The Ayurvedic approach to health, medicine and diet is drawn from India and Sri Lanka and is being discovered by a growing number of people in the west, not least those who find out about this ancient tradition by visiting south Asia.
It has been claimed the customs go back as far as 30,000 years and the practice of Ayurveda even prompted Singhalese practitioners in Sri Lanka to create the world’s first hospitals in the ninth century.
Trust in Ayurveda is so high in Si Lanka that it is the only country in the world with a minister for indigenous medicine, in order to continue promoting these practices.
When it comes to food, of course, Sri Lanka is a land rich in various culinary delights, with a huge array of fruit and vegetables as well as seafood for those who are not vegetarian. Many are, of course, in a country that is mainly Buddhist with a significant Hindu population as well.
The question many will ask is how the Ayurvedic principles of treating the person, not the disease and balancing different energies and ratios, can apply to food.
A key element of Ayurveda is to note that your food is seen in terms of what, where, when and how you eat. Getting the balance right will keep you healthy. Getting it wrong will cause the build up of toxins, leading to disease.
Because Ayurveda is about getting the rhythms and balance right, the actual preparation of food itself is something that needs to be done with reverence in an atmosphere of peace and gentleness. This ties into the spiritual element of Ayurveda, which is seen in holistic terms as being innately connected with the physical, in contrast with the Greek-influenced dualism of western thought.
If all that seems a lot to take in, the key is to understand that the ingredients are not there just to make your food taste a bit better or be a bit healthier, but to play a central role in an attitude to food that stretches right from your mental approach through to the composition of your meal.
Ayurveda comes with the concept of balancing ratios known as Dosha, and in this case there are six flavour elements that should be kept in balance. In addition to the reverence, the other five are that the food should be fresh, natural, seasonal, local where possible and also customised.
Of course, the Ayurvedic powders you are buying in the UK will by definition not be locally sourced, but all the other aspects can be achieved easily.
A key outcome you should be aiming for as a result of all this is known as Agni, a concept that food should actually have a minimal effect on the body. This means it should be easily digestible, as poor digestion and undigested food leads to toxins, and that is where poor health arises from.
Learning everything about Ayurvedic practices takes time and extensive interest, but if you can be eating healthy, tasty food and finding your digestion is improving, then there will be a tangible benefit you can recognise straightaway.
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