The Ayurvedic Diet: What to Eat for Wellness and Longevity?

This article has been taken from main series- Science of Human Wellness, The Complete Health Series, which is a step by step illustration on Health, Yoga and Ayurveda. To ensure the radiant and lifelong health, suitable diet is an integral part of Ayurvedic Philosophy. For many years I researched on what should we eat and what shouldn't, but while going through the ayurvedic text I was amazed to know that Ayurveda is extremely accurate in determining which food vitiate various doshas and which food frees from doshas. Each food has its own svabhava (tendency) that has great impact on each individual.

Today most of the populace around us suffers from problems caused by acid-producing foods, because both our lifestyle and diet promotes acidification of our internal environment. Modern physicians are giving more thrust on testing Body's acidity or alkalinity by doing Saliva pH test etc.; further, they are understanding the way alkaline diet works, understanding the effects of the Body's pH level and choosing balanced food. Intriguingly Ayurveda has already reached zenith of this food science or the science of human wellness. It is not only based on tendencies of food but also takes constitution of human being into consideration. It is clearly revealed that it is the vipaka and prabhava of food that matters and not only just the taste or pH level of food itself. Means to say how food behaves in post digestive state that is more important rather than the primary state. Ayurveda recommends that a diet should have decent proportion of five important constituents i.e. fat (sneha), protein (snigdha), tasty (rasya), agreeable (hridya) and carbohydrates (madhura).

If you take care of the quantity, time and manner of eating, and if you take Sattvic food you will hardly fall sick. Rishis not only advocated Sattvic food but also the taste of food, because if your food is not tasty then your brain will create subtle stress and in that condition your digestive system will not make optimum secretions and your mind will also not be able to express gratitude which is very important to be in harmony with whole system. The hypothalamus in brain constantly receives signals related to hunger and digestion through the proteins of digestive tract, it turn triggers whatever habits you have accumulated relating to food seeking and consumption. If you are stressed during eating then this may lead disturbed signals and therefore indigestion.

Intuitive Eating: Are You Listening to Your Body's Signals?

Many people invest so much time and energy to remain healthy like: they prepare their body for a long life by exercising, regularly consulting doctors and doing health check ups, avoid high risk behaviors, avoid toxic substances, avoids drugs, smoking and alcohol, taking vitamins, minerals and other supplements, low fat diet etc. but do they always succeed? May or may not be or mostly they succeed but their life becomes over disciplined; on the other hand you may find some people who live simple life, they don’t do complicated things, they may be in eighties but are still fit and strong, they have no Alzheimer or Parkinson’s disease or any other ageing related very critical problem. The simple reason behind is that they listen their body.

Our body has infallible feedback system. It will clearly tell you what is suiting you and what’s not. As and when you eat anything just observe afterwards how do you feel, do you feel energetic or dull and heavy. Observe precisely how food effects on you post digestion. In this way you can select food items which suits you most.

Balancing Act: Why pH is Crucial to Health

The pH is short for the potential of hydrogen. When we talk about the pH of body then we talk about acidity and alkalinity of our body's fluids and tissues. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is perfectly neutral. The healthiest ph is 7.365 which is slightly alkaline but normally this may vary between 6 and 7.5. People with low pH levels age quickly, because skin, hairs and muscles are made up of proteins and get affected by acidic environment. One point change on pH scale represents thousand per cent decrease or increase in concentration of Hydrogen ions. pH level can affect digestive system, circulatory system, Immune system, Respiratory System, Skeletal System, Integumentary System, Nervous System, Excretory System, Muscular System and Reproductive System.

Human Body is the Most Extraordinarily Intelligent System

When nature is examined closely it seems impossible to ignore the design in its symmetry and when we examine human body then it is most stupendous creation of existence. Nature has worked on human body for millions of years and finally, we in present form have evolved.

Kidneys, lungs and skin are three main primary organs that maintain the acid alkali-balance in our body. Beside these in a healthy body, nature maintains a reserve of alkaline elements, much like our bank account. Under such circumstances like, if we eat a meal which is more acidic then our buffer system which is made up of proteins or phosphates neutralize the acid-forming foods.

Acid-Alkaline imbalance is at the root of almost all physical diseases, if our kidneys, lungs and skin remain in good condition then we can avoid almost all diseases. All the acids in the bloodstream produced by metabolism are filtered by our kidneys, Lungs filter gaseous acids, Sweating helps counteract acidity in our bodies and it gives acid, it helps to oxygenate and alkalize your blood. What lungs do with respiration, your skin does with perspiration.

Restoring pH balance in the body is important as imbalance may lead to either acidosis or alkalosis:-

Acidosis

There's one condition to blame for everything from zits to wrinkles, but most men and women don't even know that they are suffering with acidosis. Due to this you loose radiant complexion; premature wrinkles, lines, freckles and dryness are signs of an acidic body. Our skin mainly has three layers: The Epidermis, The Dermis and The Hypodermis, but Ayurveda go into all subtle layers and describe that skin has seven layers. Cosmetics, no matter how good they are or how qualitative they are, can only take care of the first three layers at most. It is strong breathing that will improve your skin texture, it is the alkaline food that will neutralize acids. To remain acidic is the natural character of our body and this is mainly due to present distorted dietary system. All secretions except semen are acidic in nature, stress and diet can make it vary though.

