IMPORTANCE OF FOOD :-
There is nothing new in mentioning that the food is a natural need of every living being. Everyone knows it and also about the food chain. In Ayurveda Annam (food) is considered as the main reason for health as well as diseases. It clearly proves that the proper diet leads to good health where as the improper diet will lead u to different kind of ailments.
Not only our Body gets affected with the food. It is mentioned in Chandokyopanishad that Annam is Manas (mind). There is a story related to this. Aaruni believed that there are 16 kalas (Limiting membrane or cell membrane) in our body. So he mentioned that a person can live up to 15 days without food. So he told his son Shwethakethu to take fasting for 15 days. Shwethakethu had the knowledge of all the 4 vedas. He was able to remember each and every Veda manthra in his mind. After starting the fasting his memory became weak and at the end of the fasting was unable to remember even a single veda mantra. After fasting when he started to take light food he was able to remember those slowly and at last when he was on proper diet he got all his memory back. All his knowledge was situated in his mind. So after this Aaruni mentioned Annam is Manas.
I would like to make it clear that Ayurveda doesn’t postulate anything like food itself is mind. But there is much connection between mind and body by which our diet can affect our mind too.
Timing of food intake, number of times and what to eat issues:-
The perfect time to take food is the time when u really have the appetite. It is not good to skip food if you are really hungry. Improper timing of food consumption will lead to different kind of digestive disorders which starts with simple symptoms like gas formation, chest burn etc and later may become the root cause for many other diseases including arthritis, diabetes etc. Also there must be at least 3 hrs difference between the food intake. Even if u take light food within 3 hrs of previous food consumption it will become a burden to the digestive system to make it properly digested. Also it will get deposited as fat in the body.
Taking food two times is ideal for a person. Ayurveda mentions 6 Ritu (season) and the diet and routine which should be followed in these seasons. In south India especially in Kerala there is no 6 seasonal variations. The Ritus in which the strength of our body is high are Hemantha and Shishira. These are not present in Kerala. So the climate itself doesn’t allow our body to have full strength. So a Keralite should try to take the food that is commonly available in his place rather than blindly following the North Indian and Western diets. For example; if someone in Kerala takes wheat there is no harm in it as such, but there is certain other aspects related to wheat that should be understood. In North they takes wheat along with much vegetables and edible leaves. This becomes a balanced diet. But if not taken so it doesn’t provide much nutrients to our body. Also North Indians doesn’t take wheat in hot seasons as it produces heat in the body after its intake. None of us takes interest to know it and consumes it even in very hot season which will weaken our digestive system.
It is mentioned in ancient times that if a person takes food only once in a day he is a yogi. The one who takes food twice is a Bhogi and thrice is a Drohi. A yogi is a person who has control over all his senses and Bhogi is the normal person who is much involved in the emotional world. A Drohi can be termed as a person who is harmful to others; ie by taking food thrice we are eating the food which is actually meant for others also. The ancient tradition was to eat twice in a day which was changed when the British implemented their systems here. Still we follow the British method in the job timings etc by which people are subjected to take food as per the breaks they get from the job.
It is ideal to take a balanced diet everyday. There must be proteins, minerals, vitamins etc included in the diet. Vegetarian diet is advised while taking Ayurvedic medicines by which people thinks that Ayurveda is against taking non vegetarian. As the non veg is heavy to digest; it is advised not to take it while having medicine as it may affect the proper digestion and absorption of the medicine. Ayurveda suggests to include non vegetarian in the diet but there are certain factors that should be considered in this. It is not included in the daily diet. The meat of different animals have different qualities; so as per the person’s body constituency the suitable one should be taken. Even the color and behavior of the animal should be observed properly before eating it’s meat. If an animal doesn’t run or can’t do its activities normally; its meat should not be consumed. Now a days the chicken which is widely seen is injected with hormones and due to that it’s weight is too much and it can’t even walk properly. As the vegetables have much pesticides now a days the meat has much hormones and other chemicals in it.
Before the arrival of junk foods and other unhealthy things it is advised not to take food from outside by the Ayurvedacharyas. It is mentioned that if a person sells food for making money then you should not eat that food as it will have only taste; not any nutrients required for your body. If in ancient times it was not advised to take food which is used for business purpose; we can imagine how much trustworthy is today’s restaurant food.
Let us conclude this by the famous quote of Hippocrates ” Let food be thy medicine”. Food can be your medicine if it is consumed in the right way. Of course otherwise it may act just opposite also.