Updated: Mar 10
Now we come to the 7th aspect of the Asta-Ahara Vidhi Visesa Ayatanani (Eight aspects of Dietetics)- Upayogasanstha- which are a set of 10 simple guidelines which can be adapted to everyday life.
As we have already established, eating right is the key to finding a long-lasting solution to manage acidity problems. But then, eating right is a really broad term as it cannot be generalized.
Ayurvedic Samhitas (texts) discuss food in great detail. Though the diet recommended for every individual can be highly individualistic based on Desha (location), Kala(season), Vaya (age), Karma (occupation), Prakriti(body type) etc., there are certain dietetic rules which can be an extremely useful guide.
Let us discuss the first set of rules in this post.
Ushnamashniyat (Eat warm food)
The first and foremost advice is to consume a warm meal. And also advice to have the warm dish first in the sequence of the meal. A warm prepared meal helps to promote proper movement of Vatha dosha and balances Kapha dosha. Warm food also supports the agni and hence promotes digestion. With regards to Acidity, a warm meal is preferred over a hot meal. Both hot and cold meals should be avoided, and warm meals should be chosen.
Snigdhamashniyat (Your diet should include good fat)
The meal should not be devoid of fat. Consuming food fats in the proper quantity with the meal is extremely important for various functions of the body. Since acidity is a pitta predominant disease, cow’s ghee is highly recommended to be consumed along with a meal. The right amount of good fats consumed in a meal also gives a sense of satiety and fullness and prevents overeating and craving.
Matravatashniyat (Eat the right amount)
The quantity of food plays a great role with regards to acidity. The first rule to decide the amount of food to be consumed is according to the Agni (digestive fire) and Bala (strength). Here, Matra (amount) can be understood in two ways.
Sarvagraha- Total amount of the food
Parigraha amount of individual ingredient.
Both have to be kept in mind. And the diet must consist of a variety of food items of all the 6 tastes in proper amounts from different groups so that it contains all micro and macro nutrients. With regards to acidity, salty, oily, spicy and sour foods should be in minimum quantity. Care should be taken not to disturb the harmony of the doshas and to promote good digestion, regular bowel movements and peaceful sleep.
Jeerneashniyat (eat after your previous meal is digested)
The non- negotiable rule to consume a meal is the utmost awareness that the previous meal is completely digested. Consuming meals without digesting the previous meal gives rise to AMA, which is the root cause for many diseases. This does not mean that one has to go without meals or eat at improper times because of indigestion. Doing that can increase acidity. The advice is to find the cause of lack of digestion at the proper time and treat it.
Aviruddhamashniyat: (Do not eat incompatible foods together)
Viruddha Aahara or incompatible foods is another unique concept of Ayurveda. When different foods are taken in combination and their properties are not complementary, toxins are formed in the body.
The same food when taken separately may be easily digested and may promote health. Ayurveda provides a guide on how to combine food for optimum nutrition and proper digestion.
With regards to acidity, viruddha aahara has to be carefully studied and avoided.
Iste Dese Ista Sarva Upakarnam Asniyat: (eat in a good peaceful ambience with pleasing company and cutlery)
This rule mostly emphasizes the importance of choosing the right ambience and environment resulting in a peaceful meal. Acidity can be increased by the unsuitability of the environment which increases the stress.
In a study conducted on 59 healthy women, they were exposed to both a stress session and a control session on different days, stress increases cortisol level, so they consumed more calories on stress day than on control day. More sweet food was consumed. Increase in negative mood in response to stress leads to greater food consumption.
Naatidrutamashniyat (Do not eat too fast)
Eating in a hurry impacts digestion and also disturbs Vatha dosha. It is also seen that eating fast can also lead to overeating.
In a study on 30 young women of normal weight ate same lunch on two separate occasions. Ist time they ate as quickly as possible and 2nd time slowly. When they ate quickly, consumed 646 calories in nine minutes and were less satisfied and felt hungry as compared to when they eat slowly consumed only 579 calories in 29 minutes with more satisfaction and fullness.
Na ativilambitam Ashniyat (Do not eat very slowly)
Eating very slowly makes the food cold and caused indigestion. It spoils the digestive rhythm and leads to other health problems. The sense of satisfaction escapes the person and may induce overeating.
Ajalpanahasan tanmanabhunjeet (Eat without talking or laughing)
The advice is to practice mindful eating. Full attention to the food being consumed makes sure, we eat right. (Mindful eating) Achayra charaka says that the even pathyaahar (right diet) taken in proper amount does not get digested, due to chinta (worry), shoka(sorrow), bhaya (fear), krodha (anger), dukha (sadness) and without attention. The negative emotions are directly related to increase acidity. Eating while traveling, watching television, reading, results in poor nutrition and impaired digestion.
Atmanamabhisamikshya bhunjeet (Eat considering your individual needs)
Despite all the dietetic rules, one should eat what agrees with oneself when it comes to acidity. This awareness is very important and should be drawn from analysing previous experiences, understanding the nature of the food items, one’s body type, agni and bala (strength).
Energy requirements can be another important factor to decide quantity and quality of food as in pregnancy, lactation, physical labour, old or diseased condition.
Though the above rules sound over simplistic, they go far in preventing acidity. Aahara, according to Ayurveda is not just fuel. It is everything you are and you become. When we are talking about health or disease, what we eat and what we do, cannot be different from how we feel and how we heal.
I am very glad that the series about acidity is being received so well. Some of you have written how they are able to make use of this knowledge and make changes which have helped their acidity conditions.
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