Let us begin by demystifying the Ayurveda diet by explaining certain basic concepts. In Ayurveda, the body and its diseases are products of food. Food is categorized as wholesome and unwholesome. Foods should be compatible with the body. Ayurveda lays great stress on selecting food, processing, cooking, and defining healthy eating rules. They also believe that the processes of nutrition are accomplished only when the inner biological fire system (Agni) and the inner transport system (srotasmi) are in order. I would interpret this to mean an emphasis on balancing the desire for food consumption and the associated digestive processes.
Ayurveda insists that dietary planning is aligned with nature and environmental conditions. Diet should be in tune with the individual personality (Prakriti), adverse personality traits (Vikriti), dosha, and body type.
Dietary supplements are also used in Ayurveda to restore the body from the disease. Supplement treatment is called Rasayana therapy. Rasayanas are essential nutraceuticals. These help build the immune system, maintain mineral bio balance, provide essential nutrients, and possess anti-aging properties.
Twelve food categories are listed in Ayurveda. These are corn, wines, pulses, water, meat, milk and milk products, vegetables, sugar cane and related products, fruits, cooked products, greens, and food adjuvants.
Ayurveda diet planning is nature-based, holistic, and personalized. It stems from the belief that the body has a self-healing capacity and that the body’s self-healing property occurs whenever disease afflicts it.
Diet planning is nature-based and holistic. It considers an individual’s lifestyle, diet, exercise, medication, and mental state. Individuals are different, and recommendations are aligned with the body and personality type of the individual.
Ayurveda diet should be appropriate to the climate, season, patient’s condition, and digestive power, palatable, in the right quantity, and follow prescribed restrictions. The food should be appropriately cooked and processed, adaptable and appropriate to individual requirements, adequately potent and rich, and track the patient’s bowel habits. Diet is aligned with an individual’s dosha.
According to Ayurveda, diet plays a role in keeping the mind healthy. They have classified three types of diet—Sattvik diet, which is vegetarian, nonoily, and nonspicy. The rajasik diet is spicy, hot, sour, and salty and excites the mind, while the Tamasik diet is oily, heavy, and brings in lethargy.
There are contradictory diets that are indicated in Ayurveda. For instance, fish and fish products and milk, milk or milk products and alcohol, radish with milk, lotus stem with honey, or honey with clarified butter are not recommended to be taken together.
Diet varies with the season. In spring, bitter, hot, and astringent diets are advised; salty, sour, and sweet food are avoided during this season. Wheat, barley, honey, fruits (such as mango and jack fruit), and lean meat are recommended.
Cooling foods and liquid, sweet, and oily foods are recommended in summer, but the hot, spicy, sour, or salty diet is avoided. Rice, milk, clarified butter, sugar, grapes, coconut water, and lean meat are recommended foods.
During the rainy season, sweet, sour, and salty foods that are hot, dry, fatty, and easily digestible are recommended. Preserved rice, wheat, barley, and mutton are advised this season.
The recommended food is hot, sweet, sour, and salty in winter. Milk, sugarcane, rice, oils, and fats are commonly advised food. Clarified butter with a bitter, pungent, and light diet in autumn is recommended. They also recommend purgation in this season.
Ayurveda specialists advise abstinence from foods that cause an imbalance between the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. They recommend nutraceuticals that help improve the digestive functions of the body. Normally, Triphala, a combination of Terminalia bellerica, Terminalia chebula, and Embilica officinalis, is prescribed. It is said to tone digestive functions.
The Ayurveda diet is associated with the dosha type. Vata-type people should eat cooked, warm foods, take spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger in food, and stay away from icy drinks. They should eat sweet berries, fruits, small beans, rice, nuts, and dairy products. Moderate exercise and meditative yoga are good for such people.
Pitta people should avoid alcohol and tobacco. Fresh vegetables, juicy fruits (such as cherries, mango, cucumber, and watermelon), salads, and greens are recommended. Kapha individuals should take light, warm food, spices, ginger, chillis, etc.
If you are looking for evidence-based nutritional recommendations, talk to a qualified nutritionist than an Ayurveda practitioner.