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Acidity- Understanding through Ayurvedic principles

Updated: Mar 10

Food has as much therapeutic value as medicines in Ayurveda. Acharya Charaka says a good Ayurvedic physician should be a proficient nutritionist and dietician. In the previous post, we understood how important it is to go into the details of our food and lifestyle habits for the long term management of acidity.

What better to do this than to explore it through the 8 food principles of Ayurveda. It will be useful to understand the properties of Pitta dosha since it is the main dosha causing acidity. Pitta properties are hot, sharp, light, oily, spreading and is salty, sour and pungent in taste.

Asta-Ahara Vidhi Visesa Ayatanani (Eight aspects of Dietetics) are one of the most useful dietary guidelines. Ahara Vidhi Visesayatana means the factors responsible for wholesome and unwholesome effect of the Ahara and methods of Ahara sevana (Special rule for diet intake)

These eight factors should be considered before taking food.

1. Prakriti 2. Karana 3. Samyoga 4. Rashi 5. Desha 6. Kala 7. Upyogasanstha 8. Upyukta

  1. Prakriti- Svabhava or Nature

Every food item has an inherent nature

For example: Urad dal- heavy; Green gram- light; Jack fruit- heavy; water melon- light; ash gourd- Sheetha (cold potency), Brinjal- Ushna (hot potency);

To address acidity, avoid foods which are spicy, oily, sour and salty and are hot in potency. Choose Tikta-bitters (like most gourd vegetables), Madhura- sweet (naturally sweet fruits, raisins, palm jaggery) and kashaya- astringent (coriander, jamun fruit)

2. Karana: processing or preparation

The processing or the mode of preparation of food influences the properties of the food item. Processing like heating (makes it easier to digest), roasting (makes it lighter, churning (curd is heavy while buttermilk become light), flavouring (increases desirability), storing (old rice has less starch), maturing (matured fruit has better benefits), soaking (makes the food easy to cook and nutritious) and roasting- (makes the food much lighter- rice when roasted becomes much lighter)

To address acidity, choose processes which break down heavy food and fats and make them light, nutritious and easy to digest.

Avoid fermented foods. (I get a lot of queries about consuming idli dosas in acidity. I understand it is a staple food for many Indians and probably impractical to avoid it completely. My suggestion is that the batter should be used only on the next morning after fermenting it overnight and should not be used again. This can be achieved by fermenting in smaller batches and used fresh the next morning, rather than fermentin