Agni is the chief protector of the body.Food is the fuel for internal fire (Agni). Food and drinks if taken in proper manner promote growth, life, intelligence and health.There are seven factors which should be considered for selecting and eating the food.
A. FACTORS RELATED TO FOOD
1.Svabhava (Natural Quality)
5.Desa (includes the habitat of the food article and the user)
7.Upayoga Vyavastha (Mode of using)
Svabhava – PropertyAssess the nature of the food like whether it is heavy or light etc.Eg. Meat and wheat are heavy to digest whereas gruel (kanji) is light.
Samyoga – Combination.Certain combinations enhance the health, eg. Wheat and milk. Certain combinations become incompatible, eg. Milk with fish, honey and ghee in equal quantity
Samskara – Processing. Denotes processing which produces the transformation of inherent qualities.Eg. Rice when cooked becomes lighter to digest
Matra-Quantity. Denotes the quantity which depends upon the nature of the food materials, its quality etc.Eg. Heavy food should be consumed in less quantity and light food in large quantity.
Desa-Region or Place. Refers to the region in which the article of the food is grown and the user lives.
Kala-Season. Denotes time for intake and digestion of food.Also denotes season of the year and time of the day for using certain food articles.Eg. Curd should not be taken at night time
Upayoga Vyavastha Denotes the manner of taking food.
Procedure to take food
Pay attention to calls of nature before eating.
Bath or at least wash your hands, face & feet before you eat.
Sit in an isolated and clean area.
Face the direction of the sun.
Pray and thank nature for providing you food.
Consider eating as a yagna (a vedic fire ritual) and that you are offering havis to the internal fire who is Bhagavan (God).
Concentrate and eat with confidence. Avoid watching TV, conversation during eating.
Approach each items with reverence and love and chew them well.
See that all the six tastes are present in the menu.
Eat sweet, oily food first, sour, spicy in the middle and bitter, astringent at last.
The food should be warm.
Always eat accustomed food (in relation to body, age, season, dosa & disease).
Half of the stomach should be filled with solid food, one quarter by liquids and the other quarter should be kept vacant for air.
Use rice, wheat, barley, tender radish, grapes, green gram, jaggery, ghee, milk, honey, pomegranate,triphala daily.
Foods which are preserved from the previous day should not be taken except curd, ghee, honey, butter milk.
Avoid curd at night.
Avoid overeating and untimely eating
Anupana – the drink which is taken after meals gives satisfaction, aids easy digestion and provides a sense of contentment.
Activities after meals.
Take tambulam (betel leaves), walk about hundred steps and lie on the left side.Avoid bathing, driving, swimming and exertion immediately after meals.
Health-promoting components of a plant based diet.
One of the key aspects of a predominantly plant-based diet is its high content of dietary fibre. Generally, the term “dietary fibre” refers to plant cell walls and non-nutritive residues. In adition, a plant-based diet is low in saturated fat, high in essential fatty acids and high in antioxidant nutrients and phyto-chemicals. These important plant compounds offer significant protection against diseases like heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
Beneficial effects of dietary fibre 1.Decreased intestinal transit time. 2.Delayed gastric emptying, resulting in reduced post-prandial (after meal) hyperglycaemia. 3.Increased safety. 4.Increased pancreatic secretion. 5.Increased stoll weight. 6.More advantageous intestinal microflora. 7.Increased production of short-chain fatty acids. 8.Decreased serum lipid levels. 9.More soluble bile.
A good goal for dietary fibre intake is 25 to 35 grams daily. This can be easily achieved if the dietary focus is on whole, unprocessed plant foods. Vegetables are excellent sources of fibre. In fact, 1 cup of cooked carrots has almost the same amount of fibre as 3 slices of whole wheat bread or 2 cups of oats. A diet high in fibre is important in the prevention and treatment of a number of diseases.
