There is enough food produced worldwide to feed the whole population. But as per statistics, over 828 million people, nearly 10% of the global population, still go hungry, with devastating effects on physical and mental health.
It severely affects education, work performance, and daily lifestyle. It also increases the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, blood pressure, osteoporosis, and mental health conditions like depression.
While many struggle to bring food to their tables, a vast majority of the world’s populace consumes an unhealthy diet comprised of junk, processed, and preserved foods that severely affect the body’s health and function.
The Impact of Fast Foods
As per a study, millennials spend over 45% of their food budget on food not made at home. Such foods, rich in saturated fats, sugars, sodium, calories, and grease, cause a severe lack of nutrients like vitamins, proteins, minerals, fiber, etc., that are vital for healthy organ function. An unhealthy diet is also a major risk factor for health issues like-
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Skin problems
- Respiratory issues (asthma, shortness of breath, etc.)
- High cholesterol
- Bone loss
Many of these conditions, when severe, become significant contributors to premature deaths in the world. No wonder a poor diet is the cause of over one in five deaths globally, which is more deaths than any other health risk in the world!
In addition, a study found that fast foods contain phthalates. These chemicals can hamper the function and behavior of hormones in the body, disturb their balance, and even lead to reproductive issues like infertility and congenital disabilities!
To avoid such conditions, we must consume a healthy diet and improve its access to others. Here is what Ayurvedic doctors prescribe when it comes to good dietary habits for overall health and well-being.
The Ayurvedic Approach to a Healthy Diet
As per the comprehensive science of Ayurveda, poor digestive health is a prominent factor that leads to overall poor health. Eating too little or consuming incorrect foods severely hampers one’s Agni (digestive fire) and overall gastrointestinal function. The body cannot properly digest outside foods due to their unhealthy compositions.
When undigested, they form ama (toxins) in the body, leading to acute, chronic, and even life-threatening health issues. Thus, a healthy and balanced diet becomes vital for nutrition, efficient bodily function, and preventing numerous chronic and non-communicable diseases.
The Ayurvedic diet promotes better health for both the body and the mind and focuses on establishing a balance between the two. To achieve this, Ayurvedic doctors and health experts prescribe whole foods to the diet, including seasonal fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, grains, legumes, etc.
They recommend consuming freshly cooked meals since stale food has little to no prana (life force) in it because, at the most fundamental level, it is the prana that is responsible for providing nourishment and creating health, energy, and vitality. Hence, one must try to cook just as much as is needed for the day.
Avoid preserved, frozen, ice-cold, canned, processed, or microwaved food items and beverages. They can cause a severe imbalance in the body’s doshas. Always consume the freshest foods available.
Gunas of Foods
Ayurveda acknowledges that different foods have varied effects on the body and the mind based on their gunas (qualities). There are three prominent gunas in the Ayurvedic system:
- Sattva: promotes physical and mental balance, clarity, and harmony. Sattvic foods include digestive spices (coriander, cumin, ginger, fennel, asafetida, turmeric, cardamom, fenugreek, cinnamon), fresh and home-cooked foods, fruits, vegetables, honey, jaggery, dried fruits and seeds, fresh fruit juices, salads, herbal teas, etc.
- Rajas: promotes action, increases energy, and gratifies the senses. Rajasic foods include salty food, onion, garlic, yeast, dairy products, ready-to-eat foods, etc.
- Tamas: causes dullness, heaviness, and inertia in the system. Tamasic diet includes microwaved, processed, frozen foods, fried items, non-vegetarian foods, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, etc.
While a Sattvic diet is best for the system, one can consume Rajasic foods within a limit. But one must strictly avoid Tamasic food items.
Essential Ayurvedic Food Items for Overall Health and Wellness
Here are some vital Ayurvedic comestibles that can be included in one’s diet for better digestive health and bodily function
- Dhanyaka (Dhaniya/coriander): improves digestion, controls blood pressure, reduces skin inflammation, controls diabetes, reduces cholesterol, and alleviates conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, ulcers, anemia, etc.
- Dhataki: enhances Agni, stimulates appetite, improves breathing, prevents aging, and relieves various health conditions like nausea/vomiting, eye problems, infertility, indigestion, diabetes, skin problems, etc.
- Saunf (Fennel): supports healthy skin, benefits heart health, reduces inflammation, helps manage weight, has antioxidants and dietary fiber, and exhibits antibacterial properties.
- Sunthi (Ginger): improves metabolism, relieves stomach issues, alleviates common cold and flu, reduces inflammation, and enhances digestion.
- Mochrasa: has a cooling effect on the stomach, alleviates inflammation in the gut, and can be consumed as a daily herbal supplement to one’s diet.
- Bilwadi (Bael) fruit: improves digestion, reduces cholesterol, purifies blood, boosts immunity, and comes with strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
One can easily leverage the health benefits of all these herbs through the potent Bilwadi Churna. This effective Ayurvedic medicine combines the therapeutic properties of all the herbs mentioned above along with the revered Vijaya to alleviate gastrointestinal issues and improve one’s overall digestive health and function.
Food Combinations to Avoid
Ayurvedic doctors prescribe avoiding the following food combinations as they can reduce Agni, cause indigestion, and lead to toxin buildup in the body:
- Yogurt and milk
- Milk and fruit
- Milk with radishes, tomatoes, cherries, bread, and citrus fruits
- Combining dairy products with non-vegetarian items and animal proteins
- Any type of melon with other foods
- Fresh fruits with cooked meals
Some Essential Dietary Habits to Follow
Besides knowing what to include and omit in the diet, one must also know the right ways to approach the meals.
- Eat with awareness and avoid distractions while eating (returning phone calls, watching TV, using the phone, etc.).
- Eat only as much as the body needs and avoid binge eating. Consuming excessively, no matter how healthy the diet is, will only damage the system.
- Include all six rasas (tastes) in the meal to balance its energy levels: sour, bitter, salty, sweet, astringent, and pungent.
- Eat slowly and chew the food properly.
- Consume well-spaced meals at regular intervals to give the body time for proper digestion and absorption of the foods.
- Have the largest meal of the day at lunchtime since the Agni is the strongest during noon. This will facilitate better digestion and give the body a sufficient energy supply for the remaining day.
- Eat three-four hours before sleeping and keep the last meal of the day the lightest. This allows the body to repair, heal, and restore during sleep.
This World Food Day, it is important that we spread awareness about the importance and benefits of a healthy diet and encourage more and more people to start tweaking their dietary habits so they can enhance their daily lifestyle and quality of life.
With the holistic science of Ayurveda and the right consultation from the best Ayurvedic doctors, people can access personalized and comprehensive dietary recommendations that their body truly needs and deserves.
Learn more about Ayurveda’s approach to food and leveraging Ayurvedic medicines like Bilwadi Churna for improving your digestive health by reaching out to Hempstreet.