By Richard A. Masla, Ayurvedic Practitioner
'Ayur' means life and 'Veda' means knowledge. Ayurveda is the science of life. If there was a life handbook given at birth guiding us to a healthy and happy life, included would be several chapters on the science of Ayurveda. This ancient healing system has its historical base in the pre-Aryan civilization of India dating back over 5000 years.
Ayurveda is the science of living in harmony with the forces of nature. Its holistic approach to healthcare is unique in that it enables us to treat the individual as a part of the whole. Understanding one's personal nature (prakrti) and the impact the environment has on one's life offers us clarity of the most appropriate lifestyle applications that would serve us best. These may include nutrition and dietary changes, simple exercises such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing (called pranayama) and addition of simple herbal medicines. These simple changes will create a greater harmonic balance for the mind, body and spirit.
In Ayurveda, food may be used to support healing. These principles coincide with the basic Hippocratic principle that food serves as the most valuable medicine for supporting and maintaining health. Likewise, poor nutrition and unhealthy lifestyles create a foundation for disease to begin.
One of the major causes of illness according to the Ayurveda is called jnana-aparadha or offense against knowledge. If you get heartburn every time you eat foods prepared with tomatoes and continue to eat them, you will suffer the consequences. This is called jnana-aparadha. If your body is telling you that a particular food is not good for you; listen. The Surgeon General of the United States said that 60% of diseases are diet related. Ayurveda says that almost all disease can be related to improper digestion of foods and the wrong combinations of them.
Here is some simple advice from the Ayurveda in relation to diet:
Eat only when you are hungry.
Do not have cold drinks or drink a lot of fluids with your meals. This puts out the fire of digestion.
Have your largest meal of the day at midday and your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Make each meal a preparation of love and be grateful for all of your food. Know that it is a gift from nature and God for you. (We may take this for granted, not realizing that every year on this planet 20 million die of malnutrition).
By following some very simple principles from the Ayurveda, your health can improve and you can live a long and prosperous life. Living a full and healthy life does not need to be a puzzle, we may just need a little guidance from an ancient medical science that has been tested through time.