Diseases highly associated with a low-fibre diet- Metabolic Obesity, gout, diabetes, kidney stones, gallstones,Dental caries, autoimmune disorders, pernicious anaemia, Multiple sclerosis, thyrotoxicosis, dermatological conditions,Hypertension, Cerebro vascular disease, Ischemic heart disease, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, Colonic Constipation, diverticulitis, haemorrhoids, Colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitas, Crohn’s disease.
Balanced Diet One should take a balanced diet comprising of such articles of diet, which are wholesome to the individual for maintaining health and prevention of diseases. A diet comprising of preferably red variety of rice, barely or wheat, green gram (Mudga), rock salt, fruit of amalaki , milk, ghee, honey and sterilized water is considered as a balanced diet, good for health.
Eight factors of Dietary Habit The eight factors, which should be considered while deciding a diet for a particular person include Prakriti (Nature), karana (processing),samyoga (combination),rashi (quantum),desha(habitat), kala(time), upayogasans (rules of use) and Upayokta (the user). They are known as Ashta Ahara Vidhi Vishesha ayatana.
Prakriti (nature) : the nature of the substance is due to its inherent properties. For example by nature black gram is heavy while green gram is light. Similarly by nature port meat is heavy while meat of deer is light.Karana (Processing): process is that which modifies radically the properties of substances. The processes like churning, cooking, environmental factors like humidity, season, place, container and period of preservation may affect properties of a substance. For example a solid substance may be softened or liquefied by adding water or cooked on fire. The curd or yogurt by nature induces edema, but on churning it becomes buttermilk (Takra) which relieves edema. Poison may be used as drug after its proper purification and processing.
Samyoga (Combination): Combination of two or more substances may also alter the natural properties of individual substances. For example individually honey and ghee are good for health, but taking their mixture in equal proportion becomes harmful. Similarly honey, milk and fish individually have no adverse effect, but when taken in combination become harmful. Thus some substances exhibit peculiarities on combination, which are not seen in the case of individual substances.
Rashi (Quantum) the quantity of food to be taken is known as Rashi. The quantity of individual articles of diet (Parigraha) as well as the total quantity of diet (Sarvagraha) is to be taken in to account while deciding a quantum of diet for a particular person. This will depend on the individual’s digestive power. The quantity of diet will also affect digestion. Even light diet in excess may become heavy for digestion.
Desha (Habitat): Desha refers to country and the diet and drug articles produced at different places differ in their qualities also. The substances produced in their natural habitat have better qualities than produced elsewhere and are better suited to persons of that region.
Kala (Time) : The contents of diet should be changed according with the season. For example in winter the digestion power is strong, so the heavy diet articles are good, while in summer and rainy seasons light articles are generally advised, as digestive power is compromised during these seasons. Furthermore in the diseased condition diet articles have to be selected according to Dosha involved in and the stage of the disease. Ghee for example is contraindicated in the first seven days of fever but if fever runs a chronic course then ghee is prescribed to increase the strength of patient as well as to alleviate the dryness caused by the heat of fever.
Upayogasanstha (Rules of Use): the rules for taking the diet are prescribed. The most important rule for taking diet is that it should be taken on digestion of the previous meal. The main symptoms of proper digestion of the ingested meal are, lightness, feeling of hunger and thirst, enthusiasm and timely appearance of natural urges.
A warm unctuous meal with no antagonistic articles is advised. The food should be in proper quantity taken on digestion of the previous meal and in a favourable place. One should eat neither too fast nor too slow, without talking or laughing and with full concentration.
Bad habits of eating may lead to many disease and therefore should be avoided. Taking wholesome and unwholesome diet articles together is known as Samashana. It is bad for health. Eating before the digestion of previous meal is known as Adhyashana. It leads to Ama formation and is the cause of many diseases.
Eating at irregular times, some times in less quantity and at other times in increased quantity are known as Vishama-Ashanta. It leads to the vitiation of Vata. Therefore it is advisable to eat at regular time and in appropriate quantity.
Upayokta (User): It refers to the person taking the food. He should consider what is specially wholesome and unwholesome to him. Accordingly he may select and avoid some of the diet article.