The term Ayurveda comprises two words – ayu (life) and Veda (knowledge). It deals with various aspects related to health and wellbeing in their varied aspects, such as happy life, sustainable happiness, and longevity. The Ayurvedic diet, that consists of superfoods, is a component of Ayurveda and has been practiced for thousands of years.
Superfoods of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is a form of holistic medicine that’s focused on promoting balance between your body and mind. According to Ayurveda, five elements make up the universe — vayu (air), jala (water), akash (space), teja (fire), and prithvi (earth). These elements are believed to form three different doshas, which are defined as types of energy that circulate within your body.
Each dosha is responsible for specific physiological functions.
The Ayurvedic diet is a type of eating plan that sets guidelines for when, how, and what you should eat based on your dosha, or body type. It’s based on determining your dominant dosha and eating specific foods to promote balance between all three doshas. There are three different types of doshas.
- Pitta (fire and water)
- Vata (air and space)
- Kapha (earth and water)
Recently, there has been a lot of talk over “superfoods”. What makes a food “superfood”? As per the million-age old Ayurveda, it’s take on “superfoods” is it should promote “sattva” in the mind and the food should directly nourish “ojas”.
What is Sattva?
Sattvais clarity, stillness, peace, contentment, love, compassion and kindness. This type of deep joy can be cultivated with a multitude of practices, but especially with what you eat. According to the Ayurvedic principle of “like increases like”, we can infuse our minds with contentment by eating predominantly Sattvic food. Unprocessed, seasonal, whole foods are more Sattvic but there are specific foods that are “super” Sattvic!
What is Ojas?
Another very important concept in Ayurveda is the understanding of Ojas. It is found in greatest concentration in the heart and adrenal glands. Ojas is our source of strength and the power in our immune system, protecting us from disease. It supports us mentally and is the source of our creativity, patience, faith and mental resilience, so it’s important that we consume foods that increase Ojas in us.
When it comes to embracing the benefits of Ayurveda, watching what you eat is possibly the best way to start. One of the ways of food classification in Ayurveda is based on Rasa. There are six major tastes- sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. The right foods promote sattva (purity), detox the body, and rejuvenate it as well, leading to an overall increase in immunity, physical and mental strength, and digestion.
Summer superfoods that one must know about
If you are seeking to accomplish all of the above, say goodbye to temporary crash diets, and instead consume the Ayurvedic superfoods listed below:
Ginger is sattvic and promotes a strong digestive fire. Ginger is a well-recognised anti-inflammatory that stimulates appetite, and reduces intestinal pain, gas and bloating. In Ayurveda, fresh ginger is used to battle nausea, especially pregnancy-induced vomiting. Dried ginger root works well on joint pains (mix with almond oil and rub on painful areas), as well as migraines, and helps lower cholesterol levels.
Turmeric is an all-rounder, thanks to its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It is used to treat skin conditions, detoxify the liver and is excellent for diabetics as it lowers blood sugar. It can be applied directly to treat wounds, it is very beneficial when ingested, preferably when mixed in milk with some black pepper and honey.
According to Ayurveda, the extract of tulsi leaves cures sore throat. When suffering from a sore throat, boil water with a handful of tulsi leaves, cardamom and ginger. This will act as a magic potion. Tulsi juice is also effective in treating acne, as well as other skin disorders such as ring worm infections, rashes and itchiness. Regular consumption of tulsi also helps purify the blood, reduce blood sugar and build immunity.
Brahmi or Bacopa is used to balance the three body types specified in Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta and Kaphas. This herb also helps sustain brain and nervous system functions. It is traditionally mixed with sesame oil and is used to massage to release stress and soothe the nerves. Brahmi also helps improve memory power.
Here’s some good news for those who like a spoonful of ghee over their hot steamed rice. As per Ayurveda ghee lowers cholesterol thanks to its content of omega-3 fatty acids, and helps improve heart health. It also helps maintain healthy eyesight and skin, and trumps carbs as an excellent source of energy.
Ashwagandha is an ancient medicinal herb that is known to reduce blood sugar levels due to its effects on insulin secretions. In patients, suffering from high stress levels, it lowers the Cortisol (stress hormone) amounts.
Popularly known as Indian gooseberry, this little bag of antioxidants works as a digestive tonic. Besides cleansing the colon, it removes excess heat from the body and is a rich source of natural Vitamin C and calcium.