Ayurvedic cuisine

Ayurveda - eating according to ancient laws

Ayurveda is considered to be the oldest healing science. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means ‘the science of life’ which originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and often referred as the ‘Mother of all Healing’.

Ayurveda focuses on the prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through emphasis on the balance of an individual’s life, right thinking, diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs.

Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy (dosha) that is present in everyone and everything:

Vata (energy of movement), Pitta (energy of digestion) and Kapha (energy of lubrication and structure). All individuals have properties of vata, pitta and kapha, (you can take a quiz to figure this out) but one is usually primary, one is secondary and the third is least prominent. According to Ayurveda, diseases arise from lack of cellular function usually caused by either excess of deficiency of vata, pitta or kapha. Diseases can also be caused by the presence of toxins in our internal system.


Treatment of imbalances:

Vata (the energy of movement): Vata is essential for motion of all body processes and is most prominent during the changes of seasons, and these are the critical times to be more cautious of our diet and lifestyle.

Individuals with vata predominant are quick minded, flexible and creative. Mentally, they are able to grasp concepts quickly but forgets them just as quickly. Alert, restless and very active; they walk, talk and think fast but easily fatigued. They often have less willpower, confidence, boldness and tolerance for fluctuation. When unbalanced, vata types become fearful, nervous and anxious.

Vata types have a variable appetite and digestion. Vata people are more susceptible to diseases involving the air principles such as emphysema, pneumonia and arthritis.


Dietary considerations:

• Well cooked oats and rice
• Cooked vegetables
• Avoid tomatoes, potatoes, egg plants, peppers and spinach- if the vata person has stiff, aching joints and muscles.
• Sweet, ripe and juicy fruits
• Avoid astringent and drying fruits i.e. cranberries, pomegranates and raw apples.
• Fruit should be eaten by itself or an an empty stomach.
• All nuts and seeds are good
• Avoid cold, frozen or raw foods


Pitta (the energy of Digestion and Metabolism):

Pitta people have warm bodies, penetrating ideas and sharp intelligence. When out of balance, they can become very agitated and short tempered.

Pitta types usually have a strong metabolism, good digestion and strong appetites. These people tend to have diseases involving fever, inflammatory diseases and jaundice. Common symptoms include; skin rashes, burning sensations, irritations and ulceration.


Dietary considerations:

• Avoid sour, salty and pungent foods
• Refrain from meat, eggs and salt
• Add sweet, cooling and bitter foods and taste into the diet.
• Barlet, rice, oars and wheat are good
• Tomatoes, radishes, chillies, garlic and raw onions should be avoided.
• Salad and raw vegetables are good
• Avoid excessive oil
• Ear cooling, non-spicy food


Kapha (the energy of Lubrication):

Kapha people have dominant strength, endurance and stamina. Psychologically, these types are commonly calm, tolerant forgiving. When out of balance, kaphas experience greed, possessiveness and attachment.

These people often have diseases such as flu, sinus congestion and other diseases involving the mucous. Weight gain, diabetes, water retention and headaches are common.


Dietary considerations:

• Avoid dairy products and fats of any kind
• Roasted or dry cooked grains are the best
• All vegetables are good
• Very sweet or sour fruits should be avoided.
• Avoid heavy foods and eat light dry food


The action of Indian spices

The second strongest influence on an individuals doshas, is spices. Spices are obtained from the roots, flowers, fruits, seeds, or bark of plants or herbs.

The role of spices within the body differs according to the ways that they are used. Spices are mostly used for their natural flavour and aroma in processing food. As well as adding taste, some spices (cumin, ginger, coriander) also have preventative effects, aiding digestion through the production of digestive enzymes. Spices are rich in antioxidants, and scientific studies suggest that they are also potent inhibitors of tissue damage and inflammation caused by high levels of blood sugar and circulating lipids. Because spices have very low calorie content and are relatively inexpensive, they are reliable sources of antioxidants and other potential bioactive compounds in diet.