Fad diets are everywhere. From South Beach to Paleo, dieting trends are on the cover of most health magazines. What if, though, you could try a diet that is more than just a fad? If this sounds appealing, then the Ayurveda diet might be for you. With its longstanding history, Ayurveda relies on so much more than reducing calorie intake and increasing exercise, which is what makes it so appealing to so many. However, many westerners don’t know what Ayurveda is and how it can impact how and what we eat. For many, though, learning about the Ayurveda diet is the first step in revolutionizing their nutrition.
What is Ayurveda?
In order to understand the Ayurveda diet, one must first understand the practice of Ayurveda. To begin, Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medicinal practice that combines techniques to care for the mind, body, and spirit (1). There are three principles that govern Ayurveda, and each respectively deals with specific areas of human health (1). For instance, vata refers to bodily functions such as heart or lung, pitta concerns the metabolic system, and kapha refers to a body’s cellular growth and function (1). In Ayurveda, the goal is balance (1). If these three systems are out of balance, practicing Ayurvedics believe it will lead to illness and disease (1).
Because Ayurveda’s intent is balance, food intake is of the utmost importance. In order to achieve internal balance, though, Ayurveda asks you to make good food choices (1). However, while most diets are concerned with what you eat, Ayurveda is also concerned with why, how, and when you eat (1). Interestingly, the Ayurveda diet asks you consume fresh, colorful foods adorned with herbs and spices in a mindful manner, without the chatter of the TV (1). Additionally, Ayurveda recommends eating a large lunch, but a light breakfast and dinner (1).
Even more surprising, though, is the role of taste in Ayurveda. For example, there are 6 tastes that should be consumed everyday: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent (1). For something sweet, dairy and nuts are suggested, and sour flavors can be satisfied with a pickle or lemon (1). For pungency, add some garlic or onions to your diet, and your bitter requirementcan be met by your morning coffee (1). However, astringent foods might be the most difficult to identify, so some examples are beans, green tea, and berries (1). Of course, a safe intake of salt can fulfill your salt requirement (1).
What’s the benefit of the Ayurveda Diet?
Although there has been no definitive scientific evidence that the Ayurveda diet will prevent illness or disease, it does seem like Ayurveda principles can help steer your nutrition in the right direction (1). Because more consideration is given to when, how, and why you eat, you may find that you become more aware of your eating habits. At the very least, the Ayurveda diet may allow you to redefine your nutrition plan to create a more balanced diet that includes a wide, colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, and legumes without restriction—and that might be just what your body needs.
Yours in good health,
- Sheth, V. (2015). Learning from Ancient Ayurveda Diet Traditions. Environmental Nutrition, 38(4), 3.