Acidosis is the worse condition when your kidneys and lungs can't keep your body's pH in balance. Respiratory acidosis may occur when too much CO2 builds up in the body. This may be due to Asthma, Chest injury, Obesity, Sedative misuse, overuse of alcohol, problems related to nervous system etc. Metabolic acidosis occurs when kidneys can't eliminate enough acids or when they get rid of too much base. Major forms of metabolic acidosis are: Diabetic acidosis, Hyperchloremic acidosis, Lactic acidosis and Renal tubular acidosis.

Root cause behind acidosis is when you deprive your body of the minimum alkaline needs and your body continues to produce metabolic acids, acid rich diet is also one major reason. Therefore one should avoid dietary negligence. Treatment of acidosis in modern medicine is completely symptomatic and therefore not permanent. When medicine is repeatedly used to suppress the secretion of stomach acids, it can create extremely toxic or sometimes cancerous fluids in the stomach. Acidosis may also lead to heartburn and one of the best way to avoid heartburn is to go to bed on an empty stomach. Easiest way to fix acidosis is by changing diet and minimising the use of acidic diet or eating least acidic products.

Acidic Vegetables

Vegetables (Slightly Acidic and Sattvic) Vegetables (Moderately Acidic and Rajasic) Vegetables (Highly Acidic and Tamasic)
Chickpeas Corn Soybeans
Spinach Black Beans -
Black Olives - -

Acidic Fruits

Fruits (Slightly Acidic and Sattvic)
Apricots
Dates
Figs
Guava

Acidic- Other Eatables

Other Eatables (Slightly Acidic and Sattvic) Other Eatables (Moderately Acidic and Rajasic) Other Eatables (Highly Acidic and Tamasic)
Wholewheat bread White Wine Vodka
Vegetable oil Black Tea Yeast
Wholewheat Pasta White Sugar Whisky
White Rice Bottled Juices Beer
Normal Tap Water Buffalo's milk Artificial Sweeteners
Brown Rice White Pasta Beef
Brown Sugar Coffee Chicken
Cow Milk Cheese Drinks
Fresh Juices Table Salt Carbonated Soft
- Sea Salt Eggs
- Ice Creams Cocoa
- Most Dry Fruits Jam
- Peanuts Mayonnaise
- Red Wine Liquor
- - Vinegar
- - Seafood
- - Turkey
- - Pork
- - Most Sauces
- - Most Fried Foods

Alkalosis

Like the oxygen is important in bloodstream, so is carbon dioxide, if it is not enough then this will lead to respiratory alkalosis. Respiratory alkalosis may be caused due to hyperventilation which may be due to anxiety, high fever, lack of oxygen, being in high altitude, liver and lungs diseases. Similarly there may be metabolic alkalosis, hypochloremia alkalosis and Hypokalemic alkalosis due to the deficiency of potassium. Choosing foods high in nutrients and potassium can help combat electrolyte deficiencies. Prefer foods rich in nutrients and potassium which are primarily found in fruits and vegetables.

Alkalosis is the rare condition, mostly people taking certain drugs to maintain their body’s alkaline state. One should avoid such drugs as damage caused by them is permanent and organic. To avoid alkalosis you should simply take balanced diet which should consist of eighty per cent alkaline foods and twenty percent acidic foods. By taking more alkaline food your chances of remaining healthy increase exponentially.

Alkaline Vegetables:

Vegetables (Highly Alkaline and Sattvic) Vegetables (Moderately Alkaline and Rajasic) Vegetables (Slightly Alkaline and Tamasic)
Asparagus Alfalfa Garlic
Bottle Gourd Artichokes Mustard greens
Broccoli Barley grass Fermented veggies
Brussels Sprouts Beetroot Mushrooms
Cauliflower Cabbage Onions
Celery Carrot Parsnips
Cucumber Ginger Radish
Dandelions Green beans Sea vegetables
Eggplant Soya bean Spirulina
Watercress Kale Turnip
Sweet Potato Mustard greens  
Spinach Okra  
Squashes Peas  
Kale Peppers  
Lemons Sprouts  
Lettuce Green olives  
Potato Wheat Grass  
Pumpkin    
Spinach    

Alkaline Fruits

Fruits (Highly Alkaline and Sattvic) Fruits (Moderately Alkaline and Rajasic) Fruits (Slightly Alkaline and Tamasic)
Avocado Tomato Grapefruit
Lime Pears Raspberries
Papaya Apples Grapes
Fresh Coconut Banana Rhubarb
Mango Peaches Watermelon
- Blackberries Strawberries
- Cherries  

Alkaline Others

Other Eatables (Highly Alkaline and Sattvic) Other Eatables (Moderately Alkaline and Rajasic) Other Eatables (Slightly Alkaline and Tamasic)
Ghee from Cow Butter Herbal teas
Milk Olive Oil -
Water from natural spring or RO system Milk -
- Most Spices -
- All sprouts -
- Ghee from buffalo -

Mantra to remain healthy is: avoid all processed and fast foods, avoid all forms of poultry, meat and alcohol, avoid bottled or canned sauces, avoid carbonated drinks, avoid chlorinated water. From Ayurvedic perspective, the more sattvic food you eat, healthier your diet will be, and better health you will enjoy.

Above article has been taken from main series- Science of Human Wellness, The Complete Health Series.

 

|Published on June 17, 2017
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LifeYog

Lifeyog

lifeyog