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Ayurvedic Diet: Expert Busts Some Common Myths And Misconceptions

Aahara or an Ayurveda diet is an eating plan that provides guidelines for what you eat, when you eat, and how you eat, to boost your health, prevent or manage disease, and maintain wellness. Here are some common myths around it.

Ayurvedic Diet: Expert Busts Some Common Myths And Misconceptions

Ayurvedic diet: Know the truth

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Ayurvedic diet: You can have meat in moderate amounts
  2. One can drink coffee in moderation
  3. Ayurvedic diet restricts tangy food when undergoing medical treatment

Ayurveda is an indigenous system that has gained significant prominence over the last couple of years and more so, in the last couple of months, simply because of its core philosophy of holistic living and wellness. However, there is a common perception that when one undergoes an Ayurveda treatment, there are too many diet restrictions and the whole regimen in itself can be quite restrictive. To understand how an Ayurveda treatment works, one needs to go back to the founding principles. An Ayurveda treatment basically covers 4 aspects - aahaara (diet), vihaara (lifestyle), aushadha (medicine) and kriya (exercise). Every patient that undergoes an Ayurveda treatment is first assessed under these 4 parameters and then prescribed a personalized treatment. At no point in time, is it a one size fits all approach.

Ayurveda regards food as a harbinger of either happiness or suffering based on its influence on a person's Prakruti (constitution) and not just by the nutritional properties of food. What works for one person, may not work for another. Aahara or an Ayurveda diet is an eating plan that provides guidelines for what you eat, when you eat, and how you eat, to boost your health, prevent or manage disease, and maintain wellness. This diet is customised based on the dominant dosha in your body (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), taste, and season.

Also read: Ayurveda Suggests These 5 Herbs For Better Metabolism, Digestion And Weight Loss


Here are a few common perceptions / myths around food types associated with an Ayurveda diet

1. Myth: A complete vegetarian diet with no intake of non-veg

Fact: Although the Ayurveda diet primarily encourages eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, one doesn't have to give up on eating non vegetarian food completely, in some cases. Let's take the example of Gout - often called the rich man's disease. Gout results from an internal inflammation in the body which is caused by sedimentation of uric acid in the joints. This consequently leads to the clogging of joints. In order to flush the sedimentation out, digestion has to be managed well and in such cases, it is recommended to limit the intake of protein. You can still have white meat such as chicken and fish in moderation and eggs, once in a while.

2. Myth: One should stop drinking coffee when on an Ayurveda Treatment

Fact: Though Ayurveda would never recommend that you have a large cup of coffee daily, under the right conditions, at the right time, you can drink it in moderation. Ayurveda says that all plants serve a purpose and coffee is best viewed as a medicine. The coffee bean is a powerhouse of polyphenol activity. Polyphenols are compounds found in plants that have high antioxidant activity. It is important to monitor its effects and adjust consumption accordingly. It is known to have a warm, stimulating effect in the body and promotes energy, stimulates digestion, and raises blood pressure. These characteristics may benefit some doshic constitutions, but can be consumed in moderation by others. In fact, coffee is particularly good for those who have a lot of Kapha in their constitution. Individuals with a strong Kapha influence may tend to feel heavy and sluggish not just in the morning, but throughout the day. The diuretic qualities of coffee help in drying up some of the heavy and wet nature of the Kapha constitution and can help stimulate energy as well as promote digestion following meals.

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It is a myth that Ayurvedic diet restricts one from drinking coffee
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: The Concept Of Hot And Cold Foods As Per Ayurveda And How They Impact Your Body

3. Myth: No fried or Tangy food

Fact: All of us love having a few fried snacks once in a while or a little bit of pickle with our meals. Restriction of tangy and fried foods comes into play when say, one is undergoing treatment for psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that results in the hyper proliferation of the skin. In such cases, diet plays a critical role so that it doesn't create too much acidity in the body. Tangy or fried foods tend to make the body more acidic and they are usually avoided in order to make the body alkaline. However, the patient can still consume certain types of food such as salads that contain some amount of tangy ingredients or elements in it.

What is important to keep in mind is Ayurveda incorporates several techniques for assessing one's physical health. The practitioner evaluates various signs and symptoms, especially in relation to the origin and cause of an imbalance and a diet is formulated accordingly, not just to treat a specific illness but also to improve the overall health and well-being of the individual in the long term.

Also read: Are There Any Health Benefits Of Sitting On The Floor And Eating: Ayurveda Tells Us


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(Dr. Sajikumar, Chief Physician, Dhathri Ayurveda Hospital and Panchakarma Centre, Kerala Founder and Managing Director, Dhathri Ayurveda Pvt. Ltd.)

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