Ahāra sambhavam vasthu rogāschāhara sambhavāh
Hitāhita visheshātcha visheshah sukhadukhayoh!!
Diet plays an important role in Ayurveda, restriction or modification of which would help in curing of the disease. The Panchabhoota theory of Ayurveda says that the same primordial elements combine to form gross elements of nature whether in the form of food, medicine or man. The disturbance of doshas caused in man due to disease are brought back to equilibrium by the medicines and suitable foods containing the opposite effects of the symptoms caused by the disease.
Diet also plays major role in the maintenance of a healthy life. If the diet consumed by the individuals is in accordance with their constitution, sound health prevails. If unsuitable and wrong diet is consumed, disease follows. So a planned and knowledgeable intake of diet prevents disease.
Dietary products due to their inherent qualities, either pacify the vitiated doshas and restore health, or aggravate the doshas causing imbalance in their equilibrium and cause disease.
Dietary products are classified according to their sources namely plant products, animal products and minerals.
Charaka has mentioned the dietary products, which are generally suitable for maintenance of health as; rice, green gram, Rock salt, Amalaki (Emblica officianalis), barley, milk, ghee, meat from animal sources and honey.
Charaka has also mentioned the dietary products, which generally are not suitable and to be avoided are; Dried meat, Dried vegetables, tubers of lotus, milk of diseased animals, pork, beef, curd, fish etc.
There are certain food items which should never be taken in combination, as they disturb the equilibrium of the doshas and lead to onset of several diseases. For eg…
1. Meat with milk, honey, jaggery, radish, black gram or sprouts.
2. Fish with milk
3. Honey and ghee in equal proportions
4. Milk with black gram, sour fruits, salt and raw foods
5. Banana with milk, curd (Yoghurt), butter milk (Yoghurt diluted with water)
6. Lemon with curd (Yoghurt), jaggery, ghee, or honey.
7. Fruits along with lunch or dinner (can be had with a gap).
8. Curd (Yoghurt) during nights.
Seasonal variations can also influence our digestive system and as well as our health. Dietary products to be consumed in various seasons are mentioned in Ayurveda.
Vasantha ritu (autumn): Wheat, meat of wild animals is recommended. Avoid sour, sweet and oily food.
Greeshma ritu (summer): Sweets, cold liquids, oily diet, meat of wild animals, ghee (clarified butter), milk, rice. Avoid salty, sour and pungent food, alcohol.
Varsha ritu (rainy): sour, salty and oily food, barley, wheat, old rice, meat of wild animals, honey.
Sharad ritu (post-rainy): Sweets, easily digestible food, bitters, meat of wild animals, barley, wheat, old rice, ghee (clarified).
Hemantha ritu (winter): Rice, Cow milk, dishes made from cane juice, oily food, sour and salty food, oils, warm water.
Shishira ritu (pre-autumn): Pungent, bitter and astringent tasting foods and easily digestible food.
A general direction to the diets advised to persons with certain predominant constitutions is described in Ayurveda. All the three doshas prevail in all persons and permutations and combinations of the three doshas in differing proportions ascertain the dominant constitution of any individual. The various diets advised are as follows.
Diet advised to the Vata predominant constitution persons: Should possess tastes of Madhura (sweet), Amla (sour) and Lavana (salt). Wheat, rice, millets, black gram, green gram, sesame, radish, brinjal, yellow pumpkin, bottle gourd, onion, grey gourd, carrot, beet root, ash gourd, snake gourd, garlic, ginger, black pepper, long pepper, mustard, fenugreek, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, Asafoetida, ripe mango, papaya, orange, pine apple, apple, banana, grapes, coconut, strawberry, custard apple, gooseberry, cherry plum, lemon, pomegranate, guava, dates, cashew, sesame oil, coconut oil, mustard oil, cow milk, buffalo milk, butter, ghee, cream, cheese, curd, sea food, mutton, beef, chicken, pork, egg, deer meat etc.
Diet advised to the Pitta predominant constitution persons: Should possess tastes of Madhura (sweet), Tikta (bitter) and Kashaya (astringent). Old rice, millets, Maize, green gram, Bengal gram, pigeon pea, sesame, drum stick, bitter gourd, yam, cabbage, bottle gourd, ribbed gourd, lady’s finger, ash gourd, cucumber, snake gourd, spinach, mushroom, cauliflower, long pepper, clove, coriander, ripe mango, apple, banana, grapes, custard apple, gooseberry, pomegranate, jack fruit, dates, sesame oil, cow milk, buffalo milk, butter, ghee, cream, mutton, pork, deer meat etc.
Diet advised to the Kapha predominant constitution persons: Should possess tastes of Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter) and Kashaya (astringent). Rice, millets, corn, barley, green gram, red gram, horse gram, pea nut, Bengal gram, pigeon pea, sesame, drum stick, bitter gourd, potato, tomato, bottle gourd, grey gourd, ribbed gourd, carrot, cucumber, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, black pepper, long pepper, mustard, fenugreek, cinnamon, cardamom, red chillies, green chillies, coriander, cumin, Asafoetida, raw mango, pineapple, grapes, gooseberry, lemon, pomegranate, jack fruit, dates, sesame oil, mustard oil, sunflower oil, cow milk, mutton, chicken, deer meat etc.
Dietary products influence the pathophysiology of the diseased conditions and also interfere with the pharmacological actions of the prescribed drugs. Due to this reason, dietary products to be consumed in different diseases were mentioned and these should not be ignored to get better results.