Food & Ayurveda

Food according to Ayurvedic dietetics


Type of food

The nature of the food represents the thermal effect generated in the body after assimilation of the food.
This is the sensation of warmth or coolness felt during or after digestion,
regardless of the temperature at which it is consumed.
For example, if you bite into a chilli pepper (even if it’s just come out of the fridge) or drink a glass of alcohol (even on the rocks),
you feel the heat invade your body and go to your head. Mint tea, on the other hand,
which gives a feeling of freshness even when drunk hot, is a beverage consumed in very hot countries.

Fresh and cold foods
Cool or cold foods cool the body, slowing down organic functions.
They are particularly suitable for hot weather.

In fact, summer vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes,
cucumber, zucchini, melon, watermelon are rather fresh in nature.
They are also indicated for signs of heat in the body, such as fever and excessive thirst,
red complexion, constipation with dry stools, dark urine, restlessness, irritability, red skin rashes, inflammatory states.
People suffering from this type of disorder should increase their consumption of fresh or cold foods.
and limit the use of warm or hot foods, which are not suitable for them.
Examples of fresh or cold foods: tomato, egg white, crab, kiwi,
melon, grapefruit, watermelon, asparagus, eggplant, celery, button mushroom, kohlrabi, cucumber, spinach, lettuce, raw radish, etc.

Warm or hot foods
Warm and hot foods warm the body, stimulate vital functions and increase metabolism.
They are particularly suitable for cold weather, condiments, spices and spirits,
certain fruits and vegetables. They are indicated when signs of cold appear in the body,
such as chilliness, cold hands and feet, and climatic chills.
They are also recommended for sluggish body functions, such as slow digestion.
People who are cold, tired or suffering from digestive problems should increase their consumption of warm or hot foods.
and limit that of fresh or cold foods.
Examples of warm or hot foods: garlic, porcini, fennel, onion, chestnut, lychee, walnut, peach, shrimp,
egg yolk, coffee, cinnamon, cloves, etc.

Neutral foods

In addition to the four natures of cool, cold, warm and hot, there’s a fifth: neutral.
Foods in this category have no perceptible thermal effect.
This makes them suitable all year round and for all individuals.
In fact, these foods are used indiscriminately for constitutions or illnesses of a cold or hot nature.
Examples of neutral foods: carrot, cabbage, green bean, potato, hard rice, pineapple, fig, plum, grape, cow’s milk, etc.

Food flavors
The five main flavors
are acid, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty.

Each of these flavors has a particular impact on the body, as does the nature of the food.
Moreover, according to the theory of the five elements, each flavor corresponds to an organ in which it acts more specifically.
Acid is associated with the liver, bitter with the heart and sweet with the spleen,
pungent is associated with the lungs and salty with the kidneys. It’s important to know that one flavor, in moderate quantities..,
nourishes its associated organ.
Lack of a particular flavor leads to malnutrition of the corresponding organ and associated body tissues.
But an excess of this same flavor damages this organ, hindering its proper functioning and causing disorders in the body.
Harmony of flavors is therefore fundamental to our balance.
But that’s not all. Each flavor has a specific action in the body, generating precise metabolic effects.
Although our modern science doesn’t take them into account,
These effects are very real, and help explain the medicinal properties of most foods.

Acid taste properties
The acidic flavor is said to be astringent. This effect is noticeable when you eat a highly acidic food.
If you bite down hard on a lime, for example, you’ll feel the inside of your cheeks and tongue contract.
Even for low-acid foods, where you don’t objectively feel any acidity, this astringent action exists, to varying degrees.
As such, it tends to retain what escapes from the body pathologically or excessively (sweat, semen, fluids, blood, energy).
Acid-flavored foods are often used to help stop diarrhea, incessant sweating and leukorrhea,
haemorrhages, incessant coughing, when these disorders are caused by a deficiency in the organism.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, the liver is associated with tendons, muscles and eyes.
Reasonable consumption of acid-flavored foods tones the liver, nourishes tendons and muscles, and enables correct vision.
Insufficient or excessive consumption of foods of the same flavor leads to liver disturbance,
which no longer adequately nourishes tendons and muscles, causing tendonitis and cramps.
Examples of acidic foods: purslane, tomato, apricot, cherry, lemon, strawberry, kiwi, tangerine, mango,
orange, grapefruit, peach, apple, plum, grape, vinegar, etc.

Properties of bitter flavour

The bitter taste has several properties. Firstly, it removes excess heat from any part of the body.
What we call heat in Ayurvedic medicine is often physiological or pathological hyperactivity,
which can lead, for example, to a red complexion, eye inflammation, mouth ulcers, skin rashes and constipation with dry stools,
cystitis, thirst, dark and scanty urine, etc.
Insomnia, restlessness, irritability and a tendency to get angry easily can also be manifestations of heat in the body.
The bitter taste purges this heat, draining it downwards. On the other hand, this flavor tends to have a drying effect.
Eating bitter-flavored foods promotes heart and small intestine function,
also stimulates stomach functions (aperitive properties).
On the other hand, consuming too much or too little of this flavor can disrupt the functioning of these organs.
Examples of bitter foods: peppers, endive, asparagus, celery, chicory, lettuce, escarole, etc.

Properties of sweet flavour

The mild flavor nourishes, tones and moisturizes. This flavor acts as a general tonic.
It promotes the production of energy, blood and body fluids.
Most cereals and legumes have a mild flavour.
Rich in slow sugars, these are the favorite foods of athletes before exercise, precisely because of their energy content.
Milk and many fruits are also sweet-tasting. They moisten the body and soothe thirst.
The sweet flavor also has a tension-relieving effect.
You’ve certainly experienced it when under emotional stress.
The foods we tend to seek out spontaneously in this type of situation are sweet-tasting foods.
The mild flavor eases spasms and relieves pain,
as cane sugar does, for example, in the case of abdominal pain or menstrual pain.
The sweet flavor is associated with the spleen/stomach pairing,
moderate consumption of mild-flavored foods tones and harmonizes digestive functions, and nourishes the flesh.
If you eat too little of this flavor, your flesh will be malnourished and you’ll lose weight.
On the other hand, if we consume too many sweet or mild flavored foods (the sweet flavor being already a concentrate of mild),
digestive functions are overwhelmed, overfed flesh expands.
This is particularly true of the increasingly common problem of overweight and obesity.
But too much sugar can also be the cause of problems such as transit disorders and rhinitis,
sinusitis, hypoglycemia, hypercholesterolemia, etc.
Examples of sweet foods: carrot, button mushroom, fennel, sweet potato, potato, oyster mushroom, pumpkin, tomato,
split peas, peas, wheat, corn, millet, rice, eggs, cow’s milk, etc.

Properties of spicy flavour

The pungent flavor is externalizing, that is, it brings energy and liquids to the body’s surface, to the skin.
It induces perspiration.
For example, a well-spiced toddy at the start of a cold makes you sweat and eliminate the chill,
preventing it from penetrating further into the body and reaching the lungs.
What’s more, the pungent flavor is dispersant, i.e. it circulates energy (which in turn can circulate blood and body fluids).
It is therefore used in cases of energy stagnation (chest tightness, abdominal distension, pain in the epigastrium and abdomen),
frequent sighing, irritability, joint pain, for example) or in cases of blood stasis
(stabbing pain in the chest or abdomen, menstrual pain, traumatic pain, certain migraines, for example).
In small quantities, this flavor tones the lung and large intestine, but in excess it disperses and weakens their energy.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, the lung governs the energy of the entire body.
In excess, this flavor should be avoided by a weak, tired person, as it risks dispersing their already insufficient energy.
Examples of pungent foods: garlic, kohlrabi, celery, spring onion, fennel, onion, raw radish, dill, star anise, coriander, ginger,
mint, nutmeg, oregano, cayenne pepper, black pepper, etc.

Salty taste properties

The salty flavor is said to soften hardness and disperse indurations.
You’ve no doubt experienced the softening effect of seawater on the scabs on your crowned knees as a child.
From a more medical point of view, it has the property of softening what is abnormally hard, such as cysts, nodosities, goiters and lipomas.
One example is the action of certain algae to help treat goiter.
The salty flavor also has a purgative effect, a downward movement.
Salt water has an interesting effect on constipation, softening stools and encouraging their evacuation.
Consuming a small amount of this salty flavor nourishes the kidneys’ energy.
But too much of the same flavor weakens the kidneys and bones, and has an adverse effect on the heart too.
It is therefore inadvisable to eat salty foods if you have kidney or cardiovascular problems.
Examples of salty foods: seaweed, oats, barley, crab, shrimp, oysters, mussels, octopus, soy sauce, cooking salt, etc.

The difference between food flavor and taste
Each food can have one or more flavors, which are not always the flavors we feel when we taste them.
The fact that a food is described as having an acidic flavor, for example, even if we don’t actually experience it as acidic in taste,
may mean that it acts particularly on liver energy (the liver being associated with acid), or that it has an astringent action.

Food recipient meridian
Everyone has heard of acupuncture meridians, without necessarily knowing what they do.
In Ayurvedic medicine, meridians are considered to be the channels through which energy circulates in the body.
These are the meridians that link every small part of the body with the rest of the organism,
which connect internal and external structures, top and bottom elements, etc.
This is what makes the organism a whole. As far as the dietary aspect is concerned,
it’s through these meridians that the energy produced by food is distributed throughout the body.
A food may have a more specific action on a particular organ or tissue in the body.
If a food has a particular effect on coughing or respiratory problems, it is said to go to the lung meridian.
If a food improves eyesight, a sense associated with the liver, it is said to go to the liver meridian.
So a food’s “recipient meridian” is its major tropism, i.e. the main target of its impact on the body.
The combined action of nature, flavor and recipient meridian enables us to target a particular health problem.
So, for example, a banana, cold in nature and sweet in flavor, goes to the large intestine meridian.
Because of its cold nature, it can help treat heat-related constipation with dry stools.
Thanks to its mild flavor, it tones the large intestine, helping to treat constipation caused by a lack of energy and insufficient intestinal peristalsis.

Food properties according to Ayurvedic dietetics.
In Ayurvedic dietetics, the fabulous thing is that foods are not just considered as nutritional substances.
They are also “medicines”, which can have a therapeutic impact on the body.
As we have just seen, this depends on the characteristics of the food and the combination of its nature, its flavour(s) and its recipient meridian.
Combined with precise observation of the specific effects of food on the body, Ayurveda in India and China have established a veritable “medical subject” for food.
To put it plainly, over the centuries they have created the equivalent of a “Vidal” dictionary of the drugs prescribed by our doctors.
For example, cucumber treats water retention,
celery relieves high blood pressure, potatoes heal stomach ulcers, porcini mushrooms treat fatigue,
kiwi is digestive and prevents indigestion,
peach cures constipation, mango prevents vomiting and crab facilitates childbirth,
amaranth promotes milk production in nursing mothers,
ginger prevents food poisoning, etc.
Of course, not all foods cure disorders the way some drugs do.
On the other hand, they provide relief, help and support
It’s not our intention to say that they treat diabetes, cancer or heart disease. That would be abusive and dishonest.
But it’s important to know that certain foods promote healing and prevent the aggravation or onset of disease,
which is fantastic in itself. What’s more, many of them are highly effective for our everyday ailments:
constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, intestinal gas, cough, fatigue, water retention, acne, hypogalactia, recurring colds,
rheumatism, high cholesterol, etc. The Ayurvedic
Ayurvedic experience
experience in terms of nutrition is colossal.

Let’s look at the concrete study of a food according to Ayurvedic dietetics.

Celery – Branch, Apium graveolens, Qin Cai :

– Flavours and type: Sweet, slightly spicy, slightly bitter, fresh or cold
– Recipient meridians: Liver, Stomach, Lung, Bladder

Function :
Reduces functional hyperactivity of the liver.
Indications:Vertigo, dizziness, red complexion, red eyes, high blood pressure.

Clarifies liver heat, lowers liver Yang.
Mechanism:By liver fire or rising liver Yang.
Functional hyperactivity of the liver can lead to
excess heat in the upper body, leading to eye problems
or head symptoms (dizziness, headache).
Function:Alleviates functional hyperactivity of the stomach.
Indications :Thirst, nausea, vomiting.

Functions :
Clarifies stomach heat, harmonizes the stomach.
Mechanism:Stomach heat or excess alcohol.
Functional hyperactivity of the stomach can lead to
heat that dries out and causes digestive problems.
Function:Diuretic. Urinary tract antiseptic.
Indications:Urgent, frequent, painful, scanty urination, hematuria,
cloudy urine, urinary difficulty, oliguria.

Functions :
Clarifies bladder heat, promotes diuresis.
Mechanism:Moisture warms the bladder.
Bladder inflammation such as cystitis
or urethritis causing urinary disorders.

Other medicinal indications to support conventional treatment

– Celery stalks are probably the most effective vegetable for combating high blood pressure.
. Modern research has shown that it can help lower excess triglycerides and cholesterol and combat atherosclerosis.
It is therefore an excellent food for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. To reduce bad fats and fight atherosclerosis,
A simple recipe involves sautéing 50g shiitake mushrooms (rehydrated beforehand) and 400g celery sticks over high heat for a short time.
Season to taste. Another remedy is to drink a glass of apple juice and celery stalk (half/half) twice a day.
For high blood pressure, a simple recipe is to drink 40ml of fresh celery juice, 3 times a day.
Celery sticks can also be sautéed daily for at least 15 consecutive days.

– Some Chinese nutritionists recommend it for diabetes, while others recommend it for edema due to its diuretic action.
In both cases, celery soups should be drunk with the two main meals, without salt in the case of oedema.

– Celery seems to have an interesting effect on hot flashes associated with menopausal syndrome.

– An ancient Chinese medical book describes it as: “Heavy head and light legs, a floating and trembling gait”.
In other words, it can help people with vertigo and gait imbalances.

– Celery stalks were also used for whooping cough with a void in the lung’s yin (weakening of the lung’s structure),
which is why some Chinese medical texts claim that this vegetable also moistens the lungs and stops coughing.

– Popular recipe for vomiting in pregnancy: make a soup with 20g celery leaf, 20g celery root,
5g licorice root and 5g fresh ginger.
At the end of cooking, strain the soup through a colander to catch the liquid.
Add a whole chicken egg and beat it into the soup. Drink it all. Do once a day.

– In case of urinary tract infection, conventional treatment can be supported by drinking the juice of
100g celery stalks with a little sugar, 2 to 3 times a day.
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