Food and health are inextricably linked in Ayurvedic medicine. The goal of Ayurvedic nutrition is to achieve or maintain an inner balance. What exactly is behind this oldest form of medicine, how Ayurvedic nutrition looks like and what rules should be observed in Ayurvedic cuisine, we explain here.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the oldest surviving medical science of humanity and means translated from Sanskrit "the knowledge of the long life" (ayus: long life, veda: knowledge). The approximately 3, 500-year-old written Ayurvedic principles have their origins in India. You have already influenced Hippocrates, who advocated a holistic treatment of humans.
In contrast to Western systems, Ayurveda is a life concept: It not only wants to heal illnesses, but tries to give a comprehensive answer to the question of the goal of life and thereby reconcile man and nature.
Vata, Pitta, Kapha: 3 forces govern the human body
In Ayurveda, everything that exists consists of the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space - including the food. A central role in Ayurvedic health and nutrition science is played by the three 'doshas' (forces) that influence the human body.
Vata: Controls movement, circulation and digestion, it is assigned to the element air. Vata types are mentally alert, slim and petite, but rather restless and suffer easily from sleep disorders. They need very regular, warm meals and drinks and should avoid bloating and too spicy dishes.
Pitta: The metabolic principle consists of the elements fire and water; it gives the body heat and nutrition. Pitta types are fair-skinned, sensitive and ambitious, prone to skin diseases. You should be careful with coffee and alcohol and avoid spicy or oily foods. They tolerate sweet, bitter and dry especially well.
Kapha: The structural principle. To him belong the good-natured, with rather strong stature. Water and earth are their elements. They love hot spices and like to eat, but have a slow digestion and do not always like to move. You should avoid all fatty, fried and heavy foods as well as desserts and dairy products.
According to the Ayurvedic concept, food intake has two aspects: it provides us with the necessary building blocks of life and serves to maintain or restore our physical, mental and spiritual balance. Among other things, it is important to know its constitutional type (mixing ratio of the three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha).
Based on the three basic types and their hybrids, it explains why two people who eat the same foods sometimes react differently. A healthy person can feel exactly which foods are given to them and which not. Everything he likes to eat needs his organism to stay healthy. In other words, proper nutrition is medicine. And depending on what food he takes, the doshas are positively and negatively affected.
If the three regular forces of the mind-body system are not balanced, disorders and illnesses arise. In order to maintain or restore balance, nutrition plays an important role.
However, unlike other dietary guidelines, Ayurveda has no strict rules or prohibitions. Ayurveda gives individual recommendations tailored to the personal situation of the individual.
Ayurvedic cooking and seasoning
Incidentally, cooking Ayurveda has nothing to do with Asian cuisine. The basic principles can be found in most kitchens in the world. Among other things should:
- the food should be predominantly warm, gentle and fresh
- to avoid icy drinks, they weaken the digestive power
- to drink hot water with meals
- at noon the main meal, in the evening light food to take.
A perfect meal ideally contains all six flavors: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent - this balances all five elements. It should be appropriate for the year and the time of day and take into account the dosha of the eater. With the exception of fresh herbs, the diverse spices, especially nutmeg, saffron, cardamom and cinnamon are always cooked from the beginning.
In Ayurvedic cooking, but not in India, garlic and onions are not used, as according to the Ayurvedic view, the strong smell impairs the sense of taste and dulls the spirit. In Ayurvedic medicine, however, garlic is used to reduce high blood pressure and indigestion.
Ayurvedic recipes: what should be considered?
An ayurvedic menu, for example, ensures that all six flavors are represented and that all necessary building blocks are included (ie proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, trace elements). The ingredients and courses are matched in taste, color, texture and preparation.
After an ayurvedic meal, the guests should not feel tired but refreshed and able to perform, they should be pleasantly satiated and satisfied. For the cook applies: cooking must be enjoyable. The mental attitude of the cook flows into the food when preparing it.
In addition, the following 5 food rules should be observed in Ayurvedic cooking:
- Do not eat until you are hungry and the food that has been completely digested (after 3 to 6 hours).
- Eating is enjoyment and should take place in a quiet and beautiful environment, with plenty of time and little distraction.
- Always prepare your food fresh and pay attention to wholesome, natural foods.
- The main meal of the day should be taken at noon, in the evening it is better to eat only lightly (and not too late).
- Rely on your instincts: the body expresses what it lacks by its appetite for food.
Lassi is especially enjoyed after the midday meal, a salty or sweet yoghurt drink, depending on the preparation. In the summer it is refreshing and nourishing with great thirst. Lassi calms the stomach, cleanses and strengthens the intestinal flora and normalizes all body forces.
Take high-quality, fresh, mild yoghurt and dilute it two to three times with water. Then beat with the whisk until no more lumps are present. You drink it pure or spiced with salt, cumin and coriander. He gets sweet with some honey or brown sugar and a few drops of rose water. Lassi should not be served too cold.