Year : 2023 | Volume
: 8 | Issue : 1 | Page : 1--2
Basic tenets of diet and nutrition in Ayurveda: Insights for translating concepts to evidence
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Drug Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, New Delhi, India
Prof. Rabinarayan Acharya
Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, Janakpuri, New Delhi
|How to cite this article:|
Acharya R. Basic tenets of diet and nutrition in Ayurveda: Insights for translating concepts to evidence.J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci 2023;8:1-2
|How to cite this URL:|
Acharya R. Basic tenets of diet and nutrition in Ayurveda: Insights for translating concepts to evidence. J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 10 ];8:1-2
Available from: http://www.jdrasccras.com/text.asp?2023/8/1/1/366293
Ayurvedic theories and practices on health, food, and nutrition differ from those of biomedicine and modern nutrition. The classical texts of Ayurveda dedicate elaborate sections on Ahara (diet) and Balya, Poshaka (nutrition). Although the role of diet is consistently emphasized in the Ayurvedic classics as a key principle related to the maintenance of health, its application in contemporary Ayurvedic practice is very limited. Due to the fast, observable and controllable effects on health provided by pharmaceuticals, the role of food eventually lost its importance as a component of healthcare. An in-depth appraisal of claims about classical principles of diet and nutrition through conventional scientific approaches is essential to promote Ahara as a reliable model for health promotion. Decoding the logic of Ayurvedic dietary principles has a significant role in finding out better healthcare solutions in public health.
Being a vast field, more focus on literary research is essential for the compilation of the historical background of Ayurveda dietetics. Exploration of this literature can give ancient information which can be the base for understanding present status and draw some guidance to the future line of advancement. Initially, a list of all manuscripts related to diet and nutrition in different parts of India needs to be prepared through field works, personal visits or personal appeals. Further, a descriptive catalogue of manuscripts related to diet and nutrition is to be prepared and updated regularly. The available literature is to be critically studied with the help of commentaries. The literature available in different regional languages is also to be collected, translated and published to act as a reference material for further research works.
Contrary to western dietary understanding, the rules of diet prescription in Ayurveda are often individualized based on different aspects like Desha (geographical location), Kala (season), Prakriti (constitution), Agni (digestive/metabolic factors), Vaya (age) etc. Apart from individual customization, the quality and properties of food should also be considered. In addition, many disease specific medicated food preparations are also mentioned in classics. Dietary measures for special situations like pregnancy or postpartum, diet for nutritional wellbeing of children are some other important extensions in the area of Ayurveda dietetics. It is essential to validate every such basic tenet through public health initiatives to confirm the applicability of these fundamental principles in various populations.
Critical analysis of different categories of dietary articles such as Shimbidhanya, Shamidhanya (group of pulses/legumes), Shakavarga (group of vegetables), Kritannavarga (group of processed food items) etc. and their role in prevention and management based on scientific shreds of evidence also needs to be documented. It is reported that each taste plays an important role in the stimulation of digestive and immune systems. The classification of food and food groups according to taste in classical texts may provide some leads in this direction, if studied systematically. The classification of drugs other than dietary articles, based on the functions, such as Jiivaniya, Brimhaniya etc. indicates the importance of nutrition. Apart from this, references regarding the Nitya sevaniya dravya (daily consumable items) is also an area to be explored in terms of their nutritional importance.
The properties of a dietary article get altered depending on the method of 'Samskara' preparation or processing. Food processing, preparation and preservation techniques are dealt with in detail by authors of Classical texts. The entire process includes the type of food materials to be used, specific cooking methods, food additives, use of certain utensils, sequence of food intake as well as the nature and mental state of the person cooking food are, having their significance. Specific guidelines for food storage, location of kitchen, testing of poisoned food etc. have also been explained systematically.
Convalescent food is another area where Ayurveda specializes. Diet for convalescence after specific disease condition and prescription of dietary article after different therapeutic regimens like Panchakarma reflects the idea of a food-centred health care approach. Many special foods have been linked to the traditional management protocol of certain diseases. Every civilization and culture have incorporated food-related practices in connection with disease management. Ayurveda, in particular, has been at the forefront of this convalescent food knowledge. Following a dietary practice which includes preparations like Manda (rice water), Peya (thin gruel of rice), Vilepi (thick gruel of rice), Yavagu (gruels of different kinds) etc in a specific order to improve the digestive capacity aids the body to recover from the impact of disease or treatment modalities. Majority of these are multi component dietary preparations expected to exert desired health benefits. However, on a cursory glance, a marked variation in the proportions of ingredients and method of preprations amongst the same dietary article mentioned by different authors is observed. This variation may bring significant difference in the sensorial, chemical, and biological properties of preparation. Though there are several factors that make the standardization of these dietary preparations a challenge, it is important to see how these preparations can be validated and standardized in terms of contemporary science for their effectiveness and reliability. There is a great need for initiating the discussion on comprehensive standardization strategies in terms of proportion of ingredients, method of preparation, shelf life, nutitional values and therapeutic benefits.
A great emphasis has been laid on the compatibility and incompatibility of certain foods in classical text of Ayurveda. This concept is very much pivotal in the pathogenesis of the disease. The mechanism behind the association of dietary articles in the pathogenesis of many clinical conditions is still an unexplored area in terms of scientific research.
Despite many excellent and wholesome components in the Ayurvedic view of food and nutrition, due to a lack of evidence and objectivity, sometimes it seems too cumbersome to translate these ideas into practice. Some of the unexplored areas in Ayurveda dietetics, like individualized approach, seasonal diet, and contraindications of certain diets are still to be studied systematically. Diet-medicine-lifestyle interface, standardization of food preparations, nutritional analysis of individual dietary ingredients and preparations, systematic review or meta-analysis, in the field of dietetics in Ayurveda are some of the prime areas requiring more attention.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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