Daily we are facing a flood of nutrition theories, of what components a healthy meal has to consist, which trace elements, minerals, vitamins we need so our body would not suffer from nutrition-related deficiencies, etc.
But, it is a paradox: nutrition-related symptoms are increasingly visible like overweight, osteoporosis, rheumatic diseases, allergies, heart and circulatory problems. From an Ayurvedic point of view, the contemporary human being is in danger of starving though there is abundance of food-varieties. Obesity, bone loss, diseases of the nervous system, dermatologic illnesses, immune diseases, all the way up to infertility — speaking from an Ayurveda point of view hint at the fact that the body tissues are not receiving enough nutrition because the metabolism on cellular level is not working properly. The Vedic knowledge from thousands of years may explain the deeper co-relations of the causes behind.
In Ayurvedic doctrines about nutrition the focus is primarily set on how the food is assimilated. Essentially, it is not about what is taken in but what the body does with that. An excellent assimilation of the nutrition as well as the complete excretion of metabolic by-products are decisive factors of sound food and maintenance of the body. In order to reach this goal, the Agni (fire of metabolism) is of enormous importance. Agni is the central factor in deciding whether metabolism works well or not; it is the spark empowering all metabolic processes.
Ayurveda knows 13 Agnis of which the Jathar-Agni, located in the gastrointestinal area, is the main actor. The Jathar-Agni is capable of dividing the intake into what has to be assimilated (Ahara-Rasa, juice of nutrition) and what has to be wasted.
Any tissue-layer has its own fire of metabolism. Ayurveda describes the step-by-step processing of the food as Dhatu-Parinama (transformation of tissues) that transforms the nutrients into either energy or body substance so the cells would be fed, maintained and regenerated.
If a disorder in the metabolic fire occurs on any Dhatu-layer (tissue-layer) the whole process of assimilation gets hindered and the processing of the nutrients from one tissue to the next cannot be granted anymore so they slowly starve. In this way, Ayurveda explains the aforesaid symptoms of disease up to infertility.
How can the functionality of the Agnis be restored and maintained? Ayurveda knows numerous effective methods to empower our Agnis and balance them well. Here we go with some tips most of us can easily realise.
- stick to timings of breakfast, lunch and dinner; three to six hours should be in between; only children and teenagers may have more meals
- adopt food to season (more light food in summer time) and constitution (Vata, Pitta, Kapha)
- warm food- if Agni (metabolic fire) were to process food well, it should be warm or have warming effect (spices!). Cold and raw food challenge metabolism and should not be taken in large quantities.
- drinking: along with food only; 1-2 glasses according to the climate and food composition. No ice-cold drinks. Frequent drinking of little amounts of hot water (boiled 10-20 minutes) timed well over the whole day, as per the constitution a slice of fresh ginger may be added
- bitters are good tonics for the whole gastro-intestinal system. The vermicular movement becomes more vivid; stomach and liver, gallbladder, pancreas, intestines increase amount of digestive juices
- from time to time have a day of fasting, have rice-bean soup only
- place and kind of food: do not take food when stressed out, at restless places, under strong emotionality or while walking
- check amount of food: 1/3 solid, 1/3 liquid food, 1/3 of stomach should be empty. Overeating or too heavy food should be avoided
Ayurvedic medicine deals with everything containing life. The health of an individual depends much on his daily habits, his way of feeding himself and the positive fulfilling of his physical and emotional needs. The superior goal of Ayurveda is described relating to two aspects: promotion and maintenance of health, elimination of disease. For this, a variety of healing methods are applied which have a holistic effect on cause, effects and symptoms of a disease and can be used also for prevention and instant treatment.