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Concept of Ahara (Diet) in Ayurveda
Every living and non-living beings in this universe is composed of five basic elements, the Pancha Mahabhootas, namely Earth (Prithvi), Water (Ap), Fire (Teja), Air (Vayu) and Ether (Akasha) the panchabhuta components of ingested food nourishes their respective tissue elements in the body. Ahara is the best of all medicines and is considered one among the three sub-pillars of Ayurveda (thrayo-upasthamba). The ahara (food) and vihara (lifestyle) which are congenial to the channels, constitution and strength of an individual is termed as pathya (wholesome) and that which is non-congenial is termed as apathya (unwholesome). The preventive and curative aspects of Ayurveda revolve around the central theme of pathya ahara and vihara. Ayurveda emphasizes basic dietary guidelines in terms of appropriate food, combinations of food, methods of cooking, storage, eating atmosphere, hygiene and etiquette (ashtavidha ahara vidhi visesha ayatana).
Ayurvedic dietary guidelines
- Intake of food at in time (Kale bhojana).
- Food intake as per suitability (satmya bhojana)
- Food intake as per the prakruthi of individual (hita bhojan)
- Proper hygiene (suchi bhojan)
- Intake of food which is unctuous (snigdha bhojan)
- Intake of food which is warm (ushna bhojan)
- Intake of food which is easy to digest (Laghu bhojan)
- Eat while there is in interest to food and while eating concentrate on food and the process of eating (tan mana: bhojana)
- Eat food with six taste components (sad-rasayukta ahara)
- Food should be primarily sweet in nature (madhura praya)
- Food should be ingested calmly, neither too slow nor too fast (na ati druta vilambita)
- After bathing (snatah)
- Food intake only when there is sufficient hunger (kshudvan)
- Proper washing of hand, feet and face should be done before food intake (dhauta pada-kara-anana:)
- After offering prayers and paying obeisance to gods and forefathers (pithru -deva tarpana)
- After offering food to guests, teachers and chidren (athithi- balakaguru tarpana)
- Without disgracing food (anindan bhunjaana)
- Silently (moun)