Ayurveda is far from a one-size-fits-all way of life. It’s an ancient holistic healing science focusing on all areas of health, including diet, lifestyle, digestion, detoxification, and the mind. Ayurveda is based on the belief that each of us is biochemically different, making us react to the world in different ways. Let’s talk specifically about the Ayurvedic diet.
As we mentioned in our previous article, Ayurveda says that each individual is comprised of the five fundamental elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. These elements uniquely combine within each of us, creating a unique blueprint known as our Dosha. There are 3 main Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Our unique Dosha largely dictates what foods nourish us, and which foods harm us. So as you can see, this varies person to person and can get quite specific. However, there are some overarching nutritional guidelines for each of the Doshas.
Favor: nourishing + warm foods, sweet, sour + salty foods, grains, healthy oils, energetically-dense, warming spices, root vegetables, milk, ghee, fresh yogurt, eggs, seeds, etc
Avoid: Pungent, bitter + astringent tastes, cold foods, raw salads, smoothies, beans, etc.
Favor: sweet, butter + astringent foods, raw vegetables, mild foods, cooling herbs like cilantro, beans, sweet fruits, most grains, squashes, root vegetables, etc.
Avoid: pungent, sour + salty foods, hot + spicy foods, fermented foods, chiles, red meat, alcohol, etc.
Favor: pungent, bitter + astringent foods, beans and lentils, vegetables, warm vegetables, hot, spicy foods, etc.
Avoid: sweet, sour + salty foods, dairy, nuts, most grains, fruits, root vegetables, vinegars, etc.
What Is Digestive Fire?
Central to the Ayurvedic understanding of digestion is the strength of this digestive fire, called agni. Agni also represents the creative flame of intelligence that is present in all life. After an individual’s doshic state, agni is an important factor in determining dietary needs. Agni becomes weak when we eat out of accordance with our constitution, overeat, stay up late, don’t exercise enough, etc.
How Does Ama Affect Me?
Another very important proponent of Ayurveda, is ama, one of the most threatening opponents to good health. Ama is undigested food residue that lodges itself within the organs and channels of the body. As we stress at Clean, when our digestive system isn’t functioning optimally, many issues can arise. Improper digestion leads to malabsorption of essential nutrients, and causes undigested food to linger in the body. A balanced diet, lifestyle, exercise routine, and mindfulness practice help prevent the accumulation of ama.
How Can I Increase Ojas?
The opposite of ama, is ojas, one of the most health-promoting agents of the body. Ojas is high when proper digestion and assimilation of food and occurs, and we maintain optimal physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Along with eating a balancing diet, one can increase ojas by loving well, laughing often, meditating regularly, exercising creativity, and spending time in nature.
Some overall principles adhere to the Ayurvedic way of eating, regardless of the current doshic state.
Eat wholesome, pure, nourishing, whole foods, and mostly plants. The fewer processed, preservative-laden foods, the better. In need of a little inspiration? Check out our Clean Blog for nourishing, energizing, and delicious whole food recipes.
Ditch the diets, and tune into your unique needs. These likely won’t be the exact same as your neighbor’s, and that’s ok. That is one of the most amazing things about completing the 21-Day Clean Program - you get to learn firsthand what works with your body, and what doesn’t. A lesson to last a lifetime.
Be mindful about how you eat. Eat in a harmonious and happy environment. Do not eat when you are emotionally upset. Anger, frustration, sadness and stress impact our ability to enjoy and digest food. It sounds basic, but eat sitting down! So often we are running full speed ahead on autopilot, that we don’t even take a proper lunch break. Break that habit now and feel your digestion get better.
Eat until about ¾ full. This helps optimize digestion. When we feel like we need a little extra help, we look to our digestive enzymes. These help us break down food, reduce bloating and properly assimilate nutrients.
Eat your main meal at midday, when your digestive fire is at its peak, just like on the 21-Day Clean Program.
Use spices. Spices are medicinal powerhouses. They can not only dramatically improve the taste of a meal, but also carry big health benefits, loads of antioxidants and can aid in digestion. We like to add ginger and cinnamon to our shakes to add antioxidants and help stoke our digestive fire.
Cleansing is an important part of your wellness journey, as it helps avoid the build up of ama. Do this a few times a year!
Health is holistic and reaches far beyond just proper nutrition. Make sure to take time for yourself, notice little joys in life, take part in a meditation practice, exercise, get proper sleep, hydrate, and laugh often.
Many of Ayurveda’s core principles go hand-in-hand with what we believe in at Clean - eat whole, live mindfully, move often, cleanse regularly and enjoy being uniquely you.
Written by Hannah Aylward